Broadvox Direct, and letting in the lizards and penguins
I got a sneak peak at the upcoming configuration portal for Broadvox Direct today. I updated my page with some screenshots to wet the appetite. One of the problems I ran into was a problem I run into occasionally: Lack of testing or even support against Mozilla-based browsers.
I use Mozilla, or rather Mozilla Firebird because I believe it’s the best browser out there. It’s pretty fast (Firebird is browser-only, Mozilla also contains an email and HTML editor app too)), I can get Flash/Shockwave/Java plugins for it, and is standards compliant. It has great features built in like controllable pop-up blocking, better cookie handling, and not nearly the amount of security problems that Internet Exploiter has. The main reason I use Mozilla a lot: IE doesn’t exist on Linux, except as emulated under Wine/Crossover Office (and it’s not perfect).
For over a year, I’ve been running Linux on my primary work laptop. Because my employer still makes heavy use of Windows, this was initially challenging at first, having to purchase a copy of Crossover Office so I could run Microsoft Office apps and going through major contortions to access the office, due to the Windows-only VPN access. Since that time, my employer has come up with a reasonable Linux VPN solution. I still run into challenges as some business processes and applications only have Windows versions and don’t run under Crossover Office so well. This means I still have a Windows-based PC that I use for specific tasks that require it.
Just in the last month, I decided to convert my personal desktop to a Linux platform. That involved some backup and restore action. I took a Knoppix CD, booted off of it, copied the hard drive to a different system, wipred the hard drive, and used the Knoppix CD to “install” Linux to my system. Since Knoppix uses Debian as it’s base OS, I simply reconfigured the apt repositories, get an apt-get update; apt-get upgrade, and I was in business. Of course prior to this, I made sure all of the hardware I cared about was going to work in Linux. Knowing ahead of time I wanted to eventually go the Linux route, I made sure of that when I bought the equipment — my printer, video card, scanner, and bluetooth adaptors all supported Linux.
In any case, when I was discussing the new portal with Jeffery Williams, I made the comment to him about Mozilla support. His response was understandable: IE is 95% of the browser market, so that’s where we’re going to focus our efforts. Fine, I said, but I think that you should at least understand what your site looks like on different browsers, since some percentage of the customerbase will be using them. Personally, I think there will be more than 5% of the Broadvox Direct users will be using Mozilla, but I digress. I pointed him at the Mozilla page to get a copy of Firebird.
One question Jeff asked me was: if Mozilla gives you problems browsing sites, why do you continue to use it? Well, for one, my primary OS makes it difficult to use IE. But even when I do use Windows, the fact is: the vast majority of the sites I use it on don’t have issues. Of course, most of the sites I visit regularly seem to write to open standards. The few sites I do run into that don’t properly work under Firebird usually work well enough. The main reason I use Mozilla is: Microsoft’s absolutely abysmal record on security (also the a major reason I run Linux, BTW). IE is also behind the game — Microsoft basically said “we’re not updating IE anymore, except as part of the OS.” Mozilla rarely gets updated due to security issues. When was the last time you updated your Windows box for a super-critical-security-hole-you-could-drive-a-mack-truck-through, most likely in IE? Oh wait, time to do it again! Mozilla supports what I needed to, it’s being actively developed by a great group of people, and gets better every day.
Even so, neither IE or Mozilla work with 100% of the sites out there. I have sites that crash IE (for example, the teletubbies pages on pbskids.org), but work fine on Mozilla. There are plenty of pages that refuse to even allow you to try and use them if they don’t detect IE on Windows. This simple fact is why I think browser stats are wrong: it’s trivial in Mozilla to change your browser ident string so it appears as though your running IE on Windows 98 when you’re really running Mozilla on Linux or a Mac. That is needed to get around those sites that refuse to acknowledge the computing world is heterogenous.