While at EuroOSCON, I went to a presentation by a company called Zimbra. They have a very cool Ajax/DHTML (both nasty terms, but what’s better?) email and collaboration suite. Check out the demo. Afterwards, I mentioned I was from the Foundation, and one of their developers said that there was one particular bug in our XMLHttpRequest implementation which caused Firefox on Linux to spin using 100% CPU when used with Zimbra – bug 273578. They’d had to make their own internal builds of Firefox for testing to get around the problem. We looked the bug up, and there was a patch with review and super-review, but it hadn’t been checked in because the author didn’t have checkin rights and no-one had been asked to do it.
I sent some email from my laptop via the conference WiFi, and around an hour later Darin checked it in on the trunk. Zimbra QAed the builds on their web application and others, and confirmed that nothing seemed to be broken. So, 48 hours later, the patch made it into the branch as well, and Firefox 1.5 on Linux will work well with Zimbra.
I keep coming across people and companies who tell me they have problems with Firefox, but when I ask them, it turns out that they have never filed or CCed themselves on bugs. They just suffer in silence. This is an extreme case – the patch was a one-liner, and the lack of it hosed their product entirely! This isn’t how it’s supposed to work; as a free software project, we can be responsive to the needs of our users – but only if we know what they are. Once Zimbra had approached us about it and explained the problem, we were able to correctly prioritise the bug. Importantly, Zimbra stayed involved in the process and did their part (the QA) to make sure that the patch got where it needed to be. So if you’re in a similar situation, communicate! :-)