Why can't Mozilla find a new CEO?

In today's open source roundup: Mozilla's direction as a company remains unclear. Plus: Is HP's The Machine OS revolutionary or just hype? And why Lubuntu might be the perfect Windows XP replacement

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, Mozilla

Mozilla has been going through some tough times recently. The company lost its CEO Brendan Eich to outrage over his position on gay marriage, and its Firefox browser has lost market share to Google's Chrome browser. ZDNet takes a look at some of Mozilla's problems, including its inability to find a new CEO.

According to ZDNet:

The clock is ticking. Mozilla is making progress with Firefox OS's technology and it's finding more hardware partners for its low-end smartphones. But with its over $300-million yearly Google contract expiring in December 2014, Mozilla can't possibly keep up its annual expenditures of over $200-million (PDF).

Mozilla needs to find strong leadership and it needs to do it now. With its cash reserves, Mozilla can make it through 2015, but it must, must, find its way soon or it will follow Netscape into becoming part of the Internet's past instead of its present and future.

More at ZDNet

Mozilla Needs New CEO
Image credit: ZDNet

It's very sad to see Mozilla struggling like this. While I'm certainly not privy to its internal goings-on, I do wonder if maybe the company's reputation has been tainted by all of its recent problems to the point where there's a lack of good candidates for the CEO position.

The Brendan Eich controversy gave Mozilla a huge black eye since it involved the issue of gay marriage, which has been a big deal in the culture wars inside the United States. I shared my own thoughts about it in a column a while back. I got more than 150 comments on that article from people on both sides of the issue, so it clearly struck a nerve with many Firefox users.

This makes me wonder if the damage done to Mozilla's reputation by the whole affair is still festering. Are top-notch CEO candidates afraid at this point to step into the job at Mozilla? No doubt whoever does take the job is probably going to have their background looked at with a fine tooth comb by the media, and that may be spooking viable candidates away from taking the job.

CNet examines the effect of political correctness on CEOs and companies in Silicon Valley in a long article that looks at what happened inside of Mozilla:

According to CNet:

Still, it may be some time before the Mozilla community recovers. The episode has become a touchstone around whether political correctness now means CEOs of Silicon Valley companies are less free than other Americans to assert their First Amendment right to free speech. "In the old days it was, 'Can you generate a return for shareholders?'" said Scott McNealy, who during more than two decades as CEO of Sun Microsystems espoused fiscally conservative politics and sharply libertarian views. "Now we have, 'How do you feel about gun control, immigration, gay marriage, abortion, and big government?'"

Illustrating just how toxic Mozilla's controversy has become, few high-ranking figures in the Bay Area's tech scene were willing to go on the record to comment on Mozilla's plight. Taking a public stand on Eich means painting a target on yourself, said one tech company executive. "Intolerance tends to beget intolerance. There are no winners here."

More at CNet

So it seems clear that the fall of Brendan Eich has probably had a real chilling effect on many people's willingness to consider the CEO job at Mozilla. There seems to be a real fear of becoming the next target for the media and various political issue groups.

Perhaps it's not just the Brendan Eich thing though, maybe it's also the dependence of Mozilla on Google for most of its revenue. Potential CEO candidates may not be willing to join a company so dependent on one source of income without having a clear roadmap of other viable products. This is just speculation on my part, but it may also play into why Mozilla still hasn't found a permanent CEO.

Given the importance of Firefox as a browser, I certainly hope they are able to work through any remaining issues and bring a great new CEO into the fold soon. As the ZDNet article pointed out, Mozilla needs high-quality leadership and it needs it right now.

Is HP's The Machine OS revolutionary or just more hype?
The VAR Guy thinks that HP's The Machine OS will be a revolution in operating systems.

According to The VAR Guy:

Actually, HP wants to build three new, apparently distinct operating systems for The Machine. One will be based on Linux and another on Android (which is also a form of Linux, technically), while the third will be the original work of HP in conjunction with academic institutions around the world. "We want to reignite in all of our universities around the world operating system research which we think has been dormant or stagnant for decades," Fink said.

That initiative is what makes The Machine truly revolutionary on the software front. And when I say revolutionary, I'm thinking both of the older definition of the word, when it referred to things that were cyclical—i.e., that revolved—as well as the modern sense evoking radical upheaval. The new open source OS HP wants to build will do both things.

More at The VAR Guy

While I like the idea of what HP wants to do, I remain quite skeptical about them actually releasing something in a practical sense. It's very easy to say that you are going to do something "revolutionary" but it's quite a bit harder to actually bring something to market that matches the hype.

And I don't idealize the involvement of universities either. While it sounds great initially, the question comes up of whether or not all of those institutions can actually produce something of real value, in the real world that can hold its own against all of the other operating systems currently available for mobile or desktop computers.

So I think we're going to have to wait and see what HP actually releases. Right now it's more or less just vaporware that sounds great on paper. Frankly, I'm keeping my expectations very low so I'm not disappointed if the final product doesn't live up to all of the hullabaloo about The Machine OS.

Is Lubuntu 14.04 LTS the perfect replacement for Windows XP?
Everyday Linux User looks at why Lubuntu might be the perfect Linux distribution to replace Microsoft's dead operating system Windows XP.

According to Everyday Linux User:

Windows XP users are now at the point where they should really consider using another operating system. Windows XP was released a long time ago and so it would make sense that anyone running it is probably using an older computer.

As this article is part of Lubuntu week I am going to list 5 reasons why you should switch from Windows XP to Lubuntu.

1. Windows XP is dead
2. You have older hardware
3. You have a netbook running Windows XP
4. Familiarity
5. Long term support

More at Everyday Linux User

It's pretty tough to think of reasons why Lubuntu 14.04 LTS wouldn't be a great replacement for Windows XP. I did a review of Lubuntu 14.04 a while back and my experience was quite positive. Perhaps the only problem switchers might have is that they would not be able to easily run Microsoft Office (though there are ways such as CrossOver, Wine, etc. to work around that). I suspect that most Windows XP users would adjust to Lubuntu very quickly given the similarities between the two desktop interfaces.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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