May 12, 2005 9:00 PM PDT

IBM backs Firefox in-house

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IBM is encouraging its employees to use Firefox, aiding the open-source Web browser's quest to chip away at Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Firefox is already used by about 10 percent of IBM's staff, or about 30,000 people. Starting Friday, IBM workers can download the browser from internal servers and get support from the company's help desk staff.

IBM's commitment to Firefox is among its most prominent votes of confidence from a large corporation. Based on development work by the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, Firefox has been downloaded by more than 50 million people since it debuted in November. Internet Explorer still dominates the overall market by far, though, with Firefox's share in the single digits.

For IBM, the move is a significant step in lessening dependence on a product from rival Microsoft.

By supporting Firefox internally, IBM is also furthering its commitment to open-source products based on industry standards, said Brian Truskowski, chief information officer at IBM.

"This is a real good example of walking the talk when it comes it comes to open standards and open source," Truskowski said.

Because Firefox is based on industry standards--as opposed to proprietary technology--IBM has some "comfort" that it will interoperate well with third-party products, Truskowski said. By contrast, Microsoft's Internet Explorer uses some proprietary technology, such as ActiveX for running programs within a browser.

"What I will avoid is anything that is proprietary in nature," Truskowski said.

The company is training its help-desk staff on Firefox and certifying that internal applications will work with the browser, he said.

Truskowski expects that Firefox will ultimately end up costing IBM less than IE because the company can use open-source additions to Firefox. "I hope in making a small investment up front, I can leverage that innovation going forward," he said.

Stacy Quandt, an analyst at the Robert Frances Group, said that IBM's endorsement of Firefox internally aligns with the company's strategy of backing open-source products based on standards. It may also give other companies reason to "pay attention to" Firefox and see it as an alternative to Internet Explorer.


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Smart move
Yup IBM has some really good IT counselling or something. A bit late but a good move nonetheless.
Posted by (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
IBM has to be smart.
And do not forget that IBM has probably most heterogenous network environment.

Number of systems supported by Ff barely matches - but still matches better than anything else in industry.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Link Flag
And the move matches what I see.
I can as an example my company ~400 people.

R&D department in two days was completely converted from IE to Ff. With other departments slowly influenced by R&D. IT department is inadequate here - so they are probably only IE users left inhouse.

I can estimate that about 80% of stuff uses solely Ff for both intranet & internet.

Ff penetration is completely grass root movement, as I see it. People just install another browser, enjoy new experience and share that with others. A company is quite closed environment and good news are spreading very fast inside.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
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IBM's own Lotus Sametime Meeting requires IE/Microsoft JVM
We use Lotus Sametime for internal chat and Sametime meeting for internal meetings and screen sharing. Sametime Meeting utilizes java and a web browser. Unfortunately, the requirements are
1) IE
2) Microsoft JVM

If you use Sun JVM, you are out of luck. If you use any other browser, you are out of luck.

I wonder if they will ever release a version that works correctly on Firefox/Sun JVM.
Posted by bommai (172 comments )
Reply Link Flag
actually Sametime WebConferencing does
Make sure you have the jvm running correctly and no pop up blockers, etc. Trust me it works!
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
Sametime Meeting Requires IE / MS JVM - Not True
I use Sametime web conferencing with Firefox v1.07 and Sun's Java 2 Standard Edition v1.5.0 JVM and it works fine.
Posted by fizimble (1 comment )
Link Flag
Someone is behind the curve on this.... I was very excited to read the news story about MOZILLA/FIREFOX being available internally in IBM.... until I went to our internal tools website and found multiple MAJOR internal tools explicitly do NOT allow use of any browser but IE.
I would be delighted to be able to completely abandon IE, but it is still required internally to submit expenses, make travel reservations, or print anything (set up network printers), you still need to use IE.
Posted by (1 comment )
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All in time.
I don't think its fair to assume or think simply allowing FF's use means the company or entire sections of the company have started to totally abandon IE. It will take time until some things work as they should using it. My own line of work doesn't let me use FF yet for getting into our Intranet remotely. However I know its only a matter of time before we can use it.

More to the point, if there is a lesson here, it is that companies are learning they have to be on the FF boat to deal with other companies. That specific aspect of FF's growing popularity means the growth of use won't slow anytime soon.

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Posted by NWLB (326 comments )
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IBM supports Firefox
I found the article to be accurate. I've been using Firefox since it first became available. What changed recently was its addition to a tools repository for the general users.

There are some web pages and tools that require IE, that's true, but those are easily handled. FireFox has an extension called IEVIEW. When I run into a page that requires IE (and those are the exception rather than the rule) I just click IEVIEW to open the same page in the MSIE browser.
Posted by Science_Boy (3 comments )
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Is this a case of users - not developers
Can anyone (who admits to working at IBM) clarify if it's not just a case of promoting the use of Firefox for ordinary personnel - but having developers that HAVE to use IE, on the basis that anything that IBM develops HAS to work on the most commonly used web browser ?
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
Time, ladies and gents, time...
All in good time... problems, whining... in a perfect world...

Someone's missing the point in all this...
- $100M invested in Linux
- Looking for Firefox programmers
- Backs Firefox

...Anyone else see a pattern here? A "plan", maybe?
Posted by J. Warren (17 comments )
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School tried converting to Firefox...
Someone smart at my Highschool had converted most of the desktops to Firefox and installed Spybot and Ad-Aware.

But low and behold, someone convinced the school we needed new comps to replace the already good 1.6 GHz p4
256 mb ram
ATI Rage 128 Pro agp 4x
Windows 2000
Office 2000, some had office XP

Here are the replacements-
2.4 GHz pentium 4
256 mb ram
Intel integrated crap video
Windows XP Pro
Office 2003

And they are crippled. IE, and office with NO antispyware programs, and whoever set the privelages is stupid because they just made the program files folder off limits to non-admins. (You just install stuff to c: if you want to)

I think microsoft made a lot of money off of this.
Not to mention the new comps are very poorly built and run EXTREMELY hot.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
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Not ALL bad
Well -

No increase in RAM. I would definitely need more. But in school, the demands may not be the same - especially if games aren't what they're intended for.

CPU - a bit slow by todays standards. Should have made them cheap to buy. Again, if not game playing, may be OK.

Integrated video - means, they didn't spend the extra on new plug-in bopards. Maybe just about acceptable, if you're not game playing. If they didn't sell/trash the old machines, maybe they'll migrate the old cards. I like integrated hardware features as a fallback, so I can test any new machine I'm building, and I can assume the integrated feature is now going to be the cause of any problem. Whereas, if I build a new machine and have lots of issues, the video card could be causing some and even be preventing me from seeing other, more elemental errors.

Windows 2000 was pretty good. I used it alot. But the change to XP PRO is definitely really worthwhile. And I certainly prefer XP Pro to XP home.

Office 2003 is a pretty fine product too. Not without issues. But one of the best Office products that M$ have created.

A respectable reviewer called Outlook 2003 "the king of email clients". I wouldn't go that far, but it's pretty decent. After I accumulated my list of Safe Senders, my Outlook 2003 correctly identifies about 80 spams per day, with no false positives.

As for running hot - mine (5 PC's) all run hot. Once I got over about 2.0 P4, they ALL run hot. I have one machine right now running a 3.0 P4 on an Intel 865GBF(LK) m/board and running Intel Active Monitor shows despite a pair of 120mm, an 80mm &#38; standard CPU fan, it's always running close to default thresholds. I've tinkered with airflow, inside the case &#38; experimented with additional expansion slot fans &#38; added extra cooling for my Radeon 9800XT. New 64-bit processors are appearing - but not sure why people would use them yet until we get Longhorn. Perhaps they do actually deal with the heat issue better, through better architecture?

So - all in all looks a bit of a bit of a questionable upgrade. But then, I don't know the particular specifications that were established for what would be expected of the new machines. I wouldn't do this sort of upgrade - I'd wait until I could afford a bigger jump in performance. But then, I'm not a school.

Just tell me - you DO have some virus &#38; firewall software install.......right ? If not, everything else is academic (if you'll excuse the pun).

BTW - my machine in highschool had 1K of RAM. So you can guess just how long ago that was :-)
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
Just to be different.
If I had been the smart guy working for your school I would have opted for AMD procs, 256mb - 512mb ram, a cheap nVidia or ATI video card, and WinXP Pro. I would have also installed a network version on an antivirus program and firewall. I would have made all computers log into a windows domain (if the server was available).

As far as the office application goes I would have use WordPerfect Office 12. The new SBS version comes with an e-mail client that can work with Exchange servers and from what I hear it's pretty nice (probably would have been good enough for a school). I also prefer word processors that actually allow you to get to the under belly of the document to make changes. Having had to use both Office apps I can say that WordPerfect is easier to use than Word. I know the Most of the Office users will disagree, but that's because most of them haven't ever used anything other than Office.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Of course they run hot
That is what Intel is known for.

As for the rest, push for better security, AS, Firefox, ect. It should not be hard to convince them to ditch IE.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag

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