In all the noise about Apple moving from the PowerPC to the x86 architecture, here’s an interesting tidbit that I totally missed until just now:
First off, Apple employees got Firefox running on an Intel Mac for the sake of using it as a demonstration of what it takes to port a complex application. After the demo, they sent me patches.
I never tried to get Firefox running on Intel Macs by just applying their patches. For one thing, they were not worried about cross-platform patches or writing the code in such a way that we could actually land it in our tree. They just wanted it to run. Secondly, the patches were fairly out of date by the time I got them, in particular because of the huge build system improvements Mark Mentovai has been making. However, the Apple patches were extremely valuable because they did a lot of work for us and at least pointed us right to many of the problem areas instead of us having to figure out what we need to do.
That’s from a post by Josh Aas, who joined the Mozilla Foundation in May to beef up their Mac team. Apparently Apple did a lot of the heavy lifting to get the OS X version of Firefox running on x86 as a demo, and when they made the big announcement, they shared all their work with the MoFo. The result is that Josh has already got a version of Firefox available for x86, long before any actual x86 Macs hit the market.
That’s a nice gift from Apple to the MoFo — especially since they have their own browser that could conceivably be viewed as “competition” (at least in the fevered imaginations of a few MBAs). So thanks are due to Cupertino for helping Mozilla make the jump to x86 with aplomb!