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Published on Jun 2, 2013
When the lizard meets puffy
Maintaining the port of Firefox to OpenBSD is an interesting challenge, since the web & its related technologies are evolving faster and faster, and third-party OS are struggling more and more to keep up the pace with a fast-moving target such as Mozilla. I'll explain how i got caught into this by accident in the beginning of 2010, what are the key things to know about Mozilla development when coming from another big OSS project, how to properly cooperate with upstream, and how i managed to wrap up a workflow that eases the port updates at each new Mozilla release.
Firefox (and thunderbird !) have been ported to OpenBSD around 2004, and since then there's been a constant work to keep them working fine, and up-to-date. Especially since the switch to a fast release schedule, you need to track very closely what happens upstream to ensure nothing breaks on third party operating systems at each new release, since Mozilla only considers Windows, Linux and MacOSX as tier-1 platforms. More and more code (often depending on os-specific code) is dumped into mozilla's source tree, and you also need to make sure that code also work on your os, or then has to be made optional.
You also need to take special care to push back your fixes upstream for two reasons : making maintainance a breeze over time, and letting upstream know that you exist and that there are quite some users on other platforms.
The developments in the next web APIs are making it crucial to have a fully functional browser on your favorite OS, so we'll also see what's needed for that.