When I started using Unix seriously in 1998, there weren’t a lot of options for getting on the web. I’d happily used Opera on Windows at home, after Netscape’s rather disappointing version 4, but Netscape Navigator (and not the whole suite) was clearly the best option when I switched to GNU/Linux full-time at home later that year.
I followed the Mozilla project with interest and finally switched away from NN4 to one of the Mozilla milestones around 0.9.1. This was an improvement, and not only because Mozilla tended to be higher quality but because it supported more sites more effectively.
Firefox didn’t impress me when it first arrived. Removing useful features altogether still strikes me as deeply silly. I remember thinking that Firefox’s vaunted slimness and lower footprint would go away when I had to install a dozen extensions to get back the features I used every day.
I haven’t thought that for years. I switched to Firefox around its 1.0 release and consider it a fine piece of software. Sure, there are problems, but I remember using Netscape 2 betas. Web browsers have come a long way in reliability and utility since then.
Firefox may be my most heavily used application, if you don’t count X.org or the command line. It’s served me well, and I’ve recommended it highly to countless others. Thank you to all of the contributors to Firefox and Mozilla’s projects. Even ten years ago, I had no idea how valuable this work would be.