The Book of Mozilla

The Book of Mozilla

"The Book of Mozilla" is a computer Easter egg found in the Netscape and Mozilla series of web browsers. [cite news
url =,%20Michelle
title = User's Guide; It's Time to Hunt For Easter Eggs
author = Michelle Slatalla
work = The New York Times
date = 1998-04-09
accessdate = 2008-01-03
] [cite book
url =
title = Firefox Hacks
publisher = O'Reilly Japan
year = 2005
pages = 279
accessdate = 2008-01-03
] It is viewed by directing the browser to about:mozilla. [cite news
url =
title = Find software Easter eggs
author = Stan Miastkowski
work = PC World
date = 2003-04-01
accessdate = 2008-01-03
] [cite book
url =
title = Don't Click on the Blue E!: Switching to Firefox
author = Scott Granneman
publisher = O'Reilly
year = 2005
pages = 284
accessdate = 2008-01-03
] [cite book
url =
title = Xhtml 1.0 Web Development Sourcebook: Building Better Sites and Applications
author = Ian S. Graham
publisher = John Wiley
year = 2000
pages = 293
accessdate = 2008-01-03

There is no real book entitled "The Book of Mozilla". However, apparent quotations hidden in Netscape and Mozilla give this impression by revealing passages in the style of apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Revelation in the Bible. When about:mozilla is typed into the location bar, various versions of these browsers display a cryptic message in white text on a maroon background in the browser window.

There are five official verses of "The Book of Mozilla" which have been included in shipping releases, although various unofficial verses can be found on the World Wide Web. All five official verses have scriptural chapter and verse references, although these are actually references to important dates in the history of Netscape and Mozilla.

The five verses all refer to the activities of a fearsome-sounding "beast". In its early days, Netscape Communications Corporation had a green fire-breathing dragon-like lizard mascot, known as Mozilla (after the code name for Netscape Navigator 1.0). From this, it can be conjectured that the "beast" referred to in "The Book of Mozilla" is a type of fire-breathing lizard, which can be viewed as a metaphor for, or personification of Netscape.

While part of the appeal of "The Book of Mozilla" comes from the mysterious nature, a knowledge of the history of Netscape and Mozilla can be used to apply some meaning to the verses. Furthermore, the [ Book of Mozilla] page has annotations for each of the first, second, third and fifth verses hidden as comments in its HTML source code.cite web
title=Book of Mozilla
publisher=Mozilla Foundation
] These comments were written by Valerio Capello in May 2004 and were added to the Mozilla Foundation site by Nicholas Bebout in October that year. Neither Capello nor Bebout are 'core' Mozilla decision-makers; and there is no evidence that Capello's interpretations received any high-level approval from the senior management of the Mozilla Foundation.

"The Book of Mozilla", 12:10

"The Book of Mozilla" first appeared in Netscape 1.1 (released in 1995) and can be found in every subsequent 1.x, 2.x, 3.x and 4.x version. The following "prophecy" was displayed:

And the beast shall come forth surrounded by a roiling cloud of vengeance. The house of the unbelievers shall be razed and they shall be scorched to the earth. Their tags shall blink until the end of days.

from The Book of Mozilla, 12:10

The chapter and verse number 12:10 refers to December 10, 1994, the date that Netscape Navigator 1.0 was released.

The Book of Mozilla page, which includes four of the verses from "The Book of Mozilla", contains the following explanation in its HTML source code:

<!-- 10th December 1994: Netscape Navigator 1.0 was released --> <!-- This verse announces the birth of the beast (Netscape) and warns bad coders (up to Netscape 3, when you watched the HTML source code with the internal viewer, bad tags blinked). -->

The "beast" is a metaphor for Netscape. The punishments threatened towards the "unbelievers" (most likely users who didn't conform to standards) are traditionally biblical but with the strange threat that their "tags shall blink until the end of days". This is a reference the feature in early version of Netscape to blink bad tags, as seen in the source code comments from the Book of Mozilla.

"The Book of Mozilla", 3:31

On May 10, 1998, Jamie "JWZ" Zawinski changed "The Book of Mozilla" verse to reference the fact that Netscape had released its code as open source and started the Mozilla project. This verse was included in all Mozilla builds until October 1998, when a rewrite of much of the Mozilla code meant that the Easter egg was lost. On February 5, 2000, Ben Goodger, then working for Netscape, copied "The Book of Mozilla" verse across to the new code base. It was included in all subsequent Mozilla builds (until the introduction of the 7:15 verse) and Netscape versions 6 to 7.1.

The verse states:

And the beast shall be made legion. Its numbers shall be increased a thousand thousand fold. The din of a million keyboards like unto a great storm shall cover the earth, and the followers of Mammon shall tremble.

from The Book of Mozilla, 3:31
(Red Letter Edition)

The chapter and verse number 3:31 refers to March 31, 1998, when Netscape released its source code.

The Book of Mozilla page has the following comment in its HTML source about this passage:

<!-- 31st March 1998: the Netscape Navigator source code was released --> <!-- The source code is made available to the legion of thousands of coders of the open source community, that will fight against the followers of Mammon (Microsoft Internet Explorer). -->

Again, the "beast" is Netscape. The text probably refers to Netscape's hope that, by opening its source, they could attract a "legion" of developers all across the world, who would help improve the software (with the "din of a million keyboards"). "Mammon" refers to Microsoft, whose Internet Explorer browser was Netscape's chief competition. The word "mammon," in various semitic languages, is related to money and riches; it appears in English translations of the Bible, and is sometimes used as the name of a demon of avarice. It may therefore imply not only that Microsoft has vastly greater funds to draw on, but that it has greedily abused that fact to further its own position in the marketplace; it also highlights the difference between the purely commercial development of Internet Explorer, and the new community-driven development of Netscape/Mozilla. "Red Letter Edition" may be a reference to so-called Red Letter Editions of the Bible, which print quotations by Jesus in red ink. It could also be a reference to a fact that March 31, 1998 was a red-letter day for the Mozilla project.

"The Book of Mozilla", 7:15

The next installment of "The Book of Mozilla" was written by Neil Deakin. It is included in all versions of Mozilla released from September 2003 to July 2008 (Mozilla 1.5 - Mozilla Firefox, all versions of Camino and the Mozilla Thunderbird email client, the SeaMonkey application suite, the Epiphany web browser (version 1.8.0), the Minimo Pocket PC web browser, and all Netscape versions from 7.2 onwards (except some Netscape Browser prototype releases), it is also viewable in Firefox 1.x to 2.x:

And so at last the beast fell and the unbelievers rejoiced. But all was not lost, for from the ash rose a great bird. The bird gazed down upon the unbelievers and cast fire and thunder upon them. For the beast had been reborn with its strength renewed, and the followers of Mammon cowered in horror.

from The Book of Mozilla, 7:15

The 7:15 chapter and verse notation refers to July 15, 2003, the day when America Online shut down its Netscape browser division and the Mozilla Foundation was launched.

In the HTML source of Book of Mozilla page, this verse is accompanied by the following annotation:

<!-- 15th July 2003: AOL closed its Netscape division and the Mozilla foundation was created --> <!-- The beast died (AOL closed its Netscape division) but immediately rose from its ashes (the creation of the Mozilla foundation and the Firebird browser, although the name was later changed to Firefox). -->

The "beast" falling refers to Netscape being closed down by its now parent company AOL. The "great bird" that rises from the ash is the Mozilla Foundation, which was established to continue Mozilla development. The bird rises from the ash like a phoenix — a reference to the original name of the Mozilla Firefox browser (known as Firebird at the time this verse was written). The bird casts down "fire" and "thunder" on the "unbelievers", which is a direct reference to the Mozilla Firebird (now Firefox) and Mozilla Thunderbird products, which became the main focus of Mozilla development a few months before the events of July 15. The fact that the beast has been "reborn" indicates that the spirit of Netscape will live on through the Foundation (which is made up mostly of ex-Netscape employees) and its strength has been "renewed" as the foundation is less reliant on AOL (who many feel neglected Netscape). Again, "Mammon" is Microsoft, Mozilla's main commercial competitor.

"The Book of Mozilla", 8:20

Netscape's Lead browser engineer Christopher Finke contributed the next verse of "The Book of Mozilla". It was first made public in the June 5, 2007 release of Netscape Navigator 9.0b1.

And thus the Creator looked upon the beast reborn and saw that it was good.

from The Book of Mozilla, 8:20

The 8:20 chapter and verse notation refers to August 20, 2006, when the first internal email was sent mentioning the possibility of developing the next Netscape Navigator in house.

Unlike previous verses, the HTML source for the Book of Mozilla page does not feature any verse-related annotations.

The "Creator" refers to Netscape the company. There are two interpretations of the verse: the phrase "beast reborn" appears in the previous verse referring to the Mozilla Foundation and "it was good" could be a tribute to everyone who contributed to the Mozilla project. "Beast reborn" could also be a reference to Netscape reopening their browser division instead of outsourcing development; Netscape Browser 8 was produced by Mercurial Communications.

"The Book of Mozilla", 11:9

Mammon slept. And the beast reborn spread over the earth and its numbers grew legion. And they proclaimed the times and sacrificed crops unto the fire, with the cunning of foxes. And they built a new world in their own image as promised by the sacred words, and spoke of the beast with their children. Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower.

from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9 (10th Edition)

This verse landed in the Mozilla trunk codebase on January 9, 2008. [cite web | author = Mozilla developers | url = | title = Bug 411352 – Update Book of Mozilla passage (about:mozilla) | accessdate = 2008-01-11] [cite web | url = | title = CVS Log for mozilla.dtd | accessdate = 2008-01-31] It first appeared in Firefox 3.0 Beta 3.

In the HTML source of the Book of Mozilla page, this verse is accompanied by the following annotation:

<!-- 9th November 2004: Firefox 1.0 is officially released -->
<!-- The worldwide support of Firefox fans leads to its success, illustrating the power of community-based open source projects. -->

"Mammon" is again Internet Explorer, which "slept" for the 5 years between releases (between Internet Explorer 6 and 7). The "beast reborn" refers to Firefox, which gained supporters who self-organized through Spread Firefox, and undertook publicity for the browser, taking out an advertisement in "The New York Times" and making a crop circle shaped like the Firefox logo. The "cunning of foxes" is a direct reference to Firefox's name. The "new world" refers to modern, standards based dynamic websites and open source applications. The latter half of the passage links to the Mozilla Manifesto and the about:Mozilla newsletter The last part, starting with "Mammon awoke" speaks of the release of Internet Explorer 7 and with "it was naught but a follower" describes it as a follower, copying several of the functions in Firefox that Internet Explorer previously lacked. [cite web | author = Mike Beltzner | url = | title = Mike Beltzner's Description | date = 10th January 2008 | accessdate = 2008-01-11] Additionally, this quote from the "10th edition", is an allusion to the Mozilla Foundation's 10th anniversary during the Firefox 3 development cycle. [cite web | author = Mozilla Foundation | url= | title = about:mozilla - Mozilla turns 10, Foxkeh news, Toronto moves, AMO redesign, Firefox announcement, Freerice, and more | date = 8th April 2008 | accessdate = 2008-04-14]

Behavior in different browsers

Microsoft Internet Explorer

In some versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, about:mozilla produces a blank blue page (possibly referencing the Blue Screen of Death). The about:mozilla link was disabled in SP2 of Windows XP; however, the file containing the page still exists, for those who wish to re-enable the link add a string value in "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftInternet ExplorerAboutURLs" called "mozilla" with the value "res://mshtml.dll/about.moz". Alternatively, it can be viewed directly by pasting the URL "res://mshtml.dll/about.moz" into the Internet Explorer address bar.


Before Netscape 1.1, about:mozilla produced the text "Mozilla rules!".

Viewing the about:mozilla page with a Unix version of Netscape would change the throbber to an animation of Mozilla rising up from behind the "planet" logo and breathing fire. (Images viewable [ here] )


"The Book of Mozilla", 11:1

Though not an official verse by Mozilla, a new verse of the Book of Mozilla, 11:1, became available in Flock Browser 1.0+, a "Social Web Browser" based on Firefox. This verse is shown on blue/white vertical gradient when about:mozilla is entered into the location bar. The verse is as follows.

And when the Beast had taken the quarter of the Earth under its rule, a quarter hundred Birds of Sulfur flew from the Depths. The birds crossed hundreds of mountain views and found twenty four wise men who came from the stars. And then it began, the believers dared to listen. Then, they took their pens and dared to create. Finally, they dared to share their deed with the whole of mankind. Spreading words of freedom and breaking the chains, the birds brought deliverance to everyone.

from The Book of Mozilla, 11:1

"And when the beast had taken the quarter of the earth under its rule..." is probably a reference to the increasing market share Firefox was gaining over the more popular Internet Explorer. "Birds of Sulfur" references the developmental codename of Flock, which is Sulfur. The "mountain views" references the city of Mountain View, California where the company that produces Flock is based.cite web|url= Flock Press Releases|title=Flock Releases the Social Web Browser|section=History|accessdate=2008-01-29|publisher=Flock, Inc] As this verse is new (version 1.0 was released 5 November 2007), much of the meaning is still unclear, though "they took their pens and dared to create" most likely references to the fact of a lot of blogging, and social networking integration to Flock.

ee also



External links

* [ "The Book of Mozilla", 12:10]
* [ "The Book of Mozilla", 3:31]
* [ "The Book of Mozilla", 7:15]
* [ "The Book of Mozilla", 11:9]
* [ "Book of Mozilla"] , a portal for former Netscape employees

Changes to about:mozilla page

* [ Bug 213117 — new text for about:mozilla] (bug report that led to the change from 3:31 to 7:15)
* [ CVS history for the about:mozilla file in the old (classic) Mozilla code base]
* [ CVS history for the about:mozilla file in the new Mozilla code base until it was renamed to mozilla.xhtml]
* [ CVS history for the about:mozilla file in the new Mozilla code base after it was renamed to mozilla.xhtml]
* [ CVS history for the about:mozilla file in applications that use the new toolkit (Firefox, Thunderbird etc.)]
* [ CVS history for the about:mozilla text (November 2004 and later)]

Book of Mozilla on

* [ The Book of Mozilla] (includes annotations in HTML source)
** [ Bug 217203 — Book of Mozilla not on] (bug report that led to the creation of
** [ CVS history for (later replaced by index.html)]
** [ CVS history for (replaced index.xml)]

Articles about The Book of Mozilla

* [ MozillaZine article announcing the new verse of "The Book of Mozilla"]
* [ Results of a MozillaZine poll on the readers' favourite verse]
* [ Some clarifications regarding about:mozilla] written by staff member Gervase Markham

Collections of passages

* [ Extracts from "The Book of Mozilla"] — a compilation of official and unofficial passages from "The Book of Mozilla"

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