Firefox crosses 1-billion mark

The popular Firefox Web browser, developed by a grass-roots group, reached a major milestone Friday -- its billionth download.

The download counter rolled over the 1-billion mark early Friday, marking a feat for a browser that, unlike Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Apple's Safari, is run by a nonprofit organization, Mozilla, with fewer than 250 employees.

Despite its lack of big corporation backing -- or maybe partially because of it -- Firefox has become hugely popular worldwide. The free browser, which debuted in 2004, has received high marks for speed, efficiency, adaptability and user-friendliness.

Also, Firefox is built on open source software, with its programming code accessible to developers who want to make compatible, collaborative products, and even participate in its further development.

More than 1,000 volunteers have contributed to Firefox's code and about 20,000 test daily updates, according to Mozilla.

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david.colker@latimes.com

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