NCSA Mosaic for X 2.0 available (Marc Andreessen)
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 93 04:01:39 -0800
From: (Marc Andreessen)
Message-id: <>
Subject: NCSA Mosaic for X 2.0 available
[This is a resend; NCSA experienced severe power and network problems
through early this morning, which seem to all be fixed now.]

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines...

NCSA Mosaic for X 2.0 is now available. in /Mosaic:

  o Source in /Mosaic/Mosaic-source.

  o Binaries for SunOS 4.1.3, Solaris (yup) 2.3, AIX 3.2, IRIX 4.x,
    DEC Alpha (OSF/1), DEC Ultrix, and HP/UX 9.x (700-series) in

Thanks MUCH to all the prerelease testers who sent us feedback and bug
reports -- your help made 2.0 into a vastly better product than it
would otherwise have been and will no doubt continue to improve Mosaic
throughout 2.x's lifespan.

If you have any comments, questions, or problems with Mosaic 2.0,
please send mail to  Also please drop us a
note if you enjoy using Mosaic or if you are using it in any
interesting projects or applications -- we love to hear from our

The remainder of this message is a text copy of 2.0's "Help on
Version" and summarizes important changes and new features in 2.0.

The online version of this document is:

Introduction to NCSA Mosaic for X 2.0

This document is intended to serve as an introduction to NCSA Mosaic for
the X Window System version 2.0. It covers new features in version 2.0, and
changes from version 1.2, that will affect most users of Mosaic. 

For more information on any of the details in this document, please feel free
to send mail to (or, alternately, to the World
Wide Web mailing list or the Usenet newsgroup 

Status Of Documentation For 2.0

We are currently writing real Mosaic 2.0 documentation; it isn't yet
available, for which we apologize. In the meantime, this document should at
least help current users of Mosaic 1.2 upgrade to 2.0 without too much pain. 

Potential Problems

This section is an up-front listing of how Mosaic 2.0 is different than
Mosaic 1.2 in ways that may cause apparent trouble to existing 1.2 users. 

 o The Mosaic executable has been renamed Mosaic, and the new class
   name for Mosaic is, predictably, Mosaic. Existing Mosaic 1.2 X
   resources and application defaults files should be modified to match. 

 o The method by which you customize the viewers Mosaic uses for
   various datatypes (e.g. MPEG movies or PostScript documents) has 
   completely changed. 

   First, the multimedia X resources (e.g. gifViewerCommand) used
   by Mosaic 1.2 are totally ignored by Mosaic 2.0. (Trust me, this is
   really a good thing.) 

   Second, you now have complete control over the types of data
   Mosaic can understand and what it does with each type, as well as the
   file extensions that correspond to each type (when communicating
   with a HTTP0 or FTP server). 

   Third, Mosaic now uses the MIME typing mechanism for naming
   data types (e.g., the MIME type for a GIF image is image/gif).
   This provides a substantial amount of interoperability with the
   present and future of multimedia email on the Internet, but will
   require a little readjustment on the part of users who are used to
   simply calling GIF files "type GIF", etc. 

   For more information on these issues, see: 

    o Information on mapping MIME types to external viewers. 
    o Information on mapping file extensions to MIME types. 

 o Mosaic 2.0 speaks the HTTP/1.0 protocol, while Mosaic 1.2 spoke
   the pre-HTTP/1.0 protocol commonly referred to as "HTTP0" or

   This means that Mosaic 2.0 sends more complex queries to HTTP
   servers than Mosaic 1.2 did. If you are running a fairly recent HTTP0
   server (e.g. NCSA httpd 0.5), this should not be a problem -- the new
   protocol is backward compatible, and Mosaic will go to great lengths
   to make sure it interacts with the HTTP0 server correctly. 

   However, some old HTTP servers (anything pre-1993) will break
   completely when sent a HTTP/1.0 query, and Mosaic 2.0 won't be
   able to make things work. Such servers are actually in violation of
   the final HTTP0 protocol specification and should at least be
   upgraded to conform to that specification, if not HTTP/1.0. 

 o HTTP/1.0 servers are by now (November 1993) fairly widespread,
   and many sites are using them without even realizing that they are
   HTTP/1.0 servers, because they also talk HTTP0 to clients (like
   Mosaic 1.2) that only talk HTTP0. 

   It is important to realize that HTTP/1.0 mandates server-side typing
   of files. This means that the server must recognize, for example, that
   the file extension ".gif" means that the file is a GIF image (i.e.,
   MIME type image/gif), and must communicate this information
   to the client within the HTTP/1.0 retrieval process. HTTP/1.0 clients
   like Mosaic 2.0 will not look at file extensions to determine file types
   when talking to HTTP/1.0 servers -- if the server gets the type
   wrong, the client will not look at the suffix to try to figure out the
   right type. 

   This means that if all of a sudden a file that Mosaic 1.2 always
   handled as an HTML document is handled by Mosaic 2.0 as if it is a
   binary data file, and the file is being served off an HTTP/1.0 server,
   the server is (almost surely) at fault for not informing the client of
   the correct type. 

   Related issue: Transparent uncompression is currently never done
   when talking to a HTTP/1.0 server. This will be fixed in a
   maintenance release. We do however discourage reliance on
   transparent uncompression in general, as clients on other platforms
   (e.g. NCSA Mosaic for the Mac & Windows) generally can't
   uncompress files compressed using the standard Unix methods (
   compress and gzip). 

   (Note to the skeptical: server-side typing is actually a powerful
   feature of HTTP/1.0, despite any migration problems it may cause.
   Also note that Mosaic 2.0 will still do file extension typing when
   talking to HTTP0 servers, so you can always continue to run a
   HTTP0 server in conjunction with Mosaic 2.0 if you prefer
   client-side typing.) 

 o Mosaic 2.0 does not have the hardcoded Documents and Manuals
   menus that were in Mosaic 1.2. They were removed for a number of
   reasons too boring to go into here. If, however, you find yourself
   "lost in cyberspace" because of the loss of those hardcoded menus,
   choose the "Internet Starting Points" entry in Mosaic 2.0's 
   Navigate menu -- Mosaic will fetch a document from NCSA that
   contains the contents of Mosaic 1.2's hardcoded menus in HTML

   Also see the new "Internet Resources Meta-Index", also under
   Mosaic 2.0's Navigate menu, for an alternate set of Internet
   starting points perhaps more suitable to the task of locating any
   specific piece of information on the network. 

New Features In Mosaic 2.0

OK, this is the fun part. What will Mosaic 2.0 do for you? 

 o Completely interruptible I/O. At any point in a data transfer process
   (hostname lookups and certain stages of direct WAIS queries
   excepted), you can click on the icon in the upper right corner of the
   window to stop the current network action. 

 o Fill-out forms. As per the current HTML+ spec, documents can
   specify interactive fill-out forms -- with input elements including
   text entry areas, toggle buttons, selection lists, popup menus, etc. --
   and Mosaic will instantiate such fill-out forms as sets of Motif
   widgets embedded inside the documents. 

   This provides a way to provide arbitrarily sophisticated front-end
   interfaces to databases and search engines, as well as other network
   services -- e.g., ordering pizzas. 

   See details on fill-out forms. 

 o Authentication. Thanks to Ari Luotonen at CERN, Mosaic can now
   communicate properly with HTTP/1.0 servers that demand user
   authentication before accessing information -- the user is presented
   with an opportunity to enter a username and password to authenticate
   herself to the remote server. 

   Currently, the "BASIC" authentication scheme is supported, which
   provides for encoded (not cleartext, but not encrypted) transmission
   of password data across the network. This provides a level of security
   at least as secure as, e.g., telnet. 

   Once a user is authenticated on a particular server, Mosaic is smart
   about caching and reusing the authentication information in
   subsequent transactions with the same server in the same session --
   the user will be informed at any time the cached authentication fails
   and will be provided with the opportunity to enter a new username
   and password again. 

   See the CERN authentication overview for more information. 

 o Direct WAIS access. Mosaic can now talk directly to WAIS servers
   without needing to go through an intermediate gateway. This also

    o Mosaic can cleanly retrieve and properly handle binary data
      (images, audio, video, etc.) as well as HTML documents from
      WAIS servers. Mosaic 2.0's normal customization
      mechanisms can be used to customize what happens when
      various types of binary data are accessed from WAIS servers. 
    o Mosaic natively supports freeWAIS's ability to tie together
      multiple data files with different formats under a single
      umbrella (e.g. as a result of a query across text, the user may
      be presented with her choice of text, image, or audio). 

   Examples of direct WAIS access: 

    o Direct access to CNIDR WAIS directory of servers. 
    o Direct access to InterNIC RFC WAIS server. 
    o A search on the term "MIME" in the InterNIC RFC WAIS
    o RFC 1437 from the InterNIC RFC WAIS server. 

 o Full format/viewer/extension customizability, including the ability
   to allow local shell scripts to be launched from hyperlinks. 

   For more information, see: 

    o Information on mapping MIME types to external viewers. 
    o Information on mapping file extensions to MIME types. 
    o Information on allowing shell scripts to be executed via

 o Native viewing of HDF and netCDF scientific data files. Here are
   some examples: 

    o An HDF file of a galactic jet. 
    o A complex HDF file containing lots of different data
      elements, including hyperlinks within annotations. 
    o A netCDF file. 
    o An image of NCSA Director Larry Smarr. 
    o A huge (5+ megabytes) HDF file of satellite weather image
      and associated metadata. 

   Note: since it is possible for Mosaic 2.0 to be compiled without
   native HDF/netCDF viewing support, your particular copy may not
   be able to view the above examples. 

 o URL redirection. This means that a server can return, instead of a
   document, a pointer to a document anywhere on the Internet. When
   this happens, Mosaic will transparently attempt to fetch the new

   Among other things, this enables clean graphical distributed
   information space mapping -- a single image map can have hotspots
   corresponding to information resources scattered throughout various
   information servers across the Internet, and the user can jump to any
   of those resources with a single mouse click. 

   For an example of URL redirection in conjunction with image
   mapping, see the experimental Internet Resources Metamap. 

 o Inlined image caching, including customizability of the amount of
   memory Mosaic will use to cache inlined images (default is 2048

   Use the command line flag -ics or the X resource 
   imageCacheSize to set the size of the image cache in kilobytes. 

 o Delayed image loading, for users with slow network connections.
   Use the -dil command line option or set the delayImageLoads
   X resource to True to enable delayed image loading by default; it can
   be controlled on a per-window basis from Mosaic's Options

 o HTTP/1.0 support. In addition to enabling things like fill-out forms
   support, redirection, and authentication, this means that Mosaic can
   talk with the new breed of sophisticated HTTP/1.0 servers being
   deployed on the network to the fullest extent of their -- and
   Mosaic's -- ability. 

   See also the CERN HTTP/1.0 spec. 

 o Better hypermedia document display capabilities: 

    o Documents can be arbitrarily long now. 
    o Normal document text is formatted to the width of the visible
      window, not the width of the widest element (e.g. sections of
      preformatted text) in the document. 
    o Support for <BR> (line break) and <HR> (horizontal rule)
    o Sophisticated support for inlining Motif widgets into
      documents, which enables the fill-out forms support
      described above. 
    o Performance speedups. 

 o URL canonicalization -- a fancy way of saying that Mosaic strips
   redundant or useless information (like capital letters in hostnames,
   ":80" in HTTP queries and ":70" in Gopher queries, and trailing dots
   in hostnames) out of all URLs it accesses. This makes the global
   history tracking much more consistent by improving the odds that
   two slightly different URLs that point to the same document are
   recognized as identical by Mosaic. 

 o Improved system resource management -- many memory and socket
   leaks were fixed. Due to these fixes and the inlined image caching
   mentioned above, Mosaic should not be terribly hard on your system
   even if you use it for a long time now. 

 o Better PostScript output, including output of color inlined images. 

 o Cute little icons in Gopher and FTP interfaces. 

 o Enhanced remote control features, including ability to scroll through
   documents from shell scripts and cleanly fire off external viewers
   (e.g. images and audio). 

 o Mouse tracking -- see the URL for the hyperlink under the pointer. 

 o Menu item File->Refresh Current provides a convenient
   way to restore proper inlined image colors in a given window if the
   colors have been previously stolen for another window's inlined
   images -- keyboard accelerator (with pointer inside the scrolled
   document viewing window) is Capital-R. 

 o Configurable Documents menu, for local site configuration. 

 o Full compile-time customizability of home page, docs directory, and
   all other hardcoded URLs for sites without direct Internet access. 

 o Lots and lots of bug fixes and minor functionality and performance

More Information

You may wish to look over an exhaustive list of technical changes that took
place during the development of Mosaic version 2.0. 

To take full advantage of Mosaic 2.0's capabilities, you should run a very
smart HTTP/1.0 server. We recommend NCSA httpd. If you prefer a
Perl-based server, try Plexus. Other options are CERN httpd and GN.

Marc & Eric

Marc Andreessen & Eric Bina
Software Development Group
National Center for Supercomputing Applications &