Mozilla

Announcing Boot to Gecko (B2G) – Booting to the Web

Mozilla recently announced the Boot to Gecko (B2G) Project which is a project towards the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web.

The aim of B2G

The idea is that open web technologies can supersede single vendor control over application environments, and instead use something that will be open for all and consistent across the board. The first main aim is mobile/tablet devices and to be able in such an environment to give access through web technologies to all the capabilities native applications have.

The project is in a very early stage right now, but we believe in communicating this early and getting as much valuable input, help and suggestions as possible to make this out to be all it can be.

Areas of work

The main areas we see right now that will need a lot of work and input are:

New web APIs
Build prototype APIs for exposing device and OS capabilities to content (Telephony, SMS, Camera, USB, Bluetooth, NFC, etc.)
Privilege model
Making sure that these new capabilities are safely exposed to pages and applications
Booting
Prototype a low-level substrate for an Android-compatible device
Applications
Choose and port or build apps to prove out and prioritize the power of the system.

Helping out with B2G

Let me re-emphasize that the work with B2G has just begun. As you understand, the possibilities, work and collaboration being needed here are huge, and being open about the whole process, we would love to get your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, practical help or anything else you can think of to make this happen!

Feel free to comment below or add your takes to the Booting to the Web thread. Please read more in the B2G page about what you can do to contribute.

FAQ about B2G

To cover some common ground and questions, here are the Frequently Asked Questions for B2G:

What is Boot to Gecko?

Boot to Gecko (B2G) is an early-stage, exploratory project with the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web. It is not a product offering, but if successful, could form the basis for one.

When can we expect to see something?

We’re very early in the project, soliciting suggestions and contributions from a lot of people. As we have more specific estimates for different pieces of functionality, they’ll be shared widely.

What is the size of the team working on this project?

It’s very small right now: just 3 people working part time, but we’re looking to ramp up and as an open project we are actively inviting participation of developers, designers, and others from across the Web. We’re seeing lots of excitement and offers of help already, and we’re also obviously leaning heavily on the existing Gecko and Firefox mobile work.

Why are you doing this now?

We believe that the next frontier for Web applications is full device integration, so that Web developers have the same capabilities as those building for OS-specific stacks.

What does it mean for your relationships with Apple, Google, Microsoft?

We don’t expect that it will affect our relationships with other organizations.

Does this replace work that’s already being done on Web APIs for desktop and mobile?

We are already pushing hard on new Web APIs, and have been for some time. We’ll continue to implement and standardize new APIs for Web content while the B2G project ramps up.

How is this different than the Webian Shell project?

The Webian shell is an impressive project even in its early stages. Where Webian is focused on a Web-centric desktop experience, we’re focused on extending the Web to include more of what is traditionally the domain of OS-specific code. We think we can work together on a bunch of things, and we’re looking forward to it.

How is this different from Chrome OS?

We’re aiming at mobile/tablet devices rather than a notebook form factor. This is an early-stage project to expose all device capabilities such that infrastructure like phone dialers can be built with Web APIs, and not only “high level” apps like word processors and presentation software. We will of course be happy to work with the Chrome OS team on standards activities, and indeed to share source code where appropriate.

Are OEMs interested in B2G?

This is an early-stage project. We just got started, so we haven’t had any of those discussions yet. If an OEM shares our vision of a standard and open platform from top to bottom, we’d be happy to work together to get such a platform into the hands of users.

Whose hardware will you support?

We’ll be selecting initial hardware for hackability and general availability, but we haven’t settled on that yet. A Tegra 2 device is likely to be selected, due to its support for VP8 hardware acceleration. Over time we expect that B2G will work on the majority of devices that support modern Android versions.

Will this mean a Firefox Phone?

We don’t have any plans to build or distribute a custom device.

27 comments

Comments are now closed.

  1. Stephen wrote on July 27th, 2011 at 09:21:

    Is it possible that this could run on the nokia n900?

  2. Skoua wrote on July 27th, 2011 at 09:53:

    Can’t wait to see what it’s going to be.

    Will this OS work via a browser or will it be a “real” OS like Google Chrome, Windows and so forth?

    1. Varemenos wrote on July 27th, 2011 at 09:58:

      It will work like a ‘real’ OS, it should be obvious since they are mentioning “boot”?

  3. Varemenos wrote on July 27th, 2011 at 09:57:

    It sounds interesting but what do you mean by “modern android versions”? 2.1? 2.2? 2.3? 3.X?

  4. Robert Nyman [Mozilla – post author] wrote on July 27th, 2011 at 10:15:

    Stephen,

    That could happen, I presume, but no specific devices are confirmed yet.

    Skoua,

    Yes, more like a a real OS.

    Varemenos,

    I think it’s too early to tell which exact versions of Android, and what it will be using from them exactly. Try and ask in the Booting to the Web thread.

  5. Joss wrote on July 27th, 2011 at 20:20:

    Cool! Will be watching and hope I can pitch in, in some way.

  6. markmb wrote on July 30th, 2011 at 04:47:

    There are only 3 developers? I can help, if you need somebody to collaborate in some things, contact me! I’d like to help you!!

    1. louisremi wrote on August 1st, 2011 at 02:54:

      Hi Mark, there’s a Contributing section on the B2G Wiki, to help you get involved.

  7. Stefan Constantinescu wrote on August 1st, 2011 at 22:37:

    Is there anyone I can interview about the B2G project? Please contact me using the email address I supplied in the non-published text field.

  8. Robert Nyman wrote on August 2nd, 2011 at 01:45:

    Stefan,

    I’ll send you an e-mail.

  9. Ashish Tyagi wrote on August 2nd, 2011 at 03:16:

    i am interested in your project this will be realy amaging if happens now i am using Android 2.2 and i fell there is a lot of missing i also know Android development ,,,,,
    you can contect me and give me the full SRS of your project…..

    i see a good future of this project…..

  10. Robert Nyman wrote on August 2nd, 2011 at 04:41:

    Ashish,

    Please look for ways how to contribute.

  11. Derek wrote on August 2nd, 2011 at 15:45:

    I’m actually willing and excited to dedicate one of my computers to test this. Worth contributing 100%!

  12. Robert Nyman wrote on August 2nd, 2011 at 15:55:

    Derek,

    Sounds good!
    Right now it is far from ready for something like that, but I hope you will still be interested when something more practical emerges.

  13. MJae wrote on August 3rd, 2011 at 22:11:

    Kinda like Google’s Chromium OS?

  14. Robert Nyman wrote on August 4th, 2011 at 10:01:

    MJae,

    Well, Chrome OS has a certain netbook focus, whereas this is more aimed at a wider range of devices and tablets.

  15. aleksander wrote on September 13th, 2011 at 09:48:

    apologize
    I understand that b2g still under development, but can Uzan you plan to publish what you have done so far
    and when will the beta version b2g

    Sorry for my english I’m from Russia

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on September 13th, 2011 at 10:02:

      aleksander,

      Not sure what you mean, but are you asking for when a beta will be out there? It’s too soon to say.

  16. aleksander wrote on September 13th, 2011 at 12:52:

    when we will see progress b2g?
    even if it is 2%

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on September 19th, 2011 at 02:36:

      Progress will be announced when the team feels it’s ready for it.

  17. robert wrote on September 18th, 2011 at 05:10:

    yes
    wondering what has been done in b2g

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on September 19th, 2011 at 02:36:

      That will be announced when we feel it’s time.

  18. Ovidiu wrote on September 23rd, 2011 at 10:59:

    I’m so confused! What’s the difference between B2G, Jolicloud, Carbyn, Webian or Chrome OS? They all claim to be “Web OS”s, but they’re all so different to each other. Jolicloud and Carbyn look more like web pages (or “web apps”) than a full blown OS to me, Webian, from my understandement – it’s a browser that you download and run on a preinstalled OS no different than Mozilla or IE in usability, Chrome OS is a browser-like OS aiming at netbooks and B2G is an OS that won’t look like a giant browser as Chrome OS does, but essentially, that’s how it’ll work, running web apps.
    And then, I get it, running web apps it’s “the future”, but you might as well run web apps on MeeGo, Symbian or Windows Phone, so then, from a user standpoint, what’s the difference?
    Thank you for your time

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on September 26th, 2011 at 01:00:

      It’s a very good question. Many companies and interested parties believe that a web platform is the way go to, and take slightly similar but also different approaches to this.

      It is hard to say where everyone will end up, but during next year I believe we can show a lot more about B2G at least.

      From a user perspective, I hope there will be some overlap between apps and reusing them, but it’s too hard to tell at this point in time.

  19. alex wrote on September 27th, 2011 at 02:43:

    b2g what programming languages ​​will support
    if I wanted to write a program or game that I need to know java or c++ or php html JS or flash

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on September 27th, 2011 at 02:52:

      To my knowledge, it will generally be web technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.

      1. alex wrote on September 27th, 2011 at 03:17:

        that’s great because I Web Programmer
        I registered the domain boottogecko.ru
        will follow for b2g
        you have a great future as b2g something new

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