Mozilla

Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko – The Web is the Platform

Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko (B2G) is about building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web. It aims at making web technologies the number one choice for applications on desktop and mobile, and we believe it can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks for application development. And we have made some exciting progress that we want to share with you!

The Boot to Gecko project

Let’s start by taking a look at what the project consists of:

Goals
Boot to Gecko is Mozilla’s open source web-based operating system for mobile devices. It is the framework for the open web device platform introduced at Mobile World Congress in February, 2012.
Technology
The Boot to Gecko architecture eliminates the need for apps to be built on platform-specific native APIs. Using HTML5, developers everywhere write directly to the web; they can create amazing user experiences and apps unencumbered by the rules and restrictions of closely controlled platforms.
Open Accessible Standards
As with all Mozilla projects, the source code is open and accessible and the project is based entirely on open standards. Where open standards are missing (including Telephony, SMS, Camera, Bluetooth, USB, NFC), Mozilla is working with standards bodies and other vendors to create them. Please read more in Mozilla and the Mobile Web API evolution.

Here are a number of interviews, in a wonderful mix of languages, with the developers of the Boot to Gecko project:

To view the video as HTML5, please opt-in to YouTube’s HTML5 Video Player.

Introducing Open Web Devices

Announced today at Mobile World Congress, we have some very exciting news with Open Web Devices! We will be working with telecommunications operator Telefónica, and as detailed in our press release, here are the goals:

  • Enabling HTML5 devices running on the Open Web which can deliver smartphone capabilities at feature phone prices.
  • Capabilities being submitted to W3C for standardization and to be made openly available.
  • Opens up new opportunities for application developers and drives forward HTML5 as a cross-platform standard.

Based on a Qualcomm chipset, Mozilla, Telefónica and Qualcomm will work together to deliver a feature rich prototype platform. The web browser already scores 317 points at HTML5 Test and when it come to being affordable, according to Carlos Domingo of Telefónica, Boot to Gecko phones will be ten times cheaper than an iPhone.

Deutsche Telekom collaboration

We are also happy to announce that Deutsche Telekom’s Innovation Labs will be joining the project to work together with Mozilla in developing Boot to Gecko.

Boot to Gecko demo

Here you can see a demo of Boot to Gecko in action! It shows placing a phone call to a contact, surfing the web and running the HTML5 Test (Where Firefox Mobile has the highest score among all mobile browsers). It then goes to show a Twitter client, playing a game, checking out Google Maps, watching a video on YouTube, reading a book and ends with seeing a local video.

The Web is the Platform

As we in Mozilla have always believed, the Web is the Platform, and open technologies is the way to build things!

Develop for the web and the future!

99 comments

Comments are now closed.

  1. pr wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 04:55:

    Great job with B2G! Looking forward to the first products.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 05:31:

      Thank you!

  2. Caspy7 wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 05:30:

    This is really great and I’m quite excited to see what will happen.

    My one main concern at the moment is that I feel that other larger mobile OS creators have thought through the names of their OSes as user-facing products while I’m concerned that this name has not gone through such a thorough vetting.
    Some might wonder what a phone has to do with a boot or if we’re advocating kicking lizards.
    I just feel that the current name falls short in creating an easily embraceable identity. If I have to give an explanation to anyone about the name (like what Gecko really is) I’ve had to say too much.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 06:38:

      Thanks!
      And no, we definitely don’t want people to go kicking lizards. :-)

      Boot to Gecko is currently the working name of the Mozilla project, but it is not meant to be a consumer-facing name. That will instead depend on the various implementations of it.

      1. Caspy7 wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 19:49:

        How do we envision that users will express app compatibility to each other?

        People intuitively know that they can recommend apps to their friends who have the same OS (iOS, Android, etc), but when B2G arrives it’s unlikely that these other OSes will fully support the proper standards/functionality to run all apps that can run on B2G. So is there any term that will be used to communicate such compatibility?
        The best I can think of is ‘B2G Compatible’, but that puts B2G as consumer facing.
        I don’t know we can rely on hardware/communications vendors to act in the best interest of everyone. I just think perhaps there should be some sort of way for users to understand “my app will be supported here if I want to go with a different brand/phone/network.”

        If there is no common terminology to support that idea, then the user may come to believe (perhaps by vendor implication) that their apps will only work on that vendor’s hardware.
        HTML5 is great, but some who have touted it and committed to it may choose to be selective (or selectively lag) in implementing certain parts in order to inhibit this free market which Mozilla is attempting to facilitate. That is to say, the claim “supports HTML5″ cannot reliably communicate B2G compatible apps – at least in the short term.

        1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:22:

          It’s a very valid question. But, to me, when we talk about web sites and tip our friends about, we never (or rather, very rarely) tell them which web browser to use to visit it – we just give them the URL.

          The goal, with WebAPI, HTML5 and all standards, is naturally to reach a level where the basics are on par and will offer a consistent user experience.

          When it comes to stores for Web Apps, I do believe it will, to some extent, play a part where the app store will tell you if it’s compatible with your device or not when you try and install it. Food for thought, for sure – thanks for asking!

        2. groovecoder wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 08:04:

          We share the web with each other thru hyperlinks – something native apps either don’t have, or implement, ironically, a poor experience. I’m excited to see Web Actions (http://tantek.com/2011/220/b1/web-actions-a-new-building-block) work. Especially a simplified approach using postMessage (http://benlog.com/articles/2012/02/09/a-simpler-webbier-approach-to-web-intents-or-activities/)

          I think Web Actions can leverage the sharing power of hypermedia in a way that is contextual and focused like Apps.

  3. pd wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 08:28:

    Developers doing marketing videos? Hmmm, seems familiar :) Nonetheless I like it! The less marketing spin the better!

    The second guy said something about saying goodbye to drivers. Is this a reasonable analogy? Nobody installs drivers on smart phones at the moment, do they? I raise this because I’m curious about whether B2G could see adoption in other hardware markets such as notebooks (Chromebook competitor?) and internet-enabled TVs? Current generation internet TV software is a very annoying mixture of open source at the kernel level but -similar to mobiles – limited and closed source or walled-garden approaches on the front end level.

    If Mozilla’s mission is the open web and that means building whatever is necessary – browsers, operating systems – to compete wherever the open web should go, internet-enabled TVs would be the next step would they not?

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 09:55:

      Glad you like the video!
      Regarding internet-enabled TV:s: its definitely an interesting question, but let’s say the mobile sector is a good challenge to begin with. :-)

      1. pd wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 10:56:

        Re the video, to be honest, audio quality was a little difficult.

        Mobile sector a challenge? Indeed! I’m not sure whether to credit Mozilla for it’s raw ambition and confidence or worry :) Nothing worthwhile was ever gained from shirking the issue though :)

        1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:06:

          We care about delivering open alternatives and creating opinion and awareness. Establishing something in mobile is just the natural, and needed, next step there.

          1. pd wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 08:12:

            Hmm Robert, B2G would likely run on a linux kernel with built in ARM Cortex support wouldn’t it?

            Around $30 for this

            http://www.raspberrypi.org/

            Or $200 for this

            http://www.cstick.com/content.php?118-Fxi-launches-cotton-candy-developer-site-takes-pre-orders

            I’m suspecting B2G-TV might be a lot closer than it currently seems :)

          2. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 08:13:

            Ha! Maybe. :-)
            Let this year be the mobile year and we’ll see.

    2. Corey Gwin wrote on March 1st, 2012 at 16:50:

      I love the idea of an open web operating system for desktop and notebook computers. Are there any groups working on such a thing other than Google’s Chrome OS? B2G concepts and architecture seem to make it a great port.

      Bottom line, there’s a lot of things I can do with my desktop or notebook computer hardware that I simply cannot do with mobile. I know it’s not as “sexy” right now, but until mobile lets me do those things, we need to start considering an open web OS for desktlop. Windows 8 and Apple’s Gatekeeper in OS X reveal a bleak future for desktop developers.

      If any one has any information, please let me know.

      1. Robert Nyman wrote on March 1st, 2012 at 16:56:

        Personally, I believe that the lines between mobile and desktop/notebooks will be blurred a bit over the upcoming years, but it’s a fair point. At this time, there’s an enormous uptake in the mobile market and very important to take part in that, but I do agree it would be nice to see an open web operating system for other platforms as well.

      2. Dermot Doherty wrote on March 2nd, 2012 at 13:47:

        iSpaces (www.ispaces.com) is creating what you have described. One web delivered OS (and one codebase) for all devices including Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, webOS, ChromeBook, etc.
        It is not open source yet, but it will be soon, when we release our developer platform.

        1. Robert Nyman wrote on March 2nd, 2012 at 16:07:

          Sounds good. But it’s not an operating system you boot into, it’s an operating system on the web, which is a different thing.

  4. Richard Ayotte wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 08:58:

    This is great development. I’ve wanting to seen this happen not only for mobile devices but desktops as well. Has Wayland been considered for the display server?

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 09:56:

      Thank you!
      As far as I know, Wayland has not been considered.

      1. Vivien wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 03:46:

        As Chris Jones said on the b2g mailing-list: “On the device, Gecko uses OpenGL for compositing and cairo/pixman for drawing. There’s no external window manager or gfx toolkit.

        1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 06:22:

          Thanks for adding that!

        2. pd wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 07:25:

          This sounds like such a sweet setup. Software stacks that have too many layers are all too common these days. It’s not enough to have the Windows APIs from the olden days, now there’s .Net which just adds to Java unless you’re smart enough to avoid programs like Google Earth for example. Add to that Python and GTK … there’s probably plenty I missed too! Add in the tax that is the ever-increasingly-invasive malware paranoia ware and it’s no wonder that Moore’s law persists.

          Time to cut back to basics!

          1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 08:12:

            Indeed, I believe basics are a good place to start. :-)

  5. Loco wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 09:15:

    marketplace
    in a marketplace we sell things. other markets use drm for that, will yours?

    quality
    10 times cheaper than iphone, means 100 times worse. there isn’t a sub €200 smartphone that’s usable: bad quality screen, slow, short battery life, bad sound, overall bad quality.

    hardware
    you the word “open” a lot. how about the hardware. several others have tried to create “open” products and face serious obstacles. not even google is able to convinced manufactures to make drivers and others things open. how will you?

    other platforms allow or even mandate html5 to make apps. how yours any different? remember some of them are also “completly” open.

    why are web apps better for end users?

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 10:09:

      Regarding a marketplace: we already have add-ons and that works fine without DRM. Follow the Marketplace evolution for more information.

      Quality: that’s pure speculation based on what you have have experienced before. If that was an indication of how things would ever be, we would not have any evolution at all.

      Hardware: I’d advise you to wait and see what Mozilla, Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom and Qualcomm accomplishes.

      When it comes to web apps and platforms, Mozilla Web Apps are about applications that will run on whatever operating system, device or web browser you have, without any connection to a certain provider. For users, it will mean freedom and choice. You can use whatever device or operating system you want, and access it from everywhere and switch between them as you please.

      1. pd wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 11:04:

        @Loco has a point of sorts re performance. If the target platform is on the lower-spec side, that puts it back in my territory since my desktop is now 6 years old and smartphones have overtaken it. I’d hate to see B3G fail as my desktop Firefox experience sometimes does due to zombie compartments and so forth. It is one thing to say that the B2G software stack is thinner so lower-spec hardware can be more effective. It is quite another to be pushing Add-Ons as a B2G feature with the trouble that the MemShrink guru has in even understanding Add-Ons and their memory management issues.

        On the other hand, Jan Odvarko has written an extension that just might make zombie compartment identification much easier.

        1. anentropic wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 11:56:

          I doubt the browser will have add-ons, he was just using Mozilla Add-Ons as an example of a kind of app store which does not use DRM.

          1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:09:

            Mobile Firefox does have add-ons, so it’s quite plausible we will see that in Boot to Gecko’s web browser too.

        2. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:08:

          At the moment, Boot to Gecko is solely targeted for mobile devices, and building phones to meet those criteria. It’s impossible to say at this time if desktop will be included in the long run.

          When it comes to add-ons, no matter the platform, there is a lot of work going into Jetpack and more API-based add-ons, and as a result of that, I believe memory issues will be easier to control and understand.

    2. groovecoder wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 12:01:

      re: performance – I think this is a mobile issue, not just a B2G issue. My Motorola DroidX Android seems slow to me too.

      One advantage of B2G in terms of performance, though, is there are plenty of web developers doing great things to optimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – B2G can benefit from web-wide performance optimizations.

  6. Someone wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 09:44:

    Awesome! Now another thing that will pointlessly crash, be updated every 2 weeks with a new major version number, and will cause you more frustrations than its worth. Instead of wasting time on this how about you fix your browser first because it’s now worse than Internet Explorer. Anyone who says otherwise is just a FireFox fanboy.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 10:17:

      If you experience that something pointlessly crashes, naturally you don’t have the normal experience most users have. Please get support for Firefox to solve that.

      If you are interested in why we release a new version every six weeks, please read the Rapid Release Process.

      When it comes to Firefox, you are more than welcome to track our performance progress or compare the results of HTML5 test between web browsers.

      Last, Mozilla is about preserving an open web, create opinion and balance, and protect end users. It was first done through Firefox, which has led to a very diverse and flourishing web browser market today, and with Boot to Gecko we hope it will help to create awareness and options in the mobile market.

      1. pd wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 11:15:

        @Someone also has a point IMHO. Releases are not every six weeks, they are more frequent when there’s security bugs to be fixed. Whilst fixing security bugs is of course critical, it really puts the user to a lot of hassle when combined with the 6 week release cycle. Would I be correct in saying that Google, who started the rapid-release madness, do not actually have a set date for releases? Arguably this policy hasn’t worked for Ubuntu either.

        There is still a lot of room for improvement in desktop Firefox and I share @Someone’s concern that Mozilla is A) conceding it’s open web mission is achieved and slowly falling out of, and/or moving on from, the browser market whilst B) spreading itself too thin.

        That said, I still want to see Mozilla compete with Google TV :) Yes, believe it or not, I’m not very interested in portable devices myself! LOL

        Robert I doubt you could say so even if you thought so but is it fair to suggest that Mozilla might be moving it’s target focus away from the browser market and into the portable space?

        Food for thought I guess.

        1. groovecoder wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 12:07:

          Mozilla is focused making the web open and accessible to everyone.

          Mozilla is, to borrow an over-used business strategy term, “pivoting” to mobile space because the mobile space is turning into the closed ecosystem Mozilla fought on the desktop nearly 10 years ago.

        2. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:17:

          When it comes to rapid releases, a lot of good and important things come out of that. With that said, there is also update fatigue for end users.

          We will have silent updates of Firefox. and hopefully it will remove the unease from users about that.

          I wouldn’t say that that we’re moving the target away from the web browser market, but rather put more effort into it. All the work we do with HTML5, Gecko, WebAPI and more is something that will go into the desktop web browser, mobile web browser and Boot to Gecko.

          We naturally also do other projects to ensure we keep the web free, open and accessible to all. It’s not about shifted focus, but rather about having the best and most dedicated in each field contribute with what they do best.

  7. Jaydson Gomes wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 11:23:

    Simply awesome.
    Can’t wait for use it.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:17:

      Thank you!
      Me neither!

  8. Brian wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 18:12:

    Can you port this boot to gecko to a web app, so I could try this out in my browser? I am an app developer and I am pretty interested in see what this can do. But I have an HTC Evo, so I can’t get this on my phone. :-(

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:26:

      Many of the things in Boot to Gecko are about access to APIs controlling the hardware, so I believe it wouldn’t make that much sense to run it in a web browser. Except for the web site access parts, of course, that you can test in any web browser without Boot to Gecko.

      I do hope there will be images of Boot to Gecko that you can install on your phone in the future.

  9. RoninX wrote on February 27th, 2012 at 21:57:

    Looks very interesting!

    How do you expect the performance to compare to high-end Android devices? In particular, will HTML5 apps be able to compete with native apps in 3D graphics performance for games? Also, will B2G take full advantage of multicore processors and also support LTE?

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:30:

      Thank you!

      For performance, Boot to Gecko runs directly on Linux without any intermediate software layers like in Android, which will result in a much better performance.

      When it comes to 3D and games, there are definitely games in there already. It is at an early stage, though, so it’s hard to say how the final performance will be, but we’re constantly making great progress.

      At this moment, I don’t know more about multicore processors and LTE.

  10. Jay wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:29:

    Love you Mozilla and all the great people working on this project.

    Open Source is a great way of walking towards the innovation..!

    Great work guys. Keep it up.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 01:53:

      Thank you very much, Jay! It is thoroughly appreciated!

  11. clarista wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 04:09:

    Thanks for this great article. Just to clarify, the interface in the demo video shown in the article has been developed by the Telefonica team independently, not by the Mozilla team. The interface developed by Mozilla, whose name is Gaia, is totally different: it is open and you can follow it in real time (and participate!) here http://github.com/andreasgal/gaia. You can also find some captures here: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/27/2827659/mozillas-boot-to-gecko-project-the-internet-is-your-phone-hands-on

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 06:20:

      Thanks for the clarification! It’s an important point that you can have different user interfaces on top of Boot to Gecko.

  12. pd wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 08:39:

    I could be wrong but I find this news:

    http://www.neowin.net/news/samsung-windows-phone-8-devices-coming-this-year

    could be interpreted as a solid endorsement of Mozilla’s choice to build B2G.

    Why? Well if a huge player like Samsung has Android as a cheap and successful OS for the majority of their phones, what do they want with another OS like Windows? I can think of at least two reasons. 1) Giving their consumers choice. 2) Keeping their options open.

    I’m guessing the last scenario any handset OEM wants to find themselves in is being locked into one OS that could cause difficulties for them such as patent royalty problems; the current Nokia fall from grace based on consumer whim trending to Android; and / or getting stuck with an uncompetitive single platform if another onslaught like the i* tsunami occurs.

    This is great news for Mozilla because it suggests that the mobile OS market is much more open that it otherwise might seem. Maybe there is room for a fifth OS in addition to Symbian, Windows, Android and iOS! Especially if that OS can alleviate the plethora of patent litigation making lawyers rich all over the globe.

    So Robert, rhetorical question here of course, but how secure is webm from a patent claim? :) The rest of Mozilla is relatively safe isn’t it? Again, feel free to treat that question as rhetorical :)

    This little white duck is getting a bit too excited LOL

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 08:59:

      It is interesting, and I believe both hardware manufacturers and operators want to have options. And if they have options, it means more options for the people. Everybody wins. :-)

      I wish I could say anything about WebM, but I don’t know more about the status there. It has been around for some time now, though, and it hasn’t happened yet, which makes me hopeful.

      1. pd wrote on February 28th, 2012 at 15:59:

        webm seems critical though, or more to the point, ogg is because presumably that is Mozilla’s first choice option for phone calls isn’t it? This just occurred to me late along with the question of whether video calls – which are seemingly absent from all demos I’ve seen – will be possible on the sort of low-end 600MHz processors I think Brendan Eich has suggested. Of course MHz isn’t everything but the GPU hardware would have to be pretty swank to be able to encode into webm on-the-fly for video calls, wouldn’t it? Hmmm.

        1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 03:49:

          The future will tell. :-)

  13. Dieter Mueller wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 07:33:

    Instead on focusing on Firefox and Thunderbird the Mozilla Team once again suffers from tech envy …

    Was it not enough to make Firefox almost an identical Clone of Chrome, now you need to have your own Operating System?

    Most of Mozilla’s Initiatives are either half finished or useless:

    * Contacts? Neat idea, but useless …
    * Skywriter? Somewhere in ßeta Nirvana
    * Firefox Sync? Still very buggy and unpopular …
    * Bespin? Oh please …
    * Lightning? Also stuck in eternal ßeta Hell …

    You Guys are forgetting your roots.

    Firefox is still topnotch, but the recent releases were mostly stuffed with UX-Crap nobody needed or wanted – plus the obvious copying of Chrome …

    If the trend continues Firefox will be as bloated as the Browser it once substituted.

    Thunderbird is especially weakened, apart from the great Conversations add-on this once great project is in steady decline. Hardly any useful innovation or add-ons …

    I guess you are simply bored building a solid Browser and a plain eMail Program, it’s much more exciting to build new stuff like an Operating System or Cloud Apps …

    1. groovecoder wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 07:50:

      As I said in http://hacks.mozilla.org/2012/02/mozillas-boot-to-gecko-the-web-is-the-platform/comment-page-1/#comment-1399807 this is only a “me-too” move by Mozilla if one assumes Mozilla’s motivation is driven by the same commercial interests as other technology companies.

      Mozilla is entering the mobile space because the mobile space is turning into a closed ecosystem. It’s important for someone like Mozilla to enter the space and push for openness.

    2. Robert Nyman wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 07:58:

      Mozilla’s mission is about keeping the web free, open and accessible for everyone. With the dominance from a few major players in the mobile industry – just as we saw years ago with Internet Explorer on desktop computers – it needs options and something that is completely open.

      Bespin turned into Skywriter so it’s the same thing. Skywriter is a part of Ace in the Cloud9 editor which is very much alive.

      Firefox Sync is being used and constantly developed, and Contacts and Lightning are Mozilla Labs projects. They are tested and evaluated to see if they should continue to be developed or not, and if yes, it will then turn into products or part of other products.

      I’m happy to hear that you like Firefox! Looking at our recent Firefox Aurora releases there is a lot more than UX improvements going on.

      Also, going through the Firefox roadmap and the platform roadmap there are a lot of new things planned.

      So while we try to bring balance and options to the mobile sector, it doesn’t exclude us from continuing to work on delivering great options with all the other things we do.

      1. pd wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 08:45:

        Robert, Robert, Robert … and you thought I was the most negative commenter around here, didn’t you? :) LOL Compared to how you have chastised me, Dieter got off lightly!

        Anyway, I think maybe Dieter has a point of sorts. Why does Mozilla need to build an OS to have influence in the mobile sphere?

        Firefox can be installed on Android and is given first-class integration status; Google supports the open web with it’s own Android browser(s); Microsoft and Nokia would have to support Firefox or they’d be opening themselves to anti-trust action; and if you wanted to, Firefox could even be smuggled into the cr_Apple walled garden if you wanted to tolerate that (which of course you wouldn’t and nobody can blame you).

        Whilst a lot of developers might be targeting native apps on mobile platforms, perhaps this is more the result of the developer tools available such as PhoneGap, the relative streamlining of the ‘store’ concept(s) compared to the web’s URLs and installers; and the pre-canned mobile-friendly UI consistency of apps compared to the web. In the last two points, the web is actually too ‘open’ in terms of the diversity of UI it supports. I haven’t tried building a native app but today I tried building a mobile version of a web application and the only toolkit I could think of was jQuery Mobile. Without a similar toolkit, web developers are forced to do a fair chunk of work just to get the basic simplified ‘mobile’ UX feel that native app devs I imagine take for granted.

        It’s interesting that Dieter dismissed Skywriter. This is one of the very few developer programs Mozilla has ever written. I often wonder how much Mozilla could spread the open web by not just creating the runtime (Firefox) but the tools to build content for that runtime.

        In short, why take on such an enormous task of emulating or subverting the mobile OS market instead of merely taking on Adobe’s monopoly of the GUI-based web authoring market? Instead a project like Composer/Kompozer/n|Vu//BlueGriffon drags along over the years struggling to keep pace with developer needs (with all due respect to Glazman). The lack of webm authoring software was another recent example of this problem.

        Oh well, guess it’s pretty much too late for now.

        1. Dieter Mueller wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 09:22:

          “Why does Mozilla need to build an OS to have influence in the mobile sphere?”

          … especially when it will have no real impact. Android, iOS and Windows will dominate the market. B2G will have only a tiny share of the market. What will this achieve? How many resources will Mozilla waste for a market share of maybe 2 to 5%?!

          We are already seeing Linux ports to Mobile Phones, they will have the same negligible impact, but a much broader base of support and apps.

          Mozilla should simply build the best browser for all platform AND supply some excellent WebDev Tools as you mentioned.

          1. groovecoder wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 09:35:

            Dieter, you’re still conflating the Mozilla mission with market share. If B2G has 0.2% market share but it incites Android, iOS, and Windows platforms to implement open web api’s and open web apps, mission accomplished.

          2. pd wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 09:46:

            I disagree that B2G cannot succeed beyond 5% share. I initially thought this as well however it seems they are thinking of the third world market initially. I’d like to see the figures however I imagine third world smartphone penetration isn’t all that high yet the market is potentially huge in pure population terms. I guess this is not a completely dissimilar concept to the success Firefox has been in ‘alternate’ (non-English speaking) markets such as several European countries where Firefox share is quite high.

            I do find it incredibly ironic though that Mozilla stopped supporting XULRunner as a cross-platform app runtime that would help the open web compete with similar light competitors like Adobe Flash/Air and XAML, then decided to take on the much more ambitious target that B2G is aiming for. More than that there’s no reason why Mozilla couldn’t have decided to compete with Windows and OSX by doing pretty much the same thing as they are doing with B2G. Yet because of the hype about the mobile market being the next big thing and killing desktops etc … here comes Mozilla with an entire OS! It’s already mind warping to read people refer to “the B2G browser” LOL. The whole thing is a browser and it’s essentially the underbelly of Firefox that will end up hosting “the B2G browser” which, err, you know, is generally that thing everyone calls … Firefox!

            B2G is going to be the mum and all the apps and Firefox itself are going to be her Red Panda cubs :)

          3. groovecoder wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 10:09:

            Interesting observation!

            I think what happened is that HTML, JavaScript and CSS advanced as a cross-platform app runtime better than XUL. That’s fine – the important thing is that there is a cross-platform and open app runtime for developers to distribute apps straight to consumers that isn’t controlled by the likes of Microsoft or Adobe.

            Important to note that the apps will not be B2G’s “cubs” – they will be plain HTML, CSS, and JavaScript apps. Firefox Mobile is, IIUC, fancy chrome wrapping around the underlying Gecko.

        2. groovecoder wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 09:43:

          Consumers use the browser that ships with the device, simple as that. It’s the reason Opera has a huge amount of mobile browser market share – it’s the default browser on mobile smart and feature phones in much of southeast Asia, IIRC.

          Google, Apple, and Microsoft will move to wherever on the “open web” spectrum helps their bottom line the most. But they don’t have a strong incentive to push for web-level access to their device hardware because that takes away their ability to compete on the development platform features you mention.

          And on that points you’re 100% right that web developers need more and better tools to build for mobile web.

      2. Dieter Mueller wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 09:41:

        I apologize for being not perfectly informed about Skywriter, but after having a look at the current state of affair my point still stands.

        Skywriter / ACE doesn’t have any serious impact for the normal user or developers.

        I find your following statement somewhat flawed:

        “Mozilla’s mission is about keeping the web free, open and accessible for everyone.”

        Mozilla has not the power to “keep the web open or free” – it’s not a social or political force.

        Look at the so called Linux Desktop “Revolution” that so far has never materialized – although their software is free and open.

        Users so far have clearly opted for proprietary operation systems on Desktops and Mobiles. So why are so arrogant in assuming that your “open system” is wanted or needed?

        Instead of creating an ecosphere that will have hardly any impact doesn’t it make MORE sense to bring open standards to “closed” systems? Mozilla / Firefox had a big influence BECAUSE it was a better alternative to IE for Windows. If Firefox would only exist on Linux (which would be the freest form in context of your Mission Statement), then it would have had NO impact at all.

        Plus: The weak sales of Chromebooks and disappearance of Netbooks should be a lesson to you. Once again the Users have spoken, they either want proper Operating Systems – not just an overblown Web Browser.

        1. groovecoder wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 09:54:

          I’m interested why you think Mozilla is not a social nor political force, in light of recent events like http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-57360174-501465/wikipedia-moveon-reddit-mozilla-shuts-down-to-protest-sopa-pipa-how-to-prepare/ ?

          You seem to be totally fixated on market share. There’s no way to measure how Mac OS X or Windows would look today without desktop Linux around. And now there’s no way to measure how iOS or Android or Windows Phone would have looked without B2G around.

          I wasn’t around for it, but it seems all your criticisms could have been validly directed at Pheonix in 2002. Many users didn’t know they wanted or needed Firefox back then.

          1. Dieter Mueller wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 10:19:

            @groovecoder: Let me give you a little hint why market share is important …

            If Mozilla didn’t have such a big market share it would not be able to make a deal with Google that brings in good money.

            No Money, no Mozilla.

            And honestly in terms of Innovation Desktop Linux has nothing to offer. The biggest Influence in modern Desktop Computing is still Xerox Star, since then Apple and Microsoft played Idea-Ping-Pong. Google is currently making great efforts in Design and UX (by for example hiring Andy Hertzfeld, who’s work for General Magic was highly influential for today’s smartphones).

            In contrast almost all Linux Distros have played catchup, so far only Ubuntu has developed a Unique UX/Design language.

            I am in the design business nor for over 20 year and seen many great ideas come and go. Only the most resilient ideas stay and are adapted by the users – which equals market share.

            Regarding SOPA: It was a success of the User Protests, not of Institutions or NGOs like Wikipedia or Mozilla.

            Proper political influence (in the US) is mostly made by lobbying – and Mozilla has hardly the cash to pay for it. Microsoft, Google and Apple have all thrown a lot of money at politics.

            And I hope that Mozilla keeps out of Politics …

        2. pd wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 10:21:

          Dieter, Dieter … how weird it is to read your vehement comments and feel like they were the sort of thing I have slowly stopped writing – at least in that style anyway.

          I actually think you’re wrong about Mozilla not being a social or political force for change though. Also your attack on open source software in general appears to be just plain incorrect when you look at the current state of the browser market. Over 50% of the browser market is now open source. Chrome, Firefox, Safari. Mozilla did take on the proprietary monopoly and innovation-less-zone that was Internet Explorer’s monopoly and they did force an end to that monopoly. The history of browsers in the ‘naughties’ decade will basically be written in two phases: Before Firefox and After Firefox.

          That said, I completely share what seems like your frustration with Mozilla’s bull-headed political puritanism sometimes.

          Deep down though Skywriter was just another text editor that happened to run in browsers. It is/was not the IDE or UI widget drag and drop tool that the open web still needs. I keep thinking to myself that so many people pimp the open web yet it is still, to this very day and for the foreseeable future, not a feature-complete match for the old Visual Basic IDE applications on the Windows platform in terms of developer simplicity.

          Luckily though Brendan Eich responded positively to my couple of examples of where the gap lies: rich native form widgets and the sorry state of rich text editing in web browsers.

          On this ‘cloud’ malarky and the desire for people to have full-powered native desktops rather than ‘over-blown’ browsers as an OS I guess only time will tell but I am thinking you are quite probably right, in the desktop sense at least. In the mobile sphere, people have proven incredibly willing to tolerate what is such a heavily limited experience simply because smartphones are better than having a phone and PDA separately .. and they play music/video etc. Just because we can now roll the Walkman on steriods together with video, limited gaming ability and poking at a glass fingerprint smudger doesn’t make for a good experience. But aren’t the carriers and manufacturers having a ball of a time conning us otherwise!

          1. groovecoder wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 10:56:

            Over a quarter of the Mozilla codebase is built by volunteers. Nearly all of Mozilla’s translation work is done by volunteers. User-volunteers put in countless hours of support and qa. Losing market power and money would hurt Mozilla, but I’m not going to discount the amazing work our community does; it’s insulting to dismiss them so flippantly.

            I’m clueless about UX so I can’t judge those ideas and influences.

            But to take a recent technical AND political example, Mozilla introduced the Do Not Track HTTP header in January 2011 in contrast to Microsoft, Google, and Network Advertising Initiative proposing an alternative “Keep your opt-outs” approach.

            It would have been totally reasonable at the time to speculate that the combined technical, market, and lobbying power of Microsoft & Google could kill Do Not Track, but now Microsoft, Apple, Opera, Mozilla, Google, and the White House support it. http://blog.mozilla.com/privacy/2012/02/23/mozilla-led-effort-for-dnt-finds-broad-support/

            Win or lose, Mozilla fights for an open web where the user is sovereign. There’s no point saying that Mozilla should be anything other than it is.

          2. Robert Nyman wrote on March 1st, 2012 at 04:52:

            I believe groovecoder have addressed all the things I wanted to mention and talk about.
            I’ll just add that I believe it’s an interesting question with bringing openness to existing systems vs. closed ones. In an ideal world, we would want to do both.

            When we are talking about the mobile world, though, Android is the only operating system that even allows a Firefox installation. With iOS we are not allowed for legal reasons, and with Windows Phone we don’t have the technical access to be able to bring Firefox to it.

            Another part here is also that we are about promoting open web standards. With all of the above mobile operating systems, you need to build things with their specific coding languages and APIs. If we in any way can change that by offering Boot to Gecko, to get them to support the same web technology APIs, I believe we have really accomplished something.

            Regarding end users: given the prices of smart phones right now, a lot of people can’t afford them and not take part of the web in the same way. Imagine a world where the operating system doesn’t need the same performance, thus resulting in cheaper mobile phones and a lot of people being able to take part of the web on their mobile phones – that is, in my opinion at least, a great thing!

            And since Firefox on desktop, Firefox on mobile and Boot to Gecko all use Gecko, it means that Gecko will be continued to be developed in the best fashion, something that all platforms will gain from.

  14. bastpt wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 08:13:

    Congrats Mozilla! I am waiting for this – a good competitor to Android mobile OS. I don’t want to buy Android mobile phone because of its legal concerns and M$ getting money for every Android product. So i want to stay away and here comes B2G. Do consider Indian market which is largely hanging for this type of OS. Since B2G is a web based OS, does it requires internet connection at startup/what are the cases its requires internet connection?

    All the best to B2G team.
    -From India

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on February 29th, 2012 at 08:20:

      Thank you!

      Phones with Boot to Gecko will not require an Internet connection in general, it will store apps directly on the device. It will rather be needed for downloading apps and surfing the web, like all devices.

  15. John Thomas wrote on March 4th, 2012 at 23:40:

    Isn’t Boot-to-Gecko just another “specific coding languages and APIs”, except that Javascript is the specific coding language and the HTML5 APIs are the particular API. Granted these are widely used APIs and languages, but it seems like there’s little interest in making the Mozilla platform more flexible in those regards. And here I’m thinking about the death of the idea of Gecko embedded in other applications and the javascript-centric development of the HTML5 APIs.

    1. groovecoder wrote on March 5th, 2012 at 06:01:

      Yes, JavaScript and HTML are “specific coding languages” – specifically, they are the most open languages in the world. :)

      What do you mean by “making the Mozilla platform more flexible in those regards”? Do you mean incorporating things like NaCl?

      1. John Thomas wrote on March 6th, 2012 at 19:39:

        What do you mean by “open” here? Popular? Other than that metric I do not see how Javascript/HTML are more “open” than say Perl, PHP, Python, etc.

        NaCl does seem like a nice step in the direction I would want to go with my vision of the web and it does go to Robert’s point of re-using their skills at least in terms of C++

        1. Robert Nyman wrote on March 7th, 2012 at 01:35:

          HTML5, CSS and JavaScript are open as recommendations from W3C, and not just one company controls how it is being developed. Everyone are involved and can affect it.

          There are numerous web developers out there knowing these technologies and building web sites, so this is just an extension of that.

    2. Robert Nyman wrote on March 5th, 2012 at 06:03:

      The main idea is for developers to reuse their existing skills with open technologies to build things that will work on mobile phones as well. What other things are you thinking of?

  16. Frank wrote on March 5th, 2012 at 11:07:

    Is it (or will it be) possible to install boot to gecko on a netbook/notebook/laptop?

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on March 5th, 2012 at 12:28:

      Not to begin with. Initially this is intended for mobile phones. But we’ll see where it leads.

  17. pd wrote on March 7th, 2012 at 01:53:

    This post is getting marathon long! Altering the topic slightly might not be welcome at this point but here goes:

    1) I read somewhere that B2G will rely on Android drivers. Does this make it wide open vulnerable to the plethora of patent litigation that has hit Android?

    2) One feature of Android (and other phones, I presume?) I’ve not seen mentioned in B2G context is ‘Talk’. In other words instant message or ‘chat’. Are there any plans to add libpurple, for example, to B2G? InstantBird might well be a good start in this regard.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on March 7th, 2012 at 03:13:

      1. I’m not a legal representative so it’s impossible to say. But it’s just the Linux kernel, libusb etc that’s the same, described more in https://wiki.mozilla.org/B2G#Is_B2G_based_on_Android.3F

      2. Not sure which libraries might be added, but looking at WebRTC and how it evolves, I feel certain there will be something like that in there.

  18. LM wrote on May 5th, 2012 at 20:20:

    I noticed that B2G is running on a Samsung Galaxy S2. When released, will we be able to download install B2G onto current smartphones (for eg, a Galaxy S2 from T-Mobile!) and in the process replace the Android system, or will one have to buy a new phone with B2G already running on it?

    I really hope B2G takes off. I for one would be very interested.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on May 8th, 2012 at 05:52:

      You will be able to do it on current smartphones, you don’t need a specific Boot to Gecko version. If you want to try that out, please read the instructions for installing Boot to Gecko on a Samsung S2.

  19. ashish wrote on May 12th, 2012 at 08:13:

    Hi,
    i am pretty excited. B2G could not happened at a better time: with Google invading my privacy and Apple also showing disdain for any personal choice, Mozilla offers both with open-source code.
    I have an old HTC Hero, which I can easily use for B2G booting. “How TO?” is the big question…

    1. Jean-Yves Perrier wrote on May 14th, 2012 at 15:19:

      Unfortunately that is not possible. You need to hack the code of B2G, to hook the relevant, often proprietary, drivers into it.

      Of course, if you could do it, it would be cool. Difficult but very cool.

  20. justSaying wrote on May 29th, 2012 at 15:39:

    Robert Nyman
    Dude you reply to evry post! Dayum!
    Good job

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on May 30th, 2012 at 00:00:

      I try to, yes. :-)
      I think that people who take the time to say something deserve a reply.

  21. Osama wrote on May 30th, 2012 at 00:29:

    Great job Mozilla, as usual. You can notice the threaten for proprietary company every time they hear “Openness”. They know customers are getting more knowledgeable which is pushing them out. That is why they are trying to downsize “open” competitors. Openness is not just gotten in software only, it is in market as well. Previously there were very few companies sharing the market (and they could enforce their rules), now the market is open an a lot got into it (even with small portions but shorten big guys portions) which is for the benefit of customer.
    I am living in the third world and I am interest to follow B2G updates.
    Note: I am a java developer, working with Linux since 1998.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on May 30th, 2012 at 02:00:

      Thank you!
      And yes, owning your data and using products is becoming more and more important, and it’s good to see users start thinking about that too.

  22. bastpt wrote on May 30th, 2012 at 01:58:

    I like it! Robert Nyman ! I appreciate your commitment. Cheers!

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on May 30th, 2012 at 01:59:

      Thanks!

  23. LY wrote on June 24th, 2012 at 20:20:

    Hello, I’m considering whether exists UI Framework for B2G? the UI Framework for me is not B2G UI Layer — Gaia, I mean the Graphics Lib for Gaia to use and invoke. Thank you!

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on June 25th, 2012 at 06:37:

      The idea is that you will be available to do anything from the web layer, through Web APIs. No need for native code and library access.

      1. pd wrote on June 25th, 2012 at 09:31:

        Robert can you clarify this in terms of the video and audio support? I haven’t seen much in the way of updates on the h.264 support on mobile decision since it was originally announced. I recently noticed that the Smart TV Alliance only support AAC and H.264, not even mp3. Has there been any movement or talk on this topic that perhaps has not made it into a blog post and therefore planet mozilla?

        I really hope that anything the native hardware supports will be supported by the video and audio tags.

        1. Robert Nyman wrote on June 25th, 2012 at 12:56:

          Last I heard, H.264/AAC/MP3 support landed in the code base and is on its way into the base for Boot to Gecko.

          1. pd wrote on June 26th, 2012 at 01:31:

            Thanks Robert, that’s good news though it would be even better to support more codecs.

            On another note, have you any hints/tips/pointers for building B2G on a Raspberry Pi board? I’ve been roaming around searching and posting to mozilla-dev-b2g on this topic but thus far it appears nobody has done this yet. I’ve looked at the porting how to but that seems borderline over my head. I’ve got a Pi and would love to see if B2G runs well on it since I was initially disappointed with the nominated Debian build and Ubuntu won’t run on ARM6 devices anymore since they dropped support for that architecture.

          2. Robert Nyman wrote on June 26th, 2012 at 03:45:

            No idea, unfortunately. The devices supported at the moment are Galaxy S2, Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus, and we’re looking at getting support for more, and new, devices. Wish us luck. :-)

  24. LY wrote on June 26th, 2012 at 19:06:

    Hello, I want to know which folder is the source code for the server /system/b2g/b2g? Thank you very much!

    I think /system/b2g/b2g a very great server, and it starts the browser.

    Another question is when you click the icon of an APP, is a thread begin running or a process begin running?

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on June 27th, 2012 at 03:24:

      It depends on what you mean with source code for the server. Boot to Gecko is available at https://github.com/mozilla-b2g/B2G
      All the documentation for various ways of running it are listed at https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Mozilla/Boot_to_Gecko

      Technically, I believe apps are being run as part of the main UI thread.

  25. LY wrote on July 4th, 2012 at 20:02:

    Hello, I have another question. Thank you!

    I want to know what’s the GUI Framework for B2G? Is QT, GTK and so on?

    GUI Framework use Graphics Libraray and it’ above the Graphics Library such as Cairo, Skia.

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on July 5th, 2012 at 00:24:

      For developers, the UI is built through HTML5, CSS and JavaScript in the Gaia project, and everything is being run inside a Gecko rendering engine.

      If you wonder more about that, please reach out to the B2G team: https://wiki.mozilla.org/B2G/Hacking#Communication

  26. raj wrote on July 7th, 2012 at 06:17:

    i have Stop plans to buy a smartphone till mozilla os arrives to india waiting for indian launch

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on July 31st, 2012 at 08:37:

      Not sure when that will be, but good to hear that you are interested!

  27. LY wrote on July 17th, 2012 at 20:38:

    Hello Robert, I want to know whether B2G supports add-on(browser plug-in)?

    If B2G supports add-on, is add-on a XULRunner Application?

    Thanks!

    1. Robert Nyman wrote on July 31st, 2012 at 08:38:

      Not add-ons, but Web Apps. Please read more in Writing a web app for B2G.

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