Firefox OS 1.5 development build
|Company / developer||Mozilla|
|OS family||Firefox OS/Open Web (based on Linux kernel)|
|Source model||Free software and open-source|
|Initial release||April 23, 2013|
|Latest preview||1.4 and 1.3T / Updated daily|
|Supported platforms||ARM, x86|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (Linux)|
|Default user interface||Graphical|
Firefox OS (project name: Boot to Gecko, also known as B2G) is a Linux kernel-based open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet computers and is set to be used on smart TVs. It is being developed by Mozilla, the non-profit organization best known for the Firefox web browser.
Firefox OS was publicly demonstrated in February 2012, on Android-compatible smartphones, and again in 2013 running on Raspberry Pi. In January 2013, at CES 2013, ZTE confirmed they would be shipping a smartphone with Firefox OS, and on July 2, 2013, Telefónica launched the first commercial Firefox OS based phone, ZTE Open, in Spain which was quickly followed by GeeksPhone's Peak+.
Project inception and roll-out
Commencement of project
On July 25, 2011, Dr. Andreas Gal, Director of Research at Mozilla Corporation, announced the "Boot to Gecko" Project (B2G) on the mozilla.dev.platform mailing list. The project proposal was to "pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web" in order to "find the gaps that keep web developers from being able to build apps that are – in every way – the equals of native apps built for the iPhone [iOS], Android, and [Windows Phone 7]." The announcement identified these work areas: new web APIs to expose device and OS capabilities such as telephone and camera, a privilege model to safely expose these to web pages, applications to prove these capabilities, and low-level code to boot on an Android-compatible device.
This led to much blog coverage. According to Ars Technica, "Mozilla says that B2G is motivated by a desire to demonstrate that the standards-based open Web has the potential to be a competitive alternative to the existing single-vendor application development stacks offered by the dominant mobile operating systems."
In 2012, Dr. Gal expanded on Mozilla's aims. He characterized the current set of mobile OS systems as "walled gardens" and presented Firefox OS as more accessible: "We use completely open standards and there’s no proprietary software or technology involved." Gal also said that because the software stack is entirely HTML5, there are already a large number of established developers. This assumption is employed in Mozilla's WebAPI. These are intended W3C standards that attempt to bridge the capability gap that currently exists between native frameworks and web applications. The goal of these efforts is to enable developers to build applications using WebAPI which would then run in any standards compliant browser without the need to rewrite their application for each platform.
In September 2012, analysts Strategy Analysts forecast that Firefox OS would account for 1% of the global smartphone market in 2013 – its first year of commercial availability.
In February 2013, Mozilla announced plans for global commercial roll-out of Firefox OS. Mozilla announced at a press conference before the start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the first wave of Firefox OS devices will be available to consumers in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela. Mozilla has also announced that LG Electronics, ZTE, Huawei and TCL Corporation have committed to making Firefox OS devices.
In December 2013, new features were added with the 1.2 release, including conference calling, silent SMS authentication for mobile billing, improved push notifications, and three state setting for Do Not Track.
Async Pan and Zoom (APZ), included in version 1.3, should improve user interface responsiveness.
"The major work will be on the optimization of Firefox OS running on a 128MB platform" in version 1.3T.
At Mobile World Congress 2012, Mozilla and Telefónica announced that the Spanish telecommunications provider intended to deliver "open Web devices" in 2012 based on HTML5 and these APIs. Mozilla also announced support for the project from Adobe and Qualcomm, and that Deutsche Telekom’s Innovation Labs will join the project. Mozilla demonstrated a "sneak preview" of the software and apps running on Samsung Galaxy S II phones (replacing their usual Android operating system). In August 2012, a Nokia employee demonstrated the OS running on a Raspberry Pi.
In December 2012, Mozilla rolled out another update and released Firefox OS Simulator 1.0, which can be downloaded as an add-on for Firefox. The latest version of Firefox OS Simulator, version 4.0, was released on July 3, 2013 and announced on July 11, 2013.
The initial development work involves three major software layers:
Gonk consists of a Linux kernel and user-space hardware abstraction layer (HAL). The kernel and several user-space libraries are common open-source projects: Linux, libusb, BlueZ, etc. Some other parts of the HAL are shared with the Android project: GPS, camera, among others. Gonk is basically an extremely simple Linux distribution and is therefore from Gecko's perspective, simply a porting target of Gecko; there is a port of Gecko to Gonk, just like there is a port of Gecko to OS X, and a port of Gecko to Android. However, since the development team have full control over Gonk, the developers can fully expose all the features and interfaces required for comprehensive mobile platforms such as Gecko, but which aren't currently possible to access on other mobile OSes. For example, using Gonk, Gecko can obtain direct access to the full telephony stack and display framebuffer, but doesn't have this access on any other OS.
|Version||Feature Complete (FC) date||Release date||Codename||Gecko version||Included security fixes|
|1.0||December 22, 2012||February 21, 2013||TEF||Gecko 18||Gecko 18|
|1.0.1||January 15, 2013||September 6, 2013||Shira||Gecko 18||Gecko 20|
|1.1.0||March 29, 2013||October 9, 2013||Leo||Gecko 18+ (new APIs)||Gecko 23|
|1.1.1||TBD||HD||Same as 1.1.0 with WVGA||Gecko 23|
|1.2.0||September 15, 2013||December 9, 2013||Koi||Gecko 26||Gecko 26|
|1.3.0||December 9, 2013||March 17, 2014||Gecko 28||Gecko 28|
|1.4.0||March 17, 2014||TBD||Gecko 30||Gecko 30|
Chris Ziegler of the technology blog The Verge wrote that it will take app distribution to pre-iPhone era, requiring application developers to deal with multiple carriers and their app stores. But at the Mobile World Congress, Gary Kovacs, the CEO of Mozilla, said that the devices matter less than what they're able to run; apps make or break a mobile platform these days, not hardware, and the advantage is that users don't have to install an app to use it. Mozilla is making the most of this with the search functionality built into Firefox OS, a core feature of the platform.
Janne Lindqvist, a mobile security researcher at the Rutgers University WINLAB, expressed concerns related to the discovery mechanism of a web-based platform, but a Mozilla spokesperson has stated that they are "requiring developers to package downloadable apps in a zip file that has been cryptographically signed by the store from which it originated, assuring that it has been reviewed." In addition, "apps coming back from search are given only limited access to device programming interfaces and applications, unless the user grants permission for further access."
- B2G/Architecture - Mozilla Wiki.
- Mozilla Licensing Policies
- "The first mobile in Spain with firefox OS. Geekphone Keon y Peak". January 22, 2013.
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- "WebAPI - MozillaWiki". Wiki.mozilla.org. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
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- "Mozilla reveals Firefox smartphone launch partners". BBC. February 24, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-28.
- "Telefónica and Mozilla pioneer first Open Web Devices" (Press release). Telefónica. February 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- "Mozilla in Mobile – the Web is the Platform" (Press release). Mozilla. February 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- Chloe Albanesius (February 28, 2012). "Mozilla Tackles Walled Gardens, Demos 'Boot to Gecko' Mobile OS". PCMag.com. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- "Raspberry Pi now comes in Firefox OS flavour". Theregister.com. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "B2G Build Prerequisites". Mozilla Developer Network. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- "Firefox OS Simulator :: Versions :: Add-ons for Firefox". Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- Angelina Fabbro (July 11, 2013). "Firefox OS Simulator 4.0 released ✩ Mozilla Hacks – the Web developer blog". Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- Spreadtrum planning a $25 Firefox OS smartphone
- "B2G/Architecture wiki page". Mozilla wiki. Mozilla. June 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "Release Management/B2G Landing - MozillaWiki". MozillaWiki. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- "Index of /pub/mozilla.org/b2g/manifests/". Mozilla FTP server. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
- "Firefox OS Update (1.1) Adds New Features, Performance Improvements and Additional Language Support | Future Releases". Mozilla. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- Chris Ziegler (February 27, 2013). "With Firefox OS, Mozilla gets a little dirty to clean the mobile web". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
- Chris Ziegler (February 28, 2013). "Certified 'Powered by Firefox OS' devices require Firefox Marketplace, minimum hardware specs". The Verge. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
- Mozilla Explains Why Firefox OS Apps Are Fundamentally Better than Native Mobile Apps softpedia.com
- Talbot, David (February 28, 2013). "Security Researchers Raise Questions on How Mozilla’s Web-Centric Firefox Mobile OS Will Stop Malicious Web Apps | MIT Technology Review". Technologyreview.com. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Firefox OS.|
- Official Firefox OS website
- Firefox OS project page on MDN
- Latest build version of Firefox OS Simulator
- Mozilla Webmaker - HTML5 app Development party
- Boot to Gecko demo on YouTube