Firefox OS

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This article is about the HTML5 powered operating system by Mozilla. For the Android based mobile operating system by Amazon, see Fire OS.
Firefox OS
Firefox OS Vertical SVG Logo.svg
Firefox OS 2.1 - Lock screen.png
Firefox OS 2.1 nightly build lock screen
Developer Mozilla
Written in HTML5, CSS, JavaScript,[1] C++
OS family Firefox OS/Open Web (based on Linux kernel)
Working state Active
Source model Open source[2]
Initial release April 23, 2013 (2013-04-23)
Latest release 2.1.0
Latest preview 2.2.0 / Updated daily
Marketing target Smartphones
Tablet computers
Platforms ARM, x86, MIPS
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux)
Default user interface Graphical
License Free software (MPL 2.0[2][3])
Official website mozilla.org/firefox/os

Firefox OS[4] (project name: Boot to Gecko, also known as B2G)[5] is a Linux kernel-based open-source operating system for smartphones, tablet computers[6] and smart TVs.[7][8] It is being developed by Mozilla, the non-profit organization best known for the Firefox web browser.

Firefox OS is designed to provide a complete,[9] community-based alternative system for mobile devices, using open standards and approaches such as HTML5 applications, JavaScript, a robust privilege model, open web APIs to communicate directly with cellphone hardware,[5] and application marketplace. As such, it competes with commercially developed operating systems such as Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Phone,[9] BlackBerry's BlackBerry 10 and Jolla's Sailfish OS.

Firefox OS was publicly demonstrated in February 2012, on Android-compatible smartphones.[10][11] In January 2013, at CES 2013, ZTE confirmed they would be shipping a smartphone with Firefox OS,[12] and on July 2, 2013, Telefónica launched the first commercial Firefox OS based phone, ZTE Open, in Spain[13][14] which was quickly followed by GeeksPhone's Peak+.[15] As of December 16, 2014, Firefox OS phones are offered by 14 operators in 28 countries throughout the world.[16]

Mozilla has also partnered with T2Mobile to make a Firefox OS reference phone dubbed "Flame" which is designed for developers to contribute to Firefox OS and to test apps.[17]

Project inception and roll-out[edit]

Commencement of project[edit]

On July 25, 2011, Andreas Gal, Director of Research at Mozilla Corporation, announced the "Boot to Gecko" Project (B2G) on the mozilla.dev.platform mailing list.[9] 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, Android, and Windows Phone 7."[9] 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.[18][19] 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."[20]

In 2012, Andreas Gal expanded on Mozilla's aims. He characterized the current set of mobile OS systems as "walled gardens"[21] and presented Firefox OS as more accessible: "We use completely open standards and there’s no proprietary software or technology involved."[21] (while no longer true, with proprietary software DRM[22] used in Matchstick (based on Firefox OS) and desktop Windows Firefox browser version 38.) Gal also said that because the software stack is entirely HTML5, there are already a large number of established developers.[21] This assumption is employed in Mozilla's WebAPI.[23] These are intended W3C standards that attempt to bridge the capability gap that currently exists between native frameworks and web applications.[24] 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.

Jan Jongboom at the Simonyi Conference - 2014

Development history[edit]

In July 2012, Boot to Gecko was rebranded as 'Firefox OS',[25] after Mozilla's well-known desktop browser, Firefox, and screenshots began appearing in August 2012.[26]

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.[27]

In February 2013, Mozilla announced plans for global commercial roll-out of Firefox OS.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30]

Async Pan and Zoom (APZ),[31] included in version 1.3, should improve user interface responsiveness.

Work is currently being done to optimize Firefox OS to run a 128 MB platform with version 1.3T.[32] A 128 MB device is out[33] that seems to use that version but it may be unfinished.

In 2015, Mozilla ported Firefox OS (an "experimental version") to MIPS32 to work in a sub-$100 tablet (that can also run Android 4.4 KitKat).[34]

Demonstrations[edit]

Mozilla's Firefox OS, version Boot2Gecko-prerelease on Nexus 4 (LG E960) (Code name: mako)

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.[35] Mozilla also announced support for the project from Adobe and Qualcomm, and that Deutsche Telekom’s Innovation Labs will join the project.[36] Mozilla demonstrated a "sneak preview" of the software and apps running on Samsung Galaxy S II phones (replacing their usual Android operating system).[10][37] In August 2012, a Nokia employee demonstrated the OS running on a Raspberry Pi.[38]

Firefox OS is compatible with a number of devices, including Otoro, PandaBoard, Emulator (ARM and x86), Desktop, Nexus S, Nexus S 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus[39] and Nexus 4. A MIPS port was created by Imagination Technologies in March 2015.[40]

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[41] and announced on July 11, 2013.[42]

Mozilla's planned US$25 Firefox smartphone displayed at MWC, is built by Spreadtrum.[43] Mozilla has collaborated with four handset makers and five wireless carriers to provide five Firefox-powered smartphones in Europe and Latin America so far with cellphone launches being led by UK marketer John D. Bernard. In India, Mozilla planned a launching at $25 in partnership with Intex & Spice,[44] but the price ended up being $33 (converted from 1,999 Rupees).[45]

Core technologies[edit]

Firefox OS architecture diagram

The initial development work involves three major software layers:[46]

Gonk[edit]

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.[46]

Gecko[edit]

Main article: Gecko

Gecko is the web browser engine of Firefox OS. Gecko implements open standards for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Gecko includes a networking stack, graphics stack, layout engine, virtual machine (for JavaScript), and porting layers.[46]

Gaia[edit]

Gaia is the user interface of Firefox OS and controls everything drawn to screen. Gaia includes by default implementations of a lock screen, home screen, telephone dialer and contacts application, text-messaging application, camera application and a gallery support, plus the classic phone apps: mail, calendar, calculator and marketplace. Gaia is written entirely in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It interfaces with the operating system through Open Web APIs, which are implemented by Gecko. Because it uses only standard web APIs, it can work on other OSes and other web-browsers.[46]

Release history[edit]

Version[47] First build created Feature Complete (FC) date[48] Code Complete (CC) date[49] Release date[50] Codename Gecko version[47] Included security fixes[47]
1.0 August 14, 2012 December 22, 2012 February 21, 2013 TEF Gecko 18 Gecko 18
1.0.1 January 25, 2013 September 6, 2013 Shira Gecko 18 Gecko 20
1.1.0 February 20, 2013 March 29, 2013 October 9, 2013[51] Leo Gecko 18+ (new APIs) Gecko 23
1.1.1 August 24, 2013 HD Same as 1.1.0 with WVGA Gecko 23
1.2.0 June 21, 2013 September 15, 2013 December 9, 2013 Koi Gecko 26[52] Gecko 26
1.2.1 December 4, 2013
1.3.0 September 17, 2013 January 31, 2014 March 17, 2014 Gecko 28 Gecko 28
1.3.0t April 8, 2014
1.4.0 December 10, 2013 April 25, 2014 June 9, 2014 August 8, 2014 Gecko 30 Gecko 30
2.0.0 February 21, 2013 July 21, 2014 September 1, 2014 Gecko 32 Gecko 32
2.1.0 June 9, 2014 October 13, 2014 November 21, 2014 Gecko 34 Gecko 34
2.2.0 September 2, 2014 April 29, 2015 June 8, 2015 Gecko 37 Gecko 37
2.5.0 January 12, 2015 November 2, 2015 (planned) January 4, 2016 (planned) Gecko 43 Gecko 43
Spark v0.1 April 15, 2015 June 22, 2015 Spark Latest

Gallery[edit]

Some screenshots of Firefox OS 2.1:

Criticisms[edit]

Chris Ziegler of the technology blog The Verge wrote that Firefox OS will take app distribution to pre-iPhone era, requiring application developers to deal with multiple carriers and their app stores.[53][54] 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.[55]

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."[56]

Devices[edit]

Officially and unofficially supported devices[edit]

The structural similarities between Firefox OS and Android allow the Mozilla platform to run on a number of devices that ship with Android. While some ports of Firefox OS are hardly different from their original versions, others are heavily modified to fit the device in question. There are quite a few to note that are specifically made for Firefox OS as stated above. There are some that are designed for the developers themselves and others that are Consumer phones. While to add to it there are also emulators for testing both apps and the OS itself on the desktop which are designed for both OS testing and the developers themselves.

Firefox OS specific devices for developers:

Firefox OS specific devices for consumers:

  • Cherry Mobile Ace
  • Symphony GoFox F15[61]
  • KDDI Fx0[62]
  • Intex Cloud FX[63]
  • Zen 105 Firefox
  • Spice Fire One MI FX1[64]
  • Alcatel Onetouch FireC 4020D[65]
  • ZTE Open II
  • APC Paper[66]
  • Spice Fire One Mi-FX 2[67]

Firefox OS has been ported to the following devices:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ B2G/Architecture - Mozilla Wiki.
  2. ^ a b "Mozilla Licensing Policies". Mozilla. 
  3. ^ "Mozilla Eula". Mozilla. 
  4. ^ "The first mobile in Spain with firefox OS. Geekphone Keon y Peak". January 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Firefox OS". Mozilla. August 21, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ Dotzler, Asa (January 6, 2014). "Mozilla Launches Contribution Program to Help Deliver Firefox OS to Tablets". Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ Now you can buy a Panasonic Smart TV with Firefox OS (in Europe) May 2015
  8. ^ "Mozilla and Partners to Bring Firefox OS to New Platforms and Devices". Mozilla Corporation. January 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d Gal, Andreas (June 25, 2011). "Booting to the web". mozilla.dev.platform (Mailing list). Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Ginny Maies (February 28, 2012). "First Look at Mozilla's Web Platform for Phones: 'Boot to Gecko'". PCWorld. Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Mozilla making mobile OS using Android". blog. I Didn't Know That!. July 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ "CES 2013: ZTE Firefox OS Smartphone Coming In 2013 | TechWeekEurope UK". Techweekeurope.co.uk. January 10, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ Aditya Dey. "Telefonica launches First Ever Firefox OS-based Phone in Spain". TechStake. Retrieved July 2013. 
  14. ^ "First Firefox OS Smartphone Has Arrived: Telefonica Prices ZTE Open At $90 In Spain, Latin American Markets Coming Soon | TechCrunch". July 1, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Say 'hola' to the future – Geeksphone". Shop.geeksphone.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Firefox OS Expands to Nearly 30 Countries". Mozilla Corporation. December 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Flame". Mozilla Developer Network. Mozilla. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Firefox Phone? Mozilla Working on Android-Esque OS". blog. Gagagadget. July 26, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  19. ^ Andrew Kameka (July 26, 2011). "Mozilla borrows from Android to create its own mobile operating system". blog. androinica. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  20. ^ Ryan Paul (July 26, 2011). "Mozilla eyes mobile OS landscape with new Boot to Gecko project". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c "Mozilla’s Boot 2 Gecko and why it could change the world - Features". Know Your Mobile. March 2, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2012. 
  22. ^ Brown, Eric (February 10, 2015). "Firefox OS dongle redesign will add quad-core SoC, DRM". LinuxGizmos.com. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  23. ^ WebAPI
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  29. ^ "Mozilla reveals Firefox smartphone launch partners". BBC. February 24, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Firefox OS 1.2 for developers". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  31. ^ "Platform/GFX/APZ". mozilla.org. 
  32. ^ https://wiki.mozilla.org/FirefoxOS/Tarako
  33. ^ "Intex Cloud FX - Smartphone with Mozilla Firefox OS 1.3T". Firefox OS Devices. 
  34. ^ Shah, Agam (March 23, 2015). "Imagination floats sub-$100 MIPS tablet running Firefox OS". PC World (IDG News Service). Retrieved June 5, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Telefónica and Mozilla pioneer first Open Web Devices" (Press release). Telefónica. February 27, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Mozilla in Mobile – the Web is the Platform" (Press release). Mozilla. February 27, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  37. ^ Chloe Albanesius (February 28, 2012). "Mozilla Tackles Walled Gardens, Demos 'Boot to Gecko' Mobile OS". PCMag.com. Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Raspberry Pi now comes in Firefox OS flavour". Theregister.com. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  39. ^ "B2G Build Prerequisites". Mozilla Developer Network. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Firefox OS ported to MIPS on Ingenic tablet". LinuxGizmos. 
  41. ^ "Firefox OS Simulator :: Versions :: Add-ons for Firefox". Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  42. ^ Angelina Fabbro (July 11, 2013). "Firefox OS Simulator 4.0 released ✩ Mozilla Hacks – the Web developer blog". Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Spreadtrum planning a $25 Firefox OS smartphone". GSMArena.com. 
  44. ^ "Mozilla to launch $25 phone in India in partnership with Intex & Spice". IndianWeb2.com. Retrieved June 18, 2014. 
  45. ^ Bianca Vázquez Toness, Bloomberg News (August 25, 2014). "Mozilla debuts $33 Cloud FX smartphone in bid to capture Indian market". Financial Post. 
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  47. ^ a b c "Release Management/B2G Landing - MozillaWiki". MozillaWiki. Retrieved July 23, 2015. 
  48. ^ "B2G/Roadmap". mozilla.org. 
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  51. ^ "Firefox OS Update (1.1) Adds New Features, Performance Improvements and Additional Language Support | Future Releases". Mozilla. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  52. ^ "Platform/2013-10-01". mozilla.org. 
  53. ^ Chris Ziegler (February 27, 2013). "With Firefox OS, Mozilla gets a little dirty to clean the mobile web". The Verge. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  54. ^ Chris Ziegler (February 28, 2013). "Certified 'Powered by Firefox OS' devices require Firefox Marketplace, minimum hardware specs". The Verge. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  55. ^ Mozilla Explains Why Firefox OS Apps Are Fundamentally Better than Native Mobile Apps softpedia.com
  56. ^ 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 June 14, 2013. 
  57. ^ "Flame". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  58. ^ a b "Geeksphone". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  59. ^ "ZTE". ztedevice.com. 
  60. ^ "ZTE". ztedevice.com. 
  61. ^ "Symphony GoFox F15". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  62. ^ "Fx0". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  63. ^ "Intex Cloud FX". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  64. ^ "Spice Fire One MI FX1". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  65. ^ "Alcatel Onetouch Fire C 4020D". Mozilla Developer Network. 
  66. ^ "APC » Paper". apc.io. 
  67. ^ Spice Fire One Mi-FX 2 Firefox OS smartphone, tech4me.in.
  68. ^ Free Xperia Project, -. "Firefox OS on SP". 
  69. ^ a b "[ROM][Dragonsphere Team][B2G][HTML5][NO ANDROID]Firefox OS [OFICIAL BUILD][B009](NEW UPDATE:Flasheable+APN FIX)". MoDaCo. April 11, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2015. 
  70. ^ HTC Pico/Explorer unofficial port. "[B2G][FIREFOX OS] For HTC Explorer". 
  71. ^ "[October 27] FirefoxOS (nexus 4) 1.1 - 2.2 -… - Google Nexus 4 - XDA Forums". XDA Developers. 
  72. ^ "[B2G] FireFox OS - Nightlies [11/Jun/2014]". XDA Developers. 
  73. ^ "[ROM][OCT 11] FirefoxOS 1.2 and 1.3". XDA Developers. 
  74. ^ Kevin Parrish. "Experimental Firefox OS Build Can Run On MIPS Hardware". Tom's Hardware. 
  75. ^ "Firefox OS now running on a MIPS-based reference tablet". Imagination Blog. 

External links[edit]