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back to article Mozilla's 'Boot to Gecko' morphs into Firefox OS

Mozilla has announced details of its forthcoming mobile OS built on web technologies, henceforth to be known as Firefox OS and aimed at the "billions of users" who will soon flood the shallow end of the feature pool. The new OS will be based on Mozilla's "Boot to Gecko" project, named after the Firefox browser's HTML rendering …

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Fox hunt

I have a feeling this project will find itself being attacked by google in various shapes and forms. Surely this will step on a few android toes - can't see them being happy about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Execution

"When Apple unveiled the first iPhone in 2007, developers were told that web technologies and the Safari browser were all they needed to build apps. The more than 650,000 native iPhone apps currently available in the iTunes store would suggest otherwise."

That's because "webapps" on the iPhone are (were?) second class citizens.

"Firefox OS apps will be strictly web-based, with no SDK for native C/C++ development."

Kind of like Android then. Yes, they do have the NDK, but that is not supposed to be for general app development.

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Oh crap

Why have so many outfits forgotten what an operating system is supposed to do? It's supposed to provide a given set of features and an environment in which applications can run ****with a minimum of overhead****, especially on battery powered devices.

Booting into HTML5 as the lowest possible API level is just madness. Even Google recognise this, for despite this being the general philosophy of the Chromebook they've gone and done NaCl too, which is another completely bizarre thing. Segment registers, good grief.

Firefox OS sounds like a completely bloated battery waster to me. Afterall, Firefox Browser doesn't have a reputation for being a sleek, reliable and efficient bit of software on the desktop...

Apple sort of had it right, native is the best way to go to maximise the batter life. Except that the API they expose to people writing native apps on iOS is hamstrung. Dunno about WinPhone.

Blackberry now do a *free* NDK for the Playbook, and if you squint only a little bit (no console I/O AFAIK - printfs end up in the debugger's console window, not on the device's screen) you'd think you're writing C/C++ on top of any old POSIX platform. It's quite refreshing, you could almost be writing for Linux. You're in fact writing for QNX, which is POSIX compliant :-) I'm fairly sure that it's free to put an app on their App Store too.

A neat example of this is the fact that Stellarium has recently pitched up on the BB App Store. Someone's gone and recompiled it seemingly with a minimum of fuss.

It's a bizarre situation. The 'free' Linux based mobile platform (Android) doesn't let you easily write in C/C++ against the POSIX API, where one of the most proprietary platforms out there does.

If you want to programme C/C++ on a mobile device, Playbook's not a bad place to be at the moment. I'm kind of hoping that they can survive their current difficulties, because I think they're offering one of the technically better platforms. It's just a shame that they're not fashionable. VHS vs Betamax?

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Stop

Ba humbug!

Don't get me wrong, C/C++ are great for the hard core of us, but I'm a web guy, and the idea of being able to get a TRUELY open source phone that I can create "apps" for right on the phone and completely modify every aspect of the user interface is enough of a selling point.

Besides, think of it from this perspective, kid gets a Mozilla OS device, kid hates small icons, kid learns CSS in 5-10 minutes and changes icon. Kid now modifies app and decides to make his own. Boom! A new app developer is born, sure it's HTML so what? Kid may now decide C++ is for him and move ahead to that.

Regardless of the dev side of the phone it's a easily customisable phone that is cheap.

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Re: Ba humbug!

The path is HTML/CSS to javascript to webgl to GLSL. Forget the CPU, the GPU is where the action's at...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "GPU is where the action's at..."

One day your words will come back to haunt you, when you are writing javascript to run on your graphics card.

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Re: Ba humbug!

A common route I've noticed is scratch, HTML, THEN JS and CSS, Python, PyGame and finally C#. I'd say this a good route to start kids off on.

P.S for a bit of inception, someone should try the JS version of the Linux kernel, and then get Firefox running in that!

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I'm quite keen on seeing this. Iphones are a bit expensive and haven't been very innovative lately. Google is shilling a shit OS whose intent is to collect all my personal info. So we do need more competition and one that's more serious about being open than google.

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"Google is shilling a shit OS whose intent is to collect all my personal info."

Judging by how Mozilla seems to have been taken over by marketing droids in the last few years, how they stubbornly avoid dealing with core bugs in their products while they muck about with the interface all the time, and the fact that Thunderbird now bundles "offers" from various web "partners" when you install it and other annoying messages from the "headquarters" - all for your own "good" - I wouldn't be surprised if their new OS would be just as rapacious at gobbling up all your personal info and behaviour statistics. Mozilla are slowly morphing into a wolf in sheep's clothes - the good guys behaving just like any other greedy commercial entity out there. At least with Google I know where I stand by now.

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So...

Does this mean a phone running Firefox OS will be largely useless anywhere where there's no 3G signal?

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Re: So...

No, html5 supports offline apps.

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JDX
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Oh yes, HTML5 the ideal development technologies. This just seems a terrible idea and hopefully it never gets anywhere... like ChromeOS in fact.

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FAIL

This old chestnut

I fear this will fail. Browser-as-the-OS has been tried before.

I wonder what kernel they're basing it on, I can't imagine the developers of Bloaty FireFox have done their own.

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JDX
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Re: This old chestnut

Surely it's bound to just be some Linux thingie, everything else (including Android) is.

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Unhappy

Re: This old chestnut

"Surely it's bound to just be some Linux thingie, everything else (including Android) is."

More than likely. What they actually mean by Firefox OS is "Single unkillable firefox app running on top of OS which we'll hide from you - for your own good of course". Though I suspect their marketdroids genuinely don't know the difference between an app and an OS.

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Re: This old chestnut

From what I've heard, they're using the Android Linux kernel.

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unnecessary middleware layers ...

... between the web experience and the underlying hardware

But at the expense of adding a whole load of unnecessary middleware between, say the phone application and the hardware? Seriously, this will need some grounding in reality to take off.

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This bandwagon

had better have some kick-ass suspension.

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WebOS hasn't quite faded

There's still an active development group supporting the million TouchPad users and hundreds of thousands of WebOS phones, and HP is still progressively releasing the components as open source. It may yet have legs.

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chrome os ...

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Anonymous Coward

But why....

The apps are HTML5 and Javascript and will thus be easy enough to run on any other platform too.

In other words, buy an Android phone, and it will run Android apps, and these apps too, buy a Firefox phone, and it will only run basic web apps.

Surely reason enough not to bother....

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