Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Mozilla challenges Android with new web OS

Throws down challenge with Boot to Gecko

Article comments

Mozilla has announced an audacious project to build an open source smartphone and tablet operating system to rival the increasingly cosy three-way domination of Android, Apple’s iPhone and Windows Phone.

Under the name of Boot to Gecko (B2G), the new OS will take the Gecko HTML rendering engine of Mozilla’s Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client and build around it a wholly open source project capable of running atop Android-compatible hardware thanks to re-use of a few nuggets of low-level code from that OS.

The B2G project is still at a very early stage but the outline of something complex and unusual can be discerned form the blog comments that announced it.

Its foundation will be to use open web standards rather than “single-vendor stacks”, risky given the immaturity of that environment, but consistent with Mozilla’s open web vision.

The development team announced four areas that are needed to get Boot to Gecko off the ground, including new APIs to tie the underlying Android hardware layer to software for interfaces such as telephony, storage, cameras, and networking comms. Security design is also a key issue; source code resulting from all development will be released in real time.

“This project is in its infancy; some pieces of it are only captured in our heads today, others aren’t fully explored. We’re talking about it now because we want expertise from all over Mozilla - and from people who aren’t yet part of Mozilla - to inform and build the project we’re outlining here,” announced the Mozilla project team.

As is the nature of open source, the exact direction of future development will depend to some extent on those who contribute to it.

Whatever B2G turns into, perhaps its biggest challenge isn’t to Android itself but to Google’s model for developing that operating system, which sees source code released at the company leisure in a way that some believe has fragmented application development across different versions. The pointed release of source code as development proceeds is a backhanded reference to frustrations at Google’s approach.

“We want to do Boot to Gecko the way we think open source should be done. In the open, from day 1, for everyone to see and participate,” said Mozilla project leader, Andreas Gal.

Boot to Gecko is also a way of proposing not just a market alternative to established proprietary mobile operating systems, but a different direction altogether, one centred on web applications.

It has some similarities to Google’s own ChromeOS – in other words the belief that web applications will be the foundation of future operating systems – and could turn into a slightly different version of the same thing minus the association with a single commercial interest.

Boot to Gecko will attract a lot of interest but hurdles remain. The pace of development will be watched very closely on the gitub project repository.



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *