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Firefox OS – video presentations and slides on the OS, WebAPIs (hacks.mozilla.org)
157 points by vectorbunny on Nov 7, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments



Mozilla nurtured the web with Firefox. This is yet another great project for the Mobile ecosystem.

I always wished for myself and for the larger web community a 'Rock solid web based Open' Mobile Platform. And it is happening fast.

All such advancements are only possible today, as we have faster Javascript engines, can leverage Cloud services, access to cheaper hardware and much faster Internet Penetration and adoption than ever before. The web can function as a strong platform by itself and not a hybrid model.

Also let's not forget the big failure of the over hyped Palm WebOS. Many said - it was too early; not ready for the market. I too agreed then. :) Lets hope Firefox has good design patterns and moves agile.

Couple of things I wish everyone knows -

1. Are all the System level API's ready? Telephone API, Sensor API's et al. It looks to me, its under prototype and design, what's the current stage?

2. Can this leverage WebGL and all HTML5 features?

3. AFAIK, all the front end is around Javascript or some Javascript MVC. Are there any other programming API's?


2. WebGL works fine, HTML5 works fine. This is Firefox's Gecko. Everything that works on Desktop works on Firefox OS.

For 1. and 3., here's the Web API: https://wiki.mozilla.org/WebAPI

Should answer all your questions, I hope


Seriously, I don't know why exactly but this stuff makes me feel like a dirty utopian hippie despite all the steely-eyed "realist" devil's advocate posturing people can summon.

I only wish FirefoxOS devices were around to have been considered for our retarded "give every child a tablet" program that's underway in Turkey, especially given the rumors that Mozilla is shooting for the cheap end of the market. As expected, the tablets for the program are being marketed as a toy.


Probably the use of "retarded", IDK, but that's usually considered non-pc by Americans. Especially in such close proximity to "child"


thanks. to be clear then, the program is "bad and ill-timed" because there is no educational framework or material ready to support the tablets. so by the time it does start rolling in, there's a danger that the devices will be out-dated.


I'm jumping into this game as an experiment to get khan academy working properly on a Nexus 7.


that's great to hear, more power to you.


downvote explanation? alluding to the notion that a open standards based mobile OS may be an ideal candidate for a state-funded tablet education push is bad because...why exactly?

ed: the above post is not meant to be sarcastic. dirty utopian hippie = optimistic in a good way


As a little addition I would hope that the can finally get away from the C++ world and build a lot of these new things in rust, but I think rust is not quite at that point jet.


Mozilla has lost their way with Firefox, and are becoming like MS. They have a slow, bloated browser that runs terribly on Android. Instead of trying to make the best browser for the platform, they created FF OS, locking the user into their platform and API standards, just like MS tried to do when it bundled IE in Windows.

I had a WebOS phone and despite loving the beautiful UI and it being ahead of iOS in many ways like notifications and task switching, I dumped it. HTML5 killed the user experience. I need fast, responsive apps that only Android and iOS can deliver.

There's no way I'd ever go back to generic, laggy, HTML5 Apps.


Regarding your comment on HTML5 being "laggy", I think you should take a look at https://hacks.mozilla.org/2012/11/html5-mythbusting/

Besides, Mozilla is not trying to tie down anyone to it's platform, because the platform is basically the Web, which is open to everyone. There are many things which distinguish it from other platforms like you can host your "apps", which are nothing more than simple websites, on your own site and not necessarily Mozilla's MarketPlace. Mozilla is working hard to reduce the memory footprint and make the apps responsive[1] and by the time it comes out, I think it's going to have a really good performance.

[1] - https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=797189


i haven't been this excited about something in a long time. what i wouldn't give to hack my own phone without learning proprietary platforms.


Then get yourself a Nexus Android phone today. The OS is completely open source, with a whole community built around hacking phones, XDA. You can get much better performance out of Java than you could ever dream to with JavaScript. Many of FF OS's hardware APIs are Mozilla specific, no different than Android's.


All Mozilla phone APIs are being standardized. Some already are. None are intended to be Mozilla-specific.

You can track the implementation here: https://wiki.mozilla.org/WebAPI


It's open source in the sense that the source is available. It's not open-source in the sense of being a community project. As for Javascript vs Java, Javascript has come a long way. Recent JS engines are pretty fast. Not to say that it can't be tricky to maintain a large base of JS code, but that's a different debate.

I for one am looking forward to it, though the lack of apps compared to the other two dominant ecosystems will be a problem.


"not open-source in the sense of being a community project." Android is no less a community project than FF OS. And it does have a great community of outside developers around it, XDA. Check out the forums.

If you want to contribute back, Google has been good about accepting patches into its AOSP project. For patches they won't accept, there's always CyanogenMod.

"JS engines are pretty fast" Good enough for simple text based apps and casual games, yes. Modern 3D games, not by a long shot. Native code, NDK, or Java under HotSpot are the only decent options creating for modern responsive 3D games.


i run CM7 nightly on my original Evo 4G (WiMax). i have done a fair bit of customizing it, but without learning Java in addition to the huge android framework, it's a pretty gnarly task to make significant changes.

i think that firefox OS will do to the smartphone ecosystem what github did to open source contribution revival. not having to touch the OS guts, and just scripting against some additional APIs is a huge win for simplification to the whole hacking process.

the mozilla-specific stuff will start proprietary like android, but all of their work is submitted for standards adoption and is almost certainly needed in one form or another.


CM7? Why aren't you running ICS? Even the official Sprint firmware has been upgraded.

Yes, JavaScript has come a long way with the latest engines. However, it's still a long ways away from being competitive with iOS or Android NDK Apps. Even Mozilla's poster child for the potential of HTML5 in 3D gaming, Banana Bread, is 4-10x slower than its native counterpart Cube 2.


i occasionally flash CM9 and CM10 nightlies to see if performance has improved. unfortunately both are significantly slower even with third party kernels than CM7. also, there are no 4G/WiMax drivers for anything above GB, so i really have no better options. it sux i cannot run latest native browser or chrome, but i run FF mobile nightly and Opera if i need the latest goodies.


Learning to use fork may be beneficial to eating everything with a spoon.


Sorry for the OT, but I always get a certificate error when visiting that domain. Am I the only one?

http://www.sslshopper.com/ssl-checker.html#hostname=hacks.mo...

Says the cert is ok, but my firefox complains:

  hacks.mozilla.org uses an invalid security certificate.
  The certificate is only valid for tbpl.mozilla.org
  (Error code: ssl_error_bad_cert_domain)

Maybe there is something wrong with my network.


I see you commented on a fix already, but here's some background...

This is due to TLS SNI, which allows different certs to be returned based on the hostname requested. SNI is supported by all major browsers on all major platforms, with 1 significant exception: WinXP+IE does not support SNI (WinXP+Firefox/Opera/Chrome are all fine for many versions, WinVista/7+IE are both fine). I think certain (older) Android platforms have a problem with this too.

SNI is really awesome because the web hosting company doesn't have to allocate separate IP addresses for multiple sites to have proper SSL support. It makes HTTPS hosting simpler and cheaper. The only significant downside is issues like this, where a user's browser doesn't support it... hence over time, issues like this should shrink.

If you're still on WinXP+IE, you're likely to start running into more and more problems in the next couple years (and not just due to SNI).


You may have TLS 1.0 disabled (Tools > Options > Advanced > Encryption > TLS 1.0). Make sure both of those checkboxes (SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0) are checked.


That was it. Thank you.


Update your browser - happens to me in IE8, but not Chrome 22. Certification verification is done by the browser, and I believe they store acceptable CA signers somehow, which is probably out dated.

Edit: Don't quote me, been a while since studying site certificates.


I have the latest ff: 16.0.2.

I even tried

  $ openssl s_client -connect hacks.mozilla.org:443
from a linode vm:

  CONNECTED(00000003)
  ---
  Certificate chain
   0 s:/serialNumber=I1oZ-yurbFWiPu/xP8HIzW3f9mApQvMv/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Mozilla Corporation/OU=IT/CN=tbpl.mozilla.org
     i:/C=US/O=GeoTrust, Inc./CN=GeoTrust SSL CA
   1 s:/C=US/O=GeoTrust, Inc./CN=GeoTrust SSL CA
     i:/C=US/O=GeoTrust Inc./CN=GeoTrust Global CA
   2 s:/C=US/O=GeoTrust Inc./CN=GeoTrust Global CA
     i:/C=US/O=Equifax/OU=Equifax Secure Certificate Authority
  ---
  Server certificate
  [...]
  subject=/serialNumber=I1oZ-yurbFWiPu/xP8HIzW3f9mApQvMv/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Mozilla Corporation/OU=IT/CN=tbpl.mozilla.org
  issuer=/C=US/O=GeoTrust, Inc./CN=GeoTrust SSL CA
Any idea?


s_client doesn't support SNI, so this is expected behavior. The client (s_client) doesn't know how to tell the server what hostname it's requesting during the handshake... so the server returns the default one. After the handshake completes, normal HTTP semantics kick in and the client/server have no problems... but by then it's too late, and the client has already negotiated based on the wrong cert.


Wild guess... are you on WinXP?

WinXP + any version of IE does not support TLS SNI... even though it does support TLSv1.0, it doesn't support the SNI extension. Supported in Vista and 7, though.

Chrome, Firefox, and Opera (on any platform) all support TLSv1.0, with or without SNI.


This advisory seems to clear up Internet Explorer's reluctance: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2643584


Could that be because of some "transparent" proxy server your ISP uses?

Works for me, btw.


It's fine for me.


Same error for me (using latest FF on Ubuntu)


Do you have TLSv1.0 disabled (see briansmith's comment)?


There's no mention of gaming in those slides. Will they be supporting WebGL?


Yes. There are a couple of WebGL demos that come pre-installed on the current build.


I assume so, the current Firefox for Android fully supports WebGL.


Oh yay... another OS.


What's wrong with a variety of OSs?


Nothing wrong. It's just not hype-worthy because it doesn't contain the words Apple/Chrome/iOS. So most people will just ignore this.


They're not trying to sell a brand, though -- I believe the starting goal is to get this on low end commodity phones in South America. (Notice how everything in the original link is also available in Portuguese?) To that end they already have deals with carriers there.

Since Mozilla actually has the health of the web as their main mission, they have a role catering to markets that others will neglect.


Hint... it's Linux.


That's the kernel, not the OS.


OK, you got me. It's GNU/Linux.


Actually its Android/Linux A lot of parts are non-GNU. Specially the proprietary drivers.


There's a brief description on wikipedia; it's called "Gonk".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefox_OS#Gonk


I suspect "Gonk" is a pun on "Gecko" and "Android" based on Star Wars' GNK power droid:

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/GNK_power_droid


So basically, you're getting an Android phone, minus the 700,000 Apps? Thanks, but no thanks.

The whole idea of using HTML, CCS, and JavaScript as the back end technology for a low-end smartphone is nuts. Even the best HTML rendering engines are CPU and memory hogs. CSS was never designed for and is nearly impossible to hardware accelerate, and JavaScript is notoriously difficult to optimize and even the best VMs like V8 run orders of magnitude slower then Native code, while the VM itself takes up a massive amount of memory.

Mozilla should focus on building a competitive browser. At the end of the day, I want a responsive fast phone, like the iPhone or Galaxy S3, not some dog slow HTML5 monstrosity.


This isn't a new competitor to iPhones etc. It's a platform for inventing the next set of web APIs. You're getting a phone that encourages apps to be web apps instead of locked in to one platform. Users can get any phone they want, with any OS they want. Web apps will not be crippled. They can access the phone functions, the camera, location etc. Since web apps are now first-class apps, developers can write one app that runs on all phone platforms. Users still get to pick a "native" app ecosystem they like, but they will also get first-class web apps that work on every phone.

My browser runs fine on my current phone, and MozillaOS is even closer to the metal. Both WebGL and "normal" web apps look good, and they've just started. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v...


Oh! Actually I had no idea it was based on Android, which actually makes a lot more sense for phones than the regular GNU userland. Thanks!


Using an Android kernel also allows Mozilla to leverage Google's Linux work and get hardware support "for free" from hardware vendors who won't bother writing drivers for non-Android Linux.




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