Goodbye Boot to Gecko. Hello Firefox OS. Mozilla is renaming its upcoming operating system for smartphones.

The web browser maker has been working on a mobile operating system based on the technology underlying the Firefox web browser. That technology is called Gecko, but Gecko isn’t exactly a household name So Firefox OS makes a lot more sense.

Firefox OS

On the other hand, the name also bears a more than passing resemblance to Chrome OS — Google’s operating system based on the Chrome web browser.

The difference is that Chrome OS is designed for laptop and desktop computers, while Firefox OS is designed for smartphones.

What both operating systems have in common is a focus on web technologies. All the apps that you’ll be able to run on Firefox OS will be written using the tools you’d use to write web apps, including HTML5 — although some of those apps will likely be able to work offline when you don’t have an internet connection.

Boot To Gecko

The operating system is based on a Linux kernel and includes some basic software that lets interact with phone hardware. But it’s the Gecko rendering engine that powers most of the software. The phone dialer, clock, music app, and pretty much every other app is basically just a web page optimized for mobile devices.

Mozilla isn’t just changing the name to Firefox OS. It’s also announcing new partners for its project. Phone makers Alcatel and ZTE will produce the first handsets running Firefox OS, and global wireless carriers including Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, and Telefónica are now backing the Firefox OS initiative.

Telefónica is expected to launch the first Firefox OS devices in Brazil in early 2013.


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8 replies on “Mozilla renames its mobile OS: Meet Firefox OS”

  1. Isn’t this really just a remaking of WebOS?

    What’s so different this time around?

    1. It’s based on Gecko rather than WebKit, and it’s an open source project from the get-go, which means it’s open for any device makers to use.

      I also haven’t seen all the details… and I’m not a web developer, but I get the sense that while webOS apps are designed using web technologies, coding apps for Firefox OS will be more like making apps for Chrome OS: essentially you’re actually making a web page.

      1. Thx Brad!

        yeah, I understood the open-source/Geko part. . . the other not so much.

        A big hindrance of WebOS was that the OS itself was based on web technologies, if I’m not mistaken based on what I’ve read, and I remember someone saying in the WebOS forums that, the JS rendered for the OS had to render the OS and the apps thus it was very slow. . .

        Maybe this is more a traditional OS, based on Linux, and then only the apps need to be rendered so it bypass the double JS work load on the JS rendering engine???

        That’s all I could come up with.

        1. Yes, the DOM (Document Object Model) APIs means direct access to the hardware.

        2. Both WebOS and Firefox OS are linux based. And DOM does not mean direct hardware access. The DOM has little to do with the hardware. The rendering engine, spidermonkey in this case, has hardware access. Basically the Javascript engine is a vm abstracting the web from the hardware. On the desktop, your browser contains the Javascript engine, V8 in Chrome, WebKit in Safari, SpiderMonkey in Firefox, etc. But the DOM itself has nothing to do with the hardware, it’s so far abstracted from the hardware.

      2. It’s suppose to be using Web
        stack with DOM (Document Object Model) APIs to all the hardware capabilities.

        Also, it won’t be a walled garden…

    2. I was left wondering the same thing. And also wondering whether Google and Mozilla have paid attention to the issues of speed and lag that have plagued WebOS, some of which, according to the WebOS team, was due to the nature of trying to use web technologies to do things that require lower latency.

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