If you heard some murmurings earlier this month about the future release of yet another mobile operating system and wondered if you had been living in some kind of Total Recall fantasy then don’t worry, you can rest assured that reality is firmly in your grips. Mozilla announced that they are planning on entering the mobile market next year with their Firefox OS, with the intention being to allow Alcatel and ZTE to ship some bottom of the market type devices powered by the operating system.
Firefox OS, or Boot to Gecko as it has been internally codenamed, is a web-based operating system that is built on HTML 5 and is an attempt by Mozilla to enter and make some rumblings in the mobile market. One of the core concepts and driving forces behind the development of such an OS is to fully use open web standards and allow web apps that are also developed in HTML5 to access hardware capabilities of the device, something that only native apps have previously been able to do.
The development team behind Firefox OS are promising that it will be an all singing all dancing operating system, offering everything users have come to expect such as contact dialing, messaging, web browsing, gaming, video viewing and transfer of media through the popular bumping. Until the software is deployed on smartphone devices, we won’t really know how it performs and the power that it contains, but until then, Mozilla have made early test builds available for developers to run on a Mac, Windows or a Linux machine.
It is worth noting that the released builds are targeted purely at web developers who may want to test their own web app against the OS and therefore will only run on desktop machines and have an inability to be flashed onto smartphones or tablets. As is always the case with projects like this, Mozilla is keen for any bugs or glaring issues to be pointed out to them, another reason for the release of these developer builds. As is usually the case, the best things in life aren’t free and this is obvious with these builds as the cost of getting access to them is a painful installation process involving numerous laborious steps.
If you happen to be a developer with a keen interest in deploying a web app for the Firefox OS or just need to tinker with the latest releases then you can download the relevant desktop build for your machine now and check out the Gaia Hacking page for in-depth details on how to actually set up your environment to be receive this gracious gift from Mozilla.