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Firefox OS is a Linux kernel-based open-source operating system for smart phones, tablet computers and smart TVs. It is being developed by Mozilla, the non-profit organisation best known for the Firefox web browser. Firefox OS is designed to provide a complete, community-based alternative system for mobile devices, using open standards and approaches such as HTML5 applications, JavaScript, a robust privilege model, open web APIs to communicate directly with cellphone hardware, and application marketplace. As such, it competes with commercially developed operating systems such as iOS, Android, Microsoft‘s Windows Phone, BlackBerry 10 and Jolla’s Sailfish OS.

But why has Mozilla built this project? Mozilla is interested in Web development and open-source software. It has now been able to prove to the world that it can establish a new and modern operating system that also meets the requirements of smartphone and tablet technology.
Because Mozilla is a non-profit organisation, it is concerned with providing technology for all, especially considering the exploitation of technology by companies who monopolise this field for profit. Mozilla provides an operating system that preserves the rights of users by not tracking and trading the privacy of the user for money. Mozilla shows that it can make an intelligent portable phone at the lowest possible cost!

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On July 25th 2011,  Andreas Gal, Director of Research at Mozilla Corporation, announced the “Boot to Gecko” Project (B2G) on the mozilla.dev.platform mailing list. The project proposal was to “pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web” in order to “find the gaps that keep web developers from being able to build apps that are – in every way – the equals of native apps built for the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7.” The announcement identified these work areas: new web APIs to expose device and OS capabilities such as telephone and camera, a privilege model to safely expose these to web pages, applications to prove these capabilities, and low-level code to boot on an Android-compatible device. This led to much blog coverage. According to Ars Technica, “Mozilla says that B2G is motivated by a desire to demonstrate that the standards-based open Web has the potential to be a competitive alternative to the existing single-vendor application development stacks offered by the dominant mobile operating systems.”

In 2012, Andreas Gal expanded on Mozilla’s aims. He characterised the current set of mobile OS systems as “walled gardens” and presented Firefox OS as more accessible: “we use completely open standards and there’s no proprietary software or technology involved” (although this is no longer true, with proprietary software DRM used in Matchstick (based on Firefox OS) and desktop Windows Firefox browser version 38). Gal also said that because the software stack is entirely HTML5, there are already a large number of established developers. This assumption is employed in Mozilla’s Web API. These are intended W3C standards that attempt to bridge the capability gap that currently exists between native frameworks and web applications. The goal of these efforts is to enable developers to build applications using Web API which would then run in any standard compliant browser without the need to rewrite their application for each platform.

I hope that this article won your admiration and that you feel in-the-know about Firefox OS . If you want to know why Mozilla used HTML5 to build apps for Firefox OS, what are the benefits and the advantages for Firefox OS, what about the architecture for Firefox OS, stay tuned for upcoming articles!

Firefox OS is always the closest to you and all you need for a great web experience all round!

Have a great day, Firefox OS Community!

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Written by Mohammed EL-barbeer