When Mozilla announced the Webian Shell last month, many wondered if Mozilla too is planning to launch its own version of a web-based operating system. There was no definite answer then, but there is now.
Mozilla has launched a new project called “Boot to Gecko”. The aim of this project is to develop a complete operating system for the open web. Unlike Google’s version of a web-based OS – the Chrome OS – Mozilla’s version is not aimed at netbooks. With Boot to Gecko, Mozilla is aiming for smartphones – and Android forms a part of their plan.
This is what a joint statement from Andreas Gal, Brendan Eich, Mike Shaver and Chris Jones said announcing Boot to Gecko:
Mozilla believes that the web can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks for application development. To make open web technologies a better basis for future applications on mobile and desktop alike, we need to keep pushing the envelope of the web to include --- and in places exceed --- the capabilities of the competing stacks in question.
Boot to Web plans to tear down Android to its base – the kernel, drivers, libc etc. So, we will not see Android in the traditional sense and Android apps will not run in Boot to Gecko. Mozilla just want to start from a base which they know work.
The project is at a very early stage right now. Andreas Gal of Mozilla has proposed the things that Mozilla needs to work out for Boot to Web. They need to develop new web APIs to make functions like SMS, Telephone, NFC etc. available to a web app. One that is developed, a proper privilege models will be developed. The privilege model is very much essential to make that the capabilities of the phone are safely exposed to the web apps. All these will run on top of a stripped down Android, as mentioned above.
Boot to Gecko, if it succeeds, holds a lot of promise. Because it will be a web-based OS, Boot to Gecko holds the promise to fully open up smartphones by making web apps truly competitive with native apps.
Boot to Gecko does not have any relation to the Webian Shell. However, we may see come collaboration between the two projects – after all they are looking to do the same thing, on different devices.
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