Mozilla building open-source mobile OS to rival Google's Android
Open-source software development initiative Mozilla has launched an effort to develop a complete, standalone open web-based operating system optimized for mobile devices. In a post to the mozilla.dev.platform wiki page, Mozilla researcher Andreas Gal explains that the initiative, dubbed Boot to Gecko, will "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]."
Gal states that the Boot to Gecko build is still in its infancy, and will require work across a number of segments, including development of new web APIs to expose device and OS capabilities. Engineers must also make sure these capabilities are safely exposed to pages and applications. In addition, Mozilla plans to prototype a low-level substrate for an Android-compatible device and must port or build applications to prove out the system.
Gal promises that Mozilla will perform all Boot to Gecko work "in the open," releasing source code in real time, presenting all successful additions to the appropriate standards body and tracking all resulting changes. We aren't trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we're trying to have them run on the web," Gal states, adding in a subsequent post that the project's ultimate goal is "breaking the stranglehold of proprietary technologies over the mobile device world."
Mozilla vice president of technical strategy Mike Shaver states the organization will integrate elements of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile OS in Boot to Gecko, but adds "We intend to use as little of Android as possible, in fact. Really, we want to use the kernel + drivers, plus libc and ancillary stuff. It's not likely that we'll use the Android Java-wrapped graphics APIs, for example."
Google created Android as an open-source platform, and the approach is credited as a primary catalyst behind the operating system's enormous growth. But Oracle is now seeking billions in damages from Google over claims that Android "directly copied" elements of the Java programming language, acquired by Oracle when it purchased rival Sun Microsystems in April 2009. In addition, some developers have expressed frustration that Google often does not issue readable Android source code until months after new versions are given to manufacturing partners.
- read this mozilla.dev.platform thread
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