Boot to Gecko – Open source Mobile and Tablet OS from Mozilla

The core team of Mozilla has come up with an ambitious plan for a stand-alone, web-based operating system called Boot to Gecko. The genesis of this project is that web developers should be able to develop applications for mobiles and tablets that can harness the native functionalities of the devices. In that process, the web apps should be able to give an equal experience and performance of native apps of iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 Platforms. Boot to Gecko will be powered by Gecko Engine that drives the Mozilla browser and will transform this Gecko Engine into a full-fledged operating system – ala Google Chrome OS.


Boot to Gecko will focus on the following 4 areas to begin with:

1. New Web APIs: These APIs would expose the core functionalities of the device and the OS which it is being run. Some of the functionalities include SMS, Camera, Telephony, USB, Bluetooth, NFC etc.,). Once these APIs are ready, then web pages can harness these APIs and tap on to the power and glory of the devices and OS underneath!

2. Privilege Model: This is more of a security mechanism which ensures that the new features are safely exposed to the pages and applications – ala sandbox.

3. Booting: A low-level Android core for kernel and driver support to be provided so that Boot to Gecko can run on android compatible devices.

4. Applications: Choose some existing applications in the market and port them to Boot to Gecko or completely build it using Boot to Gecko. The idea is to showcase what’s possible with Boot to Gecko

According to Dr. Andreas Gal, lead researcher at Mozilla, the entire source code for Boot to Gecko (B2G) will be developed and made public in real-time – ala chefs cooking inside see-through windows 🙂 While Google’s android platform is also claimed to be open source, the source code is not available on a real-time basis. Instead they are made available on a periodic basis – sometimes after months.

This is an exciting development for the whole web developers across the world – who can harness the power of the devices and operating systems without requiring to learn new languages and skills. This is good for consumers alike as the applications would run across all platforms!


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