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Mozilla's Boot 2 Gecko Mobile OS to Land 2012

Way back in July, Firefox developer Mozilla revealed preliminary plans for a universal-platform mobile OS called Boot to Gecko (or B2G). Mozilla said it would feature the Linux-based Android kernel and device drivers beneath a custom user interface and application stack based on Gecko, the Firefox and Thunderbird HTML rendering engine. However, while B2G was said to be in its infancy when it was unveiled during the summer, it seems development of the OS is motoring along quite nicely. In fact, according to Mozilla's roadmap, Boot 2 Gecko has entered the testing stage.

Hot Hardware points towards a Mozilla-made roadmap for B2G that has 'Milestone 1: Developer Phone' pegged for 2011. As a part of this testing phase, developers are using B2G as their day-to-day phone. Mozilla expects to hit Milestone 2, which is a demo of the product, in Q1 2012, and hopes to release the OS the following quarter. If all goes according to the roadmap, we should see B2G on the market before next summer.

As we reported back in July, Mozilla's goal is to create an HTML5-driven web environment where HTML5 apps can offer the same functionality as traditional apps. Like Google’s Chrome OS, B2G will be a complete standalone OS entirely dependent on the open web. Thus, Mozilla will provide a set of B2G APIs for building HTML5-based apps that access device telephone, SMS, camera, USB, Bluetooth, NFC and other features.

Although the team chose the Linux-based Android kernel and device drivers because they're compatible with existing hardware, it intends to use as little of Android as possible. "Really, we want to use the kernel + drivers, plus libc and ancillary stuff," Mike Shaver, VP of engineering, said. "It's not likely that we'll use the Android Java-wrapped graphics APIs, for example.  It's nice to start from something that's known to boot and have access to all the devices we want to expose.  Maybe that's not the right direction, though, so if someone wants to explore another direction that'd be just fine."