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Boot To Gecko – Mozilla's Web-Based OS

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the browser-incomplete-'til-it-has-operating-system dept.

Mozilla 120

kai_hiwatari writes "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."

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Fitting quote (1)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878630)

I recently switched back to the default google mobile browser because firefox mobile kept crashing, and was slower.

The quote at the bottom of the slashdot page is "Jenkinson's Law: It won't work.".

I think it's fitting.

Re:Fitting quote (1)

IB4Student (1885914) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878790)

Beta works a lot better.

Re:Fitting quote (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879186)

Not only is it unstable, but Firefox Mobile also consumes a lot of battery. I went to Dolphin Mini because of this issue.

Re:Fitting quote (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880772)

If it is based on the gecko desktop engine I'm frankly not surprised. I always gave Firefox out to customers and had been using it myself since before it was even called Firefox but starting with the 3.6.x branch I simply found it unsuitable for purpose as a desktop browser which is why after trying several browsers I switched to comodo dragon [comodo.com] which I now hand out instead.

I have to support a very wide range of users, from low end netbooks and midrange P4s to the latest multicores and I found the memory and CPU usage on FF after the 3.5.x build to simply be unacceptable. I have found on anything less than a 2.8Ghz with HT the browser will slam the CPU when launching a new tab, sometimes for over 30 seconds when the tab contains flash video, and even when left alone its memory usage will steadily climb until closed or it slams into the page file. Most importantly it will completely lose responsiveness and make the machine stall until the page has finished loading completely.

Compare this to Dragon on the same hardware where even on the 1.8Ghz Sempron I keep in the shop as a nettop I can launch multiple tabs and never have it hit above 60% CPU usage, flash tabs 70% , RAM usage stays consistent and when tabs are closed memory returned (FF seems to have a real problem with returning memory) and most importantly the browser NEVER loses responsiveness nor takes complete control of the machine away from the user.

Now why FF does this I don't know, but I have a theory. I think the Gecko engine simply isn't capable of doing certain features like separating plugins from the browser and bolting on all this functionality is causing serious issues. But whatever the reason when everything is going "green" and using less is desirable (such as RAM and CPU starved mobile devices) FF sucks ever more power and memory to do the same task. I truly hope they figure it out as I miss having NoScript but until they do I need a browser that runs everywhere and FF just doesn't do that anymore. I have to give Google credit as Chromium is quickly becoming what Gecko used to be, a great platform for building on top of.

Re:Fitting quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880796)

Fx (the actual abbreviation) has had plugins in a separate process since 3.6.4 and you can see the RAM usage improvements being done in Aurora builds [mozilla.com] right now if you want. Now instead of a theory you can just paste the contents of about:memory

Re:Fitting quote (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881336)

Please tell people to install Chrome, not Comodo Dragon. Comodo uses it to block certain competing SSL-provider products they think are 'unsafe'.

Re:Fitting quote (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36882634)

Sorry but I don't support all the "phone home" aspects of Chrome so I won't allow it in my builds. And since I'm dealing with SMBs, SOHOs, and home users I frankly don't care what Comodo thinks of other SSL providers but in my experience the ONLY times I've seen Dragon have a fit is when they are using an out of date cert or one not in most standard browsers (such as IE,Safari, and Mozilla) and rightly so, as I don't want my customers on websites that are using "Bob's certs" as they are...surprise! Dodgy. Finally Dragon has better domain validation than most and the option to use their secure DNS which bypasses the BS DNS servers the ISP use around here.

So I'm sorry but spying on users and sending everything to Google is simply unacceptable. Dragon does what I want it to do and helps to keep customers away from dodgy sites. Better for them, better for me, and they need to simply click the "proceed anyway" button and can continue on if they so desire. Where is the "I don't want to send anything to Google" button in Chrome?

Re:Fitting quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36881628)

You really should try Firefox 5. Basing your assessment of Firefox on Firefox 3.6 (as you seem to be) doesn't lead to any useful conclusions. Firefox 5 has many improvements over 3.6.

Re:Fitting quote (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881248)

also, 240x360 screens are not supported :(

Re:Fitting quote (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881292)

Firefox mobile failed for me as tab switching is unusable on the poxy little QVGA screen my phone has, though I found the built-in browser irritating enough (I'm on Andoid 2.1, it may have improved in later revisions of course) to look into other options. Opera Mobile is what I settled on in the end. Works like a charm, and it seems both nippy and stable. You just need to tweak the settings a little to make best use of a low resolution screen.

"Old" :P (2)

IB4Student (1885914) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878648)

Reminds me of this: http://www.xpud.org/ [xpud.org]

Re:"Old" :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36878914)

Except this won't be chinky trash

Cart before the horse??? (2)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878712)

Maybe Mozilla should focus on making a useable Android browser, before trying to re-invent the OS.... Firefox for Android is abhorrent compared to the built-in Webkit browser.

Re:Cart before the horse??? (1)

IB4Student (1885914) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878834)

The Beta works a lot better than the stock browser for me.

Re:Cart before the horse??? (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881252)

does the beta work better than the android stock browser or firefox stable?

Re:Cart before the horse??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36881750)

But the former Google CIO said: Do dumb things.

And a OS in a VM that's also a browser in another OS in a computer is about the dumbest thing I've heard of since then, short of the "computer" being a Qemu Java applet running in IE6. ;)

P.S.: Is there a Java plug-in for Emacs (which, I assume, certainly has a browser) by the way?

I have an idea. (4, Interesting)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878772)

How about just going back to making a good desktop browser? I don't want a Mozilla operating system, some sort of "open web experience", a smartphone browser, or anything else that Mozilla is peddling these days. I want a browser that's dedicated to desktop computers, with a UI designed for a big, desktop monitor (not a netbook or a tablet), and I want the browser to render HTML. I don't need a database in my URL bar; a radical, new UI; an integrated PDF viewer, implemented in Javascript; Harry Potter themes for my browser; or anything else that Mozilla has been advertising (except for the faster Javascript performance, which is pretty nice).

All I want is a web browser. I feel like a throw-back, someone who doesn't belong in today's world, full of ideologically-driven features, heavy-handed developers who tell me how to get my work done (rather than giving me a product that allows me to get the work done the way I want), constant buzz words, and marketing. People keep telling me how fast the web is moving, how fast IT is moving, and all I see are people chasing trends, fads, and buzzwords. That's fine for corporate culture, but when you just want to open your web browser and render some HTML, the last thing you want is to be assaulted with this crap. It's time for someone to make a browser that does nothing but render HTML. And don't suggest Opera, because I certainly don't need a bittorrent client in my browser.

And why the hell is Mozilla experimenting with all these ridiculous things, like low power servers? For fuck's sake, all I want from them is a browser, not a R&D department that makes the world a better place.

Thank you and get off my lawn.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

IB4Student (1885914) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878804)

Not everyone in Mozilla is good at desktop application programming. Don't worry, the same people are still working on Javascript and Gecko. There's just a lot of new kids that only know Java, and they got their new-fangled smartphones and want to try to contribute in that way.

Re:I have an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36878854)

There's very few java code in Firefox Mobile - just a a shim to interface Gecko C++ internals with android events, display and platform specific functionnality.
And people who wrote this code are not "new kids that only know Java"

Re:I have an idea. (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881284)

There's very few java code in Firefox Mobile - just a a shim to interface Gecko C++ internals with android events, display and platform specific functionnality.
And people who wrote this code are not "new kids that only know Java"

maybe they know some java and javascript, and nothing else. who else would ruin a nice idea like panorama by implementing it using fucking javascript?

Re:I have an idea. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881558)

No, not everyone is good at "whatever." But from where I sit and where I came from, code efficiency and speed was a requirement. Speed meant something when processors were measured in MHz instead of GHz. Efficiency meant something when RAM was measured in KB instead of MB and GB. Perhaps I am bemoaning the lack of need because, after all, the need isn't as urgent as it once was.

But there is a need once again. We have a relatively new market in these mobile devices. The displays are only slightly larger (in pixel count) than the displays on the original desktops. The RAM and processor is notably bigger and faster. But these mobile devices are certainly not my common quad-core, hyper-threading, 8GB RAM laptop either.

I pray for programmers of the new platform to go back to the old church. These handhelds are amazingly powerful but the power is being wasted by bad programming ported from a coding culture of "I don't care, it works" mentality. I know, there are countless stories about the speed improvements of Javascript and more and so I have some hope still, but then I see the push for "hardware accelerated browsers" and I just want to give up hope.

* tangent *
What's wrong with hardware accelerated browsers? For one, it's like they are giving up on the idea of improving their code to get performance. For another, the experiences are guaranteed to be a lot less equal than we have now which means not only "this page best when viewed with ______" but also "this page best when viewed with the ________ video chipset or higher." And just as before, instead of writing good code, people are looking to hardware to make up the difference. In this world where many of us are looking to good, unified, open standards to ensure that the future of the web and the internet and computing in general is free, competitive and affordable, We don't know what the next devices will be like yet. Will they be even smaller and less powerful than now? Will they get big again? I expect the former rather than the latter, but who knows -- it could be the next thing will be "a monster machine at home to do the processing and the output comes to your small device" so it will be both. But my point is that good fast and efficient code works pretty much everywhere. And we already know that trying to stuff bloated crappy code from giant desktops into phones doesn't work so well.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881702)

On a phone, hardware acceleration should generally result in better battery life.

On every page.

That's a nice feature.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881830)

I think you do not understand what Mozilla does. (paraphrasing) The mission of Mozilla is to keep the internet and web free of proprietary API and patent problems. To make sure every protocol and system is open and to keep it 'innovative' and prevent lock-in.

They do this by creating 'products' that people use, as long as the open specifications are the standard (as in widely deploy, industry practices) they are fulfilling their mission.

In the mobile space, their is very little currently using open specifications. Just think of the problems Google is having with Dalvik/Oracle or the Apple App Store. So they want to get into that space.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36883560)

So "innovative" means playing "me too" with whatever Google does?

Re:I have an idea. (2)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878866)

I'm using Firefox 5.0 right now, and it's probably the best browser they've made thus far. They're already working on future versions. If they feel they can develop additional software that's adjacent (or possibly contains overlapping code) to the browser, then why not? If their function, in your eyes, is to make a good desktop browser, then you should be pleased. Just ignore everything else they do if you find it distracting.

Re:I have an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36878918)

I completely agree. This divergence into other areas is where a lot of companies go wrong. Some can do the whole "everything" approach well but not very many and I agree that Mozilla of late has yet to get back to it's roots and what it does well. The desktop browser.

Re:I have an idea. (4, Insightful)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878974)

You gotta realize that with the Smartphones outselling computers, if Mozilla doesn't get into mobile web browsers (and yes, Firefox mobile for Android needs A LOT OF WORK), then they won't have a say in the open web one day.

The things Mozilla work on are far from ridiculous as well. All these things have one point in common: they are made as a try to secure the open, free internet. That's what they do and that's what they always have aimed for.

Now then again I would like if Firefox issues would be fixed as well - although I don't mind the JS PDF, awesome bar, and new UI. Not caring for personalities either however.

As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sales (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879074)

with the Smartphones outselling computers

That won't last forever. Computers sold briskly while they became faster each iteration until they finally became fast enough for most home and office uses. Since then, sales of computers have slowed down. Likewise, smartphones are in an explosion of capability which too will end. Then the only reason to replace a working phone will be A. when switching network protocols (e.g. AMPS to TDMA to GSM to UMTS to LTE) or B. when a non-user-replaceable battery dies.

And you'll always have cheapskates who run multiple devices on one connection to the Internet. Currently, that's a lot easier to do with computers than with smartphones.

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879848)

The market is still too large to ignore. Even if it stalls out at a level similar to the number of desktops, that's still way too many to ignore. Plus some of the things that they're needing to work on for handsets are liable to work their way into the desktop release.

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880290)

And right now all but one of the brand name phone firmwares use Webkit as their go to HTML rendering library (Windows Phone 7 being the "odd" one out).

This then becomes a kind of mobile web monoculture, and i have already seen one site that focuses on mobile Safari. Shades of "Requires IE6" anyone?

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36884560)

And right now all but one of the brand name phone firmwares use Webkit as their go to HTML rendering library (Windows Phone 7 being the "odd" one out).

This then becomes a kind of mobile web monoculture, and i have already seen one site that focuses on mobile Safari. Shades of "Requires IE6" anyone?

It's actually less of a monoculture than you think.

Sure, Chrome, Android, iOS, Nokia, RIM, OS X, Steam all use WebKit as their rendering engine, but they all customize in wierd and wonderful ways. All the Google ones replace the standard WebKit JavaScript engine with the Google one, and Apple makes their own tweaks to WebKit, as does everyone else.

It's about as monoculture as Linux or Android is a monoculture - the underlying engine is the same, but damn does everyone make their own customizations.

Also one of the more unusual Apple projects to have suddenly taken off so dramatically or scale so widely. As for mobile browsers, there's also IE (Windows Phone 7) and Opera as contenders. Perhaps I should try mobile Firefox - last time I tried it, it ran as well as I expected (barely usable).

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880380)

That won't last forever. Computers sold briskly while they became faster each iteration until they finally became fast enough for most home and office uses. Since then, sales of computers have slowed down. Likewise, smartphones are in an explosion of capability which too will end.

I'm not going to argue with your logic, but you need to bear in mind that the power requirements of desktop systems makes them unusable for the majority of the world's population. I just came back from a very isolated village in Vanuatu, where people still cook over open fires, where the houses still have mud floors... and where every household has at least one mobile phone. You can bet your bottom dollar that as Internet and smart phones prices reach commodity levels, there are billions of people who will use them as their primary - and probably sole - means of interacting with the outside world.

So, yes, smart phone sales will flatten eventually, but not before their numbers are at least an order of magnitude larger than those for desktop (and laptop) PCs,

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881370)

I'm not going to argue with your logic, but you need to bear in mind that the power requirements of desktop systems makes them unusable for the majority of the world's population. I just came back from a very isolated village in Vanuatu, where people still cook over open fires, where the houses still have mud floors... and where every household has at least one mobile phone.

And I won't argue with yours. I just want to know one thing: How do they charge those mobile phones?

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

Rennt (582550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881686)

Most villages have the resources to put together - for example - a generator made from a scrounged truck parts, if only they had the know-how. Enough to power a phone charger couple of hours a day. Try powering a netbook, let alone a desktop, on tens of watts a day.

The bigger barrier would be access to a mobile network, and the means to pay for bandwidth.

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36882190)

A typical truck alt provides ~95A (these days, anyway; in the 60s and 70s it was more like 65A) at about 14V with a 60% duty cycle. If you have enough wind then a VAWT driving an alternator actually produces a fair amount of power.

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36882360)

The bigger barrier would be access to a mobile network

Which comes back to my point. In my country, carriers want to sell customers a $40/mo mobile voice plan before they'll even think of selling them a mobile data plan. Having to buy a separate plan per device is hard for people in countries with undervalued currencies to afford. (See Penn effect [wikipedia.org] for why developing countries' currencies are undervalued.) So people will stick with netbooks or with Wi-Fi-only tablets and PDAs and connect them to the Internet through an AP that multiple devices share.

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881966)

These are generally very power-efficient "Dumbphones", normally Nokia makes low end stuff with awesome battery life. In places without power, quite a few villages will have a shop or charging station for the phones (not from Vanuatu, but a nearby country). Customers buy pre-pay credit and charge their phones at the same time. Phone accounts are being tied into billpayment systems and money sending (Western Union-ish) all over the pacific. But quite a lot of places have power, satellite TV and 3G internet, all enjoyed in a house with a mud floor.

Re:As computer sales fell, so will smartphone sale (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881322)

Then the only reason to replace a working phone will be A. when switching network protocols (e.g. AMPS to TDMA to GSM to UMTS to LTE) or B. when a non-user-replaceable battery dies.

c. the carrier or the vendor will stop updating the os, those unable to install an aftermarket os are screwed.

A lesson has been learned with the PC desktop.

Embracing CyanogenMod (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36882402)

A lesson has been learned with the PC desktop.

HTC has likewise learned a lesson from the market of CM fans. Given the choice between two identical Android-powered devices, one compatible with CyanogenMod and one not, a savvy customer looking for a long-term investment will buy the one compatible with CM. So HTC has decided to ship its newer products with unlockable bootloaders [slashdot.org] .

Re:I have an idea. (2)

jlebar (1904578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879248)

It's time for someone to make a browser that does nothing but render HTML.

You wouldn't have been able to share this insight on Slashdot in such a browser, you know...

Seriously, I'm looking forward to the day when someone posts a story on Slashdot about a Mozilla project, and everyone doesn't instantly complain that we're doing X or Y instead of making teh awesomest stripped-down browser, which does nothing but send http requests and display unrendered HTML.

In the meantime, Firefox 1.0 is still available for download [mozilla.org] . I encourage you to try it out if you're dissatisfied with the direction we've taken recently.

Re:I have an idea. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36879550)

Seriously, I'm looking forward to the day when someone posts a story on Slashdot about a Mozilla project, and everyone doesn't instantly complain that we're doing X or Y instead of making teh awesomest stripped-down browser

The great thing about FF was that it was the awesome stripped-down fast browser that was so much better than the competition, now it's a memory-leaking battery hog. Why is it that i should use FF over the alternatives nowadays? What is it that makes it so much better than the competition now like it did in the old days?

Re:I have an idea. (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879750)

Vimperator

Re:I have an idea. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880102)

Try Internet Explorer - they just got around to supporting SVG, they should be occupied for at least a few years adding full CSS3 support and such before they start adding built-in email clients or PDF readers.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

jlebar (1904578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880130)

What is it that makes it so much better than the competition now like it did in the old days?

That's a great question. The marketing people like to say that "Firefox reports to no one but you." It's cheesy, but in practical terms, it means:

  • We don't send every keystroke you type into the location bar to Google.
  • When you use Firefox's bookmark / password sync, your data is encrypted so that even Mozilla can't access it. (No, not like Dropbox's "we promise not to look at it" -- the protocol is public, if you want to check its security.)
  • We don't compromise on our principals. For instance, you'll recall that we were the lone browser which didn't implement H.264, back before WebM. If we'd capitulated, WebM never would have happened, and there'd be no high-quality and free (as in speech or beer, in this case) video codec for the web.

That said, Chrome is a really good browser, and I'll be the first to say that we have plenty of catching up to do, in a number of areas. But there's a difference between being fast and being "stripped-down" -- both Chrome and Firefox support a quickly-growing number of web features, like web workers, WebM, and WebGL.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36883644)

We don't compromise on our principals. For instance, you'll recall that we were the lone browser which didn't implement H.264, back before WebM. If we'd capitulated, WebM never would have happened, and there'd be no high-quality and free (as in speech or beer, in this case) video codec for the web.

Bullshit. Google had plans to buy VP8 and open source it long before anything you guys did and it's very doubtful that Mozilla had any meaningful impact on their decision. And if you truly think that Google bought VP8 for the "open web" or some other such nonsense than you're horribly naive. They bought it as a wedge so that they could sell GoogleTV to entertainment companies and get more money for themselves.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881104)

Dunno if it is what you mean, but with NoScript /. works quite well. As evident it's possible to post, and I have no scripts on /. allowed.
To view /. in an even more basic way, use Lynx. Dunno if it'll work, don't feel like trying.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36884430)

Dunno if it is what you mean, but with NoScript /. works quite well. As evident it's possible to post,

It's things like NoScript which is why I want stuff to be in HTML5, and not "3rd party plugins".

After all, if you load a Flash object, sure it can do tons more than HTML5, but it does so all at once - pulling ads and possibly malicious javascript, tons of cookies and other crap all together, and all the control I have is "all or none".

But with NoScript and other extensions, I can deny ad networks their cookies, deny javascript from unknown domains, while still getting a reasonable experience.

(NoScript on /;. also disables the ajaxy crap that /. is using - some of us want to open in new tabs, tyvm).

Re:I have an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36881532)

In the meantime, Firefox 1.0 is still available for download [mozilla.org] . I encourage you to try it out if you're dissatisfied with the direction we've taken recently.

How difficult would it be to build firebird or firefox 1.0 against a more recent gecko engine? Is it "damn near impossible" or is it "something I can spend a few weekends working on?"

I'm not complaining that the project is doing X or Y now. I think a lot of the updates and changes are quite interesting. What I am saying is that Firefox in its current state no longer meets my needs.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

jlebar (1904578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36882754)

How difficult would it be to build firebird or firefox 1.0 against a more recent gecko engine?

I think what you'd want to do is start with modern Firefox and strip out things you don't like from the UI. That should be much easier.

Re:I have an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36883360)

I hadn't thought of approaching it from that angle. Thinking about it, that does seem to be a more logical way to start.

Thank you. I really do appreciate your response, especially since I'm an "anonymous coward."

For what it's worth, even though the current firefox builds aren't quite meeting my needs, they're still much closer than any other browser out there, which is why I continue to use them.

Re:I have an idea. (2)

BZ (40346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879306)

Making the world a better place is Mozilla's primary goal. The browser is a means to that end.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

Shark (78448) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879354)

I mostly agree with you except for this bit:

with a UI designed for a big, desktop monitor (not a netbook or a tablet)

The trend of wasting as many pixels as possible on UI elements has just got to stop. I don't need a 40pixel wide window border with round corners, huge shiny idiot-proof buttons, toolbars made way too thick and wide by such buttons and the like.

I buy a 'big, desktop monitor' so I can see and work with as much information as possible. If I wanted an UI designed so bad that windows need to be maximized to be useful, I'd be buying an ipad.

To me, this is equivalent to saying: Well, people all have large desks now, let's drop the 8.5"x11" format and switch all documents to 24"x48" sheets of cardboard with 48pt fonts.

Re:I have an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36879504)

The trend of wasting as many pixels as possible on UI elements has just got to stop. I don't need a 40pixel wide window border with round corners, huge shiny idiot-proof buttons, toolbars made way too thick and wide by such buttons and the like.

I buy a 'big, desktop monitor' so I can see and work with as much information as possible. If I wanted an UI designed so bad that windows need to be maximized to be useful, I'd be buying an ipad.

To me, this is equivalent to saying: Well, people all have large desks now, let's drop the 8.5"x11" format and switch all documents to 24"x48" sheets of cardboard with 48pt fonts.

Thank you. Exactly. The bigger my monitor, the less cluttered UI elements I want on my screen. Why? So I can have as many applications on the screen at one time as I can. For instance, on my 1920x1080 monitor right now, I have Firefox, my Pidgin buddy list, a Pidgin IM window, and my foobar2000 music player all open and on the screen. Nothing is overlapping. No windows are scrunched or smashed or inadequate or too small, because their UIs aren't cluttered and big. That's what I want.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880302)

I run the browser maximized mostly because page designs are expecting a large playing field. Still, i do enjoy a minimal Desktop (XFCE) and the new Firefox5 minimalist interface.

Re:I have an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36879688)

I have an idea.

I'm going to get drunk and bust into the Mozilla offices, screaming, "GITHONIEL! O, ELBERTH! THE BROWSER THAT WAS ONCE MADE INTO STEAMING CRAP IS FORGED ANEW!"

Then I'll bust up the place and make Firefox not suck ass. ...Actually, I think I'm just going to get drunk. It's easier to do that and use Chrome or Opera than it is to stop the failtrain. :(

Re:I have an idea. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880022)

It's time for someone to make a browser that does nothing but render HTML.

http://uzbl.org/ [uzbl.org]

Re:I have an idea. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880074)

Mozilla's just competing with everyone else. Everyone's doing stupid shit like this - Chrome has built in Flash, PDF, and all that, plus the Chrome OS thing; Opera has more integrated software than anyone needs (seriously, don't they have a web server in the browser now?); even Internet Explorer is doing more and more besides "browse the internet".

Ironically, the best "pure" web browser may soon be the Steam integrated browser. It's designed to run while the computer is already under extremely heavy load, so it's resource-light; it's WebKit-based so it's relatively standards-compliant and fast; it's not a major priority for the developers, so they don't have any impetus to add stupid stuff like RSS feeds or themes or whatnot. The only thing you've objected to that it has is the themes support - only in a roundabout way, since you have to apply a skin to the entire Steam app.

I've always wanted to see benchmarks comparing that browser to others in the same category - I'm sure there's plenty of other apps with integrated web browsers that you could compare it to. Hell, benchmark it against Real Browsers under load - boot up Crysis, alt-tab back into Firefox, and see how badly it performs when 99% of the computer is being used rendering self-shadowed anti-aliased penumbras on dense jungle foliage. Might make for a decent /. article, even.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880312)

Funny enough the history of Mozilla contains Netscape Communicator, and one can still see it today in the form of Seamonkey.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36883674)

Mozilla's just competing with everyone else.

No, Mozilla is just trying to copy Google because they've run out of their own ideas failing to realize that this game of catchup they are trying to play is only going to lead to their downfall and irrelevance.

Re:I have an idea. (1)

slashdottedjoe (1448757) | more than 3 years ago | (#36884256)

I wish I could have a browser only system without Windows or Linux. I have always hated needing a whole bunch of OS just to run a browser.

However, the issue will be how far do they go. Networking and being able to save to a flash drive should not be too difficult, video handling will be a must and then it gets tricky. Printers? Games? External applications?

The only benefit I can see is if this new OS is light, very light. Potentially they could provide a more secure platform if they keep the bloat out. The less lines of code the better.

Definitely a better direction (1)

jonahbron (2278074) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878782)

Definitely a better direction than Chrome OS. I think the usefulness of a web-only operating system is far higher on a handheld mobile device than a netbook/PC.

Moving beyond core competency (1)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878872)

I thought that Mozilla would have realized the same thing that successful corporate leaders and turn around teams have been saying for years. If you are really good at one thing it doesn't mean you should start trying to do other things to make even more money. This type of thinking has crashed many companies over the years. The best example of this is Boston Market. They went from being a very profitable roasted chicken place to trying to offer all kinds of food and it pretty much ran the company in to the ground. It is a shadow of what it used to be. Most of the time doing one thing and doing it really really well is exactly what a company should continue to focus on rather than trying to chase even more profits and end up cratering.

Re:Moving beyond core competency (2)

kbrosnan (880121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880396)

This is not about making more money. Mozilla is not driven by that economic model [mozilla.org] . Mozilla sees the walled gardens of the current crop of smartphone and similar devices operating systems as a threat to personal freedom and the heath of the internet. This project is an exploration partly to see what technical gaps exist that web application needs access to function in a similar manner to a desktop application.

There are already companies and working groups [w3.org] trying to accomplish this. Rather than have the specs written without any exploratory work. Mozilla is proposing to build out B2G to evaluate where those problems and shortfalls are. To me this seems like a better idea than having device manufacturers who want to expose the world. Is the user on 4g, wifi, what is the access point name, what is the user paying per kb, etc.? Or having working groups building out a spec absent of actual web developers.

"Android Apps will not run..." (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878878)

So they use Android as a base but you can't run Android Apps? That alone kills the possibility of a massive user base and f* if developers want to start porting to yet another platform. I like Mozilla, probably more than Google, but lately Mozilla has just made a lot of really bad decisions. Prism? That was a good idea! I still use it to run things like GrooveShark - works great! But apparently the project is dead - they made it work then killed it. Way to go guys! HTML5 games? Yeah, that was a disaster wasn't it! Why didn't you put together a better llvm engine in JS and have a porting challenger or something? Now this? You think this will work?

Seriously.

Re:"Android Apps will not run..." (2)

BZ (40346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879344)

The "yet another platform" in this case is the web. So it's not a matter of porting as much as just being able to write web apps that compete with native apps in ways that they can't right now.

Re:"Android Apps will not run..." (1)

kbrosnan (880121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880348)

Android is being looked at as it has open source code e.g. the Linux kernel and device drivers that work on the majority of phones produced today. The whole point of this is evaluate what applications on the web need. Instead of one application written 3 or 4+ times for each of the Smartphone operating systems one would write one HTML app and it would run on modern Trident, Gecko, Webkit, Presto, etc.

Re:"Android Apps will not run..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880848)

So rely on HTML 5 for layout, CSS for styling, and JavaScript for code execution. Not only can you do that already but it's also a terrible platform to write apps for compared to ANY mobile platforms app development. I've developed on both the iPhone and Android (both with the SDK and the NDK) and I can tell you right now the things that I did would have been a nightmare to try and code in HTML/JS and there would be many features which would not [and should not] be available to JS. If the whole point of it is to provide a platform specifically for HTML Apps then I take back any reservation I had before and will straight out say this is a fucking stupid idea. You'd be better off with a phone that only ran AIR apps, at least with AIR you have AS3 which as a language is easily better than JS and has a super flexible layout system and good tools for designers.

Re:"Android Apps will not run..." (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36883702)

Instead of one application written 3 or 4+ times for each of the Smartphone operating systems one would write one HTML app and it would run on modern Trident, Gecko, Webkit, Presto, etc.

So then what's the need for this new Mozilla web OS? You can already do this now on smartphones and you also have the feature of running non HTML apps as well.

Seriously ... this "browser OS" thing is old... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878898)

Its annoying that these companies and groups keep claiming they're somehow running the browser as the operating system.

All of them, Google's included, run on an operating system. Chrome (like Gecko) doesn't have SATA drivers for all the chipsets, none of them have virtual memory systems, thread schedulers, video drivers or any other other things the real OS they're pretending isn't there has. They're running a normal OSS kernel, normal set of supporting OS services. The fact that you don't give a user a useful desktop outside the browser window doesn't make it a browser-based OS.

Re:Seriously ... this "browser OS" thing is old... (2)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878938)

It would be more accurate to say it has a browser based shell.

Re:Seriously ... this "browser OS" thing is old... (1)

cshark (673578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878980)

Doesn't make it useful either.
I have yet to see a compelling reason to use a web based os, Chromium included.

Why is everyone trying to change the landscape in ways that set us back twenty five years?
That really is what we're talking about with this kind of stuff. Sure it can be done, but why bother?

Okay, so now I'm supposed to give up my PC which has everything I need on it, and replace it with a mobile device that has serious issues (not the least of it being battery life), and a completely different software stack, that incidentally, doesn't include anything I need or want. Sure, why not?

Re:Seriously ... this "browser OS" thing is old... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879556)

Why is everyone trying to change the landscape in ways that set us back twenty five years?

Because everything old is new again. When the internet first became popular with the plebs in the 1990's, there was talk of making everything net aware and net enabled, from desktops to televisions to your toaster. Now with mobile phones having the computing power of the desktops of 5 years ago, the new buzz is thinking that computers will be replaced by mobile devices. Of course this is completely untrue, mobiles fit their particular niche very well but will never have the horsepower to compete with a laptop much less a desktop. And the communications companies will be damned if they make the same mistake they made with household internet with no limits on the amount of data transferred - this time you are going to pay through the nose for those mega/gigabytes, making the whole "browser on a mobile" concept dead on arrival unless you just want to check your text emails...

Re:Seriously ... this "browser OS" thing is old... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880046)

Okay, so now I'm supposed to give up my PC which has everything I need on it

Uh, no. This is for smartphones. For most people, smartphones and PCs are complementary.

Why? Because PCs are not profitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36881192)

Why is everyone trying to change the landscape in ways that set us back twenty five years?

Because PCs are not profitable anymore. A piece of hardware with a price of $400 that allows you to do everything? No, no, no. It's far better to sell you 4 devices with a price of $200. Hey, and if they can reduce your freedom in the same package, even better.

Re:Seriously ... this "browser OS" thing is old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880696)

they just got a buttload of web runtime smartphone guys jobless from nokia projects. seriously, js driven smartphone ui is a terrible, terrible, most stupid idea. so stupid you shouldn't publish anything about it before you have it running really, really sleekly.

It's not a bad idea, but... (1)

cshark (673578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36878926)

After the last three generations of Firefox web browsers, which I only run for my extensions... why on earth would I choose to run Mozilla anything as on os, anywhere?

Not when there's a slew of already established mobile os's like regular Android, WebOS, iOs, and numerous others to choose from. Maybe I'm old and cynical. But I just don't see this one taking off.

Mozilla should stick to what they do well, which isn't a lot these days.

copycating Google. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36878968)

Anything Google can do, we can('t) do better.

Didn't Palm already do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36879030)

Maybe they could call it WebOS instead.. Oh wait that has already been done before..

Re:Didn't Palm already do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36879486)

Actually the full legal name is WebOS/2

Gecko as on OS? (1)

nilram (32622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879092)

Gecko as on OS? Be serious. Use a real operating system like emacs.

Moz is like the new emacs (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879098)

It doesn't do anything well. Rather it has many plugins that try to do everything else.

Chrome is like Vi which it does text editing very simply, elegantly, and very light and fast. However, this drives people absolutely mad if they need anything more than what is there.

I guess this makes IE like Visual Studio.

Re:Moz is like the new emacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36879400)

Firefox is a great operating system. Too bad it lacks a decent web browser.

Re:Moz is like the new emacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880248)

I'm relatively new to Linux. Nano, Gedit, and Leafpad are my favorite editors. Which browsers do those correlate to?

Re:Moz is like the new emacs (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880336)

I'd say Lynx.

Re:Moz is like the new emacs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880420)

Lynx, Dillo, and Amaya?

NetScape-on-a-stick! (1)

plasticpixel (323537) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879266)

We looked at doing this at Sun about 15 years ago. We called it "Netscape on a stick". Never really panned out but we had SunOS-on-a-stick that booted rather quickly off a 80MB PCMCIA drive in a tablet prototype we had developed. Yes, Sun had a working tablet in 1995.

No thanks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36879314)

To hell with smart phones.

So easy (2)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879488)

a caveman could do it

Does it also save you 15% on car insurance?

Privilege model (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879554)

I think this might end up to be an interesting project, but :

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.

Makes me cringe. No thank you, I do not want to expose functions like SMS and phone to web apps, no matter what privilege model they are choosing

Re:Privilege model (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880430)

The web seems to be heading in that direction. It is either Mozilla driving the work in a user controlled way or companies with profit margins to worry about spec'ing out these things.

the listened far to literary the last suggestion (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36879684)

the listened far to literary to the Google suggestion of doing dumb thing

The web browser is the OS! (1)

Cable (99315) | more than 3 years ago | (#36880152)

Fork this, Firefox 3.x was great before the Google Chrome and iOS Safari imitations. So someone Fork the classic Firefox 3 we all know and love before this web OS crap takes over.

Network computers, JavaOS, MIPS and OS/2 didn't work out either did they? Just make the best web browser you can and have a cache mod system to load and unload modules and plugins when needed to save on memory. Why follow ChromeOS now? Focus on what you do best, the web browser is the OS and does not need to be turned into an independent OS just run on top of someone else's OS and process HTML 5 and under code.

Re:The web browser is the OS! (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36882632)

If you like FF3.x so much USE SEAMONKEY. Its a great browser. You don't even have to install composer if you don't want it. The built-in mail application is pretty much at parity with Thunderbird so you can use that do, or don't. Firefox post 2.x is every bit as resource intensive as the old suite was, and post 4.x clearly more intensive.

You can install new versions of SeaMonkey that give you the latest geko and java script engines. SeaMonkey these days is everything that is good coming out of the Mozilla foundation without all the crap. Its really worth try, if you are a frustrated Firefox user. It hands down better than Firefox 4/5 IMHO.

Keep updating my phone OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880334)

Gecko as a mobile OS? How exactly do they manage the phone apps, since they're just a search engine? And does this mean that from now on, phones will have to have OS upgrades every 5 months?

Rather than that, why don't they come out w/ a completely new solution package, like Android? Take an ARM or MIPS platform, put a JVM/Java OS on top of it, and then their own browser, plus some of the best free Java apps out there. Define this reference platform, and then let the HTCs and other CEMs of the world make such phones, maybe adding their own top level customizations. Also, when they 'retire' a version, they can simply pass it over to the makers of phones that use that previous platform, and put the onus of such support on to them. That way, Mozilla just supports the latest software versions, like they want, while letting previous versions be supported by phone manufacturers.

Oh, one more thing - please not another version of Linux!!!

Microsoft tried it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880514)

Windows 98 tried the browser integrated in the OS back when Mozilla was still a netscape code name. It caused the demise of Netscape navigator and got Microsoft into anti trust trouble. Looks like the current generation of Firefox developers havent learnt from hisypry.

The whole App is OS was tried by many different software. Emacs, the operating system without a decent text editor is a well known joke, Staroffice had a built in "start" menu, which was canned by OpenOffice.org years ago. Arachne the browser for MS DOS included many things such as a fie manager and image viewer in additon to web browsing.

Mozilla gets 50 million a year in Google jad revenue, imagine what 50 million a yeat to a foundation working on a minimalist, memory conservative browser would provide?

Re:Microsoft tried it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36881606)

Emacs is primarily a text editor (for programmers, true, it could use some features of crisp or brief). I prefer it to vi/vim, but haven't tried it as an operating environment. But can Emacs sit on something like Minix, where you'd have a barebones OS, and the drivers would just have to be added? Or does it require all of Linux to work?

Yeah, MS bundled IE w/ every version of their OS, but in the end, that didn't stop others from preferring Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, et al. But I do wish IE could be completely removed from Windows.

But Mozilla wouldn't be off base if they did something like Konqueror - make Firefox the front end to the entire file system like Konqueror is for KDE, or IE9 is for Windows 7.

Mozilla developers need treatment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36880584)

for their mental disorders which cause these crazy ideas. It was a simple job for them, a web browser that could browse the web and that was open source. A browser was supposed to be a simple, memory conscious tool that parsed HTML which was glorified text files with the occasional tag put in. How could anyone mess up such a simple task? Mozilla did, and I hope when they are in hospital they realize that a web browser is that, a BROWSER and not an OS, a cure for cancer, a religion or a drug or any other weird idea they get.

Mozilla, because Crucial, Hynix, Corsair and other RAM manufacturers need more sales.

Why start by deleting the rest of Android? (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36881752)

Not only is it extra work, but it means you won't get any user-testing until you are nearing feature parity (which given how many features a modern smart phone has is FAR too late).
It would be easier and more logical to develop your new API as a standard Android App.

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