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Mozilla Makes Prototype of Firefox OS Available

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the more-than-a-concept dept.

Firefox 101

Thinkcloud writes "Even though the operating system hasn't arrived in a version for smartphones and tablets just yet, Firefox OS is available as a prototype module that you can run on Windows, Mac or Linux computers (download page). The initial Firefox OS phones are expected to arrive in 2013, and it's been reported that Alcatel and ZTE are the first manufacturers on board."

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hmm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42040697)

uhh? i don't even

What Is To Be Gained? (4, Insightful)

organgtool (966989) | about 2 years ago | (#42040819)

The smartphone market already has a ton of operating systems, each with their own ecosystem of applications. What is to be gained by introducing another this late in the game? I would much rather Mozilla focus all of their development efforts on making Firefox better. I just switched from Chrome back to Firefox and the memory management of Firefox still leaves a LOT to be desired.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (0)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#42040881)

Please be more specific. What do you desire from Firefox memory management?

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (4, Funny)

telchine (719345) | about 2 years ago | (#42040965)

Please be more specific. What do you desire from Firefox memory management?

Siri, is that you?

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#42041001)

It's her Aunt Eliza.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (4, Informative)

organgtool (966989) | about 2 years ago | (#42041207)

I tend to leave my browser open all of the time with quite a few open tabs. A few weeks after my switch to Firefox, my computer started slowing down while I was browsing the web. I figured one of the tabs had a JS proc that was running away with the processor, so I started closing tabs. After all of the tabs were closed, the computer was still slow, so I started the Task Manager. I couldn't determine why it was spinning the processor, but I did notice it was using 800 MB of RAM with no open tabs. I closed the browser down and restarted it and it ran fine, but I never need to do that crap in Chrome.

MemShrink (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#42041353)

A few weeks after my switch to Firefox

When was this? Was it several years ago? Recent versions of Firefox are reportedly [mozilla.org] much better at not letting JavaScript make the browser leak memory.

Re:MemShrink (1)

murder_face (2574275) | about 2 years ago | (#42042017)

At least firefox only has one instance running with a minimal footprint. I installed Chrome on my daughters PC awhile back, and one day I needed to kill chrome via ssh. 5 PROCESSES using way too much memory.

Re:MemShrink (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 years ago | (#42056735)

I tend to open zillion tabs, i.e. open ten slashdot stories with some of their articles, while doing similar raids on forums, google, wikipedia or specific searches. I once counted 19 processes. Also, when I got to about 140% memory usage, even my mouse cursor was slow, freezing for several seconds a time.

Re:MemShrink (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 2 years ago | (#42042255)

It was within the last week. The version of Firefox is the latest one that was available for my OS as of one month ago, but maybe that's the problem. I left Chrome because they no longer supported my OS, but maybe Mozilla is pulling the same crap with Firefox and I am stuck with an old version. I'll have to investigate when I get home.

Re:MemShrink (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42043085)

What OS?

Re:MemShrink (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 2 years ago | (#42043121)

Mac OS X (10.5)

Apple stopped supporting Leopard in 2009 (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#42043305)

From this page [mozilla.org] : "Apple stopped supporting Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) in 2009". Have you tried upgrading to at least Snow Leopard, or failing that, replacing your over six-year-old PowerPC Mac with an Intel Mac?

Re:Apple stopped supporting Leopard in 2009 (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 2 years ago | (#42044607)

Thanks for the information, but I am already well aware of Apple's fast development cycles and their eagerness to abandon "old" OS versions. However, I am not interested in paying money for an upgrade that will likely remove or change features that I depend upon to be productive. I also do not feel like backing up all of my data before upgrading, let alone reinstalling all of my apps if the OS upgrade goes south. I realize I am at the point where I have to choose between upgrading my OS or losing support for apps and I am choosing the latter. Most of my ire is directed at Apple for fast update cycles that I do not want as well as abandoning support for my hardware in their latest OS. However, just because Apple abandons their users at a certain OS version doesn't mean app developers are required to follow suit.

Given all of this frustration, I am quickly moving towards installing Linux on my Macbook and breaking the last of my software ties to Apple. I do depend on some apps written for Mac OS, but those apps also support Windows and I may be able to get them to work under Wine.

Have you tried upgrading to at least Snow Leopard, or failing that, replacing your over six-year-old PowerPC Mac with an Intel Mac?

I do have an Intel Mac (second-gen) and it has already been delisted from their supported devices in OS 10.8. Say what you want about Microsoft, but XP apps still get half-decent support over 11 years after the OS was released.

Old operating systems can be 0wned (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#42044793)

However, just because Apple abandons their users at a certain OS version doesn't mean app developers are required to follow suit.

An operating system past its announced end of life may be vulnerable to remote exploits that the operating system's publisher will never fix. For applications that do not rely on an Internet connection, such as a word processor or a DRM-free single-player or single-screen multiplayer video game, I agree with you, as the application is still useful even on a machine whose only link to the outside world is a USB flash drive. But for applications that do rely on an Internet connection, such as Firefox, I disagree. Continued updates to Internet applications for a vulnerable operating system just encourage people to continue using that vulnerable operating system.

Re:Old operating systems can be 0wned (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#42047047)

So this is an excuse for mozilla to have a bad product? Firefox is lousy even on Lion (ya, someone's going to tell me that Lion is obsolete and I should pay my user tax and get Mountain Lion). Firefox is lousy with performance on Windows 7 too.

Firefox always uses a lot of CPU even when it's idle, even when I haven't touched it in hours it shows up using 2-4% of cpu. It is very slow and reluctant to free memory.

Re:MemShrink (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42043457)

Has anyone mentioned that you can see much more detail of memory usage by going to about:memory?verbose and about:compartments yet? There is a known leak with the Firebug [mozilla.org] extension (built-in developer tools are enough to obsolete it for me anyway) and other extension-related bloat is tracked here [mozilla.org] .
Ironically someone wrote a Memchaser extension [mozilla.org] to track memory usage progress from the info in the about:memory page.

Re:MemShrink (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42064523)

Very cool. Thanks for the tip.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42042001)

Keep in mind that when a process frees memory, often* memory is generally still shown by the operating system as allocated to that process, even if it's paged out and mostly idle. Chrome is sneaky in that every tab is its own process, and when a process exits all of its allocated memory is completely reclaimed by the operating system. So Chrome could leak memory, but if you close that tab, it becomes irrelevant. *(a big part of this is whether it's anonymous mmap'd memory or just the break value of the heap)

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42044999)

who the f*ck are you people and how on earth are you running firefox? I have 496 mB used right now, and I have like 60 tabs, out of which
12-14 are loaded. I keep my laptop working even 3 days at times, I I don't notice any marverlous jumps in CPU usage neither RAM
usage. Only streaming video has made some trouble at times, but that is like 1%.

One month ago I had around 80 tabs, all loaded, and it ate less than 1 GB. (no sure how much it was, I just monitor that from conky)

And all those crashes. Where the hell are you getting them? I'm using firefox since 3.5 version, I guess it was 2003 or something
and since I had less than 10 crashes. And this was on XP, on ubuntu, on debian, on archlinux(right now), and I can swear I didn't have more than 10 crashes.

My advices: don't use flash at all if you can, or/and just use adblock and block all that spam with flash videos.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

neorush (1103917) | about 2 years ago | (#42046973)

Watch your add-ons, I have 7 or 8 I use daily, a few of which have some serious memory leaks (over time anyway). I got in the habit of closing FF when I get up from the desk for the night, and just have it auto restore my tabs when it starts in the morning. Even then on a 16 hour coding marathon I still have some memory problems. But with all add-ons disabled this doesn't seem to happen these days.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

thelukester (2722207) | about 2 years ago | (#42044859)

Please be more specific. What do you desire from Firefox memory management?

How about making Firefox it feels as responsive as Chrome when you have many tabs open? How about making FF support multiple CPUs? This is 2012 already! How about making Firefox support WebP? There are many improvements that could make Firefox better for developers and end users.

Until Firefox is a better browser than Chrome, Mozilla shouldn't be wasting their resources on a stripped down version of Android that's can't run any of the 700,000 Android Apps and is limited running their FF browser.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045207)

I've got both Chrome and Firefox going at the moment. Chrome's been open for about 2 weeks, and I've got 10 windows open, at least 3 of which have more than 30 tabs. Firefox has been open for 3 days, has 2 windows open, one with 6 tabs, one with just the one. Chrome's using 205MB real memory + 632MB swap, and is at 0.8%CPU. Firefox is at 325MB real memory + 328MB swap, and is using 8.5%CPU So firefox is doing about 10% of what Chrome is, but is taking >50% more memory and about 10x the CPU.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

deergomoo (2689177) | about 2 years ago | (#42040887)

I agree, just look at the ecosystem related issues Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT have when compared to iOS or Android. Large organisations like Netflix target as many platforms as possible to cover all bases, but smaller outfits with limited funds are much more inclined to go where the users are.

Competition Is Good (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#42040943)

The smartphone market already has a ton of operating systems, each with their own ecosystem of applications. What is to be gained by introducing another this late in the game? I would much rather Mozilla focus all of their development efforts on making Firefox better. I just switched from Chrome back to Firefox and the memory management of Firefox still leaves a LOT to be desired.

Well, one thing that I would like to see is more free open source mobile operating systems. Right now Android is dominating [slashdot.org] and I'm afraid that this will lead to a stagnant ecosystem in the mobile operating system world.

iOS is a good operating system but it can't compete with how cheap Android is and how pervasive it's becoming. You may think it's best for everyone to keep their heads down and concentrate on their bread and butter but I'd like to see someone challenge Android to be better. A natural monopoly could arise that causes Android development to stagnate and I don't think that'd be good for anyone.

As a consumer, you should be excited that another genuine contender is attempting to enter the ring against this unstoppable behemoth.

I love Android and I've used it as my mobile OS for the past three or four years but I wouldn't turn down another operating system that is open source and somehow better, would you?

I just switched from Chrome back to Firefox and the memory management of Firefox still leaves a LOT to be desired.

Firefox OS is part of their labs development. While you may have genuine concerns about their browser, I don't think they should shut down all their experimentation in the name of memory management (speaking of which my own personal experiences have been that their memory management is getting slowly better). Could you elaborate on what "a LOT to be desired" specifically is?

Re:Competition Is Good (2, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#42041747)

Nobody would argue that competition benefits the consumer. But how do you think they're going to effectively compete? What are the attributes where they could provide value that nobody else is delivering?
Perceived quality of OS: iOS +++; Android ++; Windows Phone ++
Perceived user OS experience: iOS +++; Android ++; Windows +++
Perceived user App experience: iOS +++; Android (variable); Windows (unknown)
Cost: iOS ---; Android -; Windows --
App store monopoly: iOS ---; Android +; Windows ---
App availability: iOS +++; Android ++; Windows -
Coolness factor: iOS +++; Android +; Windows ?
Compatibility with previous phone apps (can I transfer my Angry Birds high scores from iOS to Android?): (variable, depends on vendor support for the platforms)
Vendor lock in (how much do I have invested in my existing phone that I would throw away if I switched?): (varies over duration of ownership.)
Compatibility with friends phones: (entirely dependent on circle of friends)

And I'm sure you can insert a dozen other factors here.

Note that I'm not trying to start a flame war over the coolness of iOS vs Android vs Windows, I'm listing it as a user decision factor. If you want to give Android +++, iOS ---, and Windows +++++, go ahead.

After you list these all out, you have to come up with weights. How heavily does the coolness factor come into the buying decision? What about cost? What do people think about ease of use? And it's not like these are solid numbers. At best, they're educated guesses based on market penetration studies and user surveys.

So after all that analysis, where would Firefox OS fit? How would it break into the market? So far Microsoft has spent more money on advertising Windows Phone than Mozilla has ever had in total, yet they aren't exactly taking over the market. Are they counting on a very loyal user base? Are they going to provide fully open phones, yet have some magically strong UI guidelines that keep third parties in line for providing consistent interfaces? Are they going to give away the OS for free to phone makers?

Re:Competition Is Good (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 2 years ago | (#42044031)

Are they going to give away the OS for free to phone makers?

Well, obviously, if it's open source.

Re:Competition Is Good (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#42048689)

Are they going to give away the OS for free to phone makers?

Well, obviously, if it's open source.

Great. Now put a revenue generating stream in there, or at least an inexhaustible source of funding.

Re:Competition Is Good (1)

Rolgar (556636) | about 2 years ago | (#42042215)

Think of it like this:

In the 1980s, you bought a computer from Commodore, Apple or IBM, each with it's own operating system and different programs.
In the 1990s, IBM (OS2) and Microsoft (Windows) released operating systems that would run on interchangeable hardware that anybody could sell, with MS winning over IBM. Most people then figured they had two choices, Apple with expensive hardware and limited software options, or PC that was cheaper and nearly unlimited software options. Eventually, most retail software vendors focused on developing Windows software, thus driving most new customers to Windows PCs for the next 15 years.

The mobile device battle is the same battle all over again. Apple with it's unified hardware and software, although with a much broader software selection. On the other side, you have most of the rest of the industry running Android (Google playing Microsoft's part) on interchangeable phones from a more vendors. You also have MS reprising IBM's role (unless they win over Android, then Google is IBM and Microsoft stays Microsoft).

In both cases, you have a proprietary vendor against half a dozen companies using a single standard. The question that hasn't been figured out yet is if the developers will focus on one platform or another, or code and sell to both. I don't know much about iOS, but I assume it's a Unix-y OS like OS X, in which case maybe it's easy for most developers to release on both iOS and Android, but more difficult to go to Windows. If so, Microsoft will be in a very difficult position of trying to convince thousands of app developers to port to Windows so their OS isn't seen as being deficient in the apps/features.

I would think you're going to have a chicken and egg situation here. Users will check what apps are available. App X isn't out, so they wait or go with Android or iPhone for now. Developers check Windows sales numbers, and see they are low, and decide it's not worth the effort. Windows wilts away like OS2. Firefox OS will probably be in the Linux position of just a few percentage points market share of diehards that refuse to use a closed system. Easily portable software from Android would give it a chance because some vendors might come in and use it if there are any advantages over Android, which would remain to be seen.

Content is King (1)

Kenshin (43036) | about 2 years ago | (#42045027)

There's one more component that differs from back then: Content is king.

Users adore their apps, but at the end of the day it's all their media and what they have stored "in the cloud" that matters. All your media will run on pretty much any platform effortlessly now, and web content is generally universal, whereas in the '80s getting content from one platform to open on another was extremely difficult. (Simply *moving it* from one platform to another was equally difficult.)

So, platform lock-in isn't quite as rigid as it was. Dominant platforms can change in the blink of an eye. (BlackBerry, anyone?)

Re:Competition Is Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42042871)

Right on! Competition is cool. Look at IE, how it shaped up ever since it got it's ass kicked by Firefox and Chrome.

Problem is, on the internet browsers had a common ground, HTML, JavaScript, CSS etc, it doesn't matter how they look, how many souls they sacrifice doing it, as long as they all adhere to the standards.
On mobile platforms, the only thing that people switching from one device to another have in common, are the apps.
Right now, we have Android and iOS, and there aren't many apps that get ported for both. I wonder how FOS and the others new in the bunch will deal with them. Will they run Android apps? or ... something else?

Re:Competition Is Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092741)

Well, one thing that I would like to see is more free open source mobile operating systems.

Why more?

Linux operating system is awesome. It powers Android, Maemo (aka Harmattan in N9), Mer, Firefox, Tizen and many other smartphone software systems.

iOS is a good operating system but it can't compete with how cheap Android is and how pervasive it's becoming.

IOS isn't operating system but a software system. XNU is the operating system what runs iOS. XNU is server-client by architecture and has Mach microkernel.
XNU operating system is great too. It is not running only in iOS (OS X as well) and is 100% open source and free software as OSI and FSF rules.

Firefox OS is part of their labs development.

Mozilla doesn't have own operating system. NO ONE on these days make own operating system because they don't have decades to spend for basic functions and stability and then get hardware manufacturers to give them specs so they could write machine control codes to their operating system.
Mozilla toke Linux operating system and use it in Mozilla OS _software system_. Same Linux operating system runs in Android, Firefox OS, Harmattan, Maemo, Mer (what Jolla is using) as it is running in Debian, Arch, Gentoo, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu and many other software systems.

I don't think they should shut down all their experimentation in the name of memory management

Memory management is task of operating system like Linux (aka Linux kernel). It is handled at lowest level and Mozilla can not go and "fix" Linux memory management as it isn't broken. Unless you mean that Linux has terrible memory management?

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (2)

jedirock (1453977) | about 2 years ago | (#42041095)

Obligatory xkcd. [xkcd.com]

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

joeyisdamanya (2777889) | about 2 years ago | (#42047965)

"the most horrible kluge in the history of computing: Javascript." -Robert Cailliau (developed the World Wide Web with Tim Berners-Lee)

HTML5 is a classic example Design by committee. We cannot develop for this poor standard with confidence. Rather, one has to do sophisticated browser testing for even the most trivial features. FF OS doesn't any of these issues. All it does is provide another incompatible platform for us to develop for.

As Facebook found out the hard way, HTML5 Apps will always be slower and less usable then their Native counterparts. Targeting Android and iOS covers 90% of the smartphone market and gives us better interoperability and performance to boot.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041113)

FUD FUD FUD.

Do you work for Apple or Microsoft?

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#42041135)

I think Firefox os is targeting cheaper hardware.

Think phone that barely run older versions of android, but snappy. High end feature phones rather than smart phones.

honestly, if one of them had decent battery and screen I'd be tempted, cost savings would be a perk.

I want internet, text, and decent camera with flash. I use a fair number of apps, but would be happy to trade sing a website for battery life. Oh yeah, and every now and again, I need the phone function...

about:memory (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#42041213)

The smartphone market already has a ton of operating systems.

...The smartphone market does have a "ton"[sic] of operating systems, but other than Android, and iOS[tied to one phone manufacturer], the others have either failed to make a market presence, failed to reinvent themselves against the competition, or simply been retired.

I'm not sure I believe in the third-ecosystem, or all arguments for it...but I see no reason, why a product that can successfully differentiate itself from lets be honest Android, with a unique selling point [killer apps; social integration; free Justin Bieber t-shirts!?]. I'm not sure if Firefox OS is going to be the next big thing, but I see no reason for questioning another entry into the market. Personally I loved Maemo and could easily imagine one of its successors with real backing taking off.

As for your comment on Firefox and its Memory Management its simply out of date, if anything Firefox is too frugal with memory, please do not lie.

Re:about:memory (3, Interesting)

seyfarth (323827) | about 2 years ago | (#42041329)

Chrome runs a separate process for each window. I'm pretty sure Firefox is 1 process. With 1 process normally freeing memory does not return it to the OS. So closing a Firefox tab would not really shrink the Firefox process, while closing a Chrome tab would end a process and return its memory to the OS for re-use. It makes sense that Chrome might be better memory usage after extended use.

about:memory (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#42041645)

Chrome runs a separate process for each window. I'm pretty sure Firefox is 1 process. With 1 process normally freeing memory does not return it to the OS. So closing a Firefox tab would not really shrink the Firefox process, while closing a Chrome tab would end a process and return its memory to the OS for re-use. It makes sense that Chrome might be better memory usage after extended use.

The article is a little out of date, but you get the point.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-7-chrome-20-firefox-13-opera-12,3228-12.html [tomshardware.com]
"IE9 uses half as much memory as most of the competition with only one tab open. Firefox has always had the lowest 40-tab memory usage total, but version 13 takes its single-tab total down to just 61 MB, which is right in line with Safari and Opera. What the composite score does not show is the speed at which the different browsers return memory back to the operating system. Chrome is the only contender to do this instantaneously. While Firefox and IE9 drop usage totals a great deal, they can take a minute to do so."

As you see what you said does not refute my point, just adds to it.

Re:about:memory (1)

seyfarth (323827) | about 2 years ago | (#42042391)

I wasn't really trying to refute your point. I was referring to someone who might have something like a lot of tabs open requiring lots of RAM, possibly running Javascript. Subsequently after closing most of the JS tabs, I would expect Chrome to use less RAM than Firefox under the same scenario. There might clearly be cases where the opposite is true. The memory usage charts you linked to are interesting. I am surprised that Chrome uses twice as much RAM. I would expect the code for the program to be present in memory once for all the Chrome processes which would mean the usage should be similar. I don't believe the article told how they measured RAM usage. It is also interesting that after dropping back to 1 tab, Firefox made it back to the same size as Chrome. This would seem to mean than Firefox under Windows is actually giving RAM back to the OS. I am unsure of Windows details, but it is cool if it does. My intent was to offer some explanation for how the first person mentioning RAM issues with Firefox might have noticed something real. The description given seems to match my assessment. Usage varies. As cheap as RAM is the real solution is to buy more RAM. Neither browser should be much of a memory hog with 16 GB.

Re: Freeing memory (1)

dririan (1131339) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092075)

Even one process freeing memory does return it to the OS. If it didn't, what would be the point of freeing memory in the first place? Some things may want to wait to free memory to try to prevent memory fragmentation, but as soon as a program calls free, the memory goes back to the OS. (If you use a custom allocator, this may or may not be true for your allocator's free function, but the C standard library free function absolutely returns the memory to the OS.) In fact, a memory leak is when a program fails to return memory it's allocated but will never use again to the OS.

It might be a good idea to research how memory management works; you seem to have a completely incorrect understanding of it. Surely a process's memory usage can go down as well as up, otherwise you'd have to restart your computer, or at least the majority of the programs running, constantly.

Re: Freeing memory (1)

dririan (1131339) | about a year and a half ago | (#42092125)

Just to clarify, you do generally need to free a whole page of memory for it to be returned, so technically not every free would return the memory to the OS, but depending on the page size, allocations of a certain size almost always should. I don't know if you're specifically talking about Firefox, and if it uses lots of small allocations (haven't really dug around the source, so I'm not sure) that are unlikely to be freed in way that causes pages to be returned, then I apologize.

Re: Freeing memory (1)

seyfarth (323827) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093479)

There are 2 mechanisms which the C library uses to return memory to the OS. First if a certain amount of memory at the end of the data segment is free, it can reduce the size of the data segment. Second (known to work under Linux) if a process allocates large amounts (like 128KB) the memory allocator can use a different form of memory allocation (mmap for Linux). When this large block is freed it can be immediately returned to the OS. I was suggesting a way that memory could remain allocated. The original intent behind malloc retaining freed memory within a process was to allow the process to re-use the memory for subsequent allocations. This concept can be abused by processes which allocate different sized blocks leaving internal fragmentation with many chunks of memory too small to use. I would expect programmers for long running programs to guard against this problem. If I were writing Firefox I would try to compartmentalize the memory used for a tab so that all memory for a tab would be released to the OS when the tab was closed. I have read that Firefox has adopted a different allocator which may have solved the problem. I too have not studied Firefox code, but I expect that they do pretty well.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#42041685)

I found the memory problems with Firefox disappeared in version ten.

As far as the rest goes, some random thoughts:

- The key selling point of FirefoxOS is that it's relatively lightweight in hardware requirements compared to Android et al.
- Android and iOS are, to a certain extent, over-engineered. When Google's "reference design" phones (Nexus series) have battery lives measured in hours rather than days, with no sign that Google even gives a rat's ass (a Google exec was quoted as saying he carries around a spare battery for his Galaxy Nexus. The Nexus 4 doesn't even offer the option!) then it's fairly clear that light hardware requirements are a good thing.
- FirefoxOS should encourage the development of HTML5 apps - HTML5 makes it relatively easy to create persistent apps that are stored on your device after being loaded once, can tell when you're offline, and can store information offline. These will work under iOS and, to a lesser extent, Android (I'm not sure why Android feels the need to make using HTML5 apps without a wrapper awkward.)

That said:

- There's a substantial difference in hardware requirements at the moment between Gingerbread and post-ICS Android operating systems. It appears that Google and the phone manufacturers aren't actually decommissioning Gingerbread at this stage. It's not impossible to imagine Google actually creating Android 2.4 at this stage, a version designed for lower end devices.
- Android is an excellent operating system and it has mindshare. It's where developers who aren't iFanbois want to be.
- HTML5 is, like its predecessors, a kludgy environment when it comes to software development. Building a user interface using the DOM makes OpenGL look like an elegant API.

I'm going to sit this one out. I think it's nice Firefox are working on this, but it seems to me that it's existence should be a wake-up call to Google and Apple that they are, on one level at least, producing sub-optimal operating systems. If I worked at Google I'd be looking into whether some of Google's post 4.0 work could be rolled back into the 2.x branch, and I'd be seriously looking at whether the 2.x branch could be made even more efficient than it already is. I love Jellybean, especially 4.2, but I'd happily sacrifice some of the newer features for a usable battery life.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

partyguerrilla (1597357) | about 2 years ago | (#42042305)

I found the memory problems with Firefox disappeared in version ten.

I've found that there's always someone who claims this on every version released, ever since it started having memory management issues, with some useful entry in about:config that magically never solves the problem, at least for all people.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#42042643)

We're up to version 16 now, so I can't be one of those people otherwise I'd have said "It's fixed in the nightly build if you'd just download and install some untested software *rolls eyes* you people suck and are so unfair!" rather than "I found the memory problems with Firefox disappeared in version ten."

I did seriously find that version ten made a huge difference. I actually was in an argument with a Mozilla engineer on /. for a while at around that time, the engineer absolutely convinced I was wrong/seeing something he couldn't/etc, me seeing Firefox grind to a halt in 2G of RAM if I so much as opened a PDF in Acrobat (not via Firefox, just via Acrobat) on a Ubuntu machine.

Not to say you can't find problems, but I find more with Chrome these days than with Firefox. I'm sure it doesn't help that HTML5 and things like auto-playing, unblockable, HTML5 video have come into being at just the moment Firefox started major memory suckage.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

unique_parrot (1964434) | about 2 years ago | (#42046539)

We're up to version 16 now...

Now we are at version 17...

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

thelukester (2722207) | about 2 years ago | (#42047467)

As someone who switched from a browser based OS, WebOS, to iPhone 3GS, and now to Android, I can tell you I will never go back to another laggy HTML based OS. If anything, I’d like to see Android move away from its VM based apps to something like Apple’s native apps. Many apps ran better on my 3GS than they do on my much more powerful S3. Mozilla is going the wrong direction on this one. Native > Java > JavaScript

The whole idea of using HTML, CCS, and JavaScript as the back end technology for a low-end smartphone is nuts. Even the best HTML rendering engines are CPU and memory hogs. CSS was never designed for and is nearly impossible to hardware accelerate, and JavaScript is notoriously difficult to optimize and even the best VMs like V8 run orders of magnitude slower then Native code, while the JS VM itself takes up a massive amount of memory relative to Java VMs.

Whether it's moving to true native Apps like iOS or just better code optimization, I too would like to see Android focus more on responsiveness and battery life than adding new features. FF Mobile based on HTML5 tech is going to be still born.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041755)

For me, Firefox is one of the slowest browsers around. It frequently locks the browser when a tab is busy with something and its SVG rendering performance is light years behind that of Chrome and even IE9.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

TedRiot (899157) | about 2 years ago | (#42052977)

I switched completely to Chrome soon after I got a new laptop and switched clients to one that doesn't require me to use IE or Firefox. On Win7 on an i7 with 8GB of memory, Firefox still is constantly saying "Not Responding" on the top of the window. Well, it's probably Windows that is actually saying it, but it really means it and I really can't take it. And no extensions.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#42042405)

I just switched from Chrome back to Firefox and the memory management of Firefox still leaves a LOT to be desired.

... and it would also be nice if they finally fixed some of their ten-year old bugs with hundreds of votes (history glitches, modal dialog boxes, focus stealing, unselectable texts, ...). Internet Explorer 6 is now niche, and there are no users to be gained by emulating some of its behavior.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

jovius (974690) | about 2 years ago | (#42044217)

Firefox OS is much more advanced in terms of customizability. Everything can be tinkered with. The OS provides tools to create your own technical functionalities and UI's with common HTML/CSS/javascript. I for one would really like to check that one out. The OS will probably become a cost effective platform for all kinds of interesting projects, because for example only the code needs to be shared to have devices unified in outlook and functionality. This is a natural development, as the market which is dominated by monolithic and complex platforms miniaturizes a step further.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42044751)

The smartphone market already has a ton of operating systems

Lets see... Windows, Apple, Android... uh, hmm... RIM which is dying. Three and a half is a "ton?" The more OSes there are, the better. The farther away from a monoculture the harder it is to write malware.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

UPZ (947916) | about 2 years ago | (#42045871)

To be gained from Firefox OS is an operating system that neither sacrifices privacy or cost. Android may be "free", but in return google tracks everything you do on the phone.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#42046367)

Then it fails. At least some is trying something new and making something that is really open and not just some cheap ploy to lure nerds into letting an advertising company track their every action.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42047379)

You remind me of the slashdot thread from 6 years ago, when someone said that Google was dumb for entering a market that was already locked down by Blackberry and iOS at the top and palm and winmobile eating up the rest.

Or... maybe I'm thinking of that newsgroup thread where some guy asked why anyone would build another UNIX clone.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about 2 years ago | (#42047605)

If focusing on this OS slows the Mozilla Corporation’s progress of fucking up Firefox completely and irrecoverably, then let them make it. That is, assuming they haven't already reached the point of total destruction (they're at least getting there).

That said... I think the idea of another Linux-based OS for cell phones is pretty interesting, and it could actually be a worthy alternative to Android if done right. The problem is, of course, as you pointed out, the stiff competition they'll face with Google, Apple and Microsoft (hey, you never know what will happen...). It could provide a "plan B" in case something happens with Android or the way Google acts. And its very existence, if it gets big enough, could help to keep Google's behavior in check, in case they were to ever try pulling a Microsoft like IE6.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42048805)

I remember Mozilla originally stating that Firefox OS exists to discourage lock-in in smartphone OSes. They want to encourage better HTML5 implementations so that all smartphones can use cross-platform HTML5 apps instead of the pointless anti-user lock-in of the current smartphone app ecosystem.

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42049027)

Firefox OS is not about making just another competing stack. It is about extending the web to make it an open competitive alternative to existing closed mobile ecosystems. See this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2012/nov/19/mozilla-firefox-os-html5
(Disclosure: I work on Firefox OS)

Re:What Is To Be Gained? (1)

qu33ksilver (2567983) | about 2 years ago | (#42051285)

So have you switched back to chrome now ?

WebOS... (2)

SCHecklerX (229973) | about 2 years ago | (#42040879)

... does it better. And chromeos is already moving along pretty quickly and will have a lot of apps from the gate.

Re:WebOS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041099)

WebOS...... is dead. This coming from someone who loved the Pre2 and has a Touchpad currently.... running android.

Re:WebOS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046143)

Well, WebOS is open source now, so it is not completely dead. But the decision to make it incompatible with the only hardware out there - the TouchPad - pretty much killed the mass market appeal.

New phones (2, Funny)

partyguerrilla (1597357) | about 2 years ago | (#42040945)

They're waiting for manufacturers to ship smartphones with 16GB of RAM before release.

Re:New phones (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about 2 years ago | (#42041571)

Still not enough!

Not sure how they're going to differentiate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041027)

In the world of marketing, the best way to get your product to be successful is to be first. If you can't do that, make everyone forget about who was actually first. If you still can't do that, be second while being the complete opposite of who was first. I believe these roles have already been filled by iOS and Android, with Windows playing catch-up. Also, is it just me or does their interface look a lot like Ice Cream Sandwich; I hope they get their own look-and-feel before releasing this into the wild.

Re:Not sure how they're going to differentiate. (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about 2 years ago | (#42042555)

With this line of reasoning, there would be no Linux today. And therefore no Android. Possibly not even the iPhone as we know it, as no KDE => no WebKit. You could probably choose between Windows 2012 and Apple Copland, each one extending HTML in its own proprietary way.

Open source needs no marketing, and it opens up new possibilities (and new markets) for everybody, including commercial entities. So to me this Firefox OS is a welcome new player.

Can't wait for (2)

AltF4ToWin (1976486) | about 2 years ago | (#42041065)

Opera OS. That shit is going to be off the hook.

Already in version 199.1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041147)

Wait. They just released v.200.1

All software will expand (2, Interesting)

Evro (18923) | about 2 years ago | (#42041233)

I had a professor - an Emacs fan - who had a saying, "all software will eventually expand until it can send and receive email." It seems that needs to be amended to "all software will expand until it becomes an operating system."

Re:All software will expand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041565)

Firefox OS is no more an OS than Android. Both are just Linux frontends.

Re:All software will expand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041789)

If you want to argue semantics, Linux is an operating system kernel, not an operating system.

An prototype test environment in Prototype English (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | about 2 years ago | (#42041335)

Firefox OS Simulator is an prototype test environment

They even made an untested new language called "Prototype English" for it. ;-)

Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041399)

Another pointless thing that nobody will want.

Fear of Apples Lawyers; Round Icon Madness (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#42041525)

Its suggested that Samsung tablets are designed by Lawyers to get around Apples stupid design patents [I think ironically by Apples Lawyers]. I know round is the shape of the Firefox Logo, but its an incredibly wasteful shape. I cannot believe that Apple have succeeded in effectively corned the market of square boxes with round corners...its an icon theme at best. I'd rather have no standard shape than a stupid one, even with lasy App develops keeping one [often fuzzy]icon from iOS [A personal hatred of mine]

Re:Fear of Apples Lawyers; Round Icon Madness (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 2 years ago | (#42043649)

You are aware that this story isn't about Apple, right?

Re:Fear of Apples Lawyers; Round Icon Madness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42043773)

We get it. You hate Apple. Try contributing something interesting or insightful to the discussion next time. There's no +1 beat dead horse mod point. Is it your goal to see how much negative karma you can accrue? If you're going to troll the Apple fans you could at least do it in a story that's actually about Apple.

Firefox OS is not responding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041557)

I can't wait for the random freeze ups!

A firefox OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42041873)

No, no thank you. I've only got 32 gig of memory.
And that's not enough for a firefox anything. Let alone an OS.
Plus i really don't like ~60% of the stuff mozilla has done to firefox over the last decade.

Re:A firefox OS? (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about 2 years ago | (#42047915)

Plus i really don't like ~60% of the stuff mozilla has done to firefox over the last decade.

You do realize that goes back as far as version 0.1, Phoenix, right? If that's the case, then you surely can't be a Firefox user, unless you're a masochist, and want to use something you hate just to bitch about it and that in your opinion it sucked long before even its first release...

Meh (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 2 years ago | (#42041975)

The world doesn't need another way to arrange apps in a grid. I think that Mozilla has put zero innovation into this, only doing so because they can.

I would like to see people spending some time trying to come up with new paradigms for mobile operating systems other then to simply arrange icons (rounded or otherwise) in a grid.

When every OS is basically regurgitating the same ideas, concepts, and essentially provide access to exactly the same content, the idea of multiple vendors is irrelevant. Firefox OS doesn't bring anything new to the table and so it is also irrelevant. If Mozilla can carve out a niche market for cheap handsets vendors then that is all about they can hope for.

Re:Meh (1)

admdrew (782761) | about 2 years ago | (#42042609)

doing so because they can.

Some of the best innovation in technology has happened due to this specifically.

I, for one, am excited to see what Mozilla can do with this.

what is their plan to handle fragmentation ? (1)

gedw99 (1597337) | about 2 years ago | (#42042081)

this is great news.

I hope the operators DONT fragment it too much and that Mozilla have a plan for handling this aspect within their architecture.
Fragmentation is the one thing that could kill this effort

i hope they get the web intents stuff right. That will be vital.

Re:what is their plan to handle fragmentation ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046003)

How about centralised updates directly from Mozilla?

Re:what is their plan to handle fragmentation ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092771)

Clearly you are trying to tell that Android is "fragmented" while it in fact has not. Unless you want to say that PC is fragmented, iPhone is fragmented, iPad is fragmented, Windows Phone phones are fragmented, Surface is fragmented, Macs are fragmented, every car is fragmented.... Oh wait... humans are fragmented as well! Maybe we should start separating people based their skin color? Oh wait... it was tried and failed.... Maybe we should just separate Android based handset color? Has anyone tried that?

I like it (1)

hey (83763) | about 2 years ago | (#42042123)

I use Firefox. I like it more than Chrome. Chrome just makes tracking my life too easy for Google.
Performance is fine for me.

I just tried this new OS simulator. It was a totally easy install - installed inside Firefox.
The Android simulator too a full day to install and required Eclipse and Java which pretty temperamental and heavy weight.

The simulator work well for me. I was able to run Firefox inside it and see some websites.
There's an "Internet Sharing" option which I haven't see on any other phone.

One question (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 2 years ago | (#42042273)

Can I develop for it using a conventional programming language and API, without having to care about appalling things like "browsers" or "server- vs. client-side"?

If not, forget it. If yes, great news and I hope to see it soon on a phone nearby.

Re:One question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42043289)

Nope. HTML crApps only.

All clientside HTML, Javascript, CSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42043557)

You can even use websockets in javascript to communicate directly with other Firefox OS phones.

I say greenlight the thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42042553)

In this arena, Microsoft is the wannabee. Karma's a bitch aint it? That is, if you're MS.

Absurdity (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 2 years ago | (#42042581)

Why do we need a firefox OS? The idea seems to be absurd. A web browser is a web browser, not a window system, not an OS. Whatever happened to the good Unix philosophy? Why can't firefox just run on the Linux kernel and use X for the windows? No need to reinvent the wheel here.

interesting but not a good bench comparison lxde (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42042641)

they're using unity on the atom and lxde on the chromebook.... this already throws off the balance between the two... normally i like the bench comparaisons but hrer i have to say : moronix!

Why, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42043021)

Let's take a development process that tolerates severe memory leaks, and make their product the OS.

Having GNU emacs as a shell, or OS, makes more sense.

I hope it is as stable as the browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42043795)

ha ha that is so funny!

Why is the UI IDENTICAL to Android? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#42044153)

Why is the UI IDENTICAL to Android?
Using the simulator felt like using a slightly more responsive Android, but the UX still sucks, and is completely unintuitive.

Didn't we learn anything from WebOS, Maemo, and Meego?

Stupid idea but what do I know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045311)

Another mobile OS is a stupid idea. However, I no longer understand why things succeed or fail. Android looks like windows mobile with touch. For some reason people hated windows mobile but love android. Go figure. I tried to use iPhone and got lost. It is supposedly "just works" device but it was damn frustrating. What do I know. I think that windows phone is easy to use, fast and nice but nobody is buying them. So what do I know... Mozila OS could be runaway success although it looks to me like a total f#$@ waste of developer time.

The Good Ol' "Firefox" Brand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046681)

So now they're branding a whole OS with the Firefox label. Basic marketing theory suggests that they want us to associate the Firefox OS with the Firefox browser, right?

So, according to their marketing team, we should expect the whole OS to be slow, bloated, and lousy at managing tabs and windows. And we should expect it to crash on one out of every four attempts to watch Flash video. Right?

Someone at Mozilla needs a lesson in brand management, quickly.

Re:The Good Ol' "Firefox" Brand (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about 2 years ago | (#42047989)

So now they're branding a whole OS with the Firefox label. Basic marketing theory suggests that they want us to associate the Firefox OS with the Firefox browser, right?

So, according to their marketing team, we should expect the whole OS to be slow, bloated, and lousy at managing tabs and windows. And we should expect it to crash on one out of every four attempts to watch Flash video. Right?

Someone at Mozilla needs a lesson in brand management, quickly.

You must not realize that the whole point of most marketing that companies put out these days is to [i]lie[/i] to potential customers or simply ram something down so hard down their throat that they just bend down and take the rest, right up the asshole.

Oh for heaven's sake (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about 2 years ago | (#42052833)

You are such a whiny bunch, sometimes I wonder I am still on slashdot...

I mean, if we can be happy with a zillion Linux OS alone, then we can be happy with many mobile OS, I mean, it's the same thing. Choice to fit all, right? Not mention all the other alternatives (Haiku, React OS etc...)

I *like* it, and promote it, just like I like and promote Jolla's Sailfish OS, and Tizen and whatever else is out there... because more competition means a happy *me* (consumer).

I have a couple of smaller Android phones (~700 MHz processors...) that I would love to outfit with this OS. I downloaded the xpi and tested it on my nightly, and I can't wait to test on my phone. It is promising. I am not a app-crazy guy, and a few basic apps will suffice, as long as this brings a new life to old phones.

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