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Mozilla Foundation Announces Firefox OS Contribution Program

by Sergio De Simone on Jan 31, 2014 |

In an effort to accelerate the development of Firefox OS, Mozilla announced a Contribution Program which will aim at providing dedicated developers with access to resources and reference hardware.

Foxconn will manufacture the initial reference hardware, a tablet.

According to the early January announcement by Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox OS Participation at Mozilla, the program will be open to developers, localizers, testers, and bug fixers. All contributors will also have access to Firefox OS nightly builds and receive guidance as to which areas need more contributions. Dotzler also stated in a comment to the announcement that more details about the program will be made available in the coming days as they are progressively sorted out.

One key aspect of the program is the development of reference hardware, initially manufactured by Foxconn. Indeed, as Dotzler remarked in the announcement:

“We have to make the hardware available before the software is final to make it possible for contributors around the world to help us complete the build of Firefox OS for tablets”.

In another post on his personal blog, Dotzler goes on to detail the specs of the Foxconn reference tablet for Firefox OS. The tablet should have an ARM Cortex A7 based quad-core at 1.0GHz, with 2GB DDR3 memory and a 16GB flash drive, a 10.1” multi-touch display, dual cameras, Wi-Fi support, and microSD, Micro-USB, headphone ports. A photo of the device running a Firefox OS nightly build is also available in Asa's post.

According to Kevin C. Tofel writing for GigaOm, the device may seem a bit underpowered but it still represents a solid reference design for the platform. Brad Linder on liliputing compares such specs to those of a low-end Android tablet.

Firefox OS was first announced on July 25, 2011 by Dr. Andreas Gal, director of research at Mozilla Corporation. According to the initial announcement, the project pursues "the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web" and requires work to develop:

  • new web APIs for exposing device and OS capabilities like telephony, camera, and Bluetooth to apps;
  • a privilege model ensuring that those native capabilities are exposed in a safe way;
  • a boot subsystem allowing for booting on Android-compatible devices;
  • user apps.

In an interview to Know Your Mobile, Brendan Eich, Mozilla’s co-founder and inventor of JavaScript, declared that Firefox OS is a

“completely open stack that is 100 per cent free. We have a publicly visible repository and all the development happens in the open. We use completely open standards and there’s no propriety software or technology involved”,

thus aiming at “removing the need for separate proprietary platforms”.

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