Mozilla is to use the open-source technology that underpins its popular Firefox browser to build a new operating system, which it believes can compete with Google’s Android. The firm announced in a forum post this week that is working on a project known as ‘Boot to Gecko,’ which will use its Gecko rendering engine as a platform for HTML5-based apps “that are – in every way – the equals of native apps built for the iPhone, Android, and WP7… We aren't trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we're trying to have them run on the web.” While the firm admitted that the project was in its “infancy” its goal is to create “a complete, standalone operating system for the open web,” which will work on both mobile and desktop devices. Early work will focus on creating web APIs to support mobile features such as telephony, SMS, Camera, USB, Bluetooth and NFC, the firm said.
Mozilla’s key selling point with the project appears to be that it is truly open source. “We will do this work in the open, we will release the source in real-time, we will take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group, and we will track changes that come out of that process,” the firm said. This appears a swipe at Google, which has been criticised by some within the developer community for withholding Android source code from the public until it is deemed ready. In some cases – such as with the Honeycomb tablet version of the platform – this did not happen at all.