Boot To Gecko misconceptions

I’m all jazz hands about Boot To Gecko (B2G). I think B2G is really important to the Mozilla mission.  Perhaps stemming from the early-and-open nature of B2G, there are some misconceptions about B2G that I’ve seen in articles and forums. I am not closely involved in the project, but I do know enough to identify and correct a few of these misconceptions with the following three B2G facts:

  1. B2G will not run in kernel mode.  To be clear, B2G will run on top of the Linux kernel; Gecko will run as user-mode processes.  Furthermore, a crash in Gecko will not take down the entire phone: with Electrolysis (already being used in Firefox Mobile), different apps/sites will run in different processes.
  2. B2G will (ultimately) not run on top of Android.  To bootstrap the project, work is currently being done on top of Android.  However, the goal is to incrementally remove each dependency on Android, leaving only drivers and low-level libraries.  In particular, this means B2G would not contain the Dalvik Java VM which should significantly improve the patent-encumbered Java situation as well as reduce the number of VMs needed to browse the web from 2 to 1.
  3. B2G will use Gecko, but it’s not just about Gecko.  A clearer name might have been “Boot to Web platform”.  Gecko will, of course, be the engine used to prototype new Web APIs but since these are targeted at open standards developed in the open (as opposed to dumped in the open), a possible/desirable outcome is a separate “Boot To Webkit” implementation able to run the same home screen and apps as B2G.

If you are excited, feel free to contribute to the project; it’s just starting and there are many important problems to be solved.

5 Responses to Boot To Gecko misconceptions

  1. Why don’t you just name it BrowserShell then? Essentially it just sounds like Linux will do all the heavy lifting and Gecko will replace the window manager and so forth. If this is correct, just call it BrowserShell. This makes it clearer that you are trying to develop a multi-render engine model rather than just

  2. I’m sure it’ll be called Firefox OS.

    I remember when the name of their mobile browser was going to be called Fennec, they even had a logo and everything. But that turned out to be just a codename. I don’t think any major product from Mozilla will ever risk creating a new brand. All such products rest on the familiar branding of the successful Firefox product.

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