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B2G OS and Gecko Annoucement from Ari Jaaksi & David Bryant


Julie McCracken Sep 26, 2016 3:42 PM
Posted in group: mozilla.dev.fxos

TO: B2G OS community (for their weekly Tuesday meeting)
SUBJECT:  B2G OS and Gecko
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By the end of 2015 Mozilla leadership had come to the conclusion that our then Firefox OS initiative of shipping phones with commercial partners would not bring Mozilla the returns we sought. We made the first of a series of announcements about changes in the development of Firefox OS at Mozilla.  Since then we have gradually wound down that work and, as of the end of July 2016 have stopped all commercial development on Firefox OS. This message recaps what transpired during that period of time and also describes what will happen with the Firefox OS code base going forward.


In particular, through various channels we announced:

  • We would stop our efforts to build and ship smartphones through carrier partners and pivot our efforts with Firefox OS to explore opportunities for new use cases in the world of connected devices.

  • Firefox OS was transitioned to a Tier 3 platform from the perspective of support by Mozilla's Platform Engineering organization.  That meant as of January 31, 2016 no Mozilla Platform Engineering resources would be engaged to provide ongoing support and all such work would be done by other contributors.  For some period of time that work would be done by Mozilla’s Connected Devices team.

  • We had ideas for other opportunities for Firefox OS, perhaps as a platform for explorations in the world of connected devices, and perhaps for continued evolution of Firefox OS TV.  To allow for those possibilities, and to provide a stable release for commercial TV partners, development would continue on a Firefox OS 2.6 release.

  • In parallel with continued explorations by the Connected Devices team, we recognized there was interest within the Mozilla community in carrying forward work on Firefox OS as a smartphone platform, and perhaps even for other purposes.  A Firefox OS Transition Project was launched to perform a major clean-up of the B2G code bringing it to a stable end state so it could be passed into the hands of the community as an open source project.


In the spring and summer of 2016 the Connected Devices team dug deeper into opportunities for Firefox OS. They concluded that Firefox OS TV was a project to be run by our commercial partner and not a project to be led by Mozilla. Further, Firefox OS was determined to not be sufficiently useful for ongoing Connected Devices work to justify the effort to maintain it. This meant that development of the Firefox OS stack was no longer a part of Connected Devices, or Mozilla at all. Firefox OS 2.6 would be the last release from Mozilla.


Today we are announcing the next phase in that evolution. While work at Mozilla on Firefox OS has ceased, we very much need to continue to evolve the underlying code that comprises Gecko, our web platform engine, as part of the ongoing development of Firefox. In order to evolve quickly and enable substantial new architectural changes in Gecko, Mozilla’s Platform Engineering organization needs to remove all B2G-related code from mozilla-central. This certainly has consequences for B2G OS. For the community to continue working on B2G OS they will have to maintain a code base that includes a full version of Gecko, so will need to fork Gecko and proceed with development on their own, separate branch.


We realize that these decisions are painful for those of us who had high hopes and dreams and work tied up in Firefox OS — in the idea of an open source, user-centric, Mozilla mission-based operating system for the mobile space. We also recognize that this decision makes it much harder for the b2g community to continue its work. We wish we could have found another way. However, we believe that these have been necessary decisions and the best possible way for Mozilla to continue on its mission.


Ari Jaaksi

David Bryant