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Mozilla to Develop Mobile Firefox 152

Kelson writes "Mozilla has announced a new initiative to bring Mozilla to the mobile web, including a fully functional mobile version of Firefox (yes, with extensions). The focus will be part of Mozilla 2, the big revision coming after Gecko 1.9 and Firefox 3. Minimo, the previous attempt to port Mozilla to mobile platforms, is apparently dead, but 'has already provided us with valuable information about how Gecko operates in mobile environments, has helped us reduce footprint, and has given us a platform for initial experimentation in user experience.'"
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Mozilla to Develop Mobile Firefox

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  • By the time.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:29PM (#20930901) Homepage
    I'll bet that at the sluggish rate Gecko development proceeds, by the time the mobile version appears, mobile devices will have almost the power of today's stationary hardware.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kelson ( 129150 ) *

      I'll bet that at the sluggish rate Gecko development proceeds, by the time the mobile version appears, mobile devices will have almost the power of today's stationary hardware.

      Wow! Someone who actually read the article!

      • Re:By the time.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:58PM (#20931379) Homepage Journal

        Getting a no-compromise web experience on devices requires significant memory (>=64MB) as well as significant CPU horsepower. High end devices today are just approaching these requirements and will be commonplace soon For example, the iPhone has 128MB of DRAM and somewhere between a 400 to 600 MHz processor. It is somewhere between 10x-100x slower on scripting benchmarks than a new MacBook Pro and somewhere between 3-5x slower than an old T40 laptop on the same wifi network. But rapid improvements in mobile processors will close this gap within a few years.

        I find this to be a rather shocking statement. The author is claiming that a handheld that meets the minimum requirements for a modern web browser on a desktop OS is not quite sufficient to run an embedded version? If that's really the consensus of the Mozilla developers, then my opinion is that they need to reevaluate how their approaching phone handsets. It is not a desktop platform, nor will you get the best experience by treating a handset as a desktop platform. As Apple and Opera have been showing with their embedded browsers, the interface should be designed around the phone rather than forcing the phone to be designed around the interface.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mrslacker ( 1122161 )
        Perhaps (time, not reading the article), but there's another important player here that should be blatantly obvious, but no one has mentioned. That is of course Mozilla Foundation's best friend, Google. In particular, their emphasis on mobile platforms and Gphone. Guess what browser the gphone will have. In any case, there'll be a good deal of leverage and motivation from Google to make this happen sometime soon.
        • WebKit/kjs/khtml is open source (LGPL, BSD-like) and used by Apple and Nokia and will be included with Qt 4.4. Yeah, Google sends a lot of cash to the MoFo (and I think they may have contributed code as well), but they're also Apple friendly and using WebKit would probably be less work.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Saying "Nokia uses browser X" doesn't really make your point since Nokia uses pretty much all major rendering engines in their products, including gecko...
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:30PM (#20930927) Homepage
    Mozilla has announced a new initiative to bring Mozilla to the mobile web, including a fully functional mobile version of Firefox (yes, with extensions).

    The thing I like about Firefox, is it's something people can really embrace, and extend.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Daimanta ( 1140543 )
      Hey there Bill. Wait, what are you doing with that extinguisher. No, wait, STOP, WAAAAAGGGGHH
  • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:31PM (#20930953)
    I wish they would carry those lessons over to firefox sometime soon.
    • I'm hoping that I can run the mobile version on my desktop.
    • by JerkBoB ( 7130 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @05:10PM (#20932457)
      Damn, you guys beat me to it.

      I suppose it's obvious, though...

      mjmac@ganymede:~$ ps axwu | grep firefox
      mjmac 13089 0.9 11.3 786244 232776 ? Sl Oct09 16:47 /usr/lib/firefox/firefox-bin

      Isn't firefox supposed to be the lightweight alternative to Mozilla? *cough*
      • It was, then they killed mozilla off officially so there is no "real" comparison.

        Just wait until FireFox 3 comes around and that old adage of reusing old hardware goes out the window with the Windows XP requirements. Does it all make you wonder? Makes me wonder.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How about getting Firefox to run on the desktop for more than 3 hours at a time?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's quite possible to have different people working on different things at the same time. Funky how there's been updates to fx2 while fx3 was in development, isn't it? I agree fx still needs a good bit of work, and awesomely enough it's getting it irrelevant of whether or not another related project is underway.
      • It's quite possible to have different people working on different things at the same time.

        Maybe, but in this case it doesn't make sense. Firefox contains (a) memory leak(s), which make it neccessary to restart it regularly. Computer users put up with such, to put it frankly, piece of shit programming, but the users of other appliances won't, even if a modern cellphone is essentially a computer with radio receiver and transmitter. So, until the leak(s) have been plugged, there is no point in putting effo

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Atti K. ( 1169503 )
      It can run at least for two days. See JerkBoB's comment above. It was started on Oct 9th. It just uses a few hundred MB's of RAM :P
      • Amen, there's nothing like coming home after a weekend and finding that on my Mac Pro, with 5GB of ram, firefox is using 4.5GBs of that :-p
    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Huh? The copy of Mozilla that I'm posting this on has been open since was release which was about a month ago. I run 13 addons that are are a mix of very popular and not so popular, and since 2.0 came out I've had very few stability problems. I still wish it did a better job of release cache memory, or at least had a GC procedure I could manually launch to free up all the ram except the currently in use parts, but that's my only real remaining complaint.
    • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @06:17AM (#20937665)
      I use Firefox all day, every day sometimes with 20 tabs open. I won't say it never crashes but it manages to last a hell of a lot longer than 3 hours on average. I don't have issues with the memory either considering the number of tabs, session history, cache and so on.

      If memory really bothers people they should turn their settings down and modify their browsing behaviour since Firefox takes the sensible default approach of using whatever memory you have to optimize the user experience.

      • by jesup ( 8690 ) *
        My "normal" situation is 7-10 Firefox windows open, with 5-25 tabs per window (for normal use, not instances of Mozilla I'm testing). Typically the total number of tabs is 100-150 depending on which machine we're talking about. The one I'm typing on here has been running (on Centos)since July 16th (and that was when it was shut down for an upgrade to Firefox 2), and the run before that had been up since around November (on 1.5.x). 440MB resident; 650MB virtual size, after 3 months of 150 tabs and daily u
  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:33PM (#20930993)
    Is it really necessary to consult a chart to make sense of their products?

    "Mozilla 2, the big revision coming after Gecko 1.9 and Firefox 3."

    So 2 is after 1.9, but is also after 3. But it's Firefox 3. But the product named Mozilla, the suite, stopped at 1.7.X, and was replaced by Seamonkey 1.0, which is really Mozilla 1.8.

    • by domatic ( 1128127 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:40PM (#20931129)
      "Firefox 3" refers to an upcoming product release that will use the "Gecko 1.9" html/web renderer. "Mozilla 2" apparently refers to the APIs and release products based on them that will be what developers focus on once current developments (FF3 and Gecko 1.9) are finished.
    • by savala ( 874118 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:44PM (#20931195)

      Mozilla 2 == Gecko 2. Mozilla is the catchall name for the platform, with a version number equal to that of the rendering engine.

      Individual products (such as Firefox, SeaMonkey, Camino, Thunderbird, etc, etc, etc) all have their own versioning scheme, as decided upon by their respective marketing people. This is the only number end-users should care about (for their own favorite product), but developers can always refer back to the gecko/mozilla version to know how these products relate to each other.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Build identifier: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.0; en-US; rv: Gecko/2007091417 Firefox/

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Arterion ( 941661 )
          The Mozilla/5.0 part is a little confusing, but I think that's a hold-over from Netscape days. But if you look you'll see rv:, which is the version of Gecko, which they seem to be calling "Mozilla" in this summary.
    • by drew ( 2081 )
      The only thing I can figure out is that they found inspiration in Sun's version numbering for Java releases, and decided that they had to do one better. Or is that 0.1?
    • Replace Gecko with the Linux kernel and Firefox/Seamonkey/Mozilla with Redhat/Ubuntu/Slackware.

      Back end --> Front end. Where's the confusion here?
  • Reduced footprint (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jimktrains ( 838227 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:34PM (#20931037) Homepage
    Perhapses that knowledge could allow them to reduce the footprint of the full sized version, maybe? Hopefully?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vexor ( 947598 )
      They have a long way to go to catch up with Opera's performance. Excellent browser for viewing sites with loads of images/video etc.
    • Perhapses that knowledge could allow them to reduce the footprint of the full sized version, maybe? Hopefully?
      There seems to be a problem with Firefox's spell checker too. That should be fixed in the next release.
      • " 'Perhapses that knowledge could allow them to reduce the footprint of the full sized version, maybe? Hopefully?'

        There seems to be a problem with Firefox's spell checker too. That should be fixed in the next release."

        Was that a knock at me? ispell, openoffice, and firefox all found nothing wrong with what I wrote. As for the spell checker, I find it quite useful and well designed (although there are somethings that trip it up).

        • actually, I noticed that sometimes for whatever reason, it doesn't make it clear something isn't spelled right.
      • by Kalriath ( 849904 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @06:20PM (#20933349)
        It's not a bug, he was just spell checking using the Gollum dictionary. The English ones don't include "perhapses".

        My Precccccciooooouuuuuuusssss?
  • Is this what they forked Thunderbird for? To concentrate on this? Was it a trade?
  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:42PM (#20931169)
    I've been running MicroB on the Nokia N800 and it now handles pretty much any ajax site I throw at it. I had problems with many ajax sites using Opera 9, not to mention Minimo, but MicroB handles them nicely. Not many extensions available yet though.
    • Yeah, it's Mozilla-based. Suprised it's not WebKit/KHTML (Safari, Konqueror and "Series 60 Web Browser"), given that Nokia puts it on all their S60 phones.
      • by jrumney ( 197329 )
        IIRC, Nokia was the main developer behind the GTK port of WebKit, which was still a work in progress a couple of months ago when I looked at it. Maybe they've abandoned it now that MicroB has come along.
  • where's the fun in that? ms should port ie to mobile then we can all have fun trying too block pop-ups and other nasties on our cells.
    • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
      There already is some sort of Pocket IE or something like that for Windows CE. I doubt it's related to the Windows NT version of IE in any way other than the name, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kalriath ( 849904 )
      You're referring to PIE (Pocket Internet Explorer. Tastes bad, not to be confused with Apple PIE or Apricot PIE).

      Details page: [].

      It's ultra basic. No popup support, no Flash, no ... wait a minute... can I get it for Windows XP?
      • It's ultra basic. No popup support, no Flash, no ... wait a minute... can I get it for Windows XP?

        Yes you can... if you have the pocketpc emulator that comes with visual studio.
  • by c41rn ( 880778 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:46PM (#20931209)
    Check out MicroB [], a mozilla-based browser for the Maemo platform on the N800. I prefer it to the default Opera-based browser that the N800 ships with. It's based on Gecko 1.9.
    • MicroB kicks ass! It has full AJAX support and allows me to use google maps, google docs & spreadsheet and google rssreader on my nokia N800. I love it
  • I have a cingular 8125 I use occasionally (when wifi is avail, no way I am paying mobile internet fee's) and this would be great. I have IE and Opera mobile on it, but end up mostly using IE. Opera mini was nice on my flip phone, but Opera Mobile doesn't render well at all. I have to side scroll all the time, and I can't stand side scrolling. The tabs and buttons keep it on my phone though.

    Any recommendations on what the best browser avail right now is?
    • I'd recommend a mix between PocketIE and opera. PocketIE does better on some pages, while Opera is better with others.

      There are some PIE modifications out there that add tabs and such. Sorry that I can't give any names/links as I haven't used them in about 2 years.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:53PM (#20931323)
    This isn't surprising considering Google's recent purchase of Mozilla, and the search giant's new focus on mobile with their Google Phone.
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:54PM (#20931329) Homepage Journal
    Anyone else think that "Compare prices on Mozilla" is an odd choice to appear in the list of Related Links?

    "Let's see, you can get it from this site for $0. But this one is offering it for $0. Or you could go over here and get it for $0, but they charge $0 for shipping. Hmm, I think I'll go with the place selling it for $29.95."
    • by Goaway ( 82658 )
      You only now noticed the "compare prices on" links that have been in ever story for years now, and that are nearly always incredibly inappropriate and hilarious?
  • A new name? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Arghdee ( 813921 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @03:57PM (#20931365)
    I suggest they call it:

    MObile FirefOx

    Then, we can abbreviate that to Mofo.
  • A huge broken nightmare. Wouldn't even uninstall...

    • minimo has been working fine for me on Angstrom distro for Zaurus - just as well, 'cos it's the only useful browser in the Angstrom distribution - they chose not to include any old libraries so the old opera 7 from the Sharp original distro is not compatible, nor is netfront, and konqueror sucks, and firefox segfaults!
  • Apple: Iphone burns up in owner's pocket, flames burn up to his neck
    First slashdot post:
    "Liar Liar pants on..."
    ...followed shortly by...
    "Was he running FireFox?"
  • by MSRedfox ( 1043112 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @04:15PM (#20931635)
    I've used mobile versions of Opera, InternetExplorer, Minimo, and now Safari (and a few other off-brand browsers). Up until Safari, I found Opera to be the best for mobile browsing, but even it was lacking. The iPhone's Safari seems pretty good so far, still not perfect, but better then the rest. But with Safari, you're limited to using it only on the iPhone (or iPod touch). Hopefully this new development from Mozilla will offer a nice high quality mobile browser that is compatible with multiple devices. I'm looking forward to a browser war for the mobile market, its about time we got a choice of good quality browsers instead of being stuck with low grade versions that can't even render simple pages well.

    Let the browsers wars start again.
  • The best comment I've heard yet isn't on slashdot (not surprisingly) but from a blog by Russell Beattie []...

    We've gone from almost no advanced mobile browsers just a few years ago, to a ton of choices. It makes you wonder if Mozilla could do something else to enhance the mobile web, rather than re-creating the wheel with yet another browser that works on the phone.

    With that being said, the article also says "Mobile Firefox will arrive later (certainly not before 2008)." That's a lot of time for them to
  • It would be really awesome if a mobile tool gets the same kind of debugging support that currently exists with Firefox and Firebug. Nothing comparable exists in the desktop browser world. What once involved writing for IE first, then adding W3 features later, now is developing on FF/FB, and then -porting- to IE. What a wonderful change has occurred in the dev landscape.
  • With phones becoming more common as internet devices, you would think sites would be a bit more friendly to those sorts of devices. Yes, /. does have a 'palm' version.... but using the low bandwidth variant for normal surfing is just painful on the embedded version of IE my Cingular 8525 bundles with Windows Mobile. The low bandwidth version style sheets list the article summary...


    For whatever reason, the comments render correctly on it. To think I got this phone because it *has* wifi. Arg
    • So instead of spending a little on an excellent browser for your expensive phone, you'd rather go buy a new phone? Presumably, another expensive one. Yes, I can see how that makes sense, oh yes.
      • Well, here [] are a few screen shots of how the OOTB browser renders /. in simple design, low bandwidth, and no icons.

        While buying a new browser would fix the surfing issues, the 'smart phone' is just as deficient in other areas - email, phone, alarm, etc. It would be good money after bad. I'm done with it. Going back to a Blackberry is an easy decision for someone who is on the road as much as I am. I talked about the other issues here [].
        • Try Opera Mini on that phone, it renders well and the websites look just like their bigscreen versions... it does all that iphoney zooming stuff. But for screens this small, I am always thinking: why websites? Install an RSS reader, go for full text enclosures, and read content the way you want it formatted!
    • Slashdot looks just fine on my 8525, IE Mobile seems to do a good job with it anyway. See here. [] The crappy trial screenshot program blew it up so it looks nice and jaggy, but on the device the page looks fine to me. That's under "One Column" format btw.
  • by Em Ellel ( 523581 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @05:17PM (#20932559)
    Firefox on mobile devices? Great, but where do I get 2GB of ram for my treo?
  • But failed since they couldn't reduce the footprint and achieve acceptable performance.

    The reason they are trying again, is that after Firefox 3 comes the time of Tamarin, the ECMAScript engine in Flash Player, which will also power the Firefox releases after 3. Spidermonkey and Tamarin is like night and day.

    So, in fact, Adobe saved the day here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Tamarin has very little to nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with massively cutting back on XPCOM usage within the codebase and other architectural changes which couldn't be made in a 1.x build for compatibility reasons.

      In fact, Tamarin currently needs a fair amount of optimization to reach parity with Spidermonkey (in the case of untyped data anyway).
  • I am all for open source going into new markets, I do feel that in the case of mozilla with firefox that they should really focus on resolving many of the bugs and really working on providing a rock solid, secure fast and stable "full scale" browser. Once they have finalised that work on a mobile browser.
    • Did you even RTFA? The point is that Mozilla2 (the backend for ALL Gecko 2.0-based browsers, including Firefox 4.0) is going to be cleaning things up so much that making a lightweight mobile browser is a realistic option. The wins that will be good in the mobile space are going to be going in to the main codebase first and foremost. The only change is that with the code lighter, a mobile browser is something which can be made well and supported well.
  • Webkit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Mozilla fears Webkit. Webkit went from not interesting to the new star of the future very quickly. First the KDE project made their peace with Webkit with Trolltech announcing it'll include it in the next Qt release. Following that were people doing proof-of-concept ports of Webkit to the Gnome Mobile platform and showing that it was far less ressource intensive and faster than Mozilla or Opera on mobiles. The same could be shown for the OLPC. Following that, quite some companies recently started investing
    • by BZ ( 40346 )
      > (because it suffers from extensive NIH)

      Do you have a reference for this in the context of GNOME? Were there patches being rejected with NIH reasons? Were decisions being made to not use GNOME-provided facilities and roll one's own instead? Just curious.

      I do seem to recall Mozilla doing things like switching to the GTK-native filepicker once it got its non-ASCII-text act together, even though it was still functionally inferior to the XUL filepicker that had been used before that (for example it was m
  • Call me when it can properly display my favorite world wide web site [].
  • Just Great now I'll have to use Pocket Ice Weasel.
  • They've had minimo for Windows for quite a while. I've built it for ARMedslack but it was a friggin nightmare and never did work quite right. Hopefully the changes will improve that process.
  • I looked at browsers for my Axim last year [] and concluded that they all mostly suck. Sadly, Minimo was the worst of the three I tried. (Others were MSIE & Opera.) It didn't run too great, didn't render pages too great (on my 640x480 screen, some elements were tiny, some were huge), it ran slow, and slowed down the whole PDA after it had been launched, even when not in use. Resetting the PDA was the only fix. I look forward to seeing what they come up with. Maybe they'll even address my biggest gripe--no

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"