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Mozilla Operating Systems Build Hardware

Mozilla Is Developing an IoT Board Powered By Firefox OS (softpedia.com) 84

prisoninmate writes: An SBC called Chirimen was designed from the outset to use web browser technologies in various science projects by extending the I2C and GPIO WebAPIs to control devices powered by Mozilla's Firefox OS 2.0 and higher operating system. As such, Web developers can easily use browser technologies to develop awesome things. The board is developed by MozillaFactory.org in Japan.
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Mozilla Is Developing an IoT Board Powered By Firefox OS

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  • Oh boy... (Score:2, Insightful)

    A bloated browser (pretending to be a operating system) trying to run on things like a clock or a refrigerator (IoT)? What can go wrong? They have not learned the lesson from the "Firefox OS" for mobile?
    • Re:Oh boy... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Friday January 08, 2016 @09:06AM (#51261117) Homepage
      Firefox OS seems to be a solution looking for a problem
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        From what I've read - it's not even a good solution for anything.

      • Re:Oh boy... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @05:16PM (#51264849)

        "Firefox OS seems to be a solution looking for a problem"

        The perfect fit for IoT.

    • They have not learned the lesson from the "Firefox OS" for mobile?

      That you can't disrupt an established consumer market with a clone product?

      There is no established consumer market for embedded smart devices, so don't you that "lesson" might not be relevant in this new space?

      • Not this. The lesson I am describing is that an operating system for devices with limited resources needs to be very efficient and minimalist, which is the exact opposite of what the Firefox OS is.
        • Re:Oh boy... (Score:5, Informative)

          by higuita ( 129722 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:32PM (#51262441) Homepage

          sorry, you are confusing Firefox BROWSER with Firefox OS!

          firefox OS is a small linux with geko installed and most of the GUI are webpages. Geko today is light, fast enough and been adding multi-thread.

          This is small enough for many application where a easy and fast to develop GUI interface. Being html, you then can point any browser to the fridge and do the same thing. Try that with a android app.

          Finally, you will not be opening 30 tabs in firefoxOS, you will probably only see 1 to 3 tabs (if really need) of status/config pages.
          You could do this with any distro, but X11/wayland+libs+drivers+sdk is always a problem when compared to a cheap sdk that takes care of that for you.
          You could do that with android, but android is harder to change and may be even slower due to all the garbage required for phones, tables.

          Mozilla is trying to overshot the mobile, as they learned that is already a market too hard to break in, and go directly to the "internet of things" to increase market share on a future huge market.

          • Well, if you are using Gecko as a "desktop manager" of sorts with HTML and Javascript to draw the GUI so you are using a browser like a desktop OS. And the problem I see on that it is a really inefficient way to work (display a desktop, etc.) on devices with limited resources.
    • Complementing what I wrote earlier, now that I reread the TFA more closely... What an idiot would provide hardware access to the code of a web page (for beginners, the web is a hostile environment)? They want you to visit a page with malware and after that your refrigerator starts shooting milk bottles on you?
      • Re:Oh boy... (Score:4, Informative)

        by higuita ( 129722 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:38PM (#51262487) Homepage

        you are seeing things the wrong way

        firefoxos manage hardware and daemons
        daemons read sensors and other content and generate webpages
        geko read the webpages (may submit posts for config changes or actions that some daemon will accept and filter)

        how is more insecure than a native app that read the sensor and controls everything. At least firefox OS is more contained (say more unix like)

        your fridge will not browser the web :)

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:47AM (#51261043) Homepage Journal
    Here is an example of having too much money and not knowing what to do next. Reminds me of the company I work for, except the give the "excess" money to the execs and investors.
  • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:47AM (#51261047)
    I'm sure they're having a lot of fun wanking around with these pointless projects. It must be a great way to distract yourself from the ~24,000 open bugs [mozilla.org] still waiting to be fixed in Firefox.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's not just Firefox that has become a bug-ridden disaster. Mozilla has managed to do the same with much newer projects like Rust and Servo.

      It's particularly funny in the case of Rust. Rust is supposed to be a programming language that, according to its website, "prevents segfaults", "guarantees thread safety", and should make writing buggy code much, much harder. Yet the Rust compiler and standard library, much of which are implemented in Rust by the people who know Rust the best, suffers from thousands o [github.com]

    • Worse yet, they are ripping out cool Firefox features like full themes support and tab groups the free up development and test time for these boondoggles.

      • > ripping out cool Firefox features like full themes support and tab groups the free up development and test time for these boondoggles. People have nagged them for years for multi-process / process-per-tab and the changes needed to make that happen will break many things. So either break things and deliver the speed/stability features people have been begging for or don't break anything and never satisfy those very vocal users.
        • I think that's way overdue. I've again lanched Chromium because I wanted to quickly check something without getting bogged down. The web is not becoming lighter, even if blocking ads and trackers. Firefox has now become the Windows 3.1 or Mac OS 8 of browsers and I can't wait for the day it's more of a "Windows NT" on performance and robustness of that performance. By default, on the main release channel.

  • Argh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    g*d d*mn mozilla. Keep your focus on the task you were created for! Please!
    We *need* you as a browser maker, you're teh internets' only hope on a trustworthy browser and you're flunking it!

    We don't *need* another f*cking 'IoT' board, theyre already a dime a dozen.

    Sorry I got carried away there, but as a linux user I'm screwed if Firefox finally bites the dust.

    • Two words: Pale Moon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:49AM (#51261063)

    So let's make hardware that also sucks run our ever increasingly bloated software!

    Dear Mozilla,

    Focus and at least get ONE thing that works well, or close up shop and go home, you're embarrassing the OSS community at this point.

    • What sucks is that I never seem to have mod points when I really want them. You'd be getting an enthusiastic "Insightful" if I had one to give.

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @08:53AM (#51261075) Journal

    I would encourage the Mozilla team to maybe put their weight behind making Firefox a better browser. Are there no more avenues to making it a bit faster, maybe a bit less resource-hungry, maybe make is more secure? I mostly use Chrome, but because of Zotero I need to use Firefox from time to time, and I don't dislike it, I just wish more efforts were made in the directions I mentioned above.

    • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @09:08AM (#51261127)

      I would encourage the Mozilla team to maybe put their weight behind making Firefox a better browser. Are there no more avenues to making it a bit faster, maybe a bit less resource-hungry, maybe make is more secure?

      Running Gecko/Servo and Spidermonkey on low-end ARM hardware will require optimizations that will feed back into desktop performance?

    • I would encourage the Mozilla team to maybe put their weight behind making Firefox a better browser.

      From the very first moment that Google decided that Firefox was no longer their flagship way for users to access their ads and decided to throw all their weight in their own branded browser, the prospect of Firefox being the dominant browser received a death blow.

      Once a mega-corp puts resources into figuring out how users handle the product and tweaking it, and then advertise it as their preferred platform a

  • by lkcl ( 517947 ) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Friday January 08, 2016 @09:41AM (#51261279) Homepage

    does anyone remember microsoft's ActiveDesktop, and why it failed? it failed because they took away all of the privilege separation that you get from having separate programs with permissions, and enabled and empowered a single process with carte blanche to access a vast array of resources... *and* failed to properly secure them. the mozilla foundation is now spending its sponsor's money on re-discovering why this is a non-starter, by permitting javascript direct access to hardware GPIO.

    there is a better way - i have actually told the mozilla developers this but they are in some sort of hell-bound zombie sleep-walk mode - which is to go back to basics, remove *all* "special" APIs, then write JSON or other local services running on loopback that carry out the "special" work that has absolutely nothing to do with GUI rendering.

    this design strategy has the key advantage that high-priority code may be written in an *APPROPRIATE* programming language, but it does have the disadvantage that you can't really write eye-catching press releases....

    • Yeah, if they're building an IoT board without thinking of security from the ground up, at every level of their design, then it's going to be a fail.
      Even if it's a commercial success, it will just become a hacker playground.
    • Firefox OS security model detailed here:

      https://developer.mozilla.org/... [mozilla.org]

      Feel free to critique and advise them on the technical details but don't assume they haven't considered security implications already.

  • Never heard of these before,. and i am pretty sure that wont like these.

    Accessing HW busses is nothing which should be passed in any non-abstracted way to the web. The focus of the web (transmitting asynchronous, stateless, hardware abstracted information) could not be further apart from GPIO pins.

    And so is this project from the core business of mozilla.

    • what's happening here is creating a binding to Javascript. Which, language choice aside, is little more absurd than creating bindings to anything other interpreted virtual machine language such as Java or Python - which no doubt exist for rPi.

      'core business' - hardly, but if Panasonic and others seem willing to continue funding development of FxOS via smart TVs and the like...

      • Javascript able to talk to hardware.... What possibly could go wrong?
        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          This is somehow different from any other language ... how, exactly?

          This is what your comment looks like to everyone else:

          "C able to talk to hardware.... What possibly could go wrong?"
          "Java able to talk to hardware.... What possibly could go wrong?"
          "Python able to talk to hardware.... What possibly could go wrong?"

  • by nashv ( 1479253 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @11:49AM (#51262147) Homepage

    It is time to accept it. You see, Firefox is essentially abandonware. Mozilla does not want to make the browser anymore. I can't blame them - they probably figure that they have already lost to Chrome.

    So now they are seeing what can they hack together with all the good work they did in making the platform. Firefox went against Chrome and lost. Firefox OS went against Android and lost. Now Firefox OS is trying to not go against Google. They are trying to pick an easier fight.
    Google made Chrome OS - which arguably was not an idea that really took off. That's because Google kept this light "browser as OS" very limited and tied to the Internet. Neither has Google particularly encouraged Android on the IoT. The most Android did was make some entry into media stations and such.

    That's where Mozilla now thinks Firefox OS has a chance. Maybe FirefoxOS will do what Android and ChromeOS never accomplished beyong phones and netbooks. It's a gamble Mozilla is taking mainly because this way they won't have to compete with Google (yet).

    This also means that we should no longer expect them to fix Firefox in the near future.

  • Queue the haters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brianerst ( 549609 ) on Friday January 08, 2016 @12:22PM (#51262347) Homepage

    Every time a Mozilla article is posted on Slashdot, the entire conversation just becomes a huge slag-fest. You would have thought Asa Dotzler shot their dog.

    Mozilla is a fairly large company. It has resources to do more than a single thing at a time. As long as those things generally fall into their "Free, Open Web" philosophy and don't completely sap their ability to pump out Firefox releases, who cares?

    In the same post, you will have people complaining about the feverish release cycle of Firefox and also complaining about how they've "abandoned" the project. Or complaining about issues (like memory usage or speed) that haven't been true for years. Firefox is certainly within the ballpark of every other browser when it comes to speed, memory use, standards compliance, promptness of exploit fixes, etc. There are a few areas (multiprocess and 64 bit being primary) where they lag.

    All the freaking whinging about the Australis GUI (when you can get extensions that will drag you right back to 1999) or frequent release cycles is ridiculous. Mozilla always tried to be competitive with other browsers. Four years ago, people complained about slow release cycles vis-a-vis Chrome or talked about how clean the Chrome GUI was - Mozilla listened to those complainers and got a new set of complainers.

    There will also be a bunch of people recommending Pale Moon or Iceweasel or whatever. Those browsers wouldn't exist without Firefox - if Mozilla goes dark, those projects will run out of steam very quickly. It's healthier to look at them as distributions rather than alternatives - tweaked to a specific user base.

    I like Firefox because the extension ecosystem is still miles better than Chrome after Chrome has had 50+ releases to become competitive. I like Mozilla because they at least give one crap for the concept of a free, open web that isn't incessantly spying on you.

    This isn't to say Mozilla is perfect - they've certainly screwed up their share of times. But we should want a healthy Mozilla out there - your alternatives are Google or Microsoft monetizing your every click.

  • Why does Mozilla think FirefoxOS would be more relevant in IoT than it was on smartphones?
  • My first Android app was a garage door opener. No lie. Of course, it required the presence of a laptop tucked into the garage attic and wired into the garage door opener with a service running that would accept "OPEN" as an HTTP POST payload and open the door. The app itself just made the HTTP call.

    It was, for all practical purposes, redundant and actually kind of dangerous. If I accidentally hit the button on the app from work, it would happily pop open my garage door.

    So why did I do it? Because I cou

  • It's good to know that Mozilla is trying to make lemonade with its lemon. But I don't want FFOS on a late-to-the-party SBC when I have a few Raspberry Pi boards lying around and will soon have an Odroid and an Arduino Micro as well.

    No, what I want FFOS on is the viable smartphone they promised when FFOS was launched, so I can have some control over my own phone. I'm not interested in some lame IOT SBC, thanks just the same.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats