Foxtrot Update Jan 2015

Hey folks. Welcome to 2015!

About half of the people participating in the Foxtrot program have still not received Flame phones. I’m sorry about that. I’m hard at work on this but it depends on getting the right builds on the phones. We aren’t going to send our Foxtrot testers new phones with builds that brick the device randomly and we don’t yet have the process set up to deliver only functional updates.

We have delivered a couple thousand Flames to our very brave “unstable nightly” testers and developers, and thousands of others have purchased Flames to develop against, but we’re still behind on getting our “stable nightly” Foxtrot builds and update channel ready. As soon as that’s are ready, we’ll flash the remaining 100 or so Foxtrot phones and send them out to contributors.

I don’t have an ETA, but it’s a high priority.

(If you have not received an email update on Foxtrot, check your spam filter. All Foxtrot participants were automatically signed up for a mailing list for just this kind of update and information. Unfortunately, it appears that some people have removed themselves from the mailing list and others are not seeing the mails because they are ending up in a spam filter. If you removed yourself from the list, I dropped your entry from the Foxtrot program with the assumption that you were no longer interested. If you remember removing yourself from the mailing list but didn’t want to be removed from the program, you can email me and I’ll get you added back. The list is not optional though. It’s how we’ll contact you for program feedback.)

Also, it is very likely that we’ll be expanding the program to several hundred more people over the coming weeks. Stay tuned here for updates on how you can join.

Flame Distribution Update

About three weeks ago, I ran out of Flame inventory for Mozilla employees and key volunteer contributors. The new order of Flames is arriving in Mountain View late today (Friday) and I’ll be working some over the weekend, but mostly Monday to deliver on the various orders you all have placed with me through email and other arrangements.

If you contacted me for a Flame or a batch of Flames, expect an email update in the next few days with information about shipping or pick-up locations and times. Thanks for your patience these last few weeks. We should not face any more Flame shortages like this going forward.

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, tonight, this is what I was working on.

Join us in celebrating the launch of Mozilla Firefox 1.0. Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 9, from 2-7pm PST (that’s 22:00-03:00 GMT), we will be hosting AIR MOZILLA live from the Mozilla Foundation HQ, a 5 hour web event, including a live webcast and text chat. The show will feature interviews and discussions with key Mozilla staff. Questions from the audience (including the media) from the chat room will be fed into the show. The event will be hosted here at You’ll need QuickTime for the audio streaming. We’ll also use both IRC and a web-based text chat solution.

2-7pm PST, 22:00-03:00 GMT. That’s 22:00-03:00 on Tuesday night in Germany. In Japan, that’s 07:00-12:00 Wednesday morning.

Here at If Spread Firefox gets overwhelmed by the high traffic, head on over to

Live webcast + text chat with key Mozilla people.

Yep, not only is it the 10 year anniversary of Firefox, it’s also 10 years since the inaugural Air Mozilla “broadcast”.

We’ve come a long way. So much more still to do :D

Foxtrot Update 2014-11-05

Hello Foxtrotters!

Our order of Flame devices is expected to arrive in the next week to ten days. In parallel, our integration partner is working on the Foxtrot builds of Firefox OS and the update system that will give y’all monthly development snapshots.

Once the devices order arrives in Mountain View, and I’ve got the Firefox OS Foxtrot image from our partner, I’ll spend a day flashing the image onto the devices, packaging them up and sending them out. It’s my intention to see the devices arrive, flashed and ready to receive the first official Foxtrot testing build over the air by the end this month.

MozFest Flame Phones

Dancing Flames
Image via Flickr user Capture Queen, and used under a CC license

Even though I wasn’t there, it sure was thrilling to see all the activity around the Flame phones at MozFest.

So, you’ve got a Flame and you’re wondering how you can use this new hardware to help Mozilla make Firefox OS awesome?! Well, here’s what we’d love from you.

First, check your Flame to see what build of Firefox OS it’s running. If you have not flashed it, it’s probably on Firefox OS 1.3 and you’ll need to upgrade it to something contemporary first. If you’re using anything older than the v188 base image, you definitely need to upgrade. To upgrade, visit the Flame page on MDN and follow the instructions to flash a new vendor-provided base image and then flash the latest nightly from Mozilla on top of that.

Once you’re on the latest nightly of Firefox OS, you’re ready to start using the Flame and filing bugs on things that don’t work. You’d think that with about five thousand Flames out there, we’d have reports on everything that’s not working but that’s not the case. Even if the bug seems highly visible, please report it. We’d rather have a couple of duplicate reports than no report at all. If you’re experienced with Bugzilla, please search first *and* help us triage incoming reports so the devs can focus on fixing rather than duping bugs.

In addition to this use-based ad hoc testing, you can participate in the One and Done program or work directly with the Firefox OS QA team on more structured testing.

But that’s not all! Because Firefox OS is built on Web technologies, you don’t have to be a hardcore programmer to fix many of the bugs in the OS or the default system apps like Dialer, Email, and Camera. If you’ve got Web dev skills, please help us squash bugs. A great place to start is the list of bugs with developers assigned to mentor you through the process.

It’s a non-trivial investment that the Mozilla Foundation has made in giving away these Flame reference phones and I’m here to work with you all to help make that effort pay off in terms of bugs reported and fixed. Please let me know if you run into problems or could use my help. Enjoy your Flames!

Private Browsing Coming Soon to Firefox OS

This week, the team landed code changes for Bug 832700 – Add private browsing to Firefox OS. This was the back end implementation in Gecko and we still have to determine how this will surface in the front end. That work is tracked at Bug 1081731 Add private browsing to Firefox OS in Gaia.

We also got a couple of nice fixes to one of my favorite new features, the still experimental “app grouping” feature for the Firefox OS home screen. The fixes for Bug 1082627 and Bug 1082629 ensure that the groups align properly and have the right sizes. You can enable this experimental feature in settings -> developer -> homescreen -> app grouping.

There’s lots going on every day in Firefox OS development. I’ll be keeping y’all up to date here and on Twitter.



Firefox OS 2.0 Pre-release for Flame

About 4,000 of y’all have a Flame Firefox OS reference phone. This is the developer phone for Firefox OS. If you’re writing apps or contributing directly to the open source Firefox OS project, Flame is the device you should have.

The Flame shipped with Firefox OS 1.3 and we’re getting close to the first major update for the device, Firefox OS 2.0. This will be a significant update with lots of new features and APIs for app developers and for Firefox OS developers. I don’t have a date to share with y’all yet, but it should be days and not weeks.

If you’re like me, you cannot wait to see the new stuff. With the Flame reference phone, you don’t have to wait. You can head over to MDN today and get a 2.0 pre-release base image, give that a whirl, and report any problems to Bugzilla. You can even flash the latest 2.1 and 2.2 nightly builds to see even further into the future.

If you don’t have a Flame yet, and you’re planning on contributing testing or coding to Firefox OS or to write apps for Firefox OS, I encourage you to get one soon. We’re going to be wrapping up sales in about 6 weeks.

I’m Back!

PROTIP: Don’t erase the Android phone with your blog’s two-factor authentication setup to see if you can get Firefox OS running on it unless you are *sure* you have printed out your two-factor back-up codes. Sort of thinking you probably printed them out is not the same thing as being sure :-)

Thank you to fellow Tennessean, long-time Mozillian, and WordPress employee Daryl Houston for helping me get my blog back.

Foxtrot is Here

Image via Flickr user Helena Perez García, and used under a CC license
Foxtrot image via Flickr user Helena Perez García, and used under a CC license
We’re excited to launch the first, small-scale, FLAME reference phone program, “Foxtrot” for Mozillians.

We have about 200 devices available for members of our community (volunteers and employees) who are not part of the core OS dev teams, who will use the phones regularly, and who will participate in product surveys, focused testing efforts, and be available to help us gauge the quality of specific features and the overall product.

To apply to the program, head over to our Foxtrot Application:

The application takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

200 phones means that not everyone can participate in this program but not to worry, there will be other opportunities for receiving free Flames.

Flame – Firefox OS Reference Phone

Attending the Mozilla Summit 2013 and talking with our community about the exciting future of Firefox OS, the one concern I heard voiced most often was the difficulty of participating in Firefox OS. It was simply out of reach to most people I talked to.

No doubt, Firefox OS is an open source project. The code’s been there since before day 1. But access to source code does not a successful open source project make. Firefox OS felt to many I’ve spoken with to be far less participatory than Firefox the browser. The primary reasons for this, IMO, are the lack of widely available Firefox OS hardware and regular Firefox OS testing binaries.

With Firefox the browser, anyone anywhere in the world can download and get updates for a Mozilla-hosted binary of Firefox on a daily basis. They can download the active development “Nightly” build to see the changes that landed in the browser since yesterday. They can also download and get updates for the more stable “Aurora” and “Beta” channels. And because Firefox runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux, most people had no problem trying it out on their existing computers.

Firefox the browser is easy to try out. Firefox OS is not.

With Firefox OS, only Mozilla employees or employees of Mozilla partners can download development builds and get updates. This is because there are a few pieces down in the phone’s software stack that are not Mozilla’s code and for which Mozilla doesn’t have license to distribute. And, even if our community could download development builds of Firefox OS, the hardware to put that on has been very limited. If you’re not in a region with a Mozilla partner shipping Firefox OS phones, your options were very limited.

Mozilla tried to hack around the problems a couple of times over the last year, with limited success.

Flame is Mozilla’s investment in solving those problems for real.

Mozilla partnered with a company called Thundersoft to design, build, and update a phone that contains all of the hardware we’re targeting in the next year or so. Thundersoft has already made and delivered 2,000 Flame phones to Mozilla and we are rolling those out now to the core Firefox OS teams and community. We’ve got the retail site up which is selling an additional 5,000 Flame phones, and we’re hard at work on making nightly builds available to these devices.

The Flame phone won’t fix everything, but it should go a long way towards empowering our community to participate in Firefox OS and to generate the kinds of community impact on scale that we’ve seen in our Firefox browser community for years.