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.

Tablets Still Shipping

We’ve had some bumps in the road in distributing the tablets to the Tablet Contribution Program participants. Because of the overlap in timing with our Flame reference phone program and the distribution of those devices, we are over capacity for what our one heroic shipping person can manage. We’re about 25% of the way though shipping the tablets and will strive to get the remainder out in the coming week or two.

If you received a confirmation that you were going to receive a tablet, you will be receiving a tablet. When your tablet ships, you will get an email with a shipping tracking number. Sorry for the delay. In the mean time, you can start your adventure at the Tablet Contribution Program wiki.

Tablets Start Shipping This Week

The Tablet Contribution Program is getting under way with the distribution of 500 tablets to our community starting this week. We’re not a giant operation here, so it’s going to take us a bit of time to package, address, and ship 500 devices to dozens of countries. Your patience is appreciated.

When your tablet ships, you will receive an email with tracking information. If you have not received that email, it means your tablet has not shipped yet.

Tablet Contribution Program Application Results

Today we informed all of the folks that applied for free tablet hardware through the Tablet Contribution Program of the results. As expected, demand far outpaced available devices so applicants will receive an email letting them know if they’ve been selected or not and next steps.

We will have additional hardware programs coming, including a 7″ tablet and the Firefox OS Flame reference phone so if you didn’t get a tablet in this round, don’t worry. There’s more to come.

If you applied and you didn’t see an email in your inbox today, please check your junk/spam folder. The email was from the address Mozilla@e.mozilla.org and the subject will have the “Firefox OS Tablet” in it.

This is really quite exciting — the first tablet device for Firefox OS and the beginning of a community project to make progress ahead of the Mozilla Corporation’s core team. If you want to learn more about the program, visit the TCP wiki page.

And last but not least, I want to say a big thank you to some amazing Mozillians who stepped up to make this program go. Thank you Colin Frei, Alfredos (fredy) Damkalis, Andrew Truong (feer56), Andre Garzia, Sebastian Hengst, Gabriel Gómez, Viking KARWUR, Anuj Agarwal, Benlamara Abderahemane, Benny Chandra, Mehmood Ali, Luigi Tedone, Steve Lee, Shahmir Khan, Jennie Rose Halperin, and Rami Khader. This program is moving because you all are moving it. Thank you.

Tablet Contribution Program Applications are Open

(Re-posted from the Mozilla Hacks Blog)

Last month, Mozilla announced the Tablet Contribution Program to help deliver Firefox OS to the tablet form factor. Today, we are excited to open the Application for Hardware Support to Mozillians all over the world who will sign up to contribute to Firefox OS coding, testing, localizing, and product planning.

The first device for this program is the 10″ InFocus tablet from Foxconn, with a 1.0GHz Quad-Core Cortex-A7 processor.

Foxconn's InFocus F1 New Tab running Firefox OS Brand/Model: Foxconn InFocus
Processor: A31 (ARM Cortex A7) Quad-Core 1.0GHz w/ PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
Storage: 16GB
Screen: 10.1" IPS capacitive multi-touch @ 1280x800
Camera: Dual cameras, 2MP/5MP
Wireless: 802.11b/g/n
Ports: Micro SD, Micro USB, headphone
Other: GPS, Bluetooth, Gyroscope
Battery: 7000mAh

Today, we’re also excited to announce an upcoming addition to the program, a 7″ Vixen tablet from VIA, with a 1.2Ghz Dual core Cortex-A9 processor.

VIA Vixen running Firefox OS Brand/Model: VIA Vixen
Processor: WM8880 (ARM Cortex A9) Dual-Core 1.2Ghz w/ Dual-Core Mali 400 GPU
Storage: 8GB
Screen: 7" capacitive multi-touch @ 1024x600
Camera: Dual cameras, 0.3MP/2.0MP
Wireless: 802.11b/g/n
Ports: Micro SD, Micro USB, Mini HDMI, headphone
Other: Bluetooth, Accelerometer
Battery: 4000mAh

We have limited quantities of these developer devices so we’re looking for dedicated contributors who can commit to regular testing and reporting of defects, identifying and documenting feature gaps with competitor tablets, triaging incoming bug reports, localizing and translating UI, prioritizing work and building roadmaps, hacking on existing features and bugs, defining new features and experiences, and more.

If that sounds exciting to you, and you’ve got time and skills to work with Mozilla to make a real difference in the tablet space, apply now for free developer tablet hardware from Mozilla.


“Netiquette, a colloquial portmanteau of network etiquette or Internet etiquette, is a set of social conventions that facilitate interaction over networks, ranging from Usenet and mailing lists to blogs and forums.”*

I appreciate your enthusiasm for all topics Mozilla. And I love a good back-and-forth in the comments. I also want to keep discussion here productive so I’m letting y’all know that I have been and will continue to remove wildly off-topic comments or other attempts at hijacking a discussion.

If you’re trying to get my opinion on some unrelated issue, there are other forums — Twitter‘s probably the best, that work much better.

* “Etiquette in technology.” Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia.

Firefox OS Happenings: week ending 2014-02-07

In the last week, 86 Mozilla contributors fixed about 180 bugs and features tracked in Bugzilla at the Firefox OS product and Gonk OS.

A special thanks to new contributor Sukant Garg [:gargsms] who fixed his first Gaia bug this week, 966211 – Screen should not timeout when I have a running stopwatch”.

Exciting discussions in Firefox OS land include “You’re not crazy – the browser really is gone.” and related “wow. such rocketbar.”, both in mozilla.dev.gaia.

On the website compatibility front, we’ve had some great recent wins that let us stop special casing Yahoo, Scribd, Urbanspoon, deviantART, and several OLX regional sites. Thanks to the dev teams at those sites and to Mozilla’s awesome Web Comptibilty team.

The big Firefox OS news items this week is the Line messaging app for Firefox OS.

Finally, if all goes well, I’ll have the Firefox OS Tablet Contributor Program application form ready next week with tablets shipping to our community by the end of the month. We’re still sorting out some details that could delay things a wee bit, but we’re getting very close, so stay tuned. (And if things are going really well, I’ll also have some news about a second tablet device coming to the program.)

Firefox OS Happenings: week ending 2014-01-31

In the last week, at least 96 Mozillians fixed about 200 bugs and features tracked in Product:Firefox OS and OS:Gonk.

These are a few of those that caught my eye:

[Rocketbar][meta] Get rocketbar patches landed in master This is a significant part of the Haida Firefox OS UX update that’s happening right now. Rocket Bar is the system-wide search and addressing feature that lots of other Haida UX is built around. Very exciting stuff.

B2G Wifi: Support Wifi Direct gives us the DOM API and related implementation for Wi-FI Direct in Firefox OS. Wi-Fi Direct, earlier called Wi-Fi P2P, is used to easily connect devices with each other without requiring a wireless access point.

We got a couple more good tablet fixes:
[Flatfish] make Context menu not fill fullscreen
[Flatfish] Add pathmap to support Bluez on android 4.2.2

A few nice usability wins:
[B2G][Settings] Developer settings are too hard to access
[Search] Add ‘Install’ text before Marketplace Title
Provide a way to fetch the message threads in reverse order
[Browser] It’s not possible to move the cursor to the last character in the URL bar

And here’s a sampling of the performance and memory improvements.
Rewrite net worker in C++
[1.3] Launch latency of SMS app needs to be improved
Reading objects from datastore has serious performance and memory consumption problems
[b2g] convert all vorbis files to opus to improve memory usage
Bluetooth leaks every blob

We’re also getting closer to the launch of the Firefox OS Tablet Contribution Program. Stay tuned to this site and hacks.mozilla.org for updates and the application form.  Once again, it’d be useful for you to have your Mozillians profile already filled out and a Bugzilla account established.

Firefox OS Happenings: week ending 2014-01-24

In the last week, 84 Mozilla contributors fixed about 165 bugs and features tracked in the Firefox OS Bugzilla product.

Well-trafficked newsgroup/mailing list discussions include Julien Wajsberg’s “Using jshint as a commit hook” thread and Madhuri Jain “Guide for Gaia” question where you can find some great links to getting started documentation.

The Firefox OS Google News and Twitter buzz of the week was dominated by the Firefox OS Tablet Contributor Program announced here on this blog, at Hacks and with a recent big boost from Mozilla’s The Apps Blog.

Also in the news, Japanese operator KDDI’s President Takashi Tanaka answered a question on a conference call saying that KDDI intends to sell Firefox OS smartphones in 2014, noting that the phones would target “the geek demographic and not the majority of users.” This comes only shortly after the largest Japanese operator, and one of Japan’s other two big players, NTT Docomo, announced they were dropping their plans for a Tizen phone release.

Finally, we got a major win with Yahoo! now recognizing Firefox OS as a mobile browser. Great work by the Web Compat team and Yahoo!.