A weekend, an editor, and getting Mozilla's Boot to Gecko running on a Nexus S

With the iPhone and Android, and the entire mobile market as hot as it is right now, it's no surprise that everyone from Amazon to Facebook to -- dunno, McDonald's? -- is rumored to be hard at work on their own smartphone. Even Mozilla, the folks whose Gecko rendering engine power Firefox, have their Boot to Gecko project. And this weekend, Android Central's own Phil Nickinson decided to give himself a project of his own and get B2G compiled and working on the Samsung Nexus S.

Not a bad little project, actually. It took a couple hours, a working Nexus S and some hard drive space, but it wasn't too taxing on the brain. Once you have it flashed onto the phone, you can back it up using custom Android recoveries, then come and go as you please.

I'd give this a 6 out of 10 on the difficulty scale, only because I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to compiling code. But I follow directions pretty well, and Mozilla made things nice and easy. This is one you can attempt yourself.

You can watch the video above to see how the very-alpha alpha runs on the aging Nexus S hardware, but the most interesting part is the do-it-yourself angle. We're huge DIY fans here at iMore, and huge geeks, and we love seeing alternate takes on smartphone interfaces.

My only complaint? The interface looks a little conventional. I understand that familiarity is a feature, but we have iPhone and we have Android already, and if Mozilla is going to invest in yet-another-platform, it'd be nice to see a novel take. webOS, which tried a similar HTML5-centric approach, mixed the conventional with some forward-thinking ideas like pervasive cards, synergy, just type, and more. BlackBerry10 is going a lot with gestures and maintaining one-handed ease of use on large screen devices. Windows Phone 8 went with tiles and panoramas.

In future alphas and betas, it'd be nice to see Mozilla stretch the same kind of design muscles. Be a little daring. And show us paradigms better than what have come before. And maybe that's already on future roadmaps? We'll see.

In the meantime, if B2G looks like something you'd like to try and you have the time, tenacity, and materials you need, hit the link below and try it out yourself. Then let us know what you think.

Source: Android Central

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

A weekend, an editor, and getting Mozilla's Boot to Gecko running on a Nexus S


Being a Apple website, why not try to do it on a iPhone... Oh, wait that's right, Apple won't allow that. This is why Android phones are better. Complete control over ones device. :)

Yeah, you got so much control that...."Uh...well the camera don't work...uh...neither to these buttons down here....."

That's the problem with open-source software. It takes a lot more time to mature for the general audience unless you employ dozens (if not, hundreds) of "rock star" programmers.

I'll take a walled garden with fully functioning hardware and software over open-source any day of the week.

I've never ran a custom rom that didn't just work. Yes, some have issues the day they are released, give it a day or two and its fixed. I would rather have hundreds of options than just the same ol same ol options. Also on a nexus the hacking is extremely simple, just as easy as JB a iOS device. The best thing about open source is that anybody can view the files, fix the problems, and can be a better performing product than what is released.