Firefox OS/Connected Devices Announcement

Hi @george, can you clarify to which channels/population the email was sent? Just figuring out if we need to cover some more communication channels (e.g. mailing list for localizers).

UPDATE: I’ve just seen the message reaching dev-l10n, thanks!

The Wiki only lists SmartTV, what are those others? Are there contribution opportunities there?

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Sunsetting Firefox OS is one thing — but killing off a community effort that finally had potential by removing every single person on staff from supporting it is utterly sad and disappointing (although, not at all surprising, as it has happened before, with the Tablet Contribution Program, for example…). :disappointed:

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Why do you think the Z3C foxfooding devices will still be useful? We won’t have usable new builds of Firefox OS for that phone, and none of the IoT projects in discussion require a Firefox OS device (and rightly so).

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How will we distribute apps for Firefox OS TVs when we will discount Firefox Marketplace?

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The phones might not necessarily be running an Firefox OS build as we know it today.

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Hi,

Why don’t you keep a really stripped down and maintained version of FirefoxOS with the essentials. I still believe that a version of FirefoxOS with service workers enabled is really interesting.

If we have Service Workers and Manifest support the OS doesn’t need a marketplace to integrate apps/sites and I guess that gecko is gonna to keep developing such technologies.

Even if Mozilla doesn’t have resources to keep developing apps like Mail, Calendar, Gallery, Dialer, etc… (apps that a phone does need) You could move out those apps to external sites integrate as https site with service workers, stop worrying about security, let https sites access to all API. I mean it would be a geek project not a commercial one, anyone who runs FirefoxOS in his phone has the complete responsibility of what he is doing.

Also moving all but the system to externals repos could benefit to contributions. Now it’s quite intimidating to contribute to any app of FirefosOS because all happen in gaia repo.
Again I repeat my point, it would be nice to Mozilla keep a very simple version of FirefoxOS with the essentials. It wouldn’t need that Mozilla keep maintaining all the apps, even if the a OS for a phone can’t make calls.

If Service Workers have a good impact in the web world and bluethoot API gets tranction FirefoxOS would be useful to explore new concepts and a good way to interact with IOT.

Please don’t throw the towel on phones, it’s been slow and hard but to me it seemed that finally the OS was coming along nicely with addons and “pin the web” (SW and manifest).

It’s not realistic to expect that the community will keep FirefoxOS for phone without the Mozilla engineers as it is today.

Tanks!

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We are looking at options to align the b2g stack more with the desktop one, by removing as much b2g specific code as possible. That should allow easier maintenance and evolution without paid staff involvement, but getting there is far from being a trivial effort.
Stay tuned!

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So, how will the Z3C foxfooding devices be flashed or changed to the new Firefox OS build or whatever it will be called?

The team is working on the exact strategy, expect more new by the end of March.

To Ari and the team,

Removing staff from involvement with Firefox OS after May is the same thing as killing it. I do believe this is an extremely poor decision for reasons that I will outline below, none of which have been dealt with so far.

  • The Connected Home will be mainly interacted with from mobile devices. We all have this fancy dream of a Web of Things where devices near us are discoverable and reached from web browsers. May they be a Firefox OS powered TV or your new Samsung Galaxy Laundry Machine. Without Firefox OS we don’t have a compelling hacker platform to create the meaningful control platforms needed for the the connected home. You just lost your hacker friendly platform, now you will always play second fiddle to native implementations on mobile devices. Android, iOS and WP stacks for the connected home will always have access to device APIs that they will make private. Our browser will not be able to play the same game. Just cue why phonegap was invented.
  • WebRT is great and we should be investing in it: I can’t believe how bad this announcement could go until I found out that you are removing one of the most compelling technologies in our browser. Just check out how popular it is to build software using Electron/CEF/NW.js, tons of good software are being built with webkit based runtime. Heck, the most popular editors for web development, Atom and Brackets and Visual Studio Code are all built with WebRT-like technology. Even Windows 10 is shipping a web runtime so that you can ship software with nothing but web technology and access to the device APIs.
  • We are keeping the foxfooding program but no one will be developing the OS: How more absurd this can be?! Why don’t simply tell we already have the phones so we’re giving them away anyway. It makes no sense to engage volunteers with a FRICKING PHONE OS TESTING PROGRAM IF WE HAVE NO PHONE OS PLATFORM ANYMORE. This will lead to burnout and attrition. People will leave. Also, why asking people to actively work on ports to other devices just to drop things like that. Why we had a hackathon in Paris this month and ported the SMARTPHONE OS TO NEW DEVICES???

This decisions will cause the web developer community to migrate to competing technologies. Without WebRT we don’t have a way to make desktop software and web software bridge. Electron will rule the desktop. Linux, Windows 10 all ship something similar to WebRT. Apple might just do the same soon, and we’re removing it, not only abandoning, we are actively removing features. Very bad job.

I am really extremely disappointed at with this decision and the rationale behind it. I don’t think the decision makers involved in this understand what Firefox OS and WebRT and its WebAPIs are to Mozillians and the developer community. It may have failed to gain traction with end-users, the carrier/OEM partnerships might not have worked the way we wanted but if there is one group that was not complaining about our system and was actually quite happy fiddling with it was web developers, mozillians and hackers. Now, we’ve just sidelined them.

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Since the foxfooding program was pretty vague in the first place I guess you could change it to include connected devices, but right now it’s entirely smartphones. What I’m hearing is foxfooders should keep using their smartphones while we don’t work on the smartphone experience. Who wants to be a part of that? Either kill off foxfooding smartphones entirely or support the entire smartphone. TCP got stuck in a similar situation and it just drove away contributors.

Also, if people are contractually not allowed to flash builds on their device, how are they supposed to get new versions if there are no staff to build them? (The difference between 0 staff and 1 isn’t much however)

On a side note, if these decisions were being discussed, why are we still handing out Z3Cs? We gave out almost 100 at FOSDEM which are now pretty much useless in terms of data collection (not to mention we probably won’t get them back).

So I’m contracted to use the device as my daily driver, which will no longer get any useful updates, to test a sensor? Again, why would I want to do that?

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Does ‘involved’ mean ‘doing the work we at Mozilla do not want to do’ or are you actually thinking of running an open, collaborative project now? The FirefoxOS project so far has been run with Mozilla doing whatever it wants to do, talking to itself, and announcing decisions (much like this announcement). There has been no consultation with external contributors as to what the core priorities of the project should be. Hence Mozilla lost a year on the change to the ‘vertical homescreen’ then launched into the ‘new security model’ neither of which addressed the core issue users and developers faced: the inability to upgrade and consequent fragmentation of the platform.

For outsiders, participating in FirefoxOS sucks: there is no point of contact for communication, there is no one who can make decisions which benefit the community outside Mozilla, discussions are run internal to Mozilla rather than out in the open, and on, and on. Absent a credible signal of a change of approach (as in listening rather an announcing), my recommendation is for outsiders to steer clear of this project. Since FirefoxOS is an internal initiative of Mozilla, wait until they finish or give up before putting in the time to learn and work on it.

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Does that mean we can stop testing the current build on our Sony Z3C devices? If the current build isn’t going to be used, then I do not see a logical reason to continue sending test logs.

Thanks for your time!

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Will we still use “Firefox OS” as brand or not?

Michael, I’ll put more details here on them in the next 24 hours.

Flaki, there will lots of people on staff for Connected Devices. Community effort and collaboration with the Participation team is one of the main three pillars of the Connected Devices strategy…so think of this as a pivot to new and different products/services to continue giving consumers a choice.

? For what? Buying a new TV every 10 years? Or trying to figure out, why the new washing machine running Firefox OS is not connecting to Apple HomeKit or their Android phone? Why should I consider using Firefox OS for my connected devices project, if Firefox OS for phones was dropped this “fast”? There are more “stable” tools I (as a developer) can choose right now. Arduino, Raspbian, Windows 10 IoT Core … Microsoft didn’t give up Windows Phone/Mobile since years. Makes more sense to invest into this platform?

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Let us be clear on one thing:

Firefox OS is the only mobile operating system that is open source, developed in a transparent way and receptive of contributions, that has shipped devices

Android in the form of AOSP is basically source dump. Roadmaps are not public, contributions rare. We are throwing away something unique and important. WP, iOS, BB10 are not open.

I hope that Ari knows this. That we are Mozilla and we used to care about having open source, free software alternatives. Not everyone has a computer or a tablet but smartphones are always increasing their market share. Now, after Firefox OS demise, there will be no truly open mobile platform for the Web to thrive.

I hope everyone involved understand that.

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Yes, you can stop testing with the current build. We are, however, asking community members who received a Z3C to hang on to it. We hope to be able to reuse them for testing other Connected Devices products. We don’t know yet what form that software will take - that will depend on the outcome of the product innovation process.