FireFox OS and Android: Dual boot on Smart Phone

  Jun 24, 2014 5:31:52 AM

Smartphones have become integral part of our life, where user likes to be connected always and use creative applications on shiny smart phone user interfaces. Today Android has captured the smart phone market and maturing which is completely open sourced. Operators and customers are looking towards an option alternative to Android. This is to enable user to have more options while buying phone and take advantage of different technologies. Users will be able to use HTML5 applications being developed by over 10 million HTML5 application developers. The number of HTML5 application developers is very big compared to about 1,00,000 iOS developers and about 5,00,000 Android developers.

Firefox Smartphone operating system from Mozilla which is called as B2G (Boot to Gecko) meets all the features of smart phone with HTML5 application programming.  Gecko browser engine interfaces with below GONK HAL layer to talk to the hardware. Firefox GONK layer is built on top of android which means Linux kernel and core libraries of Android are adopted to execute Gecko and GAIA frameworks.

Booting Firefox on any smart phone hardware platform needs to have minimum android version ICS ver4.0 running. By migrating Firefox components on top of android core libraries and android Linux kernel Firefox booting can be achieved. Though it looks simple but pretty complex as lot of java and build environments modifications are involved.

Firefox booting sequence follows android booting language with little deviation by using its own B2G specific configuration file. With appropriate configuration of components it is possible to boot either android or Firefox on single platform to achieve dual boot. In Sasken, Firefox OS has ported on QUALCOMM chipset and we have achieved a use case.

Authored by Vinay Harugop

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