Mozilla released an experimental “PiFxOS” build of Firefox OS optimized for the Raspberry Pi, with an early focus on robotics and media players.
At the Mozilla Festival (MozFest) in the UK, held Oct. 24-26, Mozilla revealed a version of Firefox OS for the Raspberry Pi single board computer, and said it would “prepare and maintain a way for current Raspberry Pi board owners to download and flash their current hardware with Firefox OS for Raspberry Pi.” Initially, the main focus appears to be on robotics and media player applications.
Test board for PiFxOS
Copies of the “PiFxOS” build were handed out to MozFest attendees, but the bleeding edge build is “literally demoware,” according to a Foxberry Pi Demo page, one of several Mozilla wiki pages linked to in a report from the Register. The build runs within a chroot environment within the installation for Raspbian, the default Linux distro available for the Pi. Warnings posted on a Mozilla “Foxberry Pi” Page about instability and security risks were echoed on the main Mozilla developer page for the project, which calls the build PiFxOS, and warns in large letters that it’s “WILDLY INSECURE.”
PiFxOS is actually based on a version of Firefox OS for the Pi created by Oleg Romashin and Philip Wagner over a year ago. The release did not initially support input devices, among other restrictions, and nothing much seemed to come of it.
Mozilla is now, however, making a major push for this embedded version of its HTML5-flavored version of Linux. Mozilla is seeking developers to help it bring PiFxOS to a point where it achieves “parity with Raspbian/RPi as a hobbyist environment” by offering support for sensors, control motors, LEDs, solenoids, and slave boards. A modified version “will be able to fly a drone,” says Mozilla. A longer term project is to offer a DOM/CSS platform for developing robots and similar devices “by building a declarative model of a reactive system,” says the company.
PiFxOS booth at MozFest 2014
(click image to enlarge)
(Source: The Register)
PiFxOS will also be “competitive with other media player OSes available for RPi,” says Mozilla. Other goals are said to include improvements to make the build competitive with IDEs for the RPi such as IDLE and Scratch.
The media player focus dovetails with a Kickstarter funded Matchstick project to create an open source HDMI stick computer that runs Firefox OS and offers casting capabilities. The device, which runs on a dual-core, Cortex-A9 based Rockchip RK3066 system-on-chip, will be sold by a Mozilla-backed startup called Matchstick.tv.
At CES in January of this year, Mozilla announced a Firefox OS version of a Panasonic TV, which has yet to appear. At the same time, Via Technologies announced a deal to pursue embedded technologies based on the smartphone-oriented OS. Via, which had already announced Firefox OS support for its APC Paper mini-PC and APC Rock SBC, said it had entered into a formal partnership with Mozilla to provide support and development services for future Firefox OS based “new device form factors” beyond smartphones and tablets. Once again, however, not much seems to have emerged from the project.
Meanwhile, Firefox OS continues its steady expansion in the budget smartphone market. The Linux distribution now appears on a dozen, mostly budget-priced smartphones offered by 13 operators in 24 countries, according to a Mozilla update released earlier this month.
Recent product launches include Telefónica debuts in El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, as well as Deutsche Telekom’s expansion into the Czech Republic and Macedonia. KDDI plans to test the Japanese market for Firefox OS in December. Most of the releases involve the ZTE Open II or Alcatel OneTouch Fire C phones, but Intex and Spice are the manufacturers behind two $35 Firefox OS phones that were launched in India about two months ago.
More information on getting the demoware version of PiFxOS, as well as links to developer pages, may be found on this Mozilla page. No timetable was announced for an alpha or beta release.