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“Mobile Firefox” takes on phones, devices

Oct 11, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

The Mozilla Foundation will ship a mobile version of the popular Firefox browser in 2008, according to a blog post from Mike Schroepfer, VP of engineering. Schroepfer writes that “Mobile Firefox” (MoFi?) will be based on Gecko 1.9 with “significant changes” for improved performance and footprint.

“We are serious about bringing the Firefox experience and technology to mobile devices,” Schroepfer wrote in a post on his blog. “People ask us all the time about what Mozilla's going to do about the mobile web, and I'm very excited to announce that we plan to rock it.”

The Firefox browser has already been adapted for mobile devices by Nokia (story), while last week ARM announced plans to sponsor ports of the open source browser to additional mobile platforms. Projects like Ubuntu Mobile are also expected to adopt the open source browser.

When it reaches completion, Mobile Firefox will compete with other mobile browsers based on Apple's open source WebKit engine, such as Pleyo's Origyn Web Browser, as well as proprietary lightweight browsers from Opera, Access, and others. Traditionally, Firefox's Gecko rendering engine has had a larger footprint than WebKit, but has been better supported by web developers due to Firefox's popularity with Windows users. Firefox has more than 100 million users, Schroepfer claimed.

Schroepfer feels that much can be done to optimize Gecko 1.9 for low-resource mobile devices. He wrote:

“We are wrapping up work on Gecko 1.9 and there is room post 1.9 to make significant changes to the architecture for improved performance and memory use on devices. Things like reducing the use of XPCOM, unifying memory management under MMgc, and other improvements from Mozilla 2 will make Mozilla a great platform for all devices from mobile phones to your desktop. The use of a single source base gives us the leverage that makes OSS work so well.”

Schroepfer also feels that there is “plenty of room for innovation” in mobile devices. In particular, he suggested that Mobile Firefox could one day let users easily sync up their bookmarks and other user data using technology similar to that pioneered by the Joey project.

Schroepfer made it clear that Mobile Firefox will support ARM processors, likely in addition to Intel's forthcoming line of mobile x86 chips. He enthused in particular about how Mobile Firefox could someday run on ARM Ltd's just-announced multi-core capable Cortex-A9 SoCs (system-on-chip processors).

More details can be found in Schroepfer's complete blog post, here.

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