Open Engineering

Mozilla builds software very differently than any other company, because, well, we are not a company. Mozilla is an open-source project backed by a not-for-profit foundation for the public benefit. For us open-source doesn’t just mean the source is out there. We actually care about Open Engineering.

Open from the start

The Boot 2 Gecko project, which is today known as Firefox OS, started on July 25, 2011 with an email to Mozilla’s dev-platform mailing list by Chris Jones, Brendan Eich, Mike Shaver and myself. In that email we expressed our opinion that as an open-source Mozilla community we should build a web-based smartphone. As a rallying cry and gathering point, we created an empty github repository and Chris and I started filing the first bugzilla bugs for Firefox OS, and started hacking on the first lines of code for Firefox OS.

Firefox OS was completely open from day 1, including the design process as well as the implementation. As we are building Firefox OS today, you can follow along live and jump in and help. You can see the same source live as our device and carrier partners. You don’t have to work for Mozilla (many Firefox OS contributors do not) and you don’t have to ask for permission to help. Just join our IRC channels and mailing lists, and get involved in the design or the code.


Mozilla’s large and diverse base of contributors always included organizations and not just individual contributors. With Firefox OS, the direct engagement of large organizations in the design and implementation of our products has increased tremendously. Qualcomm, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, and many others have large product and engineering teams committed to the project, building Firefox OS alongside with us. They are able to do so because of the openness of our processes, and they are motivated to do so, because Firefox OS is the only truly open smartphone platform where everyone who is willing to help can have an equal stake in. Mozilla doesn’t own Firefox OS. We merely care for it.

Last week we wrapped up a major Firefox OS engineering milestone. Leading up to that milestone, Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs hosted a work week for the project. More than 140 engineers from Mozilla and our key partners attended. We use these work weeks to get engineers into one room who are usually distributed all over the world. Mozilla has offices on every continent, and so do most of our partners.

Below you can see a picture of the team. In the background is our milestone dashboard, showing the total number of bugs remaining, as well as the number of bugs between the frontend team (Gaia, 26) and platform team (Gecko, 50). The frontend and platform teams raced each other for the whole week. On Friday the Gecko team was almost able to catch up, with only 8 bugs remaining by the time the Gaia team hit 0 bugs. Those 8 remaining bugs landed over the weekend after the work week in Berlin.


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