Firefox OS Update Mechanics

I’ve changed roles at Mozilla, and have been working a lot less with external groups we work with on Firefox and more with partners interested in Firefox OS. A lot of what I’m focusing on is around explaining how Firefox OS works, what makes it different from other mobile operating systems and ecosystems, and what’s required to bring a Firefox OS device to a given market. I’m not the only one (by far) doing this, but I do find myself assembling a lot of docs to help our potential partners understand things.

I’m going to start posting about what I’ve been working on both here and to the Mozilla wiki, and I’ll start with the update mechanics behind Firefox OS. Note that it’s by no means definitive, and particulars may change for a given deployment scenario. The docs I am creating are intended to lay out the concepts behind things (at a 5,000 foot view), so that people can understand what’s going on and what questions they need to ask from a product marketing, development, and operations point of view.

All of these docs are a work in progress, and will continue to be refined. I do vet them with people who know a lot more about the particulars than I do, but feedback’s always welcome from everywhere. In any event, if you’re interested, I’ll be adding this and others over the next few weeks to the Firefox OS/b2g info troves.

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tacking

I joined Mozilla in early 2007 to work with a number of our partners, assisting them with creation and distribution of customized versions of Firefox. My role also involved outreach with organizations that interact with Firefox, a little liaising between orgs, and a lot of advocacy of the Mozilla Foundation, it’s principles, projects, and its goals. We’ve come a long way since I started and, with the introduction of Build Your Own Browser and the framework behind it, custom distributions will require less care and feeding moving forward.

As a result, I’ll be re-focusing a little bit, and will be working with the Products team under Jay Sullivan. I’ll still be interacting a great deal with our partners, but will be focusing on improving interactions between Mozilla’s and our partner’s products and services end-to-end, with the end goal of improving the user experience. Mozilla Firefox for Android is going to be awesome (heck, it _is_ awesome already), and I’ll be working with Android OEMs to help integrate and distribute Firefox with their products. Finally, I’ll continue with outreach to our various partners to make sure they’re aware of what’s coming with Firefox 4 and beyond, and to make sure they’re aware of (and participate in) initiatives like Content Security Policy (CSP).

Some things won’t change. I’ll continue to work with our distribution partners, customization policy, and on Build Your Own Browser. With a bunch of folks in the community and here at Mozilla, I hope to push on Enterprise uptake, as well as product and service changes that will facilitate adoption behind corporate firewalls. I’ll also continue to act as a liaison where needed, and will help folks at Mozilla track down people in our partner’s organizations.

There’s a tonne to be done, and it’s almost overwhelming, but it’s also exciting as all get out. I’m really happy I have the opportunity to work in the areas I am. I’ll be posting an awful lot more, and might even post useful information finally on Twitter (although I make no promises).

So, those are my changes. I’m chuffed.

on using Firefox at work

We’ve had some good press in the last month or two, notably IBM’s announcement of Firefox as its default browser, and a Forrester Research report stating that Firefox has a 20% share in the companies they surveyed. I think it’s important that we have a good story for getting Firefox into the hands of people in the work environment, but the story needs to be put together. This is where you come in.

At the Mozilla Summit a week and a half ago, I gave a 30-minute talk on some of the challenges the IT groups that support us face with deploying Firefox. It’s not a new discussion by any means, but it’s something I’d like to raise awareness on within the community and actively contribute to addressing. I wanted to get people thinking about all the bits outside the product at a high level, and called out what I think are the important parts along with what we’ll need to do. It’s not exhaustive, but I think it got the point across, and there were some great follow-on conversations that are on-going.

Our mission is to promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the web. Making it easier for organizations to use our products in their workplace is a great opportunity to take that message to them. There’s a lot of people who use us at home, but who’d also love to use us at work. I want to help make that happen and, thankfully, I’m not alone.

The end game is to improve support for groups that are looking to get Firefox into the hands of their organization’s users, and to get the working group that addresses these problems spun back up to share how they do it with everyone else. There’s interest from organizations that want to use Firefox in their workplace, and a need for information on how to do it repeatably. The latter part is the tricksy bit, and I’m hoping to work on this with some like-minded individuals in the short and long term.

A few people have asked for the slides, so I figured I’d post them here. My presentation slides can be viewed using Google Docs, and if you want them in an editable format all you have to do is ask. I’d love to hear what you think, and would also love for you to get involved. If you’re interested in participating, add your name to the Working Group’s Participants section; I hope to reboot the group at the end of the summer, and will be in touch.

build your own browser maintenance jun 27 and 29, 2010

just a quick note that the build your own browser application will be down for maintenance on Sunday, June 27th between 0700 and 0900 Eastern (1100-1300 UTC), and Tuesday, June 29th between 0700 and 0900 Eastern (1100-1300 UTC). we’ll be increasing storage for customized distributions and pushing code updates (respectively), and the application will be unavailable for the duration of both windows.

if you think there’s any reason why this maintenance shouldn’t proceed, please let me know in the comments, or drop me a line via the BYOB contact form. I don’t foresee the maintenance taking longer than the allotted time, but sometimes stuff happens that can extend the window, and I’ll update this post if any additional time is required.

firefox 3.0.9 partner repacks

During the release process of Firefox 3.0.7, we added a section on Partner Repacks to the Releases page on wiki.mozilla.org. The idea behind the addition was to make people involved with the release process aware of the repacks, which depend on, and are affected by, the general release process and schedule. The information presented was a summary only, and was never really intended to provide detail about the repacks themselves.

Partner Repacks are versions of Firefox that are customized for a specific distribution partner. These customizations can include modified preferences and/or bundled add-ons, and are used by both Mozilla and third-party distribution providers. We call them repacks because all of the customizations are made by adding files to the default installer we use in the general release. There are no changes to any of the original files included in the general release, and all changes are additive in nature.

With the inclusion of Partner Repacks page in the 3.0.7 release, there were a few questions from the community regarding the repacks, and we realized there should be more information about them available. To that end, starting with the release of Firefox 3.0.9, we’re publishing information about all of the partner repacks we release on the Mozilla wiki.

From the Status page you’ll be able to see what repacks we’re generating, the customizations we’ve made to them, and where in the release process they are. Repacks will also be tracked by release, with information that will include which repacks are generated for a specific release, along with tracking bugs, QA results, and any changes that are made to a repack between releases.

There’s still a fair bit of work to do to better document the process, and over the next few weeks I’ll be adding additional information about repacks, how they’re created, and the guidelines we apply to those customizations. I’ll post more later, but wanted people to be aware that we’ve started publishing this information, and we’ll continue to build on it.

If you have specific questions on the repacks, or are interested in finding out more about distributing customized versions of Firefox, please see the Partnerships section of mozilla.com. Please note that distribution of a customized version of Firefox requires Mozilla approval, and additional information about distribution of the official installers as well as customized versions can be found in the Mozilla Trademarks Policy document.

about:rights in Firefox 3.0.5

Just a reminder that with the release today of Firefox 3.0.5, we’re no longer displaying a EULA on install, and the Mac DMG files will not display the EULA on mounting. (yay!) Instead, we’ll be displaying an infobar that makes people aware of the about:rights text, which outlines how Firefox is licensed, the first time Firefox 3.0.5 (and later) is run.

Please note that public distributions of Firefox are still governed by the Mozilla Trademark Policy, which is referenced in the about:rights text. If you’re looking to distribute customized versions of Firefox, you should contact us at partners@mozilla.com for more information.

If you’re currently repacking distributions, please ensure you do not incorporate the EULA with Firefox 3.0.5 (and greater) installers or DMG files moving forward.

Additional information on these changes can be found at the URLs below:

The original licensing proposal, as outlined by Harvey Anderson, following feedback from his postings on September 15th, and Mitchell’s postings on September 15th and 16th.

Bug 456439 for adding the about:rights text and a “Know Your Rights” infobar on firstrun

Bug 462254 for removing the EULA from the installer and DMG files

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

updated: added links to additional posts from Harvey and Mitchell to provide more information

major updates for partner builds underway

just a quick note to say that we’ve started offering updates to 3.0.4 to users who are currently running Firefox 2 distributions that have been customized for partners. there’s around 25 distributions with approximately 2M ADUs, and we’ll be staging the update offers for the various distributions over the next two weeks. the intent is to have all the update offers out by mid-december (before 2.0.0.19 is released). tomcat is lead on the QA effort, and Nick is the lead on Release Engineering. if there are any questions on the update process, please feel free to drop me a line via email, or on irc.mozilla.org (I’m “kev”, and can usually be found in #qa).