When Firefox OS was first announced early in the year 2013, everyone was excited to try out the new operating system. They even launched a dedicated phone running the OS and nothing else. Soon people forgot about it, as there were much more powerful operating systems to choose from like Cyanogen, MIUI, etc. Even though Firefox OS was ported to many Android smartphones, not many were ready to take the risk of flashing the ROM and making it their default OS.
Mozilla developer Fabrice Desré thought that Firefox OS didn’t get the correct exposure among the users and came up with a solution as an attempt to fix that. He cooked up an easy-to-use APK file that can be installed by any end-user on Android to get the hang of Firefox OS. It’s as easy as it can get so let’s go on a test drive.
Installing Firefox OS
We’ll be sideloading a 64 MB APK to the phone. Therefore, make sure you’ve enabled the Allow Unknown Sources option in the Android settings. Having done that, download the B2GDroid APK from the Github page and save it on your Android SD Card.
Important: One thing to note here is that the APK only works for phones running on ARM architecture, and while most phones use ARM chips, it’d be a good idea to check before you start so you don’t come all this way for nothing.
Note: The app will be installed under the name of Fennec Fabrice, where the first word is the code name of Firefox OS and the second is the name of the developer who made the APK file.
The Test Drive
After the app is installed, press the home button on the phone and select Firefox OS as a default launcher. This will activate it. The first few minutes will be full of lag and I would recommend that you leave the phone alone for a while. Let the phone index the data on your device and reboot the phone, let’s say, after 15 minutes. After the reboot, you can go ahead and use the Firefox OS launcher.
Here are some screenshots.
The app not only gives a launcher, but also adds additional apps like Music, Email, Gallery, Clock, and Settings. The first time you launch each of these apps, it will take time for them to read the files on your device and build an index. Therefore, you will have two of all these apps on your phone. One will have the design of the Firefox OS and another one will be the default Android app. Even the notification drawer will be given a makeover.
Definitely Not a Daily Launcher Replacement
The app is just meant to test drive the Firefox OS and cannot be used as a default daily launcher. You will occasionally get a crash screen with the option to submit feedback and restart Fennec. To uninstall, open the App Manager on Android settings and uninstall Fennec Fabrice.
After you uninstall and press the home button, you will get the option to select your default home screen launcher and settings will be back to normal.
So what do you think about Firefox OS, of course apart from the lag, as this was just a virtual emulator. The real Firefox OS is very stable and gives a solid, lag-free performance. The only thing I missed while I was exploring the OS is the back and a menu button. What about you?
Last updated on 03 February, 2022
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