Curious About Firefox OS? Run It on Your Desktop

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What better way to learn about Mozilla's new mobile operating system than to get some hands-on experience with it?

While you can't run the Firefox OS on a smartphone yet, Mozilla will let you run it on a computer desktop.

The operating system's engineering team announced this week that they will begin posting nightly desktop builds of Firefox OS online for anyone to play with.

Desktop builds of the OS, codenamed Boot2Gecko (B2G), will be offered for all major PC platforms -- OS X, Windows and Linux. The builds are limited to a desktop and can't be sent to a phone or tablet, the Firefox OS team cautions.

With the expansion of access to the OS, its development team hopes to beef up its community of testers for the software. Those efforts have been "culturally challenged" because, up to now, distribution builds have been hamstrug by legal entanglements, the team says.

For developers of web apps, the desktop builds give them an opportunity to create and test apps on the system, the team notes. What makes Firefox distinctive as a mobile OS is that it is based on standards-based Web technologies -- technologies such as the Gecko HTML rendering engine, the Linux kernel, and HTML5 and JavaScript.

"If you’re looking to help do some testing," the team adds, "these desktop builds will also give you an immediate opportunity to play with and help us write testplans and file bugs."

Mozilla began working on its mobile operating system in 2011 and in February 2012 it announced its first deal with a carrier, Telefónica, to market smartphones based on the OS. Six more carriers, including Sprint, were added in July. Alcatel One Touch and ZTE will be producing handsets for the new OS, which are expected to start appearing in Brazil at the beginning of 2013.

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