I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last six months focusing on HTML5 “apps”. There continues to be profound confusion about defining what exactly an HTML5 “app” is and that’s OK. One of the great things about HTML5 is the wide variety of ways that you can choose to use it.

One of the prospects that I’m most excited about is the ability to create applications with HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript that provide user experiences like that of a natively built apps.

Mozilla has been working on both a “Web Run Time”  to enable this type of development and a Marketplace for really broad distribution of such apps.

As a non-profit organization, Mozilla has limited funds and resources. We don’t have thousands, or even hundreds of software developers in our engineering teams to point at any given problem at any particular point in time.

What we DO have though is a great global community.

The size of our team has required that we not build the entire Web Run Time for all devices at the same time. To start with the largest user share we have focused on Windows and Mac first.

Though I use Windows, Mac, and Linux – I prefer to do my web development on Linux and I’ve missed the apps support on Linux.

My wishes have been answered by Marco Castelluccio. If Marco’s name is familiar to you it may be because he recently won the Mozilla Dev Derby contest for his IndexedDB entry.

Marco, a student, wrote and submitted the Web Run Time support to Firefox for Linux and it’s now available in the Firefox Nightly channel.

How cool is that?! – Real production features submitted by a community member on the same time line as the company’s own code.

Here is what the apps experience looks like on Linux.

First you need to install Firefox Nightly (as of this writing) and you don’t want to do it through the package manager / Nightly PPA as it tends to lag a bit. (If what I just said doesn’t make sense to you – just ignore it. Installation  is simple.

You will net Firefox Nightly for Linux at http://nightly.mozilla.org/

Download Firefox NightlyThe size of our team has required that we not build the entire Web Run Time for all devices at the same time. As the largest user share we have focused on Windows and Mac first. Though I use Windows, Mac, and Linux – I prefer to do my web development on Linux and I’ve missed the apps support on Linux.

Download the correct version, extract the files and put them where you want them.

If you double click on the extracted “firefox” binary file it should run (make sure permissions are set to allow execution).

Of course you can create a desktop shortcut or if you are using Ubuntu Unity you can pin Firefox Nightly there as well.

AS of this moment, the Mozilla Marketplace is in a “limited” beta so if you are not a Mozillian of a developer who previously submitted an app you won’t yet be able to get access to the store, but I’ll show you the acquisition process in as seen in Linux with Marco’s code.

When I click Log In I am prompted to authenticate with BrowserID.

BrowserID Log In

Note the message that confirms the Marketplace is not yet open to the general public.

Mozilla Marketplace Opening Soon

Now I’ll use the search feature to find my Round Time app.

Search Timer Apps

Mine is the second one so I’ll click to navigate to the KO Timer page on the Mozilla Marketplace.

When I click on the Install Button I get the permissions prompt.

Marketplace Install Permissions Prompt

When installation is compete I can search for and find the “KO Round Timer” in the application launcher (I’m using Ubuntu)

When I run the app here is what I see.

KO Timer Start Screen

You can also run the same app in Firefox at http://timer.koscience.com/

Running as an app on Ubuntu I can stick the KO Timer to the Unity Launcher…

KO Timer Stuck to Unity

Progress is a great thing and THANKS to Marco for his awesome work !