Many, many months ago, we brought you news that HP took a good hard look at webOS, and decided that the only plausible direction to take it in was to make it open source. We may never say this again, but good call HP. Considering that most media outlets openly speculated about when webOS would be taken out of its misery, making it open source could very well be its last chance at being relevant. Well, the long wait is over, as HP has just launched the Open webOS Project.
HP has done quite a bit of work for OWOSP. According to the official Open webOS Project website:
It has taken a lot of hard work, long hours and weekend sacrifices by our engineering team to deliver on our promise and we have accomplished this goal.
The Beta release is comprised of 54 webOS components available as opensource. This brings over 450,000 lines of code released under the Apache 2.0 license, which is one of the most liberal and accepted in the open source community.
The launch page goes on to describe all the features and fun that developers have at their disposal. This includes not one, but two build environments and a plethora of other features. Some more include:
OpenEmbedded was a natural choice for many reasons:
Its widespread community adoption
Excellent cross-compiling support for embedded platforms
And support for multiple hardware architectures
Needless to say, this is exciting. While it’ll probably never reach the relevance or the popularity of Android, the idea of there being a second open source mobile OS to play with is pretty great. There could be some awesome development for webOS, and much of it could spill into Android territory if developers can get webOS running on Android devices. That would be a complete turn from the top thread in the webOS development and hacking forum, which deals with running Android on webOS. There are other possibilities as well, as our Portal Administrator Will Verduzco once pointed out:
Imagine an HTC HD2 capable of running 6 mobile OSes.
With this release, HP is hoping to bring back the dead. And for once, they are actually doing a good job of it. For more info, feel free to check out any of the links above, or you can always go to the OWOSP official website.
February 13, 2012 By: Ian Stacy
Since HP announced the release of the webOS source code, the recently abandoned operating system has grown a rather loyal following. Progress has been made in homebrew development and in custom builds for webOS native devices. Many forum members have been clamoring for a port of webOS to Android devices for several months now. Initial ports were expected to appear for the Motorola Droid or its GSM counterpart, the Milestone, since the devices share the same OMAP3 3430 processor with the Palm Pre (the very first native webOS device).
Recently an HTC EVO 3D was spotted running a build of webOS 3.0, the version that came with the notorious HP TouchPad. Originally posted by Ryan Hope (@_puffthemagic_) on Twitter, the 3 still images of webOS running have now been supplemented with a YouTube video that can be found here. While not functional enough for actual use, the operating system boots without issue. Ryan originally started work on the port before HP released the source code for webOS. With the release of both the Android kernel and the full webOS source porting progress can only move forward from here. Could this mean widespread availability of webOS ports on Android devices soon? Depending on interest level and developer involvement, it is a possibility!
December 21, 2011 By: Joseph Hindy
Most of the new development on XDA is in the genre of kernels and ROMs but every now and then a gem like this falls into our lap. Everyone meet Fruit Cake Maker. XDA user samcripp has released a tool that will, as he puts it:
allow the user to create a picture perfect .img from your boot and system partition. It will then create an update.zip from it…a self contain ROM, already ready for installation, already inside an update.zip.
What that tells me is that this beast of a tool will take what’s currently on your Motorola Triumph and turn it into a fully functional, fully flashable ROM. That is pure win. If you have a Motorola Triumph, are feeling bold and understand that XDA and samcripp are not responsible for anything bad that happens, then check out the thread for additional details and download links.
For those who aren’t familiar with Fruit Cake Maker, it’s actually a pretty widespread project supporting several other devices. You can check it out here for more details!
If you’ve tried this on other phones or have tried it on the Moto Triumph, take a sec and leave a comment to share your experience.
Since HP announced yesterday that it would contribute WebOS to the open source community, there’s been a lot of uncertainty as to its future. Of course, it’s nice to have another open source platform, and yes, WebOS hasn’t been killed off, so that’s the good news; what this means for the platform, developers, and, ultimately, consumers, however, is another question altogether. Just making WebOS open source doesn’t necessarily stop it from fading into irrelevance.
First and foremost, this move is an easy way to stop losing money: a formal discontinuation would involve write-offs on earnings, which may cost more than simply letting a few people continue working on it, with the community taking care of the rest. In this case, it’s worrying that HP didn’t sell off its WebOS/Palm assets, which implies that it couldn’t find any buyers. But for now, let’s give HP the benefit of doubt and assume the open-sourcing was actually a conscious decision.
Despite little consumer success, WebOS has always had a very active homebrew community, which HP is obviously counting on for help in further development. According to a poll on PreCentral, most current WebOS users are quite happy with this news; after all, open source is the reason Android took off, right?
Android, at the time of its introduction, was clearly marketed as the anti-iPhone: to device vendors that wanted a finger-friendly alternative to Windows Mobile and Symbian, carriers looking to diversify their portfolio, and consumers who couldn’t afford or didn’t want an iPhone. Still, initial sales were lackluster; it was only with massive marketing campaigns for the original Motorola Droid and high-end devices like the HTC Desire that Android picked up steam in early 2010. With that, and lots of backing from Google, came the developers and apps, which finally established Android as a viable platform.
WebOS never had any of these. Palm alone didn’t have enough cash, and even HP had no chance against Google, HTC, Samsung, Motorola et al. Most importantly, the platform never attracted many developers, with only about 7.000 apps in its app catalog (compare that to over half a million for Android and 40.000 for Windows Phone).
So, we’re coming to the final pitfall that’s hindered WebOS in the past and will continue to hinder it even more in the future: hardware. At the time of its original launch in mid-2009, the Pre was a quite decent device, but two years later, HP simply wasn’t able to compete in the race to faster processors, bigger screens, and better design. Therefore, the big question is: How are people actually going to use WebOS in the future?
That is, on what devices?
While HP is considering to make WebOS tablets in 2013, they definitely won’t make any more smartphones. And there aren’t any obvious reasons why other hardware vendors should use WebOS instead of Android or Windows Phone, both of which have stronger developer support.
In the end, what’s left are current owners of WebOS devices, who, despite everything, can be happy with HP’s decision. Since the TouchPad firesale, even its most fervent supporters should have realized that WebOS is never going to become a mainstream success; instead, they – and all those deal hunters who made HP last quarter’s no. 2 tablet maker – can now look forward to the community messing around with the source code, fixing bugs and implementing new features.
But, hey, who knows. If everything goes well, WebOS would become much more open than Android. It’d be developed by the community, and not a single company. And, the WebOS division would be able to operate like a start-up, hopefully spurring even more innovation. It could be used in niche products that require custom operating systems, and whatnot. With its well-designed UI, it definitely has potential, and the open-sourcing could prove to be a new beginning. Even though that’s unlikely.
At least it’s not dead. Yet.
(A personal note: Of course I’d also like to see WebOS ported for my HTC HD2. That’d be amazing.)
It really was a shame that it was already too late for WebOS when the HP Touchpad came out. It had quality hardware, and has proven that it can survive being poked and prodded by hackers and modders of every skill level. In many ways, the $99 firesale that happened when HP decided to dump their stock of the TouchPad was the best possible thing for it. Not only did it get the device into the hands of people who were still unsure about whether or not they wanted a tablet, but also the hands of developers from every walk of life. The end result was an influx of new users and developers that would otherwise not have come in to play. It seemed like the HP Firesale was going to be a one time deal, until a recent note from HP announced they were going to release a whole new batch of the HP Touchpad.
HP caught themselves in a bit of trouble when they announced the original firesale for the TouchPad. They had already ordered a pretty significant volume of parts to build more of their wayward tablet, and tried to cancel those orders. Fortunately for us, that wasn’t an option, so HP was made to purchase and assemble a whole new batch of the TouchPad. Now, they need to do something about all of those shiny new tablets they have just lying around. Starting this Sunday the 11th, the HP ebay Store will have a fresh supply of touchpads for sale. There’s been no mention of what price point these devices will start at, but I have a feeling we will see that $99 pricetag come back for the base model of the HP TouchPad. Hopefully we will see yet another influx of new users and developers looking to explore their new tablet again.
December 1, 2011 By: Russell Holly
There isn’t a sadder story in the mobile world than that of WebOS. It had such potential as a platform. Multitasking was pretty good, the modders and hackers really took a liking to how much you could play with it, and it really seemed like it had a pretty bright future ahead of it. Unfortunately, it suffered from a sever case of really awful hardware. With the exception of the Touchpad (which has a forum on XDA), which was sadly too late to save the platform, all of the hardware that ran WebOS was inadequate. Having already suffered the blow of being sold to HP, the platform seemed like it was on its was out after the TouchPad failed. With the livelihood of over 600 employees, not to mention my desire to have a fourth contender in the smartphone fight hanging in the balance, there’s been quite a bit of pressure to know what the next step is for WebOS. According to a recent interview with the new CEO of HP, Meg Whitman, we’re only two short weeks away from knowing for sure.
According to an interview in Le Figaro, Whitman plans to announce their decision regarding the wayward platform in two weeks. She was recently quoted saying that HP currently “didn’t know what kind of company it was” and that they were still figuring that out. Since her arrival as CEO, Whitman has already recanted the decision to spin off the computer side of HP’s business, so who is to say that the same won’t happen to WebOS? Plus, there’s the possibility that WebOS could be licensed out? The rumors have been gathering that Samsung and HTC might be looking for ways to escape the Android bootprint should Motorola and Google join forces, could HP be planning to just be the software delivery mechanism to WebOS? Right now it’s all speculation, but what is certain is that this decision in two weeks will do a great deal to shape the public opinion of Meg Whitman as CEO.
Oh, Meg Whitman, I wish I could say that I had any more faith in your ability to direct WebOS than I did from your predecessor. Seeing as how your job was to evict Mr. Apotheker from his former position as CEO and your complete and total lack of experience in either the PC industry or the Smartphone industry, my guess is you would like to make WebOS disappear. You know that dissolving a 600 employee strong department will seriously tarnish public opinion of you early on in your new career, and you know that as of right now WebOS has been nothing more than a tremendous expense to the company you are now tasked to run. So please, for your sake, have an actual plan in two weeks.