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LG launches open-source version of webOS (sdtimes.com)
380 points by spacemanspiffy on Mar 19, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 144 comments



Actually this is the second time webOS is open sourced.

First time was by HP after the acquisition and Palm more or less went poof, just about 4 years ago.

In fact, the original repositories are still available on GitHub:

https://github.com/openwebos


According to https://pivotce.com/2018/03/19/open-source-webos-now-brought... "they open sourced…well…bits and pieces of it back in 2012." So it wasn't a full release.


It was also launched AS webOS back in 2009. PalmOS was something different.


Glad you posts this. I thought I had imagined that


@~


When I had to go from my Palm Pre to an android phone it was a giant leap backwards in functionality and usability. They got so many things right from the get-go with WebOS, but it would have had to have been perfect to break into the already existent duopoly.

The ship has long since sailed and android now is almost certainly better than WebOS ever was, but this does make me nostalgic.


I still miss my Pre+ every day, the hardware and software worked together like magic - the slide-out portrait keyboard was by far my favorite feature, one that I miss with the current trend of all-screen slates. Ironically the small screen didn't feel super-cramped BECAUSE of the keyboard, I'm really upset that I never got to experience the Pre 3 which should have hit a nice middle-ground.

I don't know if there's room in the market for WebOS to make any kind of significant resurgence, but considering how many people show interest in tools like React Native and Xamarin for mobile apps these days it might stand a better chance than 2-3 years ago.


Given the overall vector of web apps towards progressive web apps... one can hope there may be a re-discovery.


Google hired webOS's lead UI designer who led the creation of Material Design at Google: Matías Duarte[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mat%C3%ADas_Duarte


I just watched a 7 year old demo of the HP touchpad and it's astounding how many of the UI/UX elements later showed up in Android

https://youtu.be/DTLRCF1-fYg


I think I prefer the old Mochi project (a refresh for webOS UI) he was undoubtedly involved in.

[overview image](http://enyojs.com/mochi/Mochi%20panels%20with%20email.png)

[design specs](https://github.com/enyojs/mochi/wiki/Mochi-Designs)

[repo](https://github.com/enyojs/mochi)


> When I had to go from my Palm Pre to an android phone it was a giant leap backwards in functionality and usability. They got so many things right from the get-go with WebOS, but it would have had to have been perfect to break into the already existent duopoly.

It wasn't a duopoly at the time though the first public release of webOS followed Android's by just a few months, Symbian and LiMo/Tizen were still players in potentia, …. And between the innovative yet intuitive interface and web-based tech[0], many people were super excited by webOS.

The issue is the Spring exclusivity (distant third) hurt, Palm flubbed the original hardware quality-wise, and they didn't have the breadth (or balls?) to build a consumer-oriented version (purely software interface) and leave the hardware keyboard behind.

[0] though that also caused real issues wrt performances.


Actually, a webOS phone with a software-keyboard was in fact coming down the pipeline. https://www.webosnation.com/windsornot-webos-slate-smartphon...

One could also (as was tradition) infinitely hack around most of the Palm Pre line to enable it in the end. Just before HP gave up the webOS ghost, it was a popular homebrew thing to do for a certain contingent.

As for the original hardware, it could have really used time when there really wasn't any time to spare in the competitive landscape.

I also had a (Developer) Pre 2 which was incrementally better, and while that was a nice piece of kit, the Palm Pixi was a horrible misstep (with its minuscule size and--gasp--magnetic headphone jack) I first witnessed at their unveiling in San Francisco. The Pre 3 was the only webOS phone that had a genuine shot left, but the HP Touchpad debacle pretty much sealed it. There was even a smaller HP Touchpad in the works at the time (fully working prototypes are found now and then) to diversify the line.


You're mixing up two phones. the Pixi was a solid phone (no slider) with a tiny screen. The Veer (worst product name EVAR) was the tiny slider with a magnetic jack. And more slippery than a bar of soap.


You're right, it was in fact the Veer! Thanks for the correction. (Derp.)


I had all 3 Pre phones, and yes, the Pre 3 really was the best of the line, and was up there in quality with most of the Android phones of the time. But everybody else was moving at light speed and Palm (and then HP) could not keep up.

Quite sad.


I really like the pixi and thought it was the perfect size. I also think virtually every smartphone sold today is too big, so maybe I'm the outlier.


I'm an outlier too, as I think virtually every smartphone sold today is too small. :-)

Using a Samsung C9 Pro now, which has a 6" screen with a useful 16:9 ratio, so it's wider than the phones now like the Note 8 which is 6.3" but a silly 18.5:9 ratio.


Even beyond smartphones (I never used WebOS on a smartphone), it was amazing on the HP TouchPad. I acquired one after the fire sale and used it waaay past it's EOL. Sad that it just stopped booting one day. :-/


I still have one of the 32GB developer units from when HP was trying to entice people to write for it. I ran Cyanogen and Evervolv on it for a while.

It will, with a bit of fiddling, run Nougat (see https://forum.xda-developers.com/hp-touchpad) but the various pieces of the support tools, ex. novacomm, are decrepit and compiling them on current Linux and toolchain didn't result in a working tool so you have to bodge around with old binary releases. Given how slow the device feels with Marshmallow and then Nougat, I will probably save my pennies for a newer tablet.

As to not booting, they're really hard to brick. They can however run down so that even the battery icon won't show. Try charging it using the original charger or other that can do 2A for a day or two then attempt a hard reset.


I’ve got 3-4 of the developer units and still marvel over how responsive and easy to use it is. I think it was better than on phone honestly. Haven’t used the phones in years though, so maybe memory is jaded. Will need to pull one out of my drawer and see if they still charge (mixture of Palm Pre versions and one other I forgot it’s model name).


I've got 3 of them in various states of working I'd happily ship to an enthusiast who'd value them. I've long since switched to the iPad Pro, but I'm too nostalgic to throw them away / recycle. What a wonderful device it was, just poorly price (before the fire sale).


Same - I have one from the firesale laying around, but can't bring myself to get rid of it. Was a really nice device, and the OS was a dream.


My kids loved it as I had it loaded up with their favorite Disney movies, and they had figured out how to operate the camera. The interface was simple and intuitive enough for a toddler to use. They still call the new iPad a "TouchPad".

I continued using it as a glorified e-reader until the Apple Pencil--taking notes and markup PDFs is what finally made me switch. I wouldn't go back as iOS has finally surpassed what Palm/HP had half a decade ago, but it still holds a place in my heart. Kinda like the Amiga, Commodore 64, and BeOS.


I'm reading this on one. With Android KitKat (lineageos). It's stable and fast enough to browse and read pdf. Funky, someone actually built Android 7 ans even 8 Roms. V7 is OK but a bit slower. V8 runs but since they started on february, there were large issues with play store, the os boots and runs fine, which is amazing in itself, but most apps fail.

I still have the webos partition and booted it after trying v8 and god how Swift it was(sic). Would love to see the LG version run here too.


I loved the Touchstone inductive charger 7 years ago...

I've always wondered why it has been so slow to be adopted for other phones and tablets.


I had one too. I loved that thing.


Anecdotally, WebOS survives on TVs.

I love my LG webos TV, overall I find the experience better than on my previous TV powered by Android..

Except that WebOS can't read mkv files and VLC is not available either :/

It is sad how app support can kill the usefulness of an US


My LG OLED65B7P can definitely play .mkv files, at least ones encoded with H264 and H265. Not sure about other codecs though.


My LGTV definitely can play .mkv files (much to my surprise). We bought it last Christmas, and it's running WebOS 4.

It's model OLED55B7A


Mine is OLED65C7P, which should be pretty much the same software wise.

So :

- maybe I am doing it wrong ? I doubt it since it should be pretty straightforward to plugin a HDD, click on video / watch.

- IIRC mkv is just a container, it might be that we are just playing different formats.


Video codec support isn't WebOS's job. Different TVs have different hardware profiles, different rendering pipelines and can support different codecs.

That being said according to this https://www.displayspecifications.com/en/model/f32a955 MKV should be supported.

I've got a similar TV and MKV works on mine.


Given TVs these days, it's also possible the firmware version you have is missing mkv support.


I had the original Pre. While the software still had a string beta feel to it, I could deal with it as the good out weighed the made for me for the most part. The problem for me ended up being the hardware, especially that terrible jelly keyboard which on phone without an onscreen keyboard(that would come in a future webOS update I believe) ended up being the deal breaker and I think I returned it in favor of a Blackberry because I was still all about the keyboard(which I still miss).


That's interesting because I loved the hardware, with the keyboard being a big highlight; I liked it better than any RIM keyboard I had previously used.


That jelly keyboard was incredible. If there were a competitive Pre on the market today, I'd buy.

My brother purchased the Pixie. It was kind of neat, too, but... that rubberized backing started pealing off and it started to get pretty gross.


We're a decade past the webOS launch and it's still a better UI for everything.

Android widgets like Vista widgets, OSX widgets, or KDE widgets failed at their vision because it's usually easier to open an application when you want one.

The webOS card interface scales to tablet beautifully (I think it was actually better on tablet) and with some additions would scale to desktop as well.

The UI was successful (IMO) because it wasn't actually different. Someone (at Nokia IIRC) once compared iOS navigation to having a house where every door faced outside and you have to go outside to go around to the room you want. Android made the same mistake. Both have taken step after step to deal with the effects without really addressing the cause.

On a desktop, opening apps is secondary. You have a few favorites in your dock for quick access. After that, you either open your start menu or launchpad and go hunting else you Cmd-SPC and type the name. Once you have everything open, switching and managing applications is the name of the game with lots of tools to make this happen.

The default paradigm in webOS is the same. A dock of favorites with an app drawer plus JustType to find less-used apps. Aside from that, managing apps is front-and-center. Compare groups of cards to OSX horizontal spaces. You go from group to group and managing apps is the default. Once again comparing to OSX, webOS has a consistent menu in the upper-left and a settings menu in the upper-right.

Android and iOS now try to mimic this, but it's always a secondary feature. Home is default with app switching being someplace you go to to see your list of 100 "open" apps. Both have decided that users who are perfectly capable of using a menu on their desktop are incapable of doing so on a phone.

Another not really mimicked feature of webOS was its service integration. Having all your different accounts working together in one central place seamlessly is an experience nothing comes close to.

Even comparing to the web they were ahead. EnyoJS was/is a component-based framework. You could compare it to React with manual view updating (which is actually more powerful if less easy on the developer). This was in the backbone, knockout, early angular days.

The flaws of webOS were blatant and fairly fixable. They used Qt for the GUI, but didn't allow native apps to be built using it (and didn't have a native SDK until way after they should have). They use Qt's version of v8 and webkit which were terribly out of date and (as a result) much slower than they should have been. The underlying Linux OS never had even basic optimizations put in place. The hardware was sub-par and memory was too restricted at the time. There were also rough edges in the UI, but nothing worse than iOS or Android at the time.

Today, loads of phones have more than enough memory. The processors are fast. Web standards now have things like wasm or webworkers that make apps much more powerful. This is the time when webOS really could shine.

In a day of 4+GB phones running the fast processors of today, much better web standards w a web phone really is more relevant than ever.


I do think widgets are incredibly useful for a certain set of things. I keep an agenda on one page of my homescreen (no need to open an app to glance at what's coming up) and a widget to control some things in my house (no need to open an app just to dim lights or switch to a different preset).

I liked having the CPU/RAM usage widget in a small corner of my secondary monitor on Vista/Win7 as well.

I think the main point is that whether this kind of functionality is in a pull-down menu, a widget, or a gesture away, I like being able to specify a few things that I can access quickly without opening a fullscreen app.


What are you talking about? We never used QT for the GUI. All apps where done in HTML.


The apps, yes.

But the OS itself uses Qt and Chromium to display any HTML5 content, as the project page from the linked article states.

This contrasts with, say, Firefox OS - it rendered directly to an OGL-ES framebuffer.


Did you read the whole comment?

Or even finish the whole sentence before running off to make this comment?


I miss every Palm device I've ever owned. PalmOS was far more of a productivity platform than much that came after it.

The headstart the Palm folks had in Mobile OS/vision went into WebOS.

If I had the ability to run WebOS on a Pixel or Google device I would seriously consider it.


Embarrassing admission: I still carry a Treo 700p running Palm OS 5.4.9. Not as a phone, I have my work phone for that. It's for carrying personal info. The OS fits me hand-in-glove so I love it.

I tried converting to Android but every app I tried (and I tried dozens!) either had some critical missing feature or cost too much. And the work phone is locked down, so I can't put any personal info on it.

So I have a bump in the left pocket and the work phone on the right hip. A Google Voice number as my personal "cell" which gets forwarded to the work phone.

I imagine I'll die with a Treo in my pocket. They're reliable, but if one breaks they're $15 on eBay in almost new condition. Since one can still find the original Palms also on eBay, I expect to be able to find replacements for one of the last Palms made for a lonnnnng time.


Your bigger problem is going to be EVDO networks shutting down...


I don’t use it as a phone. It’s just a classic PDA. Got the work phone and Google Voice for calls/Internet/email.


The only way this becomes interesting is if you can deploy it to your TV. Then you could comment out all the "features" and dumb your TV down to where it's not spying on you and showing you ads.


In what application does a LG TV show you ads?

I get the spying part, as long as we talk about the standard "needs a internet connection to do whatever a Smart TV does these days".

Or is there more to it?


> In what application does a LG TV show you ads?

The home screen/main menu shows ads on the left hand side all the time.

In my case, in Australia, it's often "BigPond Movies" which I'm not a subscriber to.

See for example this screenshot from a review...

https://www.idgcdn.com.au/dimg/1200x1200/dimg/img_20170518_1...


Interesting. No, I don't have that.

Maybe a country specific thing or even outright prohibited in Europe.


Probably just country specific, we have the ads here in Finland as well.


Not prohibited in Europe (at least, not in the UK) - I get them on my LG too.


yes, you can get rid of that quite easily though and preserve your viewing privacy (LG collect all they can on you as well). You just have to block your TV's MAC address at the router.


Why is your TV connected to your network if you're going to block it's address at the router?


When letting the TV onto your network but restrict its internet access, you can still stream content from a DLNA capable media server onto your TV.


If you have a newer webOS tv, clicking on the 'apps' button should take you to an overlay that displays ads along with the installed apps in a row at the bottom.


For those looking for the source: https://github.com/webosose/build-webos.git will get you started.



any leads on a ready-made qemu image for WebOS (OSE)?


This a solid five years behind schedule but I'll take it.

I believe any solid grab for a more open handset os starts here.


This is built on OpenEmbedded, which goes back to OpenZaurus, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenZaurus

"In its original form, the project was a repackaging of the SharpROM, the Zaurus's factory supplied kernel and root filesystem image. In order to make the Zaurus's OS closer to the needs of the developer community, the SharpROM was altered through the use of bugfixes, software additions, and even removals in order to make the package more open.

The OpenZaurus project was revamped completely, becoming Debian-based built from source, from the ground up. Due to the change in direction, OpenZaurus became quite similar to other embedded Debian-based distributions, such as Familiar for the iPAQ. OpenZaurus, in its current form, facilitates an easy method for users to build their own custom images. The efforts of Openzaurus, along with other embedded Linux projects, were integrated into the OpenEmbedded Project, which now provides the common framework for these projects."


I'm not an active user of either, but have been following this story since the HP Touchpad firesale.

The LuneOS project seems to be more of a viable spiritual successor to WebOS than WebOS itself, and has been under slow but active development since the split.

It is based on modern and open projects (where possible), with an android compatibility layer which should hopefully reduce app gap issues.

http://webos-ports.org/wiki/Main_Page


I was among the first batch or two of webOS app developers in 2009 (into webOS' smartphone death in '12) and wow, this makes me nostalgic all over again. I'm going to need to have a look at this when I have some time.

Good to see LG keeping it even tangentially relevant.


LG TVs thanks to WebOS are the only TVs with a software experience that makes sense. Cool to see this news happening.


I have a LG TV and I have not seen a more confusing and annoying UI to be honest. There is a delay when navigating the menus, leading you to pressing twice instead and then more lag, continuing in a cycle. Not to mention the TV is slow to start and after having it on for while, seems to just be getting slower and slower until you restart it.


Which model do you have? I don't get this performance issue on mine. Web OS has always been a little laggy in responsiveness though, but not so slow I end up pushing a button twice.


I'm surprised to see so many negative comments about WebOS.

I recently got a LG TV with WebOS 4 for ~$700. Not the cheapest possible but by far also not a high end TV.

I was pleasantly surprised how well WebOS works and how nice the look of it is. Watching TV, Netflix, Twitch or DLNA streaming works great as well.

Some comments mentioned a cursor. But that's not the main input device, I usually use the arrow keys on the remote. I only saw a cursor on the (as usual on such devices) useless browser.


I love WebOS on my TV.

AndroidTV was good, but WebOS is mostly pretty great !

However, I wish my TV had shipped with AndroidTV instead.

While the experience is IMO slightly inferior, there are many video I can't watch with WebOS. On Android, I would just have to install VLC.


I disagree, I feel LG has done a horrendous job on the software side -- always-on recording (illegally), ads that you cannot remove on their $5k flagship tvs, delays/loading times for plain menus.


Probably mine being very recent and ads free changes the experience.


where exactly are the ads? I have one and I've never seen an "LG ad". There are apps with adds(i.e. youtube) but it has nothing to do with LG.


I bought a 55C7V last year which shows ads. When you open the menu there are ads on the left side (usually for streaming services), and again in the app store at the top of the screen.


My LG is older(first OLED generation) so I guess that's why it doesn't have this new "feature". Ads in AppStore make sense but displaying them in the menu is outrageous.


Which smart TV platform do you think gets it right?


My own PC plugged into a dumb TV.


I don't own one, so perhaps I'd get used to it and start to like it more, but I really dislike any WebOS TV that I've used briefly elsewhere. In particular, I hate the idea of a cursor -- it both gets in the way visually, and is hard to control. The UI also seems very busy. I much prefer Roku, Apple TV and Android TV's interfaces.


Have you tried the "smart" remote that works like the Wiimote controller (but noise-filtered)? With that the cursor actually becomes an advantage IMHO.


Yup, like that comes with the new OLEDs (is there even any other version?). It does work well enough, but for some reason it always feels cognitively tiring, as I'm trying to aim for no reason and hit the right target, when I could just get there via few clicks on a normal up/down/left/right remote. I never liked the Wiimote either for similar reasons though, so maybe it's just me.


it's actually working great and it's easy to use in practice...


Easily my favorite smart TV UI I've ever been burdened with, for what it's worth. I doubt we'll see a smartphone push with it... but hey, a guy can hope for a new open source OS option.


Is there a premium TV brand where I can pay $100 extra to not be burdened with smart TV features?

I just want an on/off button, a good panel, and a single HDMI input. The TV displays what comes in from the HDMI input.

From the searching I've done, apparently this is too much to ask for.


I've actually never had a hard time finding dumb TVs. (I have three 2015 model Samsung dumb TVs on my desk, the smart TV variant cost about $20 more per unit.)

Where it becomes unavoidable is if you want certain features. Like my LG is the last generation of 3D TV, and one of the only TVs with Passive 3D on a 4K panel. I found that all 3D TVs were smart TVs, but if you're just looking for a panel, numerous brands will sell you a panel.

Also, note that smart TVs are only "smart" if you connect them to Wi-Fi. It's not like they have cellular radios. Don't give them Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and they'll do pretty much just what you want them to.


I've seen smart TV's with annoyingly long startup times, more similar to a low end cell phone than a television, but I haven't investigated enough to know if that's a consistent issue across manufacturers.


Re: features, I'm planning to get 4K HDR for my next TV, which appear to be all smart. But all the smarts I need are already happening in my receiver and various devices connected through it, so anything other than displaying a single video input is unneeded (and unwanted).


I worry about getting periodic warnings about not being connected, it's something that I'm going to have to ask them to demo to me in-store next time I need a new TV


Plenty of dumb TV available here in Germany.


swedx.se maybe


The whole build-system talks about using a Raspberry Pi, but what of existing webOS products?

I'd love to be able to have picture modes that would remove all image processing to reduce input lag, and get the image as intended, especially when I'm using the TV's native resolution.

Perhaps around here: https://github.com/webosose/avoutputd/blob/master/src/video/...


I dug through some files in the build-webos repo and it appears that the raspberryPi is the only build target. I am looking for a pre-made qemu image so I can at least try out/look at webOS OSE. The README says the build needs 100GB of free disk :O


I have WebOS on my TV and it's the first "smart TV" software I've ever used that doesn't deeply offend me on a UX, UI, and implementation level. It's competent, pretty, intuitive, and unobtrusive. That said, I'm not sure what else it will be useful for.


In a more fair world, the Palm Pre would have taken Android's throne.


No fair world could have prevented the incompetent management that sealed the fate of WebOS.


I really liked the HP tablet with WebOS, got it for $99 when they blew them out and it was useful for a couple years and then the web browser became too obsolete.

It would be interesting if some kind of political rift propelled WebOS back into phones.


Tizen basically limits development to web apps and the Samsung SDK agreement signs all your rights over to Samsung (unless something changed recently). Because of Samsung's strong-armed control over a "Linux foundation project", nobody wants to touch it (Meego was way better in that regard -- Intel and Nokia have much better corporate culture regarding open source projects).

FirefoxOS had some potential, but the Firefox guys killed it and it was often viewed as bad Android (probably due to only shipping on crappy devices).

A premium phone with webOS could be a device that has the benefit of web apps, with the fallback of native (a big feature for a lot of important apps) with a compelling UI.


Like, Google having too much power over manufacturers? Like LG?


Yeah imagine some mfgs saying enough is enough and Samsung and LG teaming up on a transition to WebOS across budget and flagship phones. They'd have enough power to gain meaningful presence in some countries. I think you'd probably need an Android sandbox to bootstrap any worldwide competitor.


I don't have a lot experience with TV hacking, but would this be possible to build and run on my LG TV I have today or is this for legacy devices stuck with some special version of webOS? I think my TV currently runs webOS 3.0.


The update binaries likely use signing to prevent modification


Thanks for the reply. So basically the TV has to be jailbroken (kind of) before being able to flash it?


With web assembly there really is a big opportunity for a browser based mobile OS like webOS or Firefox OS to potentially take off.


Not really. Firefox OS failed for market reasons (impossible to break through) and performance reasons, but those were DOM related, not JS related


JS performance leaves a lot to be desired and there are a mass of developers who won't bother if there is no escape hatch to get that performance when it's needed.


A lot of people get confused about JavaScript and DOM performance. Now, of course it's possible to write terribly slow apps in JavaScript, but the same is true for C.

When used properly, JavaScript can actually be quite speedy (but don't use it for huge calculations).


You do realize a lot of WebOS from an app side is JS, right? WebOS was using Node.js almost at the beginning before many in the web world knew about it (back in the fairly early Ryan Dahl days).


"mass of developers" is usually used in favour of JS, not against it.


This is great to hear. I had an HP Touchpad and loved it.


Good to hear - the HTML & JS approach as the entire mobile OS was a good 3-5 years ahead of it's time.


Sadly though, this is move 3-5 years too late. WebOS was great in its day, but I can't imagine there has been a lot of R&D invested in the progress of the tools or OS.


You're probably right. Reading some of the notes below though, seeing how the lead designer of WebOS ended up putting so much of the ideas into Android is a small consolation.

Still, if a talented team like at a place like Essential was to take a look at this... A mobile platform that is PWA first probably isn't too far off a future that iOS and Android would be considering too :)


Then it subsequently had its time with Firefox-OS?


Maybe, but not in the way WebOS did it. Palm Pre devices weren't top of the line but they had enough power to run HTML and JS apps. FirefoxOS seemed to focus on devices that really didn't have enough power, with hardware designed to hit a price rather than any performance metrics.

There may not be a market for a straight-up Linux system with first-class HTML and JS apps anymore, but judging it based on FirefoxOS isn't really fair.


You must be remembering a different webOS than I am. I remember 20-40 second app launch times.

People love their rose-colored glasses.


Not the way WebOS did it.

It was really an early state of JS based applications that pre-dated a lot of current JS application development.

In some ways, the ability to build entire mobile apps only in HTML/JS still remains unique compared to iOS/Android.


FirefoxOS, Tizen, and WebOS all used this concept. (As well as Ubuntu Mobile, to a lesser extent.)


Can't talk about Tizen as I've never played with that but I was quite involved with webOS and Firefox OS. Firefox OS was quite different from webOS, in webOS you had an application layer based on Web technologies and you could also develop native stuff if you wanted. You had many services such as database and stuff running locally through "palm://" requests.

Firefox OS used Web technologies more extensively than webOS. It was not only the app runtime, it was a lot of the OS parts too as you see on this chapter from the "Gaia from above book":

https://leanpub.com/gaiafromabove/read#leanpub-auto-chapter-...

The native layer in Firefox OS was quite thin and a lot was delegated to web code running in the b2g process. WebOS took a different path.

Mozilla approach helped advance the notion that the web platform could do things that people didn't realize it could such as internal OS stuff. Still, this had the side-effect of adding a ton of APIs to Gecko making it harder for the team working on the desktop browser to maintain it. With the end of Firefox OS and the inevitable "purge of those APIs" from the source code we've reached a point where we can't recreate Firefox OS using a recent Gecko. While webOS could (with a lot of work from LG) be moved into recent Chromium due to its usage of the web runtime as just a runtime.

Had Mozilla approached a similar architecture, we could potentially still have Firefox OS going on. Unfortunately, even picking webOS and trying to replace Chromium with Gecko is quite hard as Gecko doesn't have a good embedability history.

I love this release by LG, it could lead to some really interesting appliances and maybe even a new Linux desktop experiment. I don't see it on phones anytime soon, LuneCE has more chance of shipping on phones than this release but I can see this replacing digital signage, POS stuff and even thin clients on desktop/laptop form factor.


I always thought webOS was really nice and ahead of its time. I assume making phones using this would be difficult without having good driver support from the hardware vendors?


Speaking as someone who has (a bit) worked with Firefox OS, the answer is very much yes. Also, that's only the start of your worries.


Curious what you think the problems are. Drivers are a huge one IMHO (as the parent poster mentioned). From a tech perspective, perhaps the biggest one. The only other tech major tech challenge I see is getting app developer support (basically, what killed Windows Mobile).


Baseband is one, if the other commenter doesn't get back to you.


"As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one, we believe the true potential of webOS has yet to be seen." - http://www.lgnewsroom.com/2018/03/webos-enters-next-phase-as...

But I said this in 2015.. "The web will eat up everything, watch." - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9458505

Enyo was/is truly a pioneer in the field of web technology. It still is and I believe it's magic is just being under utilized at the moment.

Though, haven't used my LG devices in years :(

I worked at Office Depot and got my hands on a few of the early Palm devices, Pilot, Tungsten3T and then then the European only Pre3. The integration with the Touchpad was underwhelming though and a real disappointment.


Nokia was the first one to try with their web runtime for Symbian, I am still awaiting for web apps to match in performance my daily Android, UWP and iOS apps.

I would already be happy if webgl demos that keep being regularly posted here would run as smooth as my OpenGL ES native ones.


> As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one

This is very exciting. I was saddened when Firefox quit its web OS initiative. Similarly when they removed the ability to create application shortcuts - chrome also seems to be de-emphasizing them.

I'm a believer in the web becoming the future of apps, and by extension the operating system. Apps are in a sense today's Flash - closed, proprietary, custom, prettier, faster. As the web catches up - it's getting there - its free, open standards and develop-once-guaranteed-to-deploy-anywhere characteristics will win out.

I'd say this reasoning was the main catalyst for Apple killing Flash, and why they only allow their own rendering engine on iOS (chrome on iOS, for example, uses the same internals as Safari).


The main difference though is that flash was the resource hog in the old world and now it is the web. Until we have way more energy efficient CPUs this will remain a problem. I have since given up on HTML rendering getting more optimized.


Concerning another dead mobile OS, I never understood why Microsoft did not try to spin off or open-source their mobile effort.

In fact, the rationale for killing it seems an example of corporate waste: it had user base in double-digits in mid-size markets like the UK and a growing base in major non-North America markets. Why not let it grow outside of America?

It was also an OS ahead of its time, at least in terms of the UI. Where else can I pin a huge preconfigured icon to the main screen to quickly activate it when I'm in a rush? Where else I don't have to scroll through the endless list of tiny icons to find what I want?


It's likely that Microsoft's mobile OS contained large modules that the company was not going to open source either for reasons of company strategy (e.g., the kernel was probably a variant of the Windows kernel) or due to licensing restrictions.


Much the same as iOS exists as a fork of OSX and shares the kernel and a lot of userland frameworks, Windows Phone 8 and 10 were just forks of Windows and shared the kernel and even more of the userland. It's unlikely Microsoft would want to open-source that.


That sounds plausible but they do collaborate with the .NET open-sourcing efforts, that could be an opportunity for them to test new waters.


Fear of litigation.


Unfortunately, very plausible. It's ridiculous how much neat stuff is buried by corporate lawyers "mitigating" a danger as probable as a meteorite strike.


SCO vs Novell will be litigated till the heat death of the universe, so you can't really blame them.


Where would this be used in 2018?

I'm curious to understand the corporate motivation here... do they see specific use cases that the market is demanding that open source WebOS can meet?



webOS on their TVs isn't to bad. I just wish more companies developed apps for it. Roku is fantastic, but it'd be a bit cleaner if everything was just integrated into webOS.

That said, I do have a nagging feeling that the interface could be improved if it looked a bit more like Roku's. Some people complain that Roku's is archaic, but it's perhaps the most navigable I've come across.


I hope that means someone could implement 120hz 1080p over HDMI on 2016 models. I have a B6 and that is the most missing feature which 2017 models have. It should be doable since the TV can interpolate to 120hz internally. 2017 models support 120hz 1080p having practically the same panel afaik.


Yes but sadly there will never be a way to actually install binaries built form this source code onto actual LG TV products.


LG should buy back Palm trademark from TCL and make it a premium brand in its mobile portfolio.


Nokia and webOS Team should team up: Indestructible Hardware meets indestructible software.


Nokia no longer build their own phones, it's Foxxcon nowadays.


I hope they fix that bug where when I press up at 18th channel it goes to 23 and then if I press down it goes to 22.

And if I eant to go to 5 from 6 by pressing down I need to wait 15 seconds. If I don't wait it skips 1-5 range and lands on channel 1300 something.


This just sounds as a way to try to make anyone besides LG to actually bother to try to target webOS, or yet another attempt to gain a foothold on the new IoT OSes fight for market share.


i hope one can install open webOS on old LG TVs (2014/2015)


5 years too late


webOS was first open sourced 6 years ago.

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=LG-webOS...


It doesn't matter - webOS died the day Palm was sold to HP.


Sad but true




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