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HP to Contribute webOS to Open Source (hp.com)
751 points by mikecane on Dec 9, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 194 comments



This is fantastic news. WebOS has always been full of great ideas, but held back by shaky underpinnings. It's like the inverse of most open-source projects. Great UI, not-so-hot implementation.

There's a lot of folks (myself included) that would have been happy to jump in and assist, but couldn't due to the closed-source nature of the platform.

The real prize, however, is Enyo. It's a great Javascript framework, and works in virtually any webkit-based browser. The biggest problem was the licensing terms: You could only use it on WebOS phones. Now that barrier's being removed.

I'm really looking forward to this. Can't wait to dive into the code. :)


Seconding the excitement about Enyo. This could/should be absolutely huge. Speaks to the level of disorganisation in HP that the blog they link to has no mention of the open sourcing, though. Woops.


There's a blog post on it now. I don't know how much disorganization that speaks to: Maybe the PR person jumped the gun by a few minutes, maybe the blogger was a few minutes late, or maybe they posted simultaneously and then discovered that their blogging platform has a longer cache than the PR wire. :-)

I will check out Enyo, thanks (and megaduck too) for the tip!


They do mention it in their press release: "HP also will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the community in the near future along with a plan for the remaining components of the user space."

http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2011/111209xa.html?m...


Enyo is most definitely the best mobile development I've ever done. Clean & simple implementation, and I can use the Chrome dev tools to debug.


megaduck, you can already dive into parts (well the non-compiled bits) by taking the webOS doctor apart (it's just a jar).

The WebOS Internals team is happy to accept any patches which are then made available to users with Preware.

So you don't have to wait to get started and we would love more hackers joining the effort. We are also usually available on #wosi-dev on IRC.


If you are interested in assisting an open source mobile project, why not to give a hand to Mer and Nemo Mobile?

http://merproject.org/

http://wiki.merproject.org/wiki/Nemo


Honest answer, subjective of course:

- Because WebOS has more real devices out there, and for cheap. - Development for the platform is ~solved~ and nice (including nice emulator images) - I prefer the card view / just type experience to what I know from MeeGo []

: I was a huge Maemo fanboy in the past, got a couple of their shirts and went to their summits. Still own a N810, but it's mostly a clunky music player now. For me Maemo & MeeGo died by now, WebOS is in a state between worlds and might survive (after this announcement) with some support.


I'd love to see Enyo apps on Mer. Probably something we also need to think about in the context of http://apps.formeego.org


I guess that I'm kind of worried this won't be a good thing (at least for Web OS). Without any concrete plans for upcoming Web OS devices, it is unclear whether HP will actually continue to develop the OS. There aren't all that many devices that can run the current version of Web OS - just the Touchpad and Pre3 AFAIK, and the Pre3 was barely released). It doesn't appear that these are being currently produced or sold. I guess it is possible that Web OS will be ported to Android devices, but the lack of an official development platform is definitely a roadblock.

I'm not sure whether Web OS can survive without both current devices and active development by HP. I'm fairly certain that Open Source developers alone won't be able to advance the platform to the next level, although I'm sure that there is a lot that they can contribute.

With that said, I'm sure there is a lot of interesting technology that can be mined out of Web OS and integrated into other devices.


Fantastic news.

WebOS > Android


If they had done this before Nokia bought in to Windows Phone 7 then we might actually have seen a great user interface on Nokia's excellent hardware.

Maybe RIM could adopt it instead? They could really use a better UI, plus a platform that actually scales well to tablets. Plus they have a large enough install base that once they get rid of their disastrous programming environment developers might actually start writing good apps for their phones.


I agree that Nokia would have been a nice fit for WebOS, but people who don't think Windows Phone is has a great interface for a phone are squarely in the minority.


I see what you did there.

But yes, it's great that two things came out of Nokia+Microsoft: Microsoft finally has a really solid mobile hardware partner, and Nokia finally has a well-designed operating system.*

*That they care about. Shed a tear for MeeGo Harmattan.


Ha, I didn't see what I did there until you pointed out what I did there.


squares/tiles


Nokia switching to an open-sourced WebOS would never have happened. They already had a beautiful, slick and usable operating system, and at least some kind of a strategy of bootstrapping it into a viable ecosystem (using QT on Symbian as the incentive to develop for QT on Meego).

It's still hard to say whether the decision to basically can Meego and bet everything on WP7 was the right one. But at least there was some kind of a case to be made on WP7 having a larger potential ecosystem, and Microsoft being willing to give Nokia huge bags of money. For WebOS it would have been a case of downgrading in every important sense. No real eco-system, no in-house experience, no other company backing it, no real technical advantages over Meego.


Why hate on Mango? Windows 7.5 has a fantastic UI -- I prefer it to every flavor of Android I've ever seen!


I've been an iPhone user since 2007 and have had every model with the exception of the 4s. I fully intended on moving to Android, specifically the Galaxy Nexus, but after playing with the Mango UI I bought the Samsung Focus S and I'm glad I did. It is by far the best OS I've used on a phone yet! It makes the iOS UI simply look dated (which in all honesty it hasn't changed much since 2007).


Unfortunately, the app ecosystem has not caught up to the system UX yet. A lot of the apps are slower and have fewer features than their iOS/Android counterparts. That seems to be the case with webOS as well. Hopefully, these platforms catch on a little bit to provide a refreshing counterbalance to the app grid UX of iOS/Android.


There are definitely far fewer apps in their app marketplace. However, the core apps that I use quite frequently are there and are just as good as their iOS counterparts (if not better...both Spotify and Twitter I prefer on Mango). There are a few exceptions here for me like 1Password which is not near as good as the iOS version but to be fair they offer it for free on Mango compared to the 15.00 price tag on iOS.

The one thing I'm really excited about though is that the developer tools are second to none. Microsoft has made it very simple to build very nice looking applications very quickly. As a developer that just moved to this platform I see the limited apps as great opportunity to help improve this platform even further and I plan on doing just that!


So you're saying you're a "developer" that was using iOS, planned on going to the Nexus and then you just decided to go to windows phone after playing with a Focus S and now after getting your new phone suddenly you're going to start developing for windows phone. Sure.


I started my career as a developer working on the Microsoft platform. In fact, I'm probably still most comfortable in C# more than any other languages. My current job I work in a mixed environment of C#, Java, and Ruby. I'm not sure why the sarcastic comment without knowing my history as a developer?


What's wrong with that? If the SDK is easy enough to jump in, why not?


RIM has already settled on QNX for its next-generation OS (their tablet runs on it), and I think they just don't have the software/UI chops to handle it either way.

I can see WebOS being concurrence/counterbalance to Android and W7P (mostly Android) for other phonemakers than Samsung (who already has bada)


QNX is the underlying RTOS. Application UI is done in Adobe AIR, which is a dead platform. JS/HTML5 on top of QNX would capitalize on their strengths (more responsiveness over Android) and patch over their weaknesses.


When the Playbook was launched, you could develop both AIR and HTML5 apps. All their other SDKs have been in beta ever since.

HTML5 apps are apparently wrapped in AIR internally, and maybe that's what made my app more laggy than in iPad Safari. But HTML5 app dev is nothing new for RIM.


> JS/HTML5 on top of QNX would capitalize on their strengths (more responsiveness over Android) and patch over their weaknesses.

We're talking about RIM here, how would web technologies (a game they are still late at) "capitalize on their streights"? Let alone "patch over their weaknesses"?


I'm guessing that nailer is referring to the fact that QNX is a realtime OS, which could provide decreased UI latency compared to Android. QNX is a "strength" of RIM, so using it to their advantage would "capitalize on their strengths."

As an aside, I always thought it was weird that QNX was owned by Harman for a while...


Continuing to use QNX's RTOS would capitalize on their strengths.

Having a application development platform that has actual developers and a growing community would path over the weakness of Adobe AIR, which has neither.


The PlayBook ships with a recent version of WebKit and all Blackberry 7.X phones contain a WebKit based browser. Starting with the Torch last summer most BB phones shipped with WebKit. The days of the Java based browser on BlackBerry's are over.

Disclaimer: I am part of the WebKit team at RIM.


Please correct me if I am wrong, but that is not the main benefit of WebOS. I believe the main benefit of WebOS is that it supports HTML5/JS applications natively in the OS, and they are not bound by a browser frame.

Nobody wants to have to open a browser and load a bookmark to get to an application that has browser widgets taking up space at the top, bottom, and side of the screen. They want a home screen icon they can tap once and get an application with native look and feel. If developers can write that app in HTML5/JS then it's a win/win for both developers and users. Developers get a highly portable framework that allows them to rapidly develop software and users get a native app experience.


>The UI is done in Adobe AIR

I don't think that's true. Adobe AIR is supported for apps but the actual UI is native.


QNX is a micro kernel, theoretically they could support multiple application programming environments at the same time on the same phone, and they should. Ie they could now chirn out a phone that can support webos, rim and android apps simultaneously


While I agree I really don't see hardware manufacturers adopting webOS. Since webOS is now Open Source it would be much easier for them to adopt the innovations of webOS (particularly interface wise) and use it as a shell on top of Android. That way you get the Android marketplace and the advantages of webOS.

I guess HP could enforce the patents to keep those innovations locked to webOS but it's kind of hard to do that AND promote webOS as an open solution for people to use.


"under an open source license" is vague. I hope more details emerge soon. If it's a liberal license this could be very interesting.

Without a group leading development the project may languish so ideally a competent group, with a vision, decides to run with webOS.


They did mention they wanted to control the development of the system to avoid fragmentation, so the license may be more restrictive than Android. Full open-source but cannot sell devices with wildly custom builds without HP's approval seems to be okay with me. As long as they leave a clause for being able to legally share your custom homebrew ROMs, they can put as many restrictions on hardware manufacturers as they like.


> the license may be more restrictive than Android.

Not necessarily. The WebOS name is trademarked and they can just prohibit its use unless the software adheres to a certain quality goal.


Yes, that was true for Meego as well and see where it got them...


Like Red Hat is trademarked, which lead to CentOS.


I think there's no way to adhere to open source definition and restrict that. And it is a good thing


There certainly is. The source code is free and open, but the license to distribute your changes for money is not. There are many licenses like this, especially when copyrights are involved.


Well, obviously you haven't understood what free software is http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html


There are other licenses besides the GPL. And you can even make your own license. It's not at all uncommon for open source projects to have a "not for profit" clause attached to their copyright.


I did not point you to the definition of copyleft or the definition of GPL, but to the definition of Free Software. If you read the definition of "Open Source" by OSI, or the DFSG by Debian, they're very similar and clear: the (royalty-free) license includes the right to make derivative work and publish/distribute the modifications.

None of the definitions above include "not for profit" clause as valid. If you have not for profit clause or non commercial or alike, it's NOT free software or "open source". (It's "freeware" or "shareware" or whatever.)

If you make your own license with such a clause, no one will consider it free or "open source." You can call it that way, but you'll just look foolish believe me.


None of the groups mentioned control the definition of "open source." I cannot control what looks foolish to you, but the phrase "open source" is tossed around a lot more casually on this site than you seem to believe.


You have no idea what you are talking about.


I think it would be more productive to promote the licenses whose values line up with your own than trying to police the language. For my part, I will keep pointing out the ridiculousness of saying "$neologism != $foo, because $blog_post says $nelogism = $bar."


Ah, I see, so you can take the trademarked name of any open source project and modify and distribute the software under that name, for profit, and everyone will be okay with it. Otherwise some people will think the vendor looks foolish. I see.


You're paraphrasing the parent, and seem to be confusing Open Source (which is a class of licenses) with trademarks.

You're right, HP still control the trademarks. But for a license to meet the Open Source Definition, there can be no 'non-commercial' restrictions.

So selling 'Foo' (derived from WebOS) is fine.But using the WebOS trademark isn't.

Just like Oracle distribute and sell support for 'Oracle Enterprise Linux' - 'Red Hat Enterprise Linux' is a trademark that belongs to Red Hat.


See CentOS; reduce sarcasm.


But is CentOS called "Red Hat"? No, it's called CentOS. With the comment I made, I was saying you wouldn't be able to release WebOS without HP's permission. Just like you can't release Red Hat without Red Hat's permission, so you fork it and use your own trademark.


That's a totally different matter which has nothing to do with what you were talking about earlier. Trademark and Free Software are two completely different things… (unlike copyright and patent law, where the code itself is directly licensed under copyright law and has to deal with patent law; however there is almost never a trademark license…)


The open source definition and free software definition both prohibit a "not for profit" clause. What is something that you consider to be an "open source project" that has such a clause?

http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html


That's a good question. I thought Zed Shaw had licensed lamson under those terms, but I see nothing about that on his github right now.

While I can't find a use in the wild, an example of a license I would consider to be: * open source * prohibit for profit use is: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

You are welcome to say that creative commons is not open source (many people whose opinions I value highly feel that way), but it is commonly described in those terms (or at least it was when it first came out while I was in college).

Also, here is a plug for the world's greatest license (I'm tragically not affiliated with the author): http://davispj.com/2010/02/19/agpl-not-awesome-gpl.html


Open Source is not only about access to the source code, just like Free Software is not only about software price. By using these terms inappropriately, you only create misunderstanding and confusion, so please don't.

CC licenses are not supposed to be used as software licenses anyway.


I'm not trying to push a viewpoint--I'm trying to describe the current use of a phrase. How I feel about licenses does not change the way the phrase "open source" is used here and elsewhere.


I really hope they manage to do that, and avoid the fragmentation that Android experienced, especially with multiple app stores and no centralised over-the-air update mechanism.


  especially with multiple app stores
I hope you're not seriously saying that having multiple app stores is a weakness of some kind.


It is when vendors lock out the public app store in favor of their own (Kindle Fire).


Yes I am.


Huh. Where I come from, people having a choice as to where they can get their apps is a Good Thing©. Care to elaborate why you think it's so bad?


Choice? Some vendors lock you in allowing you to use only their app store.


In a word: fragmentation. Just look at what Amazon have done with the Fire. Separate branch of Android with a separate app store. Same thing happening to webOS would be bad news.


The problem is not having 2 or more app stores, the problem is having 2 or more app stores that are mutually exclusive.


Is there an example of two or more app stores that are not?


Agreed, open source does not mean free, or unencumbered. Symbian went 'open source' too.


It will be interesting to see if webOS's governance is as open as its code. Will its direction and roadmap be as open as its source?


They'll probably rely on whomever adopts it -- which will probably (and hopefully) be Apache Foundation. Once that happens, then the conditions of the licensing can be decided by people who have a better understanding of what is going on. Ideally the community will want a GPL or BSD, but HP will probably want a GPLv3, LGPL or Apache.


> "HP will be an active participant and investor in the project"

"competent" is up for debate, but they're planning on still running the show.


I'm really interested to see if this means WebOS would compete with Android in a meaningful way. Google puts a lot of work into outreach/support/evangelism to handset makers and I think also carriers. Android's big because of being open, but also because of all of the efforts Google is making. HP is not really known for being reliable lately in their strategic direction... My prediction (for all that is worth) is that this doesn't change the landscape very much.

Totally interesting. Can't wait to see what happens.


I honestly wouldn't be surprised if we end up with people making a compatibility layer between the two somehow. Without a major backer, WebOS won't ever be a big deal. But if you could run Android apps on the WebOS UI...


That's possible, but I think that the more likely scenario is the opposite - WebOS apps on Android. With a competent Webkit environment on the phone and Enyo open sourced, it seems possible, simple even.


Don't worry: Android's build of Webkit still has plenty of work before it's good enough to be considered competent. Apple's Mobile Webkit, on the other hand...


Great point. Most of the popular open source projects in the JS space (jquery or node.js for instance) have a person that serves as the voice of the projects. I think if someone from the webOS dev team stepped up to take that role, I'd be a lot more confident in where the platform is headed.


Why wouldn't Google embrace WebOS? Their business is advertising and this will be as good a platform as any.


But they have their own platform which they exercise more control over. They would have to work with individual vendors to get full Google Apps support natively on WebOS devices. Why would they embrace that and do extra work when they can continue to push their own effort?


They would get the same benefit at a lower cost. They want their apps (& advertising and data collection) to be ubiquitous.


I own a Touchpad ($150 sale) and have dabbled in Android development. What I find amazing about WebOS is that the native development platform (not the Enyo javascript/html side) is SDL&OpenGL. This makes porting/developing on any desktop OS very simple and the learning friction very low.


Also I've heard people install native gcc. On my end I've got luajit running there (cross-compiled on my OSX).


oh that is awesome! I want to set it up with pygame and a keyboard as a quick "would this make a fun tablet game" prototyper.


Never used pygame, but googled and found something - http://thp.io/2011/webos/


Sorry folks but this is just HP's way of trying to make a dignified end to an embarrassing episode. The world is littered with operating systems. Without a committed hardware manufacturer there is no economic model that works for webOS developers.


I would say the former CEO of HP was some kind of trojan horse meant to kill the company.

I am pretty glad that the new CEO, along with all those involved, decided to do this. People love the platform, devs like, other companies couldn't wait to get their hands on it and a lot of users have said the platform has very nice UI.

So, I'm not ready to say it's just something to "save face". It's their chance to open source something, build a healthy ecosystem and provide a 100% open source alternative for Android.


I'd tend to agree with you. While this is great for the hacker community, the lack of hardware is crippling. I don't see major manufacturers like Acer, HTC, Samsung picking up on this, especially since Windows Phone 7 is already a credible alternative to Android. Better developer tools, excellent UI and Microsoft's marketing muscle.

The only hope is that if Nokia becomes successful (wildly) with the Win 7 platform and Motorola does the same with Android, then as a product differentiating factor, manufacturers like HTC may pick up WebOS. Now, that's a really long shot.


Honest question: to what end is this happening? They receive no money from a sale of the project, they still have to commit engineering resources, they lose some level of control over its development and its future,and how is it going to be placed into someone else's aboveboard commercial mobile product if there aren't any guarantees against patent attacks?

What is the upside?


This is a platform play. Think of it like a casino, HP is the house. It sits in the middle, makes the rules and pockets the mindshare, influence...and maybe some money.

Samsung, HTC have been desperate for an alternative to android since the Motorola purchase by Google. If HP does this right, I have little doubt we will see future webOS devices.


If these companies are "desperate for an alternative" why didn't they embrace webOS before? Or why aren't they pushing Windows Mobile?

Or, if they want open, why not just fork Android like Amazon and Barnes and Noble? Are you seriously suggesting Barnes and Noble has more technical resources than HTC and Samsung?


> why didn't they embrace webOS before?

Because they could not? The only way they could was to buy it from HP, and that costs money.

> Or why aren't they pushing Windows Mobile?

HTC has WP handsets out.

> Or, if they want open, why not just fork Android like Amazon and Barnes and Noble? Are you seriously suggesting Barnes and Noble has more technical resources than HTC and Samsung?

B&N customizes Android by cutting down on features to pare it down to a tablet, the requirements are... lower.


> Because they could not? The only way they could was to buy it from HP, and that costs money.

The money saved on software licensing isn't enough to make the difference if these companies were "desperate" for an alternative. As you pointed out HTC is making Windows Mobile handsets right now and it costs money.

(Though again my point on HTC was they'd be pushing WP if they were desperate to get away from Android and they aren't)

> B&N customizes Android by cutting down on features to pare it down to a tablet, the requirements are... lower.

What features has B&N paired down in the Nook? They've restricted the use of some features but they haven't removed anything that I know of. Meaning what they have done is add a shell on top of Android just as any other manufacturer could do.

Even if you buy the argument that it would be harder for Samsung and HTC to adopt webOS feature into a shell you can't argue that it would be harder than switching to an entirely new OS and putting the marketing budget into it to attract development.

If that were easy HP would have done it.


It's all about hedging your bets. Until today, android was the only open source platform these companies could use. This gave Google an advantage to define the rules. For example, they could actually start closing parts of the source or giving Motorola preferential treatment.

Google had the sole power to define what an "open" platform was and the rules in using it. Developers, telcos and HW companies now have a second option.

HP may not make a dime from this move, but if the move is cheap and it can cost the competition more to respond, then it is a move is well played.

Lastly, HP is a hardware/software/services company so this move will give it some leverage when dealing with large players in those areas.


Samsung has bada already, I don't think they've been desperate for much. HTC, yes. I can see Acer, LG and Sony in that latter category as well.


I think HP would benefit if the mobile/tablet landscape was not so dominated and controlled by two of their competitors


The fire sale puts them in a decent position against Android.


And the upside of Google doing the same to Android was?


Google gets Google Search on devices. And HP will get ... oops. A piece is missing here.


I figured out the piece: the webOS App Catalog. Keep it going. Future profit justifies webOS continued development.


I don't think there's remotely enough money in apps to justify future development. This OS will need hundreds of millions of dollars in development to stay competitive and it's not starting with a userbase of any real size.


It could be a good way for them to claim "units" of sale vs. Apple since iOS+Mac already has Apple in a strong second in PC sales. There's some face to be saved in being the top PC seller. Oh wait, Apothekar already tried to jettison that.


Upside: They look slightly less foolish?


Was half expecting them to donate it to the apache foundation.. seems to be the in thing to do right now


The Apache foundation is turning out to be where large companies send their projects that they acquired through acquisition and never really loved or understood to die. It's kind of the old folks home of the software industry.


Only if Oracle donated Java or MySQL to Apache, maybe with a change of license like they did for OpenOffice - now that would be something.


And would never happen. Oracle has a huge vested interest in controlling arguably the most successful universal language and vm platform in the world.

As fantastic as it would be for it to happen, imagining a multibillion dollar company managed like Oracle giving away that much value for free isn't just wishful thinking, it's delusional.


I think he was making a joke about how if Java was donated then we all would know that Java really is dying.


You mean like Hadoop and Thrift and Solr and Cassandra?


As an HP employee I have something to smile about today.


As a former HP intern and someone who laments the company's demise, I too have something to smile about today.


As father of 2 idiots, i will laugh for a week.


Novelty accounts on Hacker News?


Do you remember how?


HTC in particular seems to be casting about for a way to stand out in a sea of Android handsets. I wonder if they'll be tempted? But getting webOS up to the level of ICS or iOS 5.0 is going to be a ton of work.


I'd rather see them push WebOS than WP7, which hasn't proven very successful for them anyway.


How cool is this? I bet Touchpad buyers feel even better about that firesale buy. If XBMC is any indication, nothing can reanimate old hardware like dedicated OSS nerds.


Interesting solution to their problem with webOS. I am not convinced that open sourcing it without any HP hardware to officially run it or any announcement of partners that will produce compatible hardware will allow webOS to take off. At least this is a potential credible alternative to Android open source model... if some HW folks decide to go with it.

[copied from my previous comment on the 'precentral' news]


Meh... No reason android devices can't be ported to webos.


1 huge reason: proprietary drivers.


If the driver links to the Linux kernel underneath, porting shouldn't pose a big problem.

Oh... Isn't distributing proprietary drivers linked to the Linux kernel a violation of the GPL?


Problem isn't so much kernel level drivers, but user space. Or undocumented proprietary APIs to firmware. I suspect it is not a problem for most components. Most phones are just recombinations of the same components. The problem areas would be the radios and possibly the graphics.

Check the tear downs of the HTC Sensation and the HP TouchPad .. virtually the same device inside. ;)


This is a masterful move after the previous mis-steps. Bravo HP!

If only I could be a fly on the wall for those discussions of what to do with webOS...


Not sure what HP's decision-making process was here, but sure looks like the team wasn't ready (or may not have even known if this was in play ahead of time). See comment by Dave Balmer (Senior Software Engineer, webOS Developer Relations):

https://github.com/hpwebos/webos/issues/1#issuecomment-30868...

> Meg's announcement was news to us in the webOS team as well. The HP executive team has been weighing a lot of options of late, but thanks for assuming all us in the trenches are that deeply "in the know", makes me feel warm and/or fuzzy. :)


It really is going to be interesting to see how far webOS goes with this approach. I'm glad they did this, webOS is a great OS and is really nice to use on tablets.


The race is now officially on to see who can become the "CynogenMod" for webOS :). I cannot wait for a Port of this on some of my Currently Android Only Devices (Nexus One and ASUS Xformer).

I will now spend the rest of the day dreaming about dual booting my Tablet into WebOS and Android and all the funky apps that can come with that prospect :)


Dumb question, but what's in it for HP?


Good PR, yes, but it may also be a good strategic move for HP, particularly if this is a sign of things to come. HP is fighting hard to remain relevant, and a vibrant competitor to iOS and Android would push them back into relevancy. Everything tech seems to be heading toward mobile, and if HP can establish a firm foothold there, they'll be a stronger company for it.

Now, I'm not saying this will happen, but at least it's possible now. webOS wasn't going to do anything for anyone sitting in a corner. Personally, I think a lot of its success depends on if/how they manage to set up a competitive webOS app store, facilitate at least one device that can run it, and letting webOS run as openly as possible on that device. Open source advocates would flock to buy and develop for a device running on a truly open OS with an open development model.

I'm also curious about a compatibility layer for Android. Dalvik has already been ported to maemo/meego, although it's closed-source. I'm relatively sure someone will now port Dalvik to webOS. I think a webOS with a vibrant, open-source community, able to run Android apps, could pose a significant challenge to portions of the Android market (to iOS to a lesser extent).


PR. They haven't got a clue about what do with webOS, so instead of announcing its shutdown, they 'donate' it to open source.


And this is worth the tens of millions, if not hundreds, that they would have received for selling it?


You can only sell if you can find a buyer.


WebOS isn't worth anything. Yet another platform with little adoption. Meebo has no adoption by hardware manufactures and it is free.

The Palm patent portfolio is worth a lot, but I doubt HP is interested in selling it.


Selling it to who, exactly?


Word on the street was Facebook (http://zd.net/psW2NP) and Amazon (http://bit.ly/uSFTVz) were interested.


Not interested enough, apparently!


both went with Android, and I think they did the right move..


"Many" companies were rumored to be interested in buying Palm's patents. I don't know why HP didn't sell the Palm patents. I'm curious to see what the webOS open source license will have to say about the use of Palm patents.


The patents are probably most useful for defense, especially in today's fairly ridiculous IP litigation climate.


Just a guess, but this lets HP achieve the two things they've wanted in trying to find a buyer: allow webOS to live on in new hardware made by other company, and still allow HP to use webOS in their new printers. Although this is just a rumor, I don't doubt they'll come out with webOS printers since they've kept announcing it ever since Mark Hurd was CEO when Palm was purchased. Not sure how webOS printer sales would translate to the bottom line for HP, but I'm curious to see and use such a printer (I currently use the Pre 2 as my mobile phone).


Do they link to the project or the code anywhere?

All I could find was http://opensource.palm.com/packages.html and it's just the GPLed code they were legally required to release anyway.

Anybody know if there's a project page or anything?


They're still working on the license for the code, so it might take a few weeks to get it all out.


It's probably very selfish of me, but I hope for others to also want webOS on one of Samsung's tablets and that a method will be devised to replace Android on a 7 Plus, 7.7, or 8.9 (or all three!). I really like Samsung's hardware and webOS would be killer on it.


I wonder if we'll reach the point where some SmartPhone/tablet makers start flirting with officially supporting multiple operating systems on the same device either to end users or carriers. I can think of a couple reasons why the carriers might like this approach. I'm sure enterprise IT departments would prefer to have more control to lock down and customize devices. Even if they don't want to switch platforms at the moment it's not very practical to root and install custom ROMs on everyone's device.


Isn't it a little too late now? WebOS is way behind in terms of functionality compared to Android and so even someone picks it up they need to spend considerable time and resources to bring it up to par to compete with it. It has to be some company that does not mind waiting and spending the resources. I don't see any one in that position right now. Unless this is purely a move to generate excitement in the developer community so that HP can at least make a meaningful effort to push it.


Some of the contact stuff they did in WebOS with Synergy is actually very much ahead of it's time. Android had now caught up to it a bit with ICS and their "People" card. There's also a fairly large "homebrew" community for WebOS with lots of hacks, etc.


It was ahead of its time. Windows Phone picked up where WebOS left off on that measure, and did it quite well. They also grabbed the cards feature and put it to use (though without real-time multitasking).

All the features that should have made WebOS the best-selling platform ever have now been incorporated into the competing products. The fact that Windows Phone is basically WebOS with the homebrew taken out but is still lagging far behind in sales goes a long way towards showing that features matter much less than advertising and hype.


> Android had now caught up to it a bit with ICS and their "People" card

Not surprising, seeing as how Google hired the guy who designed the webOS UI, Matias Duarte, to lead Android UI development starting with ICS...


too late? Why? The iPad is only at version 2, and Android tablets are having a hard time to take off (while the HP TouchPad has been selling very well apparently). Honestly, I am using one, and I have an Android phone (Nexus S) I don't think it's that far behind (and there are other good features I don't have on Android).

Disclaimer: I'm right now an intern at HP, but I'm first a Free Software hacktivist and user.


hp is selling well because they are selling $500 hardware at $100, which a lot of people are putting android on.


It doesn't matter why they are selling well, what matters is that there are about a quarter million TouchPads in users' hands right now.

That's a healthy install base, and makes working on an open source OS for the device a worthwhile proposition.

From there, it will hopefully be a virtuous cycle, as people buy devices that can run WebOS because of a healthy developer community.


Android may be further ahead in features, but there's a lot of people who got a TouchPad in HP's firesale who would want extra functionality and now they can add it. I hope a OpenOS project starts soon rather than loads of people rushing to add small bits.


This may be true assuming that targeting those platforms is desirable.

Now if you're in the market to do something new...


I suspect that the Enyo framework will be the prime survivor out of this outcome, as it could easily be ported to Android, and perhaps iOS (somewhat).


This made my day!


Anybody have a guide on how one might make custom phone using webos? I asked just a while ago on SO: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8450744/resources-on-how-...

(I just know my karma is going to get trashed for cross posting)


Your best bet would be to find an existing (probably Qualcomm MSM) ARM-based Android phone with supported hardware drivers and an unlocked bootloader that you really like, and port WebOS to that. Porting WebOS to such devices has been accomplished to small extents in the past by hackers on xda-developers.com.

Here's one such example reported on today: http://www.theverge.com/2011/12/9/2624350/webos-hacked-toget...

As you likely don't have the fab facilities, any phone you'd build from off the shelf parts would resemble the lunchbox-sized cell phones of the 80s.

I built one several years back with a Gumstix board and a GSM module from (I believe) Sparkfun.com. Though it only did SMS and Data, no voice (wasn't interested).


I'm buying my 150€ dev touchpad right now. I was hoping for something like this before committing to the platform.


I thought they sold out of the touchpads?


What about the patents? Scoble said they had patents on webOS. The press release mentions nothing about it.


OK... Now, who'll make WebOS devices?


The devices exist already, except they're all running Android. It shouldn't take more than a few tweaks to get WebOS running instead. Any HW manufacturer could try it to test the waters, and if they're first it would be good PR.


And support two different software stacks?

I don't think many will.


Uh... they already do. HTC has Android and W7P devices. And they released WiMo phones as late as 2010. They even released two BrewMP phones early this year.

Samsung also maintains both an Android stack and their in-house bada. Nokia has WP7 and Symbian (which is itself split into three branches/lines: ^1, ^2 and ^3)


Microsoft is probably paying for that, even if it's only by reducing their Android extortion fees.


It's still Linux under that software stack. The rest of it shouldn't require that much effort, provided the sources for the stack are 100% open and there's a healthy ecosystem.

If people in the community created cyanogenmod and hundreds of other custom ROMs for all kinds of devices, they will also be able to do this with WebOS. If enthusiasts can port WebOS easily to a device, a company should encounter no issues when doing such a port.


First one who does will get my money when I'm looking for an upgrade on my Pre3 and Touchpad next year, and I'm not alone ;-)


Awesome news and well done HP. Atleast there will be someone to take it and build it as an alternative to the android. I believe all manufactures should give an option to install WebOs on their devices if the consumer chooses to.


1st WebOS is better than Chrome OS. 2ndly, WebOS is not just for phone's and tablets. Think TV, Netbooks, Printers, etc....

WebOS is about the cloud, not the devices. It's about sharing data as a user between many cheap devices.


Welcome the decision. But a honest question - has there been any predecessors for a software succeeding after being open sourced from closed? I can think of Firefox but nothing else.


Blender comes to mind. It was opensourced (ransomware) around 2001 IIRC, and it's still a quite healthy project. I'm sure there are other good examples. You might also count open source games relying on id's engines.


StarOffice/OpenOffice is a major example as well. Java, WebKit, Reddit, Tornado, Cassandra, and probably tons of other projects began as closed source releases/deployments.


Will WebOS be able to step aside from the patent wars?

If Microsoft and others come after licensing deals like they did for Android that could put nails back in WebOS's coffin.


Would be great if all the chinese tablets stopped using outdated versions of Android and adopted WebOS. Cheap decent tablets for one-off projects!


Why would they do that and why would they run a more recent version of WebOS? The Chinese will put the (free) OS with the most apps available, WebOS has a long way to go to get there... Not even mentioning that all the major silicon vendors are shipping with Android BSPs these days..


It's just an idea. Not depending on Google's release schedule for updates, better performance (maybe), easier development, customization. The versions they ship with (1.6, 2.1) leave out thousands of apps anyway.

Android is not free. Maybe some makers are not paying for licenses yet (like the big players are), but they are on target: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Huawei-in-Line-for-Microsoft-... (just hope they don't come after WebOS...)


What is quiet likely is a Chinese internet business will adopt/fork webos to complete in the Chinese market against android. Which is held back by the Google vs China war.


maybe hp is planning for a centralized app store. If the new platform flourishes as they envision, then it surely means a lot of money for hp.


What is HP going to do with Synergy? Can they open source that too? Or will they allow you to take your account to a different platform?


Great! I can really see webOs taking over Android on the tablet market imo. it's a much better experience than Android.



Hopefully BeOS will come along with it.


Nope, this Palm (fka PalmOne) that HP bought doesn't own any of the original PalmOS or BeOS assets; they spun them off as PalmSource in '03 (at the same time they bought Handspring IIRC), who got bought by Access a few years ago.


Webos is actually pretty cool. I hope this helps breathe some life into it


Looks like I will be holding onto these Touchpads! Very exciting news.


Does that mean we will see webos on iPad at one point?


Can't wait for FOSS ENYO!!!! =)


Sounds like just a ploy to get discount/bribe from Microsoft to switch to Win8.


HP had committed to producing Windows 8 tablets, even before they killed their webOS tablets:

http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/28/hp-windows-8-tablets-arriving-...


Mentioned in followup interviews to this announcement was that they would be doing Windows tablets in 2012 and new webOS hardware in 2013. Perhaps new webOS tablets would be their fallback if the market rejects Win8 on a tablet.


Why not merging with Tizen to be a dominant platform?


How do you merge two completely and utterly unrelated projects exactly? And why would they merge WebOS into a project which does not exist and is the latest in a long line of abject failures to yield any result?


Tizen = Linux + HTML 5. WebOs = Linux + ENYO or OpenGL. They are not so unrelated.


Wow, someone at HP has balls. Very impressive.


i think it's all about apps these days, probably too late for the game?


First the laugh at you.

Then they copy you.

Then they announce they have an X (your product's name) killer.

Then nobody cares.

Then they open source their product.


'Contribute to open source'? More like 'dump onto open source'.


whatever. at this point, open sourcing it is probably the best possible outcome anybody could have hoped for. be happy they didn't just say "we're going to lock it in a safe and nobody will ever see it again"




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