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HP to Open Source WebOS

hp webos logo HP has just posted a press release detailing its decision on its future plans for the webOS platform. In short, the company plans to open source the webOS software but is noncommittal on any future hardware plans.

HP says they will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. Their desire is for developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers to work on the project to deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions. 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.

"webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable," said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. "By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices."

HP will engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open source project under a set of operating principles:

  • The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the webOS platform
  • HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
  • Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
  • Software will be provided as a pure open source project

HP is pointing interested developers and customers to provide input and suggestions to the Palm developer blog.

On the flip side, unfortunately, no announcement was made today about any new WebOS hardware. So unless an intrepid hardware manufacturer decides to take a plunge, that remaining stock of clearance TouchPads and WebOS smartphones is the end of the road for right now, at least as far as for new devices running WebOS out of the box.

Kris Keilhack also contributed to this report.

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Palm lives on

linds @ 12/9/2011 11:27:19 AM # Q
Well well well this is a surprise. I guess I assumed it would be shut down, What will happen next is the question, when might we be able to see some more hardware...if ever. What will developers do? How can I get my hands on one for $99?
RE: Palm lives on
hkklife @ 12/9/2011 12:05:58 PM # Q
Your best bet is to grab a "refurb" (my guess is a they will be comprised of a mixture of actual refurbs and new open-box type units).

Let's face it, it's not like the TP has been on the market long enough to have been used for a year by someone, sold, refurbished, and then re-sold. Under normal circumstances, I'd feel pretty good buying one of these as a refurb BUT I have an issue with them being priced the same as the brand spankin' new clearance priced ones a few months ago.

Past that, there's a chance that the TP flippers on E-Bay and Craigslist might drop prices because some may view WebOS as "officially dead" now after today's announcement. Or, prices may plummet if a rock-solid Android ICS port doesn't materialize in the next month or two like so many people are assuming will happen.

Back to the open-sourcing: It's probably the best bit of news we could expect to have in light of everything else. My guess is HP shopped WebOS around to everyone and decided this was the next-best course of action to protect their investment and keep it from looking like an even worse debacle. And let's face it, Android is becoming less "open" and more "evil" with each passing day, so it'll be nice to see some sort of alternative.

I'd love to see some Chinese hardware company release a barebones ARM tablet where you can roll your own OS. Basically, take the general TouchPad specs, drop the IPS screen and camera, cut the RAM down to 512MB and go with a single-core 1Ghz CPU, and cut its internal storage down to 8GB. Sell it for $100-$120ish and try to undercut the Kindle Fire and Nook Colors of the world. I could definitely see one of the 2nd or even 3rd tier brands like like Cowon, Viewsonic, Huawei, Pandigital, Craig etc taking a chance on a "new" WebOS tablet.

Past that, it'd be even cooler to see HP release the Classic emulator from Motion Apps and see someone like Aceeca release a ruggedized 7" WebOS tablet that just happens to run Palm OS apps as well...
Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro-> Verizon Moto Droid X2 + Palm TX

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Which license?

ehanneken @ 12/9/2011 11:35:22 AM # Q
I wonder which open source license HP will choose.
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Forget about the hardware!!!

jnuneznj @ 12/9/2011 1:01:04 PM # Q
I know there will be hackers that will get this to run on every type of device out there. I am actually excited about this news.
RE: Forget about the hardware!!!
hkklife @ 12/9/2011 1:14:02 PM # Q
I'd LOVE to see WebOS end up on those cheap $99-$150 Craig/Sylvania/Coby/Pandigital/Viewsonic/Velocity Micro "tablets" you see at CVS, Kohl's, BB etc. Problem is that WebOS would probably play worse with resistive touchscreen than Android and it's more of a hardware hog than Android Froyo or Gingerbread.

Seriously, though, it'd be nice to see a "real" tablet OS (full market access, full apps) available for lower-end devices instead of a dated, warmed-over phone-centric version of Android that is shoved into a tablet. WebOS could be THE go-to OS for smaller, cheaper tablets, PMPs and e-readers.


Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro-> Verizon Moto Droid X2 + Palm TX

RE: Forget about the hardware!!!
richf @ 12/9/2011 3:07:40 PM # Q
The TP I tested was too damn slow for me. To make this os work you would have to double the specs not trim them down. I retired the Pre Plus as all the other devices were leaving me in the dust. It had nice features but needed more horsepower on every device I was able to use.
Have a nice day!
HP 41CX->HP 75C->Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->Pilot Pro->IIIe->IIIc->M500->M505->M515->TC->T3->T5->Treo 650P->Treo 700P->Droid>Pre Plus>Droid
RE: Forget about the hardware!!!
zuhmir @ 12/10/2011 3:51:40 AM # Q
Having a Pre 3 for a few months now, I can tell you that more often than not the operating system tends to lag and stutter even when i use simple apps that otherwise would run perfectly. That is without a doubt bugs in WebOS (perhaps memory configuration) that once open sourced would become fixed and you will get a better operatinf system, not to mention LESS demanding.
Even without open source, the WebOS developer community manged to give us UberKernal that does a better job than the original WebOS.
Also, let me remind you what a laggy mess was Android before the developers stepped up. It even led to Google admitting they "learn" from the developers.
RE: Forget about the hardware!!!
hkklife @ 12/11/2011 12:30:52 PM # Q
Yep, Zuhmir is right on the money.

There's simply no explaning the still-sluggish performance of the TouchPad even overclocked or on the rare 1.5Ghz 64GB and 4G versions other than a poorly-optimized or buggy OS. I'm no coder, but I would imagine it likely that WebOS, especially 2.x and below, must have an uminaginable amount of code bloat and inefficiency in its current form. What some of the 3rd party ROM modders have done for Android is phenimenal. You can get Gingerbread ROMs that (relaitvely) fly on the ancient HTC G1 or Droid 1, for example.

I don't doubt that someone could strip a lot of the excess fluff out of WebOS and get it to run quite nicely on an 1Ghz, 512MB RAM $99 or $150 tablet.

Richf, I think that one of the key challenges for the open source community is to get the latest OS running on certain pieces of dated hardware. I mean, we have seen Android 4.0 running on old PPC handhelds and even a Tungsten C: http://dgosblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/android.html

Throwing beefier specs at WebOS without no regard for optimizing the OS is one of the reasons Palm and HP both crashed and burned on the market. Look how the 20-month old iPhone 3GS still runs iOS5 quite well and sells in oodles. Yet a comparable Palm Pre or Pixi cannot even come close to running any of the latest versions of WebOS.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro-> Verizon Moto Droid X2 + Palm TX

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