Dear HP: Remember your roots, please don't hamper webOS homebrew | webOS Nation

Dear HP: Remember your roots, please don't hamper webOS homebrew 56

by Derek Kessler Fri, 30 Apr 2010 9:31 am EDT

HP Garage

With HP poised to bring Palm into their corporate fold, we find ourselves tempering our enthusiasm for the rescue of Palm and webOS with the fear of what corporate culture may entail for the plucky Sunnyvale-based smartphone maker. Specifically, fear that the corporate culture will not just shun, but shut down, the brilliant and creative efforts of the webOS homebrew community that helped prop up Palm to this point.

So HP, while we have faith that you know what you’re doing, we still feel like we need to take a trip down memory lane to make it clear just how much we think homebrew should be important to you. And the story we’re going to tell is yours.


HP is your quintessential American company, built from hard work and ingenuity from the ground up. In the 1930s, two Stanford engineering graduates, Bill Hewlett and David Packard, were tinkering around in a Palo Alto garage when they decided to get into the electronics manufacturing business and gave birth to Silicon Valley. The company, Hewlett-Packard, started with just $538 to its name. Now, HP is the single largest technology company on the planet.

When HP came into this world, the technology behemoth of the day was IBM. When HP moved out of that garage and started bringing additional employees on board, Packard’s management style defined the company as much as the products. HP was known as a relaxed work environment with an open management hierarchy (to the point that there were no doors on managers’ offices).

Like any company, HP’s had its struggles and dark periods, and not everything they’ve done has gone right. Just take a look at their acquisition of VoodooPC to see where it can go wrong. But by and large, HP’s acquisitions are of companies in markets which they aren’t succeeding (or even participating), and much of the drive behind the purchase is to learn how that company works and to take it to the next level. That’s what HP’s said they intend to do with Palm, so here’s hoping that it all works out.

Remember that spirit of openness that embodied life at HP those decades ago. Leverage the power of information and accessibility, not just within the corporate structure, but with your customers and your partners. webOS stands out pretty well once you get to know it, so it's time to make sure the world knows it too.

In the meantime, go take look at that garage, and then take a minute to review the Rules of the Garage.

  • Believe you can change the world.
  • Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
  • Know when to work alone and when to work together.
  • Share tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
  • No Politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage).
  • The customer defines a job well done.
  • Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
  • Invent different ways of working.
  • Make a contribution every day. If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage.
  • Believe that together we can do anything.
  • Invent.


Ed. note: minutes after Derek submitted this article, windzilla in our forums expressed similar sentiments:

I ask that you please recognize that the openness of the platform, the developer relations team, the homebrew community, and the enthusiasts at large, are all an integrated and positive asset that no other mobile manufacturer, even google, or nokia's maemo, can lay claim too.

the fact that these different entities often work together to create solutions for problems, and bring possibilities into reality, make me feel comfortable in telling friends and family that the palm smartphone family is a good choice for them.

please don't throw that away, but embrace it, foster it, and learn from it.



My other big thing is I hope they dont make cheap quality phones by trying to cut down on costs or deciding against 4G, as it increases cost. Plus I hope like palm, H/P start reading precentral as well and see what people really want!

Amen. (and to windzilla's post as well)

Please.. I doubt the small number of Pre owners that use this site qualifies as "what people really want".

ok so then you tell us what they want...? Or where else we go to learn this?

I want all the things my 755p did really well, in the pre form factor:
- Search all words in all fields in all contacts.
- Expandable memory
- Long battery Life
- Excellent and abundant software choices; especially Splash ID, Docs to Go, Bejewelled I can use w/my finger
- Wider, slightly easier to use keyboard; 755 was perfect for older adults (me).
- Bring the D-pad back or turn the button into a roller ball; Orange or shift/swipe is just a wreck compared to D-pad or ball.

Keep promises the Pre made:
- Multi-tasking. Just because it does it theoretically, does not make it real: too many cards when you follow a link to web from e-mail or programs which do not execute properly in the background.

- Better touch screen; calc & phone are not as responsive as they should be.

- With shutter lag, camera is really, really hard to hold and use with space-bar as shutter control (the camera is a good camera - take very decent low level shots).

- Make everything available landscape (yes, I can patch, blah, blah, blah).

- Make it faster; showing me a small icon while the program loads does not trick me into thinking it loads faster.

Palm crashed and burned because the Pre was not as good as the last product. People don't buy products because they are theoretically better or have the potential to be better, they only buy because they are better (or they hate Apple and AT&T).

I agree positionning the cursor is a pain in the ass, but Dpad, really? I don't want that.

Something like Apple's magnifying glass works too well to go back to a Dpad.

How about an optical trackpad like the new blackberries for cursor placement. That way you don't take away from the gesture area's design.

The Pre's battery life is on par with other smartphones, trust me.
D-Pad is a bad idea; it would break the hardware motif and it would just look ugly/marring on the face of the device. An optical track pad would be nice, but I've had no real problems with the orange key.

^And you don't get the same thing when you're on a PC? From here on mine, I have to open up plenty of extra 'cards' when I'm on Gmail. I've also had no problems with programs malfunctioning in the background when I switch.

The touch screen is perfectly fine.

The shutter lag isn't horrible; it's probably better than most other phones on the market atm.

You realize that a long list of great features doesn't make a phone, right? Apple proved that with the iPhone.

People here want a better processor, bigger screen, better resolution, better hardware, so yea the majority of people here want that

Amen & Here, Here
Good article, Derek. Did you send this to HP?


You can do it yourself! Just print out the article, put it in an envelope labeled "To: HP" and toss it in the mail.

but is is a small 'pulse' of what is needed/wanted... heck about 30 seconds after the first borg queen commercial we said this is going to be bad... but i think any freshman marketing major could have seen that.

I dont know why everyone is so worried about this. Palm can easily make a case for keeping this open atmosphere to the powers to be at HP.

The only reason I can see things ever become more locked down or closed is if Palm wants them that way. This is a possibility because quite frankly some of these patch "developers" (and I uses the term loosely) have no clue of what they are doing. Some of the patches cause severe instability and the users are to unaware to realize that these problems are caused by patches / themes and instead blame their issues on Palm / WebOThS. This creates a problem for Palm / HP.

It may never happen because thanks to the real developers at WebOS internals many of the poorly written patches have been removed or repaired so over all patching is becoming more and more stable. The instability caused by cumulative effects multiple patches still remains.

I am certain that Palm sees how important WebOS Internals is to WebOS and I am confident that relationship will continue to flourish.

I should also point out that I am a big fan of Homebrew as a Beta app distribution method and I would be shocked if Palm/ HP ever closed that avenue down but would understand if they decided to do away with patching / theme-ming.

it's still up to the person who downloads the patch not palm if the dev doesn't know what there doing. Palm has no control over what work and doen't work. Have you heard of webos doctor

how quickly we forget history... It is EXACTLY this type of forum.. Developers & users that helped to define Unix & DEC & SUN & APPLE in the early days of these companies... Go back to the HP garage days & look for all the other garages that had a dedicated user/development community behind them pushing for needed innovation/apps... Or were you not paying attention then? Anyone remember the converted VT100 from DEC with PC cards & 8 in. Floppys running DOS from MS.. Because the small user community wanted to run this inovative SW called an automated Spreadsheet? Fast forward to 2010... All we want is a word proc. & spreadsheet again... To run & edit docs on our smart phones... Please...

i hope that they see also that android being open as they are is the way to go if you want to rally up against apple. the homebrew is what keeps palm alive! :D

I seriously doubt that HP has anything like the garage in mind. If they are really planning on decreasing their reliance on Windows for their mobile strategy then they are going to have to tighten up webOS. Daily reboots, monthly webOS reinstalls, and hardware glitches are not going to be tolerated by HPs enterprise channels. The river-stone motif is also likely not a keeper.

I don't see HP tolerating routine rooting and patches, either. Those are holes that are inherent to building a new OS but they work against security and reliability.

If Linux and Windows have proved anything, it is that the community knows what's best for itself, NOT the patron company.
Exhibit A: Apple.
How many times have we heard iPhone owners complain about the lack of a key feature that was surprisingly left out by Apple, yet brought in by clever jailbreak devs?

If HP doesn't acknowledge the fact that homebrew is an integral part of the webOS experience, they will be in for a rude awakening.

Somewhere, one has to draw the line between power and flexibility, and simplicity and reliability.

The ONLY thing that can make or break a phone, a mobile platform, or even the OS which makes a world soo great or not - is its support systems. all the marketing and PR in the world can only take you so far! its your dev teams - your life blood that will truely make or break a platform. WebOS has all the right people in those places to make this THE contendor int the marktet place today. now its just about bring in the masses to see how great the WebOS can be and how it can deliver in todays markets - bring on the apps and you'll bring in the market share. keep your dev teams in an open forum as Palm has to this point and you can truely have the greatest inspiration available - a truely living dev concept that feeds itself to always reach for more!!!

Enjoy the world - make the future - be the movmeent we call Palm!

nice picture, it looks like a picture right of John Wayne Gacy's childhood


Also remember.. there are levels of security that are needed for large companies emails and such.. Can Palm also cater to those business people?

Not only can it, but it must. I had a back-and-forth e-mail with a writer from Infoworld about an article he'd written rating smartphones on business-friendliness. He raised points I couldn't completely counter on webOS' current incomplete security implementation (no on-device encryption of e-mail, less-than-full adoption of MS' Exchange ActiveSync management policies even after webOS 1.1). That market is huge, especially in the small and mid-sized segments that aren't necessarily running their own BlackBerry servers, and given that Linux certainly supports greater security, it's something into which HP/Palm should put a lot of resources in a hurry. {Jonathan}

I have a number of patches installed that make MY Pre the phone that it should have been initially. Unless HP/Palm take a serious look at the patches created and incorporate them into their base system, then owning a Pre will not be the pleasure that it has been for me. There are many great patches that enhance the functionallity of the Pre and there are many that are just tweaks for the lazy and curious, IMHO. I believe that HP will be taking a hard look at the patching and if they are the company that we believe them to be, then many of the function enhancing patches will be rolled up into the base software should they ultimately decide to close the doors. I am greatful to all of the individuals who have made this phone such a pleasure and hope they dont' get frozen out but rewarded in some way for their efforts to help sustain the WebOS product.

I heartily agree.

According to Preware, I have 47 patches installed at the moment and the vast majority are for very minor things that should have been included in the first instance - character count in SMS; more alarm options; landscape email; no alert during call etc etc.

I have to admit that I love tinkering with devices - one of the many reason I love my Pre - but most of this stuff should have been there in the first place.

And I STILL can't invite anyone to meetings.....

Amen on the inviting people to meetings. That is a glaring hole for me personally. Huge deal to me. And I use google calendar, and struggle with this every day with some non-profit groups and such I am involved with that all use Google Calendar. Big deal for me. Can't speak for everyone, but big deal for me.

Roots! Just like Mr T. Says. I'm breakdancin right now!

man..john wayne gacy maintain. hahaha

"Please.. I doubt the small number of Pre owners that use this site qualifies as "what people really want". Echto"

@echto: where do you get your idea that only a small number or pre owners read this site? if you can remember precentral has been featured in several palm presentations. idk about you but when a product i own/am interested in features something like this site i find it. do you have a concrete figure as to how many members there are here?
PreCentral Forums Statistics
Threads: 206,542, Posts: 2,242,460, Members: 361,853
Welcome to our newest member, beto71

i think that this should show there is a big user base of the webOS community on here. you know, its a good idea that if you dont have a clue what youre talking about to keep your mouth/fingers quiet.

now, as to HP keeping homebrew, imho, they should not change this. one of the best things about webOS is the capability to customize the device so thoroughly. at any given time i have 90-100 modifications on my phone, i have modified three friends phones, and started doing this as a side business. also i believe it is one the most distinguishing attributes to webOS and makes it stand out from iPhone, android and winmobile.

please HP, keep the platform open

You started a side business helping people modify their phones. Seriously.
I've proudly brought my brother, brother-in-law, fiance, sister, and 4 other friends into webOS world, and have helped them all with tweaking their phones. Never thought of charging them for it. Would never think of charging anyone for my help. Just as we are not charged for patches and modifications. But that's just me, I guess.

Some ppl would rather pay for the convinience of having things done. I convinced my friend on getting a Pr? (Sprint) and he said if I would help him set it up like mine he would. Dropped it of before heading to a movie, latter that evening he stopped by to catch a playoff game and paid for the pizza & beer. I've technicaly been "paid" also for such work. He did offer $20 and I pointed him to the ones I thought deserved the money instead: webOSInternals, caj2008 etc.

I dont think we have to worry about the quailty of the phones even the next one still in the pipeline to be released on sprint, because even before the full aquistion with HP at the EO july Palm can use all of thier current resources and provide the best product without the worry of funds. With HP the money will always be there, so expect even higher quality phones then what HTC produces, higher specs, and the best hardware on the market. Palm and Web OS in my opinion will succeed, being able to now offer full support for Web OS development, and state of the art hardware that only up to this point Apple was only able to offer.

Not just webOS, even for Palm OS the heritage of hacking is in the blood. Remember Hackmaster anyone?

So please, keep homebrewing going.

I, for one, will drop Palm/HP like a hot potato if they lock down my favorite part of owning a Pre. It's this community and the Homebrew apps and patches that make me tolerate some of the other things that frustrate me about this phone. They'd have to fix everything that our Homebrew developers have fixed (and then some) in the OS before I'd tolerate such a bureaucratic move.

HP has done pretty well by their old UNIX customers as far as openness is concerned. They still have plenty of customers running OpenVMS and Tru64. HP has been trying to ween them off for years, but the customers just won't let it die.

If you want WebOS to continue, don't stop the good work and community going on today.

i think this is the big dilemma for HP and Palm to sort out.

if they can make a platform that is more stable and secure while preserving the spirit of an open community then i believe it will be a true win-win situation.

they would achieve something truly unique that is inviting to tinkerers and developers but also provide something reliable to the average lay person who just wants a system with useful apps.

Without Homebrew Patches, I wouldn't still have a Pre. Soooooo many basic functions/features are missing that I couldn't imagine my Pre without Homebrew.

Neither Apple nor HP are the same companies that they were 30 years ago. Both have to move multiple millions of units in dozens of countries. Apple doesn't even participate in MacWorld anymore - there's no reason to. They've moved well beyond their roots to target a broad swath of consumers. There really is no place for the garage here.

Yeah, and look at Apple; you get droves of people complaining about missing features (MMS, Multitasking, Folders, etc.) that Apple conspicuously left out.

If Apple has proven anything, it's that the community knows what's best for itself, as opposed to the patron.

Ever heard of Linux?

Yeah, I hate to be mr. Killjoy, but when the merger finally happens, HP is going to lock down Palm phones super fast. And they kind of have to. HP will want to make WebOS a true bus phone. And to do that, you have to offer incredible security.

I love homebrew too, but Palm had to open up to the community because they had NO choice. Now that HP is on board, they have no say.

I just hope they leave our beloved Pre as unlocked for as long as possible.

If HP try to shut down Homebrew will Precentral listen? It is open source. Palm wasn't fully recognizing homebrew but still didn't care.

RE:Miami "..turn the button into a roller ball"

Please, Please, Please don't do this... The built-in "pointing device" i.e. roller ball paradism is old technology and is the reason my company issued BlackBerry stays at the bottom of my laptop bag until I need it for tethering... If my company's security policies allowed it, I'd use my Pre for that too.

The only pointer you need is your finger one of the beauty of WebOs UI.

WebOS is state of the art !!
Pre is a GREAT phone !! My ONLY wish is that a FASTER processor be standard, so we do not have to tweek it .....but Im glad I am using that CPU Enhancement App thats available ! Pre runs great at 800 Mhz !!....Adding Patches is kind of fun, but they (HP) could work with Palm to get all those patches as standard stuff on the next version of the Pre, IF there is to be one made !
If a few small improvements can be developed to the Pre...well....its as good as it gets ! good if not better than an iPhone....:)

Yes.....the Homebrew stuff and Developers are AWESOME ! I too would NOT have kept my Pre without the Homebrew Patches!

I also have about 50 patches on my phone. I dearly love the fact that I can tinker with my phone, and customize it. My family has 4 Pres.

The big problem with my phone is that the screen is too small for my 56 year old eyes. Thanks heavens for landscape patches. Why can't the webpages parse the text properly, so I can zoom in, and not have to slide the view back and forth, in order to read web pages properly.

I want an EVO sized phone with a landscape keyboard that natively runs all of the old PalmOS programs, and all of the new WebOS programs. I want my phone to look and act like my TX does, but come in two flavors, one with a keyboard, or one without, that does the sliding keypress that Android phones with optional keyboard programs can do.

Up until yesterday, I had committed to changing my phone for an EVO when it comes out in June. I still may do this, as it may be some time before a better form factor comes out with the Pre name on it. If the next phone brought out by Palm is a solidly built full screen phone with a landscape keyboard, similar to the droid or the incredible, then my next phone will be a pre. Otherwise it will be an EVO.

HP,PALM... Look over all 300 patches and start puttin them in updates..some of them at least. Like virtual keyboard by tappin gesture area twice,flashlight,battery temp in device, some of the top bar patches date next to time..etc..

Homebrew is what i love about my Pre/WebOS

I've said it before and I will say it again, I miss the d-pad, if thy do bring it back, put it on the back.

I think the open dev community is fine. But most of people buy any smartphone and use it out of the box. they are interested in apps in the official app catalog and there are surely hundreds of thousands of users that never ever heard about precentral or homebrew. and they are not interested in that.

They want a smartphone with a lot of apps in the catalog and a phone that works. and I am absolutely sure that this is the majority.

If palm needs to rely on homebrew in order to get more customers I do not think that they will succeed. The most important thing is to sale devices, sale devices and sale devices. Now with HP the chances are better than before. After that you will get lots of developers that are interested in developing software for a device / OS that is used by hundreds of thousands or millions of users.

I agree with the sentiments, but I doubt there's a lot to worry about (yet):
Over 200 products ship with open-source, and over 30 sponsored projects, including a ton of Linux and Java stuff.

Of course, there's always the chance they could start slamming the doors on us, I really doubt they're going to do it.

They're here to compete with Apple, what better way to do that then to be everything Apple isn't... At least until they have the market share. We should be saying this in about 2-3 years when we're actually the fringe users :)

I think I spent too much time reading the thread about "other webOS devices" - at first glance, I thought you said we'll actually be the *fridge* users... ;)

Similar to what some of the posters above had already mentioned, I would not care a bit about 'Homebrew' - if the Pre/WebOS would actually have all the features that the patches provide.

I, too, have the feeling that some of the patches actually wreak havoc on my Pre - as battery life is lousy, and many system crashes certainly are caused by instable patches (.. but which?)

If it were not for the patches & Homebrew scene, I would long have some Android phone. Maybe, Android OS is 'more complete', maybe not.
I love my Pre, but until WebOS comes with better Hardware and features out of the box, I will give the EVO a spin.

Who knows, maybe that will let me appreciate HPalm and their new WebOS devices more than ever. It's good to look beyond your plate every once in a while.
I'll definitely buy a WebOS tablet, if it ever materializes...

GO, HPalm !!!

I agree pretty much with everything KevMiami wrote about aspects of the Treo that are superior to the Pre.

Like Kev, I also have a 755p - matter of fact I have 2 of them. I also had a 700p, a couple Kyocera 7135's, a Palm VII, a Palm III and a Palm Pilot 5000 before that. In other words, I've been using Palms and PalmOS since the very first model.

I bought a Pre Plus shortly after it became available on Verizon. I really really really wanted to like it. But the poor text-entry capability (inaccurate touch-screen, lack of 5-way nav, holding orange/shift plus swipe to move cursor, lack of useful "smart type/smart correct" functionality, mediocre keyboard) made me crazy. I also seriously missed the Palm Desktop - its local sync/backup and the ability to enter PDA data on a full-size computer. And the Pre had the same showstopper problem with its Bluetooth implementation the Treo did: no BT voice dialing.

I ended up returning the Pre and buying a Blackberry, which addressed a lot of my needs, and I think I'll be pretty happy with it once I get all the apps and tweaks I need. But I still miss the WebOS multitasking, the excellent browser and the attractive-looking apps and games at reasonable prices, as well as some of those old PalmOS/Treo features.

I hope someday HP helps WebOS become a killer "run everywhere" platform, and I think it would be great to have a sleek HP tablet running WebOS - the iPad needs some worthy competition. :-)

I joined treocentral... The sister site, not Precentral. Do those statistics you bring up reflect just Precentral? It may change your point!

in fact that is the same number treocentral is showing, there are alot more palmOS owners still than webos owners. Much less than 300k of the members are using webos.

I hope that HP take a good look at this site, and the comments and create OS updates for the Palm Pre and future versions, taking into account our collection of views as one of the many that are out there. But put simply, I hope that they address the bugs in the Pre v1.4.1.1 OS and improve on that. It's a lovely little phone, and with fewer bugs would be almost perfect! :)