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Hands-on with the alpha Open webOS port for Galaxy Nexus 23

by Derek Kessler Fri, 19 Oct 2012 10:39 pm EDT

Hands-on with the alpha Open webOS port for Galaxy Nexus

Ah, webOS, it's good to see you again.

Sure, I see webOS every day on my Pre3 and TouchPad, but they're starting to show their age. And, well, they're getting boring. Still great hardware and all, but just long in the tooth. So when I found out that WebOS Ports was targeting the Samsung Galaxy Nexus as their first Open webOS port device, you can imagine my excitement. "New hardware!" I shouted from the nearest hilltop.

Having procured a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, so began the wait to be able to install Open webOS on my shiny new toy. It was an anxious wait, during which time I toyed around with the build instructions, getting to know my way around Ubuntu and Terminal (I'm a Mac guy who likes graphical user interfaces). At least I thought I was getting to know my way around - turns out I'm really only good for copying and pasting the commands given by the fine folks that hang out in the WebOS Ports IRC channel. Earlier this week we got the installation instructions, and after two days of utter headaches trying to hack my way around Ubuntu, swap space, the Android SDK, and the build process with minimal knowledge pertaining to the operation of any component, I finally managed to get Open webOS running on my Galaxy Nexus (again, with significant assistance from the WebOS Ports IRC gang - a number of the hurdles I as a 'normal' person encountered made their way into addendums to the instructions)

It's webOS, as we know it on the TouchPad, but seriously stripped down. Open webOS as released to open source by HP is lacking in many areas, which we won't waste your time going over here. Suffice to say that even when the WebOS Ports team gets the Galaxy Nexus port running at full speed and all cylinders, there will still be significant application and services hurdles to overcome.

But back to the port. It's still an early alpha state, and there are some things that would prevent you from using this as anything more than a guinea pig right now. It has to be tethered to your computer to boot. There's no working radio support, be it Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular. The accelerometer doesn't work. Everything is absolutely tiny, being formatted for the four-times-larger TouchPad screen but still displayed pixel-for-pixel on the Galaxy Nexus. And it's not super stable or remotely optimized on many fronts.
It's a proof of concept at this point that's rapidly evolving to what will hopefully someday be a fully functional device.

Even as a development toy right now, it's still a delight to see and play with. Sure, I can't really do much with it so long as there's no radio functionality, but that will come eventually. In the meantime, I'm going to launch Calendar again and start swiping through the empty schedule. Video after the break.

My sincere thanks to the WebOS Ports team for their patience and understanding in helping me get this far!

23 Comments

woooooooo

Awesome, love the progress. I just hope they can incorporate the phone launcher instead of the Touchpad's launcher, it looks much nicer on a phone.

Cool and great start! Sorli...

Great article and great video! Can't wait to see what's next!

Great video Derek!
Congratulations on the successful port of Open webOS onto your Samsun Galaxy Nexus. I wish I was just as adventurous... heck! I wish I had a Galaxy Nexus actually! ;-)
I will buy the new SGNexus but I'll wait until webOS ports crew had simplified it significantly.
Cheers!

wow, it is already accelerated by hardware... Thouth that it was going to be a laggy UI video or something...

really cool...

alright! keep up the good work man!

Didn't expect it to be running as smoothly as it is. As soon as this gets into beta territory, I'm so in!

Wow, must be very, very alpha if you had that much trouble. But here we go again. Is WebOS ever gonna be more mainstream where we can have this as our own ecosystem? On our TouchPads, on our desktops (for those who still care about this hardware), our phones, etc?

If the Galaxy Nexus is the only phone now, will that be the only phone until all the bugs are out? Zeta version? How long will WebOS believers need to spell hardware, hardWHERE?

Anyway, some thoughts from fellow WebOSheads would be appreciated.

Wouldn't count on it.

count on what??
dude did you not just see the video what more hardware do you want?

Proof of concept is great. I am still rockin my Sprint Palm Pre and multi-tasking still kills all other phones including the Iphone. We all love webOS and will stick with it as long as we can, but for a functional phone when our Pre's die due to the fact that there is no replacement hardware we still need to be aware of what is available and the Galaxy Phones are a great choice.

PS. Even if we get a new phone if we can get webOS or Open webOS running well on a new device I'm sure we will jump at it. It's the OS we love not the hardware, but our great OS on a larger profile, but pocketable would be great. That's why we love the Touchpad. Great OS large screen for easier typing and reading.

Bravo!

that was awesome!

Hell has frozen over... I might consider buying an android

As I mentioned in another post, I am willing to pay $100 on top of the purchase price of the device if webosports can deliver a stable, functional device. I would also be open to paying a subscription for long term support..How many people like me are willing to do that? Is that enough to justify the effort?

+1! :-)
I see where your going with this smart idea

what about insurance though? I think thats one of the most inportant things

+1
Along with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet! ;-)

yes that makes us very happy new hardware finally and a bigger screen great but how much does the galaxy nexus weight I dont want a heavy phone at all that was one of the main things about the palm pre and pre3??? but stil! its a bigger screen :-)

...wait, so you want it to have a big screen, but somehow, be it lighter than the Pre, right?? You might be hard pressed, there's this little thing around, called physics, that implies some constrains...

I definitely love all the new improvements and updates. This is Great. But I wish these guys would just put all their resources and focus on one port at a time. If they had all put their heads together on the galaxy nexus alone and then move on to another port only after webos on galaxy is perfect, I'm sure I would already be buying one right about now enjoying sweet ol' webos

Once it gets going I'd like to see that company you was working on porting Android to WebOS to work on the app availablity. Who was that anyway?

this just made my night. all the more reason to donate regularly.

Looks great. I'm really hoping they fixed the problem that is in webOS3.x (webOS1.x doesn't have this problem and I have no idea if webOS2.x does) where the multitasking isn't nearly as good as it is in webOS1.x because cards don't update unless you're on them.

On my Pre- I used to launch a bunch of web pages and let them load in the background as I read other web pages. On my Touchpad I do that, and when I return to the card, it hasn't done anything and it just starts to load the web page. So to emulate the behavior, I have to launch a new card for a new site, wait for that site to load fully then switch to whatever other card I'm looking at. It's really annoying and a huge step back.