One year of Open webOS | webOS Nation

One year of Open webOS 16

by Derek Kessler Fri, 25 Jan 2013 5:18 pm EST

Open webOS on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

One year ago today we got our first look at how HP's open source strategy for webOS was going to play out. We got the roadmap.

The first several months of this roadmap were admittedly pretty dull. Enyo 1.0 was immediately open sourced, followed soon thereafter with the gradual release of the new Enyo 2.0 directly to open source. When it comes to the roadmap, Enyo 2.0 and its web-based app builder Ares 2.0 are the only things that didn't fell off schedule (for obvious reasons). Everything else came out as planned, in a slow and methodical fashion.

Over the course of seven months the webOS team at HP cleansed the code of webOS of proprietary third-party and licensed material. They scoured through 450,000 lines of code in fifty-four separate components, ensuring they were all up-to-snuff for the open source release. Along the way they committed a number of improvements, including utilizing the Linux Standard Kernel, updated WebKit with a new browser, a hardware abstraction layer, and much more.

The first beta for the rechristened Open webOS 1.0 landed at the end of August 2012, bringing with it two separate versions: one to be run as an app inside Ubuntu Linux, and another utilizing OpenEmbedded software to allow it to run on a wide variety of ARM-powered devices. The Ubuntu version was fun to play with, but really only useful for developers, and the OpenEmbedded version came lacking an user interface. It wasn't until the end of September that the full 1.0 release came, bringing along a user interface for those of us that are into such things in our modern operating systems.

Along the way, HP surprised us with a separate release. In March of 2012 HP announced that they were open sourcing the system manager - LunaSysMgr - for webOS 3.0.5. The release of this "webOS Community Edition" came in July and allowed the homebrew community to tackle improving webOS on the TouchPad head-on, and improve they did. The newly-formed WebOS Ports (not to be confused with, even though affiliated with, WebOS Internals) jumped head-first into the endeavor, quickly iterating a number of fixes and improvements and releasing it as LunaCE. Among the additions: resizable cards, gesture-based app switching, cursor placement of any sort, and more.


As exciting as LunaCE was, things really heated up after the release of Open webOS 1.0. Within a few hours of the official release the WebOS Ports team demonstrated the operating system booting and running on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus - an Android smartphone. Things have progressed nicely since then for being a rag-tag band of homebrew developers, with the addition of a virtual gesture area, phone-size tweaks, a phone-appropriate virtual keyboard (a first for webOS), and more.

Most recently, the WebOS Ports team succeeded in booting Open webOS on the Asus Nexus 7 tablet - another Android device. While the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 have taken above-the-fold headline status for Open webOS homebrew development, it's worth remembering that there are a number of porting projects happening simultaneously. Among them are efforts to bring Open webOS to the Asus Transformer Prime, Barnes & Noble Nook Color, Raspberry Pi, and Samsung Series 7 Slate.

While WebOS Ports is taking the public lead on the porting process, HP's been offering plenty of behind-the-scenes assistance. After all, they know the code better than anybody else, and the more devices that get booting to Open webOS, the better it is for the future of everybody's favorite neglected mobile operating system. Notably, HP's also offered considerable material support to WebOS Ports, donating five high-powered servers to assist in their efforts. And let's not forget about the efforts of the webOS community to support WebOS Internals and WebOS Ports - through August and September of 2012 the community banded together for the third Web-a-thon, raising more than twelve thousand dollars for the homebrew operation.

Looking back at the past year of open source webOS it's easy to wonder why more didn't happen. It's worth remembering that webOS wasn't designed with the intention of being open source - the process of cleansing webOS of third-party material and cleaning up code to meet open source standards (one is expected to release clean and organized code when open sourcing so others can easily see and understand what does what so they can use utilize the code) was an arduous one - not helped by the dwindling headcount at the webOS GBU (since somewhat stabilized).

While one could do things with Isis or Nyx or Enyo 2.0, the real action couldn't happen until the entirety of Open webOS hit the scene. Since that full release on 26 September 2012, things have been kicked into high gear, with the homebrew scene working on bringing Open webOS to an ever-expanding ecosystem of devices and the webOS team at HP working on the next iterations of webOS.

It's an exciting time for webOS. We've said that a lot over the years, but at this point the future of Open webOS is more assured than it ever was before. With the entirety of the operating system now in the open source realm, our favorite mobile OS will continue to exist, even if HP decides tomorrow that they're going to cancel further development. After one year of open sourcing Open webOS, we're looking forward to the coming year. Surely, it will be an interesting one - what year for webOS hasn't been?

Open webOS on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus



as a user, this is kind of over my head and all i get out of it is my webos phone has not really progressed or offer anything new for me

im sure for developers its all good. hope other phones manufacurers picks up on open webos but im not seeing it.

strange thing is, i just bought anther veer to replace my lost one..

Kudos to all involved!

remember still, that HP is in the process of bringing in lots more upgraded components, with work announced towards qt5, much of which is already visible in the open source code, and work announced towards bringing in webkit2, which I would expect is going to be another major upgrade in the abilities of both apps and the browser in open webos.
also remember that it took 2 years or so to get the pre out originally, and the software was very custom fit to the hardware.  The entire pre family and touchpad operated, hardware wise, in ways that webOS took advantage of, but in ways that are quite different  from what we have found in other devices.  This is part of why true and complete hardware acceleration for video has not hit any of the port devices yet.  None of the other mobile devices have hardware that works the same way as the palm/HP hardware.  And none of them have open source video drivers.. There is plenty of progress being made on that front as well, but its much more difficult and time consuming than it should be -- if the hardware video drivers were open, it would likely be far easier to add the abilities webOS uses and relies upon, than to rearchitect webOS to do it Google's way, or to architect a layer between the two. 

At the end HP will have to release another phone maybe in one year or so, because nobody not only is interested in but also does not have and idea about WebOS and its capabilities.

is a completely unknown OS

The place where we need to start is Ubuntu. The firstcplace we found webOS running is on Ubuntu. A great way to get it on your PC

On Ubuntu website you can dowload Ubuntu to your computer for free and then you can dual boot.


should start a poll... what month/year will open webos makes it's way for all to new/modern tablet?

at current pace, maybe years-end...

Are there any projects to port Open webOS to the devices that actually run webOS?

Notgoodenough. We need tobe able to port toany phone. Including an IPhone(IDIOT PHONE) Justto piss off the Apple Sheep

sad to say but webos is dead and has been. hp isn't going to release any new hardware. that why they open sourced webos so hey could wipe their hands of it. and since a year has passed im not seeing much of any ports going on either. webos had a chance and palm and hp screwed it up.

Don't give up yet. Ubuntu is coming out with new phones very soon. We should all be very excited. Ubuntu is the perfect match for webOS. Remember the first port was on Ubuntu. Ubuntu and webOS are the perfect match and they will provide the hardware that we all want

Ubuntu's releasing an image for the GNex in the next month, and won't have phones available with Ubuntu Mobile preinstalled until sometime in 2014. That's not "very soon" by any stretch of the imagination, and Canonical (the people who produce Ubuntu) are under fire for taking too long getting hardware OEMs lined up for a faster launch.
In even worse news for Open webOS, since ubuntu Mobile doesn't have to worry about carrying another OS layer like webOS on top of it, it's already a hell of a lot faster on the GNex than webOS has ever been since the port was first announced.

Yes there has been some progress and ports to other devices, but what I really miss is new webOS version for the Touchpad as well as the Pre 3 (and maybe Pre 2).
Maybe I've missed something but I haven't seen anything new for these devices.

heres to an awsome new year for webos

Great article Derek.

Seeing as webOS is shifting to its' new "look" [Open webOS] and corresponding relationships (like Enyo), have any Developers considered offering (for a fee - possibly app fee), a how-to book (e-version), or set of tutorials, that offers some guidance to those wishing to learn webOS.

A scalable set of e-books that caters to the different levels of webOS, beginning with "Newbies", and all the way up to App development.

I know I'd be interested in paying for such a thing. My computer skills began their development back in Waterloo (Ontario) with FORTRAN and COBOL (yes ... 30+ years ago), and continued when I blew 4+ Grand on a 286 with a 40mb hard drive - one that was "juiced up" from 256Kb Ram to 512. Really miss that green monochrome screen (lol).

Never-the-less, I really do need - or more importantly - would like to get those skills back up to speed. And webOS seems like a great place to start.


This would be great! I'd also buy material to help me help webOS.

webOS 2 just came out - it's called BB 10!

Sorry for the sarcasm. I finally gave up and sold my Pre, Pre2, and Pre3, and one of our TouchPads. This is just too much like Amiga all over again - while enthusiasts valiantly struggle, the rest of the market just appropriates the best ideas and morphs into it.

But I'm still hoping. Web surfing is still best on my TouchPad!