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The open source plan 52

by Derek Kessler Fri, 09 Dec 2011 2:53 pm EST

So HP is going to open source webOS. What does that mean, and how do they do that? We spoke with HP on this matter and here’s what they had to say.

HP intends to fully open source every component of webOS, right down to its Linux core. They aren’t ready to give a public timeframe for exactly when that open sourcing will happen, because there’s some work that has to be done first. HP noted that there are some proprietary parts of webOS that have been licensed from other entities. Obviously HP cannot go an open source somebody else’s work, so they’ll have to replace those bits with open source components (whether that means they’ll source them from the open source community or create in-house, we don’t yet know).

As for the plan, HP intends to release webOS to the open source community in segments, starting with Enyo in “the near future,” followed by the other parts of webOS. Fear not, for there will be a roadmap published for their open sourcing plans. There are still plenty of details to work out (governance structures  and the like), but it's happening.

Lastly, there’s something interesting we’ve observed with the big player in the open source mobile space. That’s Android, by the way. What we’ve noticed are lawsuits over patents. HP told us that they intend to hold on to their patents and will use them to protect developers using webOS. Considering the foundational mobile device patents that HP holds, such as"Integrated Handheld Computing and Telephony System and Services," i.e. “smartphone”, HP shouldn’t have much difficulty defending webOS from the Apples, Samsungs, and Motorolas of the world.

52 Comments

I hope the patents will alone save webOS.

Derek thanks for your continuing commitment to this awesome device OS!

This is magnificent! Just perfect!

If anything Sony should jump on it , like yesterday.

Very interesting point. Sony used to make PalmOS devices...

When Sony announced the split with Ericsson some people here in the Swedish press started mentioning (rumors) that Sony would step in and make one offer for WebOS.
Seems it was only a rumor anyway.

Protection for open source material and their developers. I think this is positive

Absolutely, especially with the threat of inclusion in patent suits these days.

Thanks Derek, Can you tell us about the fate of the Crew ?

Ruby .....all the way to support guys?

Nobody got a pink slip today, if that's what you mean.

good,
thanks
yes I was interested in knowing if there are any pink slips today.

"Obviously HP cannot go an open source somebody else’s work"

lol,... webOS 3.0.6 - latest features:

- Skype support removed

They should rename it Symbian II. This is going to take next to forever. Any hardware, if any, will not be seen in 2012. It will be years.

Not the point. The point is that theoretically, if it's truly and fully OSS, a group like webOSInternals can take the code if they like and "localize" a particular version of webOS (probably 3 and up, given the lack of keyboards on the higher end slabs) to, say, a Galaxy Nexus or whatever this month's new shiny slab is. So it doesn't matter if HP sits on their hands and devises new ways to cut down forests for years. It's essentially an open source OS option that isn't owned by Google and thus, your phone is owned by Google, and thus, Google can leverage their control unfairly and be bad OSS citizens. As they have before. So frankly, you can put webOS on any phone provided you can get it working on a different chipset or whatever. Which means, if there's enough demand by other manufacturers that aren't Motorola Mobility, they might just make a phone that comes preloaded with webOS.

That will work just fine for the build-your-own-phone crowd but it will never be enough of a player in the mobile space to even merit being mentioned along with iOS, Android, etc.

This is pure hobby stuff. You wouldn't even be able to recommend to your family because you would constantly run into incompatibilities and lack of 3 party apps. Not to mention that hardly anything would be hardware-optimized. It's analogous to the hackintosh market. It's been around for years - theoretically.

In theory, Enyo should help protect app devs from device differences, but I don't know if it has really been put to a test.

Didn't you read? Hp is going to govern what is done so that there is minimal fragmentation.

Not long ago.. in a far far away land, lived a man named Linus. He got bored one day, and created something called Linux. It was just a hobby for him, and he didn't think it would go very far. So he let other people in on his little hobby, and began to grow and grow. It became the talk of the town, and some of the other's who had created hobbies like Linux (Mr. Bill and the Stevo show?) began to worry. They told everyone, don't worry, this will never go anywhere. And it did... Linus' hobby had grown into something amazing. Lot's of people were using it, but it was still just a hobby. Then one day.. a company called Boggle created a phone OS called Comet. It used Linux as it's kernal. And the people loved it.
OK, so I could go on and on with this story. The point is, webOS is way beyond Linux, and even with a 'hobby' analogy, things happen. If it wern't for Mr. Torvalds' 'hobby', there wouldn't be Android (Comet?), or all the devices that now use Linux as the OS.

I think we're in for an amazing ride, and I think the devices will come to webOS, including smartphones (although I love my Pre 2).
IOS is old hat, and boring.

I just hope that with the open source decision, we don't start to see junky Viewsonic and Coby tablets with crappy resistive touchscreens and 500 MHz processors. Hopefully we'll see some decent smartphones from HP, and major manufacturers like Samsung or HTC in the near future.

Well the webOS software has typically been great, it's the hardware that's been the hold back. So I don't think the hardware perspective could get too much worse LOL.

Respectable decisions - kudos HP.

Open source webOS - having blown it "against" Apple, now HP is going to blow it "against" Google.

Not really. Android is barely what I'd consider open source. They use the term "open source" almost as a form of marketing. In truth, Android is a mobile OS that various manufacturers can "make work" on their platform, but that doesn't mean they like the fact that they're also directly competing with the company that owns Android. Another truly mobile open source option is kind of a nice thing.

Bottom line is that HP sucks at mobile hardware. Always did. They always put function/price point over form, and that doesn't cut it in mobile. They crunch their numbers, and they just see "printers sell" without having a real long term vision. They know that they have enough money that if they fail, they can keep beating away at problems until they get it right. There's little vision at HP, and frankly, I'm thankful they were visionary enough to free webOS up to anyone who wants to put it on whatever hardware they want...instead of collectively scratching their heads at why anyone would ever dare to want a tablet or phone that is better than average.

I agree. With Googlerola (Google bought Motorola Mobility), now Google is in the hardware business, too. Some speculate the "openness" of Android will shrink. *shrug*

The patents will probably protect it. And its a great decision by HP for the community around webOS. But im a bit worried over which company wants to try this OS on their devices?

Well, many devices already use Linux, which is OSS, right?

"Web O.S." will now show it's full potential. I'm excited to see what this platform will become. It's most devoted users that are going to bequeath this marvelous OS with it's rightful crown and armor so that it will live-on and possible trump the other OS's.

http://forums.precentral.net/webos-discussion/302281-new-webos-open-sour...

Here's some questions I've got about the open sourcing decision:
#1-There was talk from HP awhile ago about getting webOS running on desktops. Will this code be open sourced, if it is even at a useable state?
#2-What about the PDK? Will that be a part of the open sourcing?
#3-How long will the official App catalog remain open?

Interesting to see how it all shakes out...

Question #3 is what I am most curious about. Especially who will maintain the App catalog on an ongoing basis? Will HP keep it and foot the bill for space and e-commerce?

They will forever, because who ever maintains the app catalog will get 30% cut in app sales.

Or companies like Amazon would completely fork webOS (just like what they did with Android) and maintain their own app catalog.

If I am an Android phone manufacturer and currently paying Microsoft about 10$ per device I sell, then I would blindly jump on to WebOS. Not to mention the possible Oracle lawsuit against the fundamental Android core.

Good point about the 30% cut. Seems like it's a given. Although this is HP we are talking about here.

Who's ready for some dual boot w/ android? eeh never mind android just to get WebOS on one of those overpowered phones!

Does this mean my Palm Pixi Plus will finally get 3.0?

Great news and future hardware will come and HP will protect it's reputation. More updates on existing hardware also...

i believe with this android is the biggest gainer ...now they will copy all the gud stuff from webos in no time n will become even more
solid ,popular and widely used......
in a way this decision will increase the reach of webOS but it'll do more good to android and other mobile OS'es than to webOS itself.......
neway glad to know that webOS is not shutdown totally....
LONG LIVE WEBOS

possiblly good news for webos 3.0 & above but not for my poor PP+, looks like its time to upgrade my PP+ and set back & enjoy my TP while the developers go to work.

I have visions of an improved webOS running on my Galaxy S II hardware.

This is probably the smartest thing HP has done in years, for a couple reasons:

- Unlike all the other open source options out there that floundered, sans Android, webOS already has a 1,000,000+ installed base (that's a lot of zeroes) when it is released to the web community. Helluva difference from Meego et al...

- HP pledging patent protection for their investment in webOS means that I, as a developer, don't have to look over my shoulder for the Cult of Jobs serving up a usability lawsuit that could kill my company's investment in time and money to build on the platform.

KUDOS to Meg!

Deep agreement w/ all points, arpieb !!

You said it better than I would have. Agreed.

When has an open source project had the BEST user interface in its domain space ?? haha Now !!!

A good day, best possible outcome, Enyo Everywhere, and webOS on the cream of hardware.

How will the upcoming HTML-5 fit into this picture?

mozilla/firefox/mobile browser/webOS

So, to whom do I send my list of problems with Enyo/webOS so we can get started?

Can we get a statement from webOS internals with their plans/goals for the webOS open sourcing?? :D

Not to look at a gift horse in the mouth (if indeed this is a true gift) but what exactly does "Open Source" mean apart from giving the public at large the freedom to hack away with the OS?

What does it bring to HP or why would they be motivated to develop and support this? Can someone explain? I'm not well versed in this concept.

But from what I understand, Android for instnace is a vessle that allows google to make their ad money and sell their products and hence they are motivated to push further development. What's in it for HP? They aren't getting any revenues for others who may in the future decide to use webOS? Is it to boost their image of being an "innovator".

Still how will they help pay for further support? Again, don't get me wrong...less monopoly is good and more user freedom is good but I just don't see this model being sustainable in my lack of understanding...

If HP's hardware development for webOS is murky at best then how will this move translate into real devices on the caliber of iOS and Android? Just wondering...I'm hoping for a real webOS phone that I can purchase and not just some project of trying to shoehorn the OS into hardware designed for something else.

I'm just curious to know what "open sourcing" webOS really will likely get us (the consumers)...

Finally! Now I will get some decent cards on my Android....

Anyone remember RBBS? Lol..

It will be interesting to see if a phone manufacturer would license/use Enyo for their custom UI over Android (think Sense and TouchWiz). If Enyo got some traction over other platforms, wouldn't that make non-PDK apps more portable and increase the customer base? If so, this might encourage app developers to embrace it.

So..... When will I be able to use Android on my Pre 3

HP,please start with opening up Classic so it can run on a Pre 3 and perhaps a TP

webOS vs. Tizen?