Palm hearts the homebrew community | webOS Nation

Palm hearts the homebrew community 46

by Dieter Bohn Thu, 20 May 2010 1:04 pm EDT


Palm has really been out and pounding the pavement to get in touch with developers lately. In addition to having a booth at Google IO to show off the Ares development environment, they also recently presented at the CELF Embedded Linux Conference.

The presentation was called "Engaging Developer Communities, Lessons and Opportunity from webOS" and from looking at the slides (PDF link), the title doesn't lie. Matthew Tippett of Palm (and formerly of AMD) gave the talk and in addition to talking about Palm's own efforts, the presentation drills down into communities. Specifically, Tippet talks up WebOS-Internals, patches, themes, and the like. The key from Palm's perspective is that webOS doesn't require rooting, jailbreaking, or other extreme hackery in order to get into hombrew, instead you just put the sucker into development mode, plug it into your computer, and you're in. In other words, webOS is open, almost radically open.

The key for us (besides the warm fuzzy feeling from seeing PreCentral called out) is that the ratio of devices in the field to excited and engaged developers and hackers is as high as we've ever seen on any platform. 

If you're interesting in learning how to install Homebrew apps and patches, here's a nice how-to article for you.


By the looks of it, its only a matter of time before we see patches available through the app catalogue.

What would be the point of that? If Palm wanted to include the features enabled by patches, they'd just put it right into the firmware.

i have to agree, this would be the best way... its the only way to avoid the problem cause when consumers try to install incompatible patches.

I would like to see some sort of guidline set by palm that devs could go by that would increase the likely hood of their patches become official. (but that might seem to much like having the community do Palms job for them)

why would Palm intergrate patches in the firmware when you can give the consumer a choice on what tweaks they want instead of loading a dumptruck load of patches that some consumers may only use a couple.

so I agree make patches available in the app catalog for consumers that are afraid to use homebrew can customize their Pre's to their own liking and their own needs.

people like making things their own and different.. If we all were sheep and wanted to be the same we would have iphones.

Why would Palm integrate patches in the firmware? Have you heard of something called "settings" ?

What's great about these "settings" is that the user can have their choice of what they want to turn on and what they want to turn off. This allows the customer to customize their device and avoid being a sheep.

I agree that many of the changes offered only through the use of patches could, and maybe should, be settings within the Palm standard webOS apps (Phone, Email, Contact, Calendar, Tasks, etc.)

At the same time, there are probably changes that go beyond a simple setting (e.g. a new layout with a different CSS) that may require something like a patch that can modify several files.

Personally, I believe Palm should create a standard way to "theme" apps that makes it easy for the user to switch between themes without needing a patch and without altering files that could cause serious problems if modified incorrectly. In other words, you should not need to modify any JavaScript files to "theme" an app. This theme standard would also make it much easier for theme designers. And finally, it would make it easier for the user to combine their favorite features of multiple themes. I might want different apps to use different themes, rather than have a global cohesive theme. I might like the icons in one theme, the backgrounds from another, and the colors from a third. Etc.

Many things could just be options. WebOS, stock, is rather limited in how you can tell it how to do what you want. Some more toggles and user-configurable toggles would be nice.

Because patches are awesome....duh

I hope HP keeps this love upj

I bet they didn't mention the tethering patches did they?


That WebOS is open is a big differentiator between Palm and its competitors. May it continue under the new owner.

If Palm (ultimately HP) were planning on hampering or killing the ability to homebrew, patch, etc, then they wouldn't have just presented this right now.

My guess is that HP and Palm plan on letting the webOS Internals and homebrew groups co-exist.

Go Palm.

I wonder if they know that this community raised over $6,000 for the homebrewers... that should get their attention!

Frankly I don't think a months wages spread among the community will impress a billion-dollar/yr company. It's awesome to have community support. It's even better when that community is strong enough to carry the platform and enhance it as we've seen.

But let's be realistic, HP has so much money that it doesn't *need* a strong community like Palm did. The iPhone has a strong user base but not a strong community and it is the current standard for smartphones.

HP wasn't very homebrew friendly back in the Jornada days (whereas Compaq was more so). I hope Palm will influence them to respect and work with the homebrew community. We all have our favorite patches that we would like to see in vanilla WebOS.

I've been a part of the community, the android community (for a short stint) and now the webOS community. So far, the webOS community shows the most power, insight and commitment to a good platform of those three. We all hope HP will recognize that and make webOS as successful as it can be.

Awesome news. Way to go guys.

I love homebrew...when we only had 16 apps, homebrew had a 100.
they have kept the app store alive and kicking...they have got the most inventive minds around. Bravo!

I keep hearing "droid does" and then I wonder if droid does developer mode / root access out of the box. I bet droid doesn't. :-p

Actually, Android is more open than webOS is; webOS just makes it easier to make system modifications.

love homebrew, love patches but for average user its not there yet cause you have to learn so much, which patches go with what and can you use it with themes, when they make it that its one button toggle to turn on/off patches, themes. And a little more organized then hit the palm Cat would be awesome.

If only Sprint loved homebrew as much as Palm does. I went to the store to get my phone fixed a bit, and Sprint kindly told me that since I used homebrew I had voided the warranty. Awesome.

That's weird. I think you may have gotten a Sprint rep that either was misinformed or didn't know what "homebrew" really is and just fed you a line to avoid messing around with it.

Go to a different store and don't mention homebrew. Most likely they'll never know you use homebrew (and I assume patches).

If Store #2 gives you a hassle, then run EPR, remove homebrew apps, and remove Preware from the phone and try store #3. You're only chance of getting 'caught' in this final scenario is if Sprint has access to Palms DB of installed apps (which includes HB).

And if all else fails, visit the webOS Doctor and go back to the stock ROM before seeking help.

This is what makes Palm so easy to love. They're just so awesome and i hope WebOS takes off in a huge way

If Palm/HP turned around and ditched the Homebrew Community I will be jumping ship. I don't want Palm to turn into the evil fruit company.

Multiple, named launcher pages and battery as percent patches FTW!! Go palm! I love those three patches tho I uninstalled the battery as percent when someone posted they thought it might have a battery leak associated with it. The temp in device menu is nice too, tho I might uninstall that as well to see if it helps my battery.

I have not noticed a dip in battery from battery temp device menu, the biggest bump in battery life I have noticed is when I charge it on the touchstone it lasts longer, no bs

I wonder how often the battery value is polled and if it is different with the patch versus without.

Yeah same here actually, I thought I must be going crazy cause I didn't think it made sense. But its good thats it happening to others and not just me

I have not noticed a dip in battery from battery temp device menu, the biggest bump in battery life I have noticed is when I charge it on the touchstone it lasts longer, no bs

I'm sure hp isn't that stupid to mess with homebrew, it takes an immense load off of customer service which they do have to pay for.

as far as sprint saying you voided the warranty because of homebrew? Never heard that one before. 2 shacks and a sprint store in the area were showing everyone how to homebrew on there pcs there. Infact most of the senior staff have the pre around here and swear by homebrew

all they need to do is make PREWARE official in app catalog. For 99 cent and give that all back to homebrew. Let the consumers decide which patches they want vs. Having palm force one in an update that someone may not want like or need. GET PREWARE TO APP CATALOG .I constantly tell people about preware and webos quick install and precentral.

Preware is open source.

I'm sure they could make work arounds to let people know which patch wouldn install because of another patch.

but I think patches they are common should b in updates, like date next to the time, but not 5x4 patches ..example

I'm not a developer (the best I've done is to tweak a couple of patches around the edges following the lead of others), but suppose a master database existed that stored the code for all patches in the form of text strings that equated to each line to be changed in the relevant .js files. Additional tables in the DB could store information about the .js files to be modified, patch categories, names, descriptions, etc.

If that DB were linked to a front end with options for customizing the UI by selecting check boxes (similar to the Tweaks screen in Jason's WOSQI) or similar controls, it ought to be possible to mix and match custom UI elements, then have the DB spit out a series of .ipkg files (I'm assuming you need one .ipkg file to modify each .js or .css file, but maybe I'm wrong).

If those custom patch files could be made available as a feed in PreWare, then users could, in theory, apply any combination of patches to their devices in one operation. I imagine there'd need to be some error checking to make sure you didn't overwrite the same lines in the same files for multiple patches, but other than that, it seems like such as system would offer nearly unlimited customization on the fly, at the cost of a Luna restart.

For instance, there are a ton of device menu patches right now. Many cover the same ground with respect to the things they add or remove, differing only in one or two options. But suppose instead of those packaged patches, each of the options available on the device menu (Radio on/off, phone on/off, flashlight, gps, media volume, display/hide date, display/hide battery level, brightness, etc) were available as a separate checkbox on the front end. The options available on the front end would be those that the patch writers had submitted.

The user would launch the customizer app (or better yet, have the customizer integrated into Preware), choose the Device Menu option (maybe a tab, maybe a choice in a list box or pulldown menu) and select the items they wanted to see or hide on their device menu. Make the choices, click the Done button, and Preware opens the custom patch feed and installs the patch it just compiled for you. The custom .ipkg file could be saved to your Pre's media partition or stored in the cloud for later retrieval in case you wanted to change your settings again.

Some serious technical issues are doubtless involved, but that would be a great way to allow lots of customization with minimal risk of incompatibilities due to patches trying to overwrite the same code lines in the config files.

Making Preware official won't work, seeing as Palm/HP won't want to get their hands dirty with the occasional patch incompatibility.

The best course of action for Palm is to slowly integrate the patches they really like into WebOS as options. For example, they could have a preferences page that has a drop down menu for the user to choose just the battery, just the battery percentage, or both. The code would all be hard coded into WebOS. The drop down menu could set a variable to 1, 2, or 3. Then in the area of the code that displays the battery have an 'if' statement that will run different code based off the value of that variable.

That's how I would do it. Once a relative patch is updated for the newest version of WebOS, then it will be compatible no matter what you change the battery area to display because the code itself doesn't change.

And that 'if' statement could display a user selected image based on the value of that variable.

I believe Palm implemented LED notifications, which was previously a Homebrew patch?

I am a sprint rep. And when preware came out we were told, at that time that any modifications done to the device that was not from palm, it voided factory warranty. Now, thank god, that's not the case. Palm has now approved this, and alot of stores are not informed about the approval. I know because I am glued to anything palm. I personaly show all my customers about the unlimited possabilties that the pre can do. I even put the device in dev mode for them, at their request. But if they root the phone like over clocking the proccesors, that will void the warranty, and I don't blame them for that. But palm has not told sprint that it's ok to use preware etc. So many still think otherwise. Wish I could tell everyone my location, but I value my I'm the only fan of the pre in my store. All of them have the hero, their loss my gain.

I'm glad Palm

I'm glad Palm

"The key from Palm's perspective is that webOS doesn't require rooting, jailbreaking, or other extreme hackery in order to get into hombrew, instead you just put the sucker into development mode, plug it into your computer, and you're in."

Yeah, right. Can I have my hour back that I spent finally trying the Homebrew rigamaroll? Please let us know when it's easy to install and not an hours-long project trying to understand & implement boogereaterspeak! Sheesh!

It doesn't. You probably did something wrong or misunderstood something.

It took me about 5 minutes, one of the easiest things I've ever installed.

Refrain from the derogatory generalizations; they will only earn you enemies here.

O.K., fair enough: I apologize for the comment (BTW: it was geeks themselves that taught me the term and they acted as if it were a term of endearment).

Were you using Windows 7? Although I'm not an IT expert, I'm an experienced Windows user and can make my way around a PC. Browsing the forums taught me I'm not the only one who wanted a tutorial that works. My point with the sarcasm is that the tutorial is not user-friendly for average PC/phone users. At any rate, yes, I can follow these types of directions--but they didn't work! Plus, there's all these links to go to if something isn't quite right and then it gets even more convoluted, obscure, or hard-to-find.