WebOS Ports, Community Edition, and how this all works | webOS Nation

WebOS Ports, Community Edition, and how this all works 25

by Derek Kessler Sun, 05 Aug 2012 12:58 am EDT

WP Central

At today's Enyo Hackathon in Sunnyvale I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Tom King, the man leading the charge for the WebOS Ports initiative. King's not an HP employee or even affiliated with HP, though through his involvement with WebOS Internals he has come to lead the recently-formed WebOS Ports group that's guiding the community's development with the open source webOS Community Edition.

King is very clearly passionate about his work as part of WebOS Ports and wants for the Community Edition to be a successful project for the community. They've adopted an organization similar to that of their parent WebOS Internals organization, encouraging and accepting development by anybody interested, though there's a small dedicated team of webOS homebrew veterans doing a lot of the work. King noted that while he was in Sunnyvale today, the majority of the code in Community Edition had been contributed by developers around the world.

The Community Edition release is in its entirety (at least as of now) LunaSysMgr from webOS 3.0.5, sanitized for open source. We've posted a few of the in-the-works features added by developers to Community Edition, including tweaks that allow gesture-based app switching and pinching card stack management. King said that most of the changes made so far as part of the Community Edition have been that sort of user-facing feature addition, though they've also fixed some bugs that had carried through with the open source release.

While HP will not be officially supporting the TouchPad with Open webOS, don't think that releasing an open source version of LunaSysMgr for webOS 3.0.5 is the extent of their support for the existing webOS userbase. King was adamant that HP has been exceedingly supportive of their work with Community Edition; whenever they're having an issue, assistance from the appropriate person at HP is just a phone call away. That kind of assistance is invaluable, as the developers at HP are obviously intimately familiar with LunaSysMgr in a way that the homebrew community just can't be - they did make it, after all - and they know the ins, outs, and quirks that are part of the code.

Right now WebOS Ports is driving towards the final public release of their updated Community Edition. They're incorporating a number of the tweaks already publicly demoed, along with bug fixes and the like. The build is going through the process of taking care of conflicts created by and between those tweaks, ensuring that something reasonably stable will be available to the community. Exactly how long it will take before that something is released by WebOS Ports is an unknown, though King expects it to be relatively soon. As WebOS Ports is a volunteer community-driven open source effort, progress is entirely dependent upon the time that the developers dedicate to the project. At the very least we're likely looking at a few weeks minimum before the first version is finished, tested, and released.

Once it is released, installation will be handled over Preware. The updated LunaSysMgr will utilize the same protocols as WebOS Internal's patching system, in that the original code will be retained on the device, it'll simply be moved to a safe storage point with the new code inserted in its place. That allows for safe removal of the homebrew code and complete restoration of the original, should the user not be satisfied. Should the user decide to keep Community Edition installed, which we imagine they certainly will, they'll be able to enable or disable all of the relevant tweaks made with WebOS Internals' Tweaks app, which recently received a 3.0 alpha release to support LunaSysMgr.

Right now WebOS Ports' focus is obviously on Community Edition. But they're keenly interested in what will come from Open webOS. King noted that he'd like for WebOS Ports' time to be dedicated to looking forward with Open webOS, not wasting time doing things like trying to port Open webOS to older devices like webOS smartphones. That's not to say that somebody couldn't do it on their own time (it is open source, after all), but the goal of WebOS Ports with Open webOS is to target the much larger market of newer and more powerful non-webOS devices. Like all of the development happening right now with WebOS Ports and Community Edition, and work done with Open webOS will be performed entirely in the public open source, both the inevitable failures and what they learn from them and the eventual successes.

Tom King's understanding of the core of how webOS works and how it all fits together is incredibly deep. And while he's a homebrew force in his own right, he considers his role within WebOS Ports to be more that of "cat herder" than coder. He seeks to bring order to the chaos that can afflict community-based open source development. And while there are plenty of talented people working on the Community Edition, King notes that the biggest problem they face is the same that every community like this faces: they're all doing this in their spare time, and there's never enough of that to go around.


" King noted that he'd like for WebOS Ports' time to be dedicated to looking forward with Open webOS, not wasting time doing things like trying to port Open webOS to older devices like webOS smartphones. That's not to say that somebody couldn't do it on their own time (it is open source, after all), but the goal of WebOS Ports with Open webOS is to target the much larger market of newer and more powerful non-webOS devices."
Couldn't agree more! Moving forward is the best option and I'm glad they feel the same way.

I would seriously totally help work on this. But school. >_<

Awaiting eagerly for the audio and flash player bug fix......

Eagerly awaiting for a stable Android JB or a ray of hope that Win8RT will be compatible and somehow installable on TP. WebOS is a big letdown.


Good on you Derek. Thanks to you we have more news than the rest of the "Nation"

any clues how the new CE/lunasys will work with other patches we have currently, or will we be be better off removing all our other patches, adding CE, then adding back our other patches 1 by 1?

I was wondering the same thing. I suspect that we will want to remove all patches first. I'm kinda of hoping a lot of the "performance" patches are rolled into the CE so we don't need them. I'm also curios to whether or not the the new qtWebkit and Java engine will be coming to this edition to help speed things up.

+1 on hoping a lot of the performance patches are rolled into the CE.

Many of the patches change things in the Javascript inside webOS, or actual Linux kernel settings, or things like that. Few of the patches make changes to Luna or it's configurations, but of the ones that do, we can certainly work that in as additions to Tweaks.

Rather than spending time going through the entire patches category to see what's out there, what sorts of things are we thinking of?

Stuff like the Mojo patches, the Muffle System Logging, Quite powerd Messages, Unthrottle Download Manager, Remove Dropped Packet Logging, Faster card animations. I think that's pretty much most of them. Of course, if the faster Java/qtWebKit stuff gets in there, maybe we won't need all of the system patches.

There is definitely a need to add some customization abilities, such as the launcher pages (adding/renaming). But the performance stuff has to be top priority for the CE. The only thing, other than apps, that drives me nuts when using my TouchPad (or my Pre 2 for that matter), is the occasional stalls the webOS has. It will just sit there and look stupid at you when you tap, pinch, or swipe, then, all of a sudden, start responding again. That 1-3 second stall just seems to pop up at the worst moments, and almost kills the experience. The performance patches make it run smooth the rest of the time, though.

As CE only replaces the System Manager binary, your patches should all be fine.

*should* being the operative gotcha word.

i'm not concerned about the new versions of webos not coming to older devices. The 3 Pre 2s and 2 Touchpads in the family are getting older and I am happy with the functionality of the version of webos on the devices. I don't see the update changing my webos experience that much. Plus it won't make my phone/tablet any "newer" and I am going to need a new phone at some point. If however, they can manage to get webos on new hardware, that would prolong my webos experience for years to come.

I can see myself going Apple/Android otherwise but each time I use one of those devices, it saddens me to think of what I am giving up (webos user interface).

I hope they are targeting NON-smartphone and NON-tablets as well. I would love to have webos on my GPS navigator (or in-car audio system), digital picture frame, printer, remote for home theater system, air condition/heater Control, etc. Think how much better an optimized webos system would make controlling those devices (and more).

Considering that building Open webOS for other devices will likely be a one-at-a-time affair, I imagine non-smartphone and non-tablet options are really far down on the list.

webos-ports guys are awesome, volunteering their time day and night to get CE on the TouchPads.
Makes sense they would want to put openWebOS on new devices to show off webOS and move forward.

I'm half expecting HP to deliver openWebOS on the PC and nothing more since I am not sure the 3.3 kernels have been put on mobile devices with all the open drivers included. Once these devices exist, I'm sure webs-ports will do an awesome job porting openWebOS over to them.

With the new devices, I would assume only a small percent of buyers for the new devices will then go and install open webos on those devices rather than using the primary operating system the devices run. So unless a third party immediately snaps the openWebOS, we are going to have public relations issue, where there just aren't many users of openWebOS to talk about it and keep up enthusiasm for a third party to see. At that point, someone will hopefully look at all the webOS devices still sitting in peoples' pockets or drawers and it will become more obvious that if we can get an openWebOS port on some of these devices, that we might ignite users interest to take their old devices out of the drawer and put the new openWebOS software on them. Which in turn might capture a third party's interest to develop hardware for openWebOS.

In the meantime, webos-ports group is amazing--happy to support them with donations and testing as needed.

While not the most glamorous of beginnings, any search for "cheap Android tablet" invariably gets a few hundred results ranging from $60 to $200 running every vanilla Android known to man. These generic device manufacturers will snap up OpenWebOS quickly. Also, the world is absolutely full of unsatisfied Android customers due to the lack of upgrades they receive on their active platform devices. To be completely honest, the only difference between my Verizon Galaxy Nexus and my HP Veer is that the Veer has the excuse of being a "dead" product for why it isn't being supported. I, and every other unfortunate android owner on the planet, has either had, at some point, to root their device and manually update it to the newer better version, or just suffer along with old news while the rest of the Android world had moved onto better things. Seriously. My phone is 8 months old, and only the number of apps it has makes it any better supported than my Sprint Pre. Would the rooting community embrace webOS? My guess is they would at least try it out if it was available. Personally, I'd love to see it on my Nexus, whose only proprietary bit is the cellular radio, which has binary driver libs available.

Interesting, thanks. I'm guessing Android users are there for the apps and don't mind the privacy issues, so if Open Mobile WW delivers the promised android app delivery system on webOS this might work; otherwise best bet for adopters would mostly be those who used webOS in the past and are OK with fewer apps

Agreed. With Enyo as the platform for apps, there is the possibility of a growing app base independent of the operating system. That, I believe, is the gamble being taken. If all of the apps exist on all platforms, the superior interface then wins. Of course, superior is subjective and affected by perception. Many feel the iOS interface is superior, despite the fact it lacks any personality or unique features. The only way to "get" WebOS is to use it, frankly I've never used anything like it, and am constantly frustrated by the shortcomings of the Android user interface. I'm constantly trying to swipe to delete emails, etc.

A Galaxy Nexus running webOS would be sweet. Especially if it fully retained its ability to function with the carrier.

I think moving forward will be good. the pre3 is outdated hardware even though i still wish i will get open webOS for it. The only question that i have is with open webOS being ported onto newer devices will we lose the wave launcher. I still love the wave launcer and use it all the time. And I hope to keep a physical keyboard. 

there is a wavelauncher app for android, available via aptoid. It is expandable and customizable and a beautiful thing. People giggle with glee when they see me use it..."that was so cool, how did you do that?!"

Thank you......our future looks bright

if we would have an alternative for horizontal (slider)-physical keyboard phone. Or at least 3.x community Edition for phones, but now sticking on 2.x with our beloved Pre's keyboard is a bit odd.

I still prefer my Pre3's keyboard and using it to my iPhone 4S for surfing and emailing, since my hands are pretty large, but fingernails work great on

but I love the silky smooth "EVERYTHING WORKS" on my iPhone, and apps for work that actually work, unlike on the "Force Close" platform.

If OWS has a silky interface and works better than Android, and updated regularly, it might have a shot. Only time will tell...

I would happily give up my time for webOS.