Palm's Open Source Involvement: On the Up and Up | webOS Nation

Palm's Open Source Involvement: On the Up and Up

by Jason Robitaille Fri, 19 Jun 2009 2:20 pm EDT

Not completely unexpected given the Linux-based nature of the WebOS, Palm today has announced on their Palm Developer Network blog the launch of their open source portal website.  They've acknowledged the benefits of the open source community and in accordance with license obligations have setup the website.  To that end, Palm have formed a compliance program within the company.  And while the specifics of the program will be revealed in a future document, Palm has said the following:

  • Enforcing open source compliance policy, processes and license obligations;
  • Establishing an internal team to oversee open source compliance;
  • Using a range of commercial and Palm-developed tools to help with the compliance activities including a compliance project management tool, an open source software inventory tool, a code scanning tool, a linkage analysis tool; and
  • Establishing open source internal training to continue to raise awareness and reinforce open source compliance within Palm.

But what does that mean for you?  Well, Palm's open source website has more than just the licenses Palm is following, it also has the full source code of all the open source utilities the WebOS uses, including the source of any modifications Palm has made.

Still not quite sure how this may affect things? Really!?  Well, fellow Palm enthusiast Jonathan Ezor, a Professor of Law and Technology at the Touro Law Center, had this to say:

Palm’s decision to use Linux and other open source software as the basis for its WebOS operating system has had immediate impact.  Unlike the “jailbreaking” of Apple’s iPhone, which was an unauthorized workaround to install applications not approved by Apple, the Pre “hacking” is expressly authorized by the terms of the open source licenses (primarily the GNU General Public License) published by Palm, and members of the Pre hacking community have stated that Palm is aware of and communicating positively with them. To date, the only limitations Palm has tried to impose have been with regard to tethering the Pre (using it as a cellular modem for a standalone computer), which is prohibited by cellular carrier Sprint’s terms of use rather than any software license from Palm, and even with that, tethering has been achieved and publicized by the community. The Pre code analysis and modification efforts (many of which are collected at the Pre Dev Wiki) are not malicious hacking but permissible and collaborative hacking, and represent the best of what the open source movement is all about.

So there ya have it, the WebOS is quite the coder's playground.  It may not be full open source like Android, but this certainly is nice and will help develop hacks quicker. It's an exciting time to be in the Palm world.