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HP Open Source Operating Systems News

HP To Open Source WebOS 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-it-while-it's-hot dept.
First time accepted submitter pscottdv writes "This year the artists formerly known as Palm had quite a rough few months with HP dumping the hardware side of their own webOS mobile computing platform – their most recent move, having been announced just last month, is live today: open sourced webOS for all. While the actual main product which will be known as Open webOS 1.0 will not be released until September, they've already got the Enyo piece of the pie available today."
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HP To Open Source WebOS

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @07:36PM (#38823709) Homepage Journal

    Yet another large open source project to further tax the talent pool? I wonder how much attention it will get.

    • So you don't want more things opened up - seems counter intuitive?
    • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @07:42PM (#38823759)

      Probably not much, really. But it had some nice things, and is also based on a Linux core. So, hopefully, there will be some cross-polination with Android.

      If my Pre was still working, I'd probably still be running it. I'd miss a couple of apps from Android, but overall I prefer the Pre. But there's nothing that couldn't be moved/implemented in Android, if the licensing problems are out of the way.

      • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @07:51PM (#38823813)

        But it had some nice things, and is also based on a Linux core. So, hopefully, there will be some cross-polination with Android.

        Android is so insular I don't expect anything to make the leap. The webOS core was so close to a common Linux platform (sdl, glibc, etc.) that games transplanted relatively easily to Maemo. If anything, you could see some cross pollination with initiatives like Mer [merproject.org] or Tizen, once Samsung and Intel get that off the ground.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhudson (43916)

      Yet another large open source project to further tax the talent pool? I wonder how much attention it will get.

      From devs? None - HP is open-sourcing it because it's DEAD.

      From everyone else? We need a good laugh (or cry) now and then ...

      If HP could make a nickel out of it, or find a buyer for it, they would.

    • by rbmyers (587296)
      One has the sinking feeling that the window is closing on open source. There are fewer incentives to contribute and enormous incentives to create intellectual property, which is all that interests venture capitalists.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        One has the sinking feeling that the window is closing on open source. There are fewer incentives to contribute and enormous incentives to create intellectual property, which is all that interests venture capitalists.

        It isn't that, it's yet-another-operating system. I'm sure it has some nice features, which people would like to incorporate into other enviroments, but how much have you heard about BeOS lately? It largely ran out of gas about 10 years back.

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          WebOS ain't BeOS. BeOS was an OS developed from scratch, whereas WebOS is a Linux distro.
      • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @08:12PM (#38823969) Homepage Journal

        Good thing some of us like to actually do things for fun every now and then. The Open Source philosophy isn't about making money, it's about sharing knowledge.

        • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @02:08AM (#38825831) Journal

          Good thing some of us like to actually do things for fun every now and then. The Open Source philosophy isn't about making money, it's about sharing knowledge.

          No disagreement. That's certainly why I write open source. That and because I need to get things done anyway, so I might as well make it available in case it can help somebody else.

          That said (and I'm probably going to get modded down for this), this is also one of the reasons why there is so much open source software out there that is of lesser quality than similar commercial software. Make no mistake, there are plenty of great open source apps and drivers and kernels and daemons out there, but for every one that's a gem, there are a hundred more that are so-so, and a thousand more that are complete crap. The reason for this is, to a large extent, because most of the folks working on it are creating things for fun, for themselves, whatever, and when they get things working well enough to do the job, they do no further work on the project. The result is a whole truckload of abandonware.

          More importantly, because the developers often just need to get something working well enough to get something done, maintainability is often the last thing on their minds, resulting in some incredibly bad code. I've seen copious amounts of code in fairly significant open source projects over the years that was so bad, it made me want to cry.

          I actually had such an experience just a couple of days ago (on a project that will remain nameless), with code that pre-defined macros for things like SIZEOF_LONG instead of just doing sizeof(long), resulting in the absolute inability to do single-pass compilation of multi-architecture (fat) binaries until I ripped all that crap out. I would have understood that sort of thing ten years ago, but this was top-of-tree in their git repo. Apparently nobody told these developers that there is exactly zero runtime penalty to using sizeof(), and thus absolutely no good reason to predefine macros with hard-coded sizes.... *sigh*

          Of course, these sorts of problems occur in the commercial world as well, but the abandonware is more common in the open source world, largely because the barriers to entry are so much lower. You don't have to hire a team of ten people to develop an open source tool—you just write it in your spare time—so there's no real financial incentive not to abandon it when you no longer need to use it yourself, and there's no real financial incentive to ensure that the software is portable, maintainable, or extensible.

          Admittedly, the abandonware is less catastrophic in the open source world because you can ostensibly fix it yourself, at least up to the point where code rot makes this impractical, but combined with the open source community's apparent disdain for API contracts and backwards compatibility guarantees, code rot hits open source a lot faster than closed source, which counteracts much of that benefit after only a few years. Just last week, I encountered some fairly fundamental API breakage while updating software written only about a year or two ago, to the point that it required some serious backporting to make things even compile—the function name was the same, but with a very different list of parameters, data types, etc. That's just unacceptable, and leads to serious long-term maintainability problems for anyone who isn't willing to constantly live on the bleeding edge of everything.

          And then, there's the general sloppiness of data types. Good code doesn't use types like int or long most of the time, because you can't rely on their sizes. That's why we have inttypes.h. No code that has been touched in the past five years should be using those data types, period, because the results are simply not portable. Yet as recently as a few days ago, I ran into "assert(sizeof(long) == sizeof(uint32_t));". Not even a compile-time failure. A runtime failure. Like I said, some of th

          • by makomk (752139)

            Yet as recently as a few days ago, I ran into "assert(sizeof(long) == sizeof(uint32_t));". Not even a compile-time failure. A runtime failure. Like I said, some of the worst code I've ever seen comes from open source projects. Pulling that kind of crap often enough will get you fired in any company with a code review policy.

            Compare the amount of commercial software available in 64-bit versions with the amount of open source software that is. Now take a look at when it became available in 64-bit versions. Finally, look at all the companies out there whose software really needs a 64-bit release but who have mysteriously been dragging their feet.

            Commercial code is obviously in general a lot worse than you're making out. Hell, for the longest time the last major 32-bit-only holdout in the open source world was OpenOffice, mostly b

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              The big difference is that I don't have to build the commercial software in order to use it. They can distribute binaries because they build binary backwards compatibility into their library/framework/OS design so that as long as you keep calling the same function with the same name, you'll keep getting the same behavior.

              By contrast, with open source, binary distributions are often few and far between, and even if they exist, a binary linked against an old version of a library won't run against a newer ver

          • by gregben (844056)

            How about writing up a tutorial on how to correctly declare
            c/c++ numeric variables. When I went to school many moons
            ago, int and long were it.

            http://www.cplusplus.com/doc/tutorial/variables/ [cplusplus.com]

            has a tutorial on declaring variables, and a table listing sizes.
            They state the sizes of char, short int, int, long, etc.

            If this is not the correct way to do it, please help enlighten us!
            Thank you.

            • by wed128 (722152)

              There's nothing inherantly wrong with using int and long etc... but when you're depending on a rollover or have some reason that the size of a variable is important, it's much more portable to use uint8_t, uint16_t, etc. The c99 fixed size integral types were invented for a reason. they help architectural portability.

      • Nah, it's just that a majority of the lower level stuff has already been done, so now it's larger scale product code being created. Just seems slow because I'd that.

    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @09:31PM (#38824503) Homepage Journal

      And exactly how is the talent pool ever supposed to expand without a few blue water projects where a ambitious young developer can go out win himself some glory, instead of having his patches being sneered at by the old boys club?

    • Ah yes. Open Source: The freedom to use what we tell you to use. Sorry, Bazaar's full.
    • by James McP (3700) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @09:44PM (#38824595)

      While WebOS is not yet open sourced, the operating system is sufficiently open and accessible that there is a significant open source community devoted to it: WebOS Internals (http://www.webos-internals.org) They have hundreds of OS tweaks (called "patches"), custom kernels, new services, apps, etc. Furthermore, WOSI worked with HP to develop the roadmap for open sourcing WebOS.

      One of the big things that releasing this framework does is let existing WebOS developers quickly port their apps to Android and possibly iOS and WP7. It may be counter intuitive, but giving developers a way to produce apps for other platforms actually keeps them in the WebOS community. There are already WebOS apps that have been ported to Android (http://www.webosnation.com/first-open-source-enyo-app-jumping-other-platforms-paper-mache-android-flashcards-everywhere). This means that the good WebOS devs (and there are several) will get to keep developing WebOS apps that quickly cross-compile to Android.

      • by WiiVault (1039946)
        Right on man. WebOS is really a huge opportunity for those who want OSS without a monolith like Google (or Apple) to run the show
      • Today's announcement should be welcomed by web developers.

        Enyo is supposed to be fairly bleeding edge in terms of being a web toolkit optimised for touch-screen devices that yet can scale up to a standard browser. Whether that makes it a better choice for development than, say, RoR/JSF or whichever Java web framework of the month, is another matter.

        While webos may have failed to gain market share overall, it could live on as components. RIM's playbook, Samsung's bada and Tizen are all based around the HTML5

    • What other open-source, open-development mobile OS is there? Android is just regular code dumps from Google and Tizen barely exists...
    • There are plenty of people out there who might be interested in working on it. To understand how big the open source talent pool is, check out this page of people who made their own OS (more or less) [osdev.org]. Open source doesn't lack developers, think how many Windows Managers there are, and those take a lot of effort. It lacks people who know how to put polish on a product.

      If the processes and government of WebOS are more open than Android, it may well gather more developers than Android. That is the true democ
      • by unixisc (2429386)

        If all the people who spun their own distros focussed instead on writing drivers and adding polish to the ones that already exist, so that things like installation dependencies, malfunctioning drivers and so on were eliminated, FOSS would be a lot more solid platform. It wouldn't be reduced to one, but at the same time, you wouldn't have hundreds. You'd have a handful of distros, DEs, UXs, WMs and a few software titles in every category (Office, Multimedia, Internet, Graphics, Development and so on) that

    • Projects like this tend to attract mainly programmers who would work on something obscure anyway. People who will make themselves seem special like the guys who were still using Acorn computers 10 years after the company died and while unable to accomplish anything useful on them, would insist on using them for all their daily tasks. Sure, when Acorn was in production it was quite advanced and really fancy... but so was Motif and CDE... which looked like dinosaurs a year after KDE and Gnome came around, yet
    • by dutchd00d (823703)

      I wonder how much attention it will get.

      Realistically? None. But the alternative is that HP sticks the whole project on a tape, plasters it with copyright notices and lets is rot for ever more in a vault somewhere. So good for them for open sourcing it.

    • by unixisc (2429386)

      The good thing here is that it's competition for Android. Previously, some people were uneasy about the delay in the source code being made available, although that's finally happened. But now, w/ Open WebOS FOSS, Android would need good reasons for not opening up, since people could turn to WebOS if Android doesn't satisfy them.

      I don't think it'll necessarily tax the talent pool, since both are Linux - unless there is a major difference in the dev toolkit used to make Android apps vs WebOS apps. Good

    • Forgot to ask - what license will Open WebOS be released under?
  • Where's the beef? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jpwilliams (2430348)
    Why would a developer work on this when there are other, more widely adopted platforms to develop on?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816)
      Listen buddy, the egg came first. That's where the chicken came from, OK?
      • by bogaboga (793279)

        Hey dude,

        Some eggs are diseased. Others never hatch! WebOS is one of the two. Pick one.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Why would a developer work on this when there are other, more widely adopted platforms to develop on?

      I know, why would anyone ever challenge an incumbent?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because "widely adopted" is a moving target. RIM was a huge market player at one point, as was Palm. Same thing can happen to Android and ios. Maybe people will get tired of privacy violations via Google or price gouging via Apple. No one really knows.

      Having a true Linux core ain't bad though. Linux pretty much just refuses to die. So webos at least has that going for it.

      • Because "widely adopted" is a moving target. RIM was a huge market player at one point, as was Palm. Same thing can happen to Android and ios. Maybe people will get tired of privacy violations via Google....

        If Android uses got tired of Google's influence on Android, that is still no motive to move to iOS. There are already plenty of popular Android releases based on Android Open Source Project which give you total control over how much Google is in your phone.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It really was just an example. People can choose to quit using something for any number of reasons, a lot which would seem absurd to experienced users like yourself. While you and other slashdot users might flash a new OS, most people will throw it in the trash and buy a competitor.

          My point was that OP's "keep the status quo!" argument is largely moot. To suggest that someone shouldn't be writing for a "dead system" is a little douchebaggy. Tech writers are paid to write stuff like that. Users should know b

    • by poity (465672)

      Is it really that hard to port to WebOS? Besides, WebOS users are starving for good apps, so it's a good opportunity to carve out a niche. Settling into a good niche is often more profitable than squabbling with the big boys.

    • by Rossman (593924)

      If its faster and better than whatever out there, why not give it a shot?

      From what I understand the mobile js frameworks out there so far still leave a lot to be desired.

    • by grcumb (781340)

      Why would a developer work on this when there are other, more widely adopted platforms to develop on?

      Ask Linus why he didn't just stick with Minix or SCO Unix, or bloody well install Windows on his 386.

      Some people are just perversely obstinate about wanting to have things exactly thus and so. Some people don't give a damn whether what they're doing will be popular or not; they just want things to work their way. We call those people geeks.

    • Gee...lets take that logic to the hackneyed metaphor of...the automobile! "Why would anyone want to work on an Aston Martin Coupe when the minivan or the Reliant "K" car is in such wide use?" Get it now? No? Then let me spell it out in small words for ya: "Widely adopted" i.e Windows, OS/X etc does not always equate to the best. See "'reality' TV". Does that help a teensy-weensy bit...?
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Why not?

      Cases in point:
      * Mint Linux
      * lighttpd
      * memtest86+
      * KVM
      * OpenNebula
      * Android

      And lest we not forget:
      * Linux
      * FreeBSD

      And so on and so forth. Options are good. If nobody stepped out into the street, sure - nobody would get hit by the a bus. But then, nobody would cross the street, either (except at approved crosswalks).

    • Because he purchased an HP Touchpad when it was on sale for $99?

  • by mbessey (304651) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @07:42PM (#38823755) Homepage Journal

    There's a new enyojs.com website [enyojs.com], where you can read about Enyo and try out some example apps, as well as downloading the current version.

    • by wed128 (722152)

      Any chance that this javascript framework could make it into other packages, such as mozilla or even android?

      Will WebOS be cannibalized for parts?

      • I'm not sure I'm understanding the question, here. Do you mean could it be included with Android? Absolutely - the license allows that, though I'm not sure what advantage shipping a version of Enyo with an Android distribution would be. It'd likely be out of date fairly rapidly.

        If your question was more along the lines of "will Enyo apps run on Android", then the answer is it depends a bit on what version of Android - there are some significant bugs with some Android browsers That said, the intent is for En

  • Late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @08:00PM (#38823887)

    If they had done this from the start I believe they would have fared much better.

    • Re:Late (Score:5, Funny)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @08:23PM (#38824051) Journal

      If they had done this from the start I believe they would have fared much better.

      This is HP we're talking about. The US version of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot RIM.

      • by jd2112 (1535857)

        If they had done this from the start I believe they would have fared much better.

        This is HP we're talking about. The US version of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot RIM.

        And HP CEOs trend to be as incompetent as both RIM CEOs put together.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Unfair. RIM's CEOs are not incompetent: for quite a few years they developed a company that was game-changing. Ok, so they couldn't hold up to actual change speed and competition, and needed to be replaced, but that -at the least- is a sign of wisdom, not incompetence.

  • It's almost interesting how off-topic the first several topics of articles have become these days. You get random google bashing, accusations on trolling, mac praising, and what have you in the first posts, in articles entirely unrelated to these comments.

    Are trolls trolling trolls trolling shills trolling?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They do ot so the mods will waste their points. Then they come back later to lay down the anti-open source 'turf with impunity. Oldest waggener edstrom trick in the book.
  • But there are hundreds here that enjoy WebOS, and find it vastly superior to Android in a lot of ways. Hell, first thing I'll do is work to get it on my Galaxy S2. Android can learn a lot from WebOS. In time perhaps they will merge the good from both, into a mobile OS that is on par with iOS in usability.

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
      I got one of the Touchpads on sale with a HP laptop. This is a good machine, and the updates have taken care of the complaints that people have lodged against it. Only thing is it's a fingerprint magnet on the back side. Big deal.

      But WebOS within itself is a decent OS. Some things feel a bit unfinished, but nothing like I'd been told to expect. I had originally bought the device planning to install Android on it. But I'll just wait until Ice cream sandwich comes out, and then have a dual boot machine. Th

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @04:49AM (#38826455) Homepage

    Besides the tablets no longer sold, is there any hardware that can run WebOS?

    • That's HP's plan over the next year:
      Make webOS as open as possible to other hardware.

      • To reach critical mass, running webOS on existing Android devices would be a start. Many Android vendors are now promising to ship with unlocked boatloaders. Is HP willing to support a cyanogenmod like community?

        HP needs to bite the bullet and state its hardware intentions. So long as it only targets existing discontinued devices it will remain on life support as just another obscure Linux distro running on proprietary hardware, cf. Maemo.

  • Too little too late (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluec (1427065) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @05:54AM (#38826637)
    I was a massive fan of Palm and wrote several years ago (around 2005, website now defunct) about the need for Palm to ditch Palm OS and develop their own Linux based OS. As such I was thrilled when WebOS launched - I had a launch day Pre and Pre 2. WebOS was admittedly pretty terrible until WebOS 1.4.5 but that release ironed out a lot of bugs and there was a short period in 2010 where it looked like Palm may crack it - they hired some great talent and partnered with some of the big devs to bring their apps to WebOS; sometimes for free (Monopoly, The Sims, Need for Speed, etc). The card-based system was intuitive and offered true multi-tasking that still isn't matched by any current mobile OS - it was truly groundbreaking stuff. Unfortunately Palm never had the resources to build on that success and it is sad to how subsequently lost their way.

    What happened next was a total mess - the biggest downfall was how they alienated developers by changing the SDK from Mojo to Enyo - possibly a required change but the way they handled it was appalling. There was a long period when Enyo was released but it was impossible to even buy a device that ran it and the SDK was not even available to devs without jumping through hoops to sign an NDA. They then made promises to bring Enyo to their first and second generation devices and subsequently changed their mind. They never got round to publishing a roadmap of which hardware would support which SDK or WebOS. Developers had the choice to develop for Mojo and hit the majority of devices, or blindly put their faith in Enyo and hope that someday HP/Palm would put out a decent device capable of running Enyo. But by this time nobody believed a word HP said... they had lost the trust of their own loyal fanbase. Eventually the Pre 3 and Touchpad came but by then the developers had left in droves. I bought a Pre 3 and the hardware was finally decent, but the OS was buggy and there were even fewer apps available for it than for the previous generation Pre and Pre 2. I sold it immediately.

    The sell-out to HP could have given Palm the resources they needed to push WebOS but it turned Palm from a nimble company capable of doing some cool stuff into a massive lumbering mess with no clearly defined plans. The signs of the downfall were obvious - the good talent that Palm had hired left almost immediately leaving a skill vacuum at HP/Palm. HP needed to act quickly but they failed to do so. And we all saw the shambolic mess they made of the touchpad launch and subsequent fire sale. Open sourcing WebOS is meaningless because it is a failed project with very little interest except a small (and highly loyal) fan base at WebOS internals. Even those guys must be wondering why they bothered.

    The only good thing to come of this is that I got a touchpad for £130 that now runs ICS very nicely. It's a great shame to see the Palm name die in such a catastrophic manner. HP should be ashamed of themselves. And one last thing... throughout all this I have often wondered what happened to Jon Rubinstein? Has he been paid off to keep quiet? I would imagine he is none too happy with the way things turned out but his silence is deafening.
    • it's not necessarily too late.

      Specially, when you think about it: despite its market success, android is a little bit outdated. It is Linux based. But its not a full featured linux system under the hood. Instead it's a non standard kernel + a special Java-like user space.
      Under the hood it looks more like a feature-phone's system on steroid rather than a pocket internet linux machine, although manufacturer tend to polish it very nicely.
      On the long-term, this non-standard stack could come bite you back later

  • is clever, but I now would prefer a single broswer with tabbed pages.
  • I agree with the people who think that if HP could make money on OS, they would and it would not be released under an OSS agreement.

    I also remember reading on SD a few weeks ago that the HP employees who built said WebOS was a dead end because they based it on some technology that would not handle heavier loads well.

    Agreed on all points, but I think HP deserves kudos.

    HP could have just locked the WebOS in a drawer, the way many companies do. Instead they are releasing it, which gives people who *might* ge

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