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09 December 2011, 19:44

HP to make webOS an open source project

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HP Logo HP has announced that it will be making webOS, the operating system of the discontinued Palm Pre smartphones and TouchPad tablet, into an open source project. HP did not disclose if webOS was to be contributed to an existing foundation or be instituted as part of a new organisation. The company did say that it plans to be an active participant and investor in the project and would be looking for "good, transparent, inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation".

HP also did not disclose what licence it plans to make the webOS code available under, saying only that it would be an "open source licence". HP's announcement says it also plans to open source the ENYO application framework "in the near future" and will present a plan for the "remaining components of the user space" in the same timeframe.

There are, currently, no hardware vendors shipping webOS-based devices. HP discontinued its webOS hardware earlier this year, and reported plans for webOS on printers and as an alternative "quick boot" OS for PCs did not come to anything.

The Linux-based webOS uses HTML, CSS and JavaScript extensively in the application layer of the stack and already integrates contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn and other mail systems through its Synergy system. "webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable" said Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, when announcing the open source move.

HP acquired webOS creators Palm in April 2010 for $1.2 billion dollars, then announced the HP TouchPad in the months that followed. The HP TouchPad is, ironically, a popular tablet, but only became so after HP sold the device at prices as low as $99 when it cleared its stock after announcing it had discontinued it in August 2011. Modders have, at least until now, been more interested in porting Android to the device, as webOS has been closed source (apart from the GPL Linux components).


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