HP keeps its promise, launches beta of Open webOS

Open webOS beta running in UbuntuThough it gave up on any plans to continue its Pre and TouchPad hardware collection, HP has managed to keep webOS alive. We’ve known for a while that HP wanted to introduce an open source version of webOS, but its recently made it official by finally releasing the beta version after keeping us waiting for eight months.

The news was released via a blog post on an Open webOS branded site. The website looks like it features the original webOS font (nice touch) and includes some documentation pertaining to the new software. If you’re interested in looking it over, the source code can be found on the site and on Github. An example of Open webOS beta can be seen above, running on a Ubuntu machine. The screenshot captures the trademark card view that made multitasking on webOS such a pleasure.

“It has taken a lot of hard work, long hours and weekend sacrifices by our engineering team to deliver on our promise and we have accomplished this goal,” the developers write in the post.

Open webOS comes with two different build environments: a desktop build and an OpenEmbedded build.

The desktop build provides a way for developers to play around with new features and technologies bundled with the OS on a Ubuntu PC. The OpenEmbedded build, on the other hand, allows webOS to be ported to “new and existing devices.” There are no specific devices named in the article, but hopefully this will be clarified sooner rather than later. However, it would make sense for Open webOS to play nice with Android — its open source peer — and perhaps even make it super simple to revamp Android apps to run on Open webOS. 

Although there is one piece of hardware that’s definitely able to run the beta software. The webOS-Ports team have come together to make Open webOS simple to install on the short-lived TouchPad using Preware software. If you’re still using a TouchPad and for some reason don’t want it to run Android, the update may be worth it you. Apparently the beta version includes a bunch of new features, gestures, and card-based functions.

According to the blog, the beta release of Open webOS comes with 54 components and totals over 450,000 lines of code. It all falls under the Apache 2.0 license, which the developers call “one of the most liberal and accepted in the open source community.”

All in all, Open webOS may breathe new life into the ailing platform. Just don’t expect to see it be picked up with the same ferocity as Android once was. Sadly, those days are well behind us.