Friday, 9 December 2011

webOS goes open source

It looks like HP have decided that after discontinuing all the hardware that runs webOS, they still think it has some sort of future. To that end, HP have announced that they are going to release webOS as open source. Quite exactly how much of the full source code equivalent to binaries and firmware shipped on, say, a Pre phone or TouchPad tablet is going to turn up isn't exactly clear from the press release.

Does this mean we'll see the source code for the TouchPad boot ROM? That has an unchangeable maddening feature of powering on a fully shutdown TouchPad when you attach a USB connection to it. 99.9% of the time users will be attaching a USB cable to a powered down TouchPad to charge it, so why does it power on when you do that - sucking what little remaining charge left there is from the battery and also ludicrously forcing me to manually power it down again? This was a horrendous boot ROM decision that I'm surprised very few TouchPad owners complain about.

Moving onto webOS itself, will all the source code for drivers for Pre phones and TouchPad tablets be released (e.g. for the 3D graphics, audio, wi-fi accelerometer, camera, Bluetooth etc.)? If that was going to happen, then the CyanogenMod team would be able to study the code to fix issues and I'm sure it would also help in their forthcoming port of Android 4 to the TouchPad too.

If all we get is the code to do the webOS graphical (and audio) interface and nothing lower than that level, then I'm not particularly interested. Sure, it might result in making it easier to produce webOS mods, but to be honest, unless HP or another manufaturer actually starts making products with webOS pre-installed, then the platform is still in a zombie state as far as I'm concerned and CyanogenMod 7 Alpha 3 is still a much more vibrant and useful OS at the moment.

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