Open Source!

94 BY Fred Patton

Well, you’ve been waiting for the big webOS announcement, and today we’ve made it. This morning, HP announced that webOS will be going open source with the resources of HP behind it. The Developer Relations team is very excited by this announcement and what it means for the future of webOS, and for you, our developer community.

With this announcement, Meg Whitman has reiterated HP’s commitment to webOS as a cloud-connected, scalable platform, while opening up new possibilities for platform expansion and improvement. She has also committed HP to a course of continued improvement to webOS, which means we’re in it for the long haul. Finally, we are committed to good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation of the platform.

Here in Developer Relations, we have the deepest appreciation for you, our developer community. You have helped to bring this announcement about through your passion and commitment, through periods of both promise and uncertainty.

We are committed to you as not only contributors to our app ecosystem, but now to webOS itself. We recognize that there’s a larger open source community of which we will now be a part, and are excited by the future now open to us.

We also know you’ll have a lot of questions, and we don’t have all the answers right now. We will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments, both in the forums and here on the developer blog.

We hope you’ll join us for the next leg of this journey!

Comments (94)

  1. Olafur Arason says:

    Great move and as a proud owner of two WebOS devices I’m relived. I think WebOS has a lot of the right concepts in place and now it can blossom.

    But I think you should still make more devices, even though other companies also can.

  2. Carsten says:

    Can only second that: Great step HP! I am looking forward helping bringing webOS further. Mono for webOS sounds interesting but with enyo out there, we got a great framework for application development or did I misunderstand something here? Btw I am new to webOS — registered just because of the good news :)

  3. Jorge says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make it be an open source / free software… or at least make it so that one DOES NOT need to have proprietary tools to compile, use and / or re-distribute ???@!!! see what happens to android if you decide to do so ;)

  4. Jay K says:

    I think the first step in really securing WebOS is to create enyo / etc. compatibility apps / layers for other devices, including desktops. I think WebOS has a unique architecture and presents the possibility of producing a cross platform app development environment. This ability would draw MANY developers to the WebOS fold in short order.

    Here’s to a solid platform and a bright future.

  5. dawnmari says:

    I think its great. However, I have been unable to get a touchpad and find it hard to learn how to program for Web OS without a device. I was planning on buying one at the original price. My HP Touchsmart PC was first but no chance now. Maybe eventually I can get a refurbished one. If there is not going to be devices for this OS it will be harder to get new developers.

  6. verysaduser says:

    Far to little far too late imo, HP killed webos with their stupid business decisions and throwing a half backed product out the door and hoping it would compete against apple and Android for a whole seven weeks before pulling the plug.

    How short sighted and misguided can one company be ?

    A real shame webos could have been so good.

  7. Raju Bitter says:

    Feels like Adobe and their decision to contribute Adobe Flex to the Apache Software Foundation: If you have technology, and no idea how to monetize on it – but are afraid of killing – you just open source it.

  8. Tor says:

    Couldn’t disagree more with all the GPL advocates here – this will keep innovation off the platform. It makes much more sense to go with a permissive but GPL compatible license like MIT so that folks who want to develop proprietary solutions with the OS can do that, without preventing the open source community from contributing or innovating on their own.

    As an attorney working with open source every day, I can’t begin to tell you how much the GPL retards innovation and gets in the way due to license compatibility problems even with open source projects – do yourselves a favor HP and recognize that strong copyleft has serious downsides.

  9. eliasp says:

    @James Gifford: No, that’s not real. The github hpwebos project was simply a joke. Until there’s some real webOS/Enyo code available as OpenSource it might surely take 3-6 months, as some components need to be rewritten which cannot be licensed as OpenSource, all processes, the infrastructure around the project needs to be established etc. That’s nothing like: here’s a dump of the internal developer repositories and tools, now it’s OpenSource.

    @webOS Team: Please take a look at Nokia what they did with Qt and their Open Governance: This might provide some ideas for establishing a community driven webOS project.

  10. Andrew says:

    Great move guys, but please release your software under the GPLv3 licence. I don’t want webOS to be like Android (2.x is free, 3.x is not free, 4.x is free and 5.x who knows).

  11. Olle says:

    Nice move HP =). I declare WebOs back from the dead, I guess a BSD, Apache 2 or a MPL license would be appropriate.

  12. Alan says:

    PLEASE include the Classic emulator so that it can be updated to work on WebOS 2.2.x. That was one of the reasons I went with WebOS, only to find it didn’t work on my Pre3.

  13. John Connor says:

    Please use the GPLv3 with the “any later version” verbiage for WebOS, and make sure there are no proprietary build or flashing tool requirements. Oh, and don’t forget about any WebOS patents — those must be disarmed in order for free software developers to work with you.

  14. Tataarujin says:

    Awesome news! Hope webOS will become available soon to both desktops and Android phones and tablets, from low to latest high-end!

  15. Rafael says:

    I have always thought that PALM made a big mistake by selling to HP. HP dumped PALM after many years of great success with their products. Wrong decision from PALM, and even worse product handling by HP. Now we suffer the terrible decisions made when one wants money instead of helping the community. Apple (I dont like Apple products but I do respect them) had some tough times before reinventing. Palm could have done the same, but chose to sell itself. Horrible. Now that HP destroyed one the best pioneer companies (PALM) in handhelds, and almost destroyed the best product ever made in the mobile/handheld industry (WEBOS) I have the next intriguing question, like many of you might have also: If no hardware is coming from HP for WEBOS, now unleashing the software to the OPEN SOURCE community instead of selling (somewhat like Android and Google), are we expecting to see other device manufacturers setting up their new devices with WEBOS? Frankly, I love my Pre, but there will come a time when I need a new device with better hardware. Will it be available to install the fresh new WEBOS that the community upgraded? I really dont want to live my life with the best OS software but using a prehistoric device.

  16. E.Z says:

    Will specific devices drivers and kernel will be released as open source?
    I know that my HP Touchpad, for example, has some unused hardware perks that with those sources published, could be fully used (powered USB OTG, for example).


  17. Jon says:

    Just want to chime in and say:

    - Fantastic, disruptive, awesome news!!!
    - AVOID GPLn!!
    - Embrace MIT/BSD/Apache licenses or variations for what you need to do to create an excellent ecosystem and embrace a larger set of developers.

    It seems like a no brainer to stay away from GPL as Node is in the mix already but just to be a voice and whatnot.

    Again, WAY TO GO, this is a major win, now we just need to convince ourselves that the time spent here is worth it in $$, so eco-system away!

  18. William Merriam says:

    a little more GPL advocacy:

    Tor, you use the word “innovation” in every sentence, but you can’t begin to tell us (or HP) about it. I think you could try. What’s your favourite example of how the GPL retards innovation?

    Each licence — strong copyleft, permissive, or proprietary — has its downsides. Android has been successful at disrupting the mobile market with its permissive approach, but the downside is becoming clear. Carrier IQ is a recent example of a problem that would not happen on a predominantly GPL operating system.

  19. Dale Scheetz says:

    The news is great! However, even the link that James Gifford provided ( doesn’t seem to contain anything but a Wiki with the same announcement we see everywhere. Is this the site that will eventually provide the actual source? How long do we have to sit on pins an needles waiting to see how much will be released. I’m also hoping for some kind of design document to aid in getting a feel for the code architecture. Can’t wait…Bring it on!!!

  20. Aldi says:

    Great! I always liked WebOS, but it was no open source. Then I bet my horse on MeeGo which was killed in February. I don’t like Android, because it is only extremely-controlled-by-Google-open-source.
    Currently, there is an enormous vacuum which can be filled by WebOS. My next phone will be one.
    Thanks a lot!

  21. Raúl C. says:

    Good move! I hope the HP’s support for webOS will not be limited to the software platform growth. New devices will be basic for the platform acceptance. The old story.

  22. Liam says:

    Make WebOS a fastboot capable OS. Let people log-in using their X86 capable PC’s and Laptops to go in and access the web in seconds. Being able to open up email the web and apps like Spotify would be ace.

  23. Mike says:

    It’s a start. WebOS has great potential, but development and testing without a WebOS device has to be made a priority; if you can’t run PDK/JavaScript apps in the virtual machine, you’re stuck buying one of a limited number of WebOS devices to even test things. That said, WebOS appears to be much more flexible in the long run, and certainly has the potential for higher performance than some mobile platforms that will remain nameless. A complete x86 stack is the first order of business if HP really wants this to take off, and they could provide it in a matter of a few weeks if they really want to. If HP plays its cards right, WebOS might well end up being the environment of choice for those who want a real open-source, comprehensive stack for a particular device — not just a phone or a tablet.

    Having been around software for 30 years, it is disappointing to see HP stumble so badly in personal devices, a market they should have been the owners of. Hopefully, they can rectify the situation.

  24. Russ James says:

    I’m not a developer, but I’m really excited about this announcement. As a technical writer/copywriter I’m wondering how I can contribute to the success of this new open source project. Could someone point me in the right direction?

  25. Pingback: HP webOS Developer Blog

  26. harlow says:


  27. Naseer says:

    Awesome, after all HP come up with something that can bright webOS future. I am happy that the news came at right time. People want more webOS products with lots of new features and apps. I hope that the Open source will bring the same and also, will be able to use all platforms as well.

  28. Leviathan says:

    Very, very skeptical. Where’s the link to the source code? How long will be have the source. Until it’s released “in the wild” this remains purely wishful thinking…