HP releases webOS open source roadmap

January 26, 2012 // 12:55 p.m.

Tags: #android #hewlett-packard #hp #linux #open-webos #palm #tablet #touchpad #webos

Hewlett Packard has announced further details regarding the release of its webOS platform - as seen on the Palm Pre smartphone series and short-lived TouchPad tablet - under an open source licence, committing to a schedule that sees the full code released by September this year.

When HP announced plans to shut down its webOS hardware division, shortly after the launch of the TouchPad tablet and not that long after purchasing the rights to webOS as part of its acquisition of PDA pioneer Palm, questions were raised about the future of the platform the company had once hailed as the future of computing.

When Meg Whitman, late of auction house eBay, took the helm, things were clarified: while HP would be ceasing production of webOS hardware, it would release the source code for the software under an open source licence for the community to do with as it sees fit.

The news was seen by some as little more than a death sentence for the platform, while others - in particular those who had bought the TouchPad tablet at its knock-down price of £79 following HP's stock clearance programme - held on to the hope that it could mean the platform has a future after all.

HP's latest roadmap for the release, which comes as it makes the Enyo object-oriented JavaScript development framework available under the Apache v2 open-source licence, sees a rolling programme of releases over the coming months: following Enyo 2.0's release this month will be the unveiling of a project governance model to determine how the open source programme is managed, the release of the Qt-based WebKit browser extensions, the JavaScript engine core, and the Enyo widgets that form part of the core webOS user interface.

In March, HP promises to release a standard Linux kernel compatible with webOS, code for the EGL graphics extensions, LevelDB and USB code, while April will see Enyo 2.1 released alongside the Ares 2.0 application development toolkit. July will give the community access to the Luna system manager, core applications, and Enyo 2.0, while August will be the landmark release of a build model and the first beta of Open webOS.

Finally, HP claims that September will see the first release of Open webOS 1.0, the first fully open-source release of the mobile platform.

While the TouchPad and Pre discount sales saw plenty of interest from developers, hackers and end-users alike, there's still no guarantee that HP's gamble will pay off: webOS is impressive enough, but it is competing directly with the far more popular Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' platform from advertising giant Google, which is similarly released under an - admittedly somewhat more restrictive - open source licence.

Do you think that webOS will have a future as an open source project, or will the best parts be merged into Android and the rest left to fester? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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