updated 03:15 pm EST, Wed January 25, 2012
HP Open webOS ready by September with common Linux
HP has acted on its promise to open-source webOS with an important change that could affect the devices that use it. Now called Open webOS, it's moving to a common Linux kernel that will let hardware makers use much more typical drivers and bring it to hardware beyond what HP originally intended. The OS will sit under an Apache 2 license, which will let others copy code as long as they include the license and attribution.
As part of the update, HP is also revamping the Enyo app development framework. Enyo 2.0 is no longer inherently bound to the WebKit rendering engine and can run purely in a web browser, allowing webOS apps to run in any modern browser, including iOS and Android. The strategy could help encourage app development while letting webOS owners run some apps even if their device isn't on.
Enyo 2.0 as well as the webOS-only Enyo 1.0 both have code available immediately. Open webOS' code won't be ready until September, but it should be available both as source and as an update for regular users at or near the same time. HP has hinted it might be willing to support more than just the last batch of webOS devices and could give even the original Pre some support.
WebOS was once pitched as a possible iPhone-beating platform when the original Pre shipped in June 2009. Slow and cheaply made hardware, along with delays in getting major new devices and a lack of apps, eventually quashed much of the early anticipation. HP's acquisition of Palm in mid-2010 kept it alive, although possible serious mismanagement with the new ownership eventually led to plans to scuttle the hardware division and later to preserve the software. HP hasn't ruled out its own return to hardware with a possible tablet or more in 2013.