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WebOS Ports gets Open webOS up and running on the Google Nexus 7 [video]

As if the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Open webOS port wasn't enough, WebOS Ports has announced a new porting project: Open webOS on the Google Nexus 7. The seven-inch Android-powered tablet built by Asus was the premiere launch devices for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and thanks to the open source and open hardware nature of the device, it is the perfect fit for WebOS Ports's next porting adventure.

Seeing how much we loved the small seven-inch TouchPad Go, it's no surprise that the equally small Nexus 7 tablet was on the radar of WebOS Ports. Though larger, the 1280x800 screen on the Nexus 7 is close enough in pixel dimensions to the 1280x720 screen on the Galaxy Nexus, so a lot of the work put into the smartphone project could be easily translated to the Nexus 7.

How easy? This work was led by WebOS Ports's Simon "morphis" Busch over the course of about a week while he was on winter break from college. The port was accomplished with the Galaxy Nexus project in conjunction with LibHybris, created by Carsten Munk (an engineer at Jolla, though he also leads Merproject, which grew out of Sailfish ancestors Maemo and Meego), a library that allows for "bionic-based [Android] hardware adaptations in glibc systems", in essence making it easier to translate between the designed-for-Android hardware and Linux-based software like the Open webOS operating system. This means that with LibHybris the WebOS Ports team won't have to write drivers from scratch for different Android-based devices they might wish to attack. In addition to LibHybris, the Nexus 7 leverages the work of those involved in Merproject, FreeSmartphone, and SHR Project.

A video of the port in action is after the break, and as an early alpha we're rather impressed. Open webOS on the Nexus 7 runs generally smoothly (there's some intermittent and infrequent lag, which isn't anything too surprising at this stage) and has improved considerably from our last look at Open webOS on the Galaxy Nexus. In addition there's now an Enyo 2-based Settings app that allows you to toy with things like the Wi-Fi and brightness settings and the new OWO Memos app (also Enyo 2 based). The port also supports the classic webOS tablet keyboard, the made-for-the-Galaxy-Nexus virtual gesture area, and forward-swipe-driven screen rotation. Essentially, it's like webOS on the TouchPad Go, except on the slimmer, lighter, faster, newer Nexus 7 and more open source-y.

Oh, and did we mention that it runs untethered now? Yeah, it does that. Being able to use Open webOS on the device without being hooked up to your computer is a big deal, and we're really quite psyched to see that happen. You still have to boot from a desktop, but after that you can unplug the cable and get on with the webOSing.

The Nexus 7 Open webOS port is still in its early stages, but thanks to the work done on the Galaxy Nexus port it's come a long way in a relatively short time. We're looking forward to what's coming next.


Might just have to get a N7 now...
Well, of course, after it can be a "daily driver" of a tablet. I'm assuming that won't happen until we can at least get Preware installed for OWOS. But, thanks to Ports and others! Keep up the great work! :D

You can sideload IPKs.

Just watched the video. Fantastic news! With the App Catalog and some graphics drivers to help with acceleration, this could be a fairly usable OS!

God darn it "webOS Ports"! You'da men!
I just hope this 2013 we can see a "Open webOS" target device that can be bought and Open-webOS_ported with "ease".
Thank you for all your efforts.
Wish 2013 is the best year for you guys.

Has anybody heard any news as far as OpenMobile goes. I remember reading a while back that HP might have been working out a deal with them... Did anything come of this?

But over all this is a great step forward in getting some new hardware up and running. Hopefully it will entice some hardware developer to think twice about loading this OS on their devices and really get the ball rolling again.

Sad to say but i honestly feel HP hasn't done much lately to help grow the community. Then again i don't know what goes on behind closed doors. But I feel like they should get their engineer engaged actively in the community assisting when/where possible. Having some of these guys helping out the PORTS team might have some of these projects moving a lot fast and smoother. Which in turn might start getting some third party hardware companies on board with making new devices.

I tried contacting openmobile when I first read this (I was thinking of putting this on my nexus 7) but I haven't got a reply yet.

Let us know if you hear anything new out of them. It'd be really interesting to hear if thier people are working with devices like the galaxy nexus open webos port, or still using the ol' touchpad.

Forget HP.
That company is drowning in a sea of troubles.
It's getting mismanaged into a downward spiral by internal turf wars and it's too big, inflexible and incompetent to keep up with the rapid changes it would need to adapt to.

We'll only hear of HP doing anything for/with webos if it appears on a TV or Toaster. Or whatever the potential partner of the month is interested in.

If HP does anything ever again with webos on tablets (very unlikely) it will only be after the failure of W8. That'll take a few quarters to a year or so. And even then they'll probably opt for using Android or buying RIM/Blackberry (whenever HP runs out of idea they buy a company and publish a grand new strategy - which they'll then mess-up and abandon a while later).
Anything HP does with webos on tablets will be too little too late.

Unless some other company picks up webos it will be enthusiasts only who'll push it forward.
Doesn't have to be a bad thing. Linux came a long way that way.

This is GREAT news! Runs amazing for an early Alpha release. Keep up the excellent work webOS Ports!

Is it sad that I legitimately shed a tear watching this video? It's so good to see webos carry on, and to see the work with ENYO2 and it's associated apps, and LibHybris. It's posts like these that make me think webos is going to make it.

Darn it there's no download yet.

Very Cool! Glad to see some stuff is happening!

Overall good article, but there are a couple of points that I think should be made-
One: Screen rotation isn't actually done via accellerometer yet, what you see in the video is mapped to a forward-swipe on the gesture area. I would have had to angle the tablet perpendicular to the camera to trigger the accellerometer.
Two: We've been running untethered for quite some time now, you still need to boot the OS over USB, but after that you're good to go.
If anyone has any questions they'd like an answer to regarding our porting work, feel free to post it here and I'll attempt to answer.
(But please, no 'will you port to xyz device'.)

Thanks for the corrections.

Great work.

I had been hoping for news like this.

I have a N7 lying around here waiting for a webos port. So no 'will you port to xyz device'.) from me. ;-)

Android is good enough - but I miss the better UI and true multi-tasking of webos. And the many details like gestures any Synegery and even Just Type that are so much better than anything IOS or Android have on offer so far.

What's the best place to follow the progress of the N7 webos port? Mailing list or some such?

If you don't mind me asking, what's your definition of untethered? I thought untethered meant you can turn the device on without it being connected to a computer. Just confused.

If I may ask questions, I'll just do:

1. I'd like to know which devices are currently worked on.
2. Are any of these devices sure to be working a 100% with open webOS one day?
3. Are any devices there that have been found to NOT work with open webOS? (from forums I took Nexus 4 is likely to not work because of the used CPU, so I was quite surprised to see the Nexus 7 does).

I mean... I see a lot of progress, and I even would like to buy a target device already. I just don't wanna buy something that may one day be looked at as "oh, this and that chip, we will not get it running with openWebOS. If you guys are sure for example a Nexus will run with everything enabled one day, that is enough for me to buy it.

Besides that, some inside information would be nice to have. Like... what have you achieved so far, what have you learned device specific during porting, what elements of a specific port is giving you a headache and why.

And finally, what can the crowd do to help (besides donations).

anybody else think it's wierd that we talk about this today and ebay's mystery deal of the day is the Nexus 7.... just thought that was kind of strange...


That's great! Good stuff guys. Can't wait to c what's next ;)

I love that gesture area

A small tear ran down my face. :)

Wow, very nice. It seems to run quite smooth.

In terms of app catalog why not make the webOS nation app gallery into an enyo2 app and split of apps that will run on open webos (enyo2 ones) and those that wont and use that as an app catalog.

first of all, big fan of webOS. but, i get the feeling that development of open webOS is crawling along. not much of significance has occurred since it was cut loose months ago. seems like if HP were serious about growing the OS, they'd offer up some development engineers to help the community get things off the ground.

the community is too slow to demonstrate real results i hate to say.

why don't you help in the Project?
maybe you can do it better and faster...


Well - that slow community is still faster than one of the biggest tech companies in the world.

As long as IOS and Android (I have been using a N7 for a few months now) still haven't caught up with webos I'm happy to wait a few more months. Every time I look for an app on my N7 I'm annoyed that I can't just Just Type and find the app with a letter or 2 (as I do on my Pre3).

Every time I switch apps I miss webos. And the Synergy Contacts are still better than anything I've seen on Android or IOS (with IOS being the most limited one of the 3 and they had the most time and resources).

agreed that webOS is the best mobile OS, hands down. that is why i continue to use it daily. i could have an android (have CM10 installed and don't use it) or IOS device if i wanted, i just don't care to.

point is if the community is relying upon college kids to port during their vacations, the community AND HP is failing the open webOS effort.

Linux has been started by "college kids".
And by now it has become one of the (if not the) most successful OS of all time.
Only a couple of % in the desktop market - but everybody uses it every day (browsing the web, playing DVDs, using their smartphones and a myriad of other uses).

That*s one thing that HP did right after they dropped the ball - at least they open sourced it.

I just read that Samsung might release a Tizen phone this year. That's a bit surprising after they dropped Bada. Either W8 is failing even faster than I expected (and I believe it'll be another Vista and the end of Ballmer as MS CEO), or they like to have another option in their arsenal to keep both MS and Google in check. So there is always a chance that Samsung or another company with similarly strategic interests might pick up webos for similar reasons.

But I'll be satisfied as long as I can install webos on new hardware every couple of years. Or until Android incorporates it's advanced features.

You can't "Just Type" the name of your app in the Google search bar and the app doesn't show up like it does on my SGS3? Or you could install Google Gesture Search and draw out the letters of what you're looking for....similar to Graffitti.
Couple of options there.

Nice, very nice. Love that virtual gesture area on tablet even with enhanced gesture to switch through the running apps in fullscreen mode.

Now we need those propritary parts like synergy connectors for contacts/calendar with google, EAS and social networks, so these devices can be used as primary device.

And App Catalog/ cloud backup also is missing.

Perhaps it's time for gram to deal with those cloud issues, after webOS Ports already deals with all the hardware issues.


Nice, very nice. Love that virtual gesture area on tablet even with enhanced gesture to switch through the running apps in fullscreen mode.

Now we need those propritary parts like synergy connectors for contacts/calendar with google, EAS and social networks, so these devices can be used as primary device.

And App Catalog/ cloud backup also is missing.

Perhaps it's time for gram to deal with those cloud issues, after webOS Ports already deals with all the hardware issues.


Brilliant work!

Now to learn how to do this myself....


Looks like someone is going to bring WebOS to a phone.