LG-owned webOS, the dynamic and eye-catching operating system seen on the company’s smart TVs and smartwatches, now has an open source edition that’s available to all interested developers. The system does not come bare-bones; LG equips it with a launcher out of the box, as well as a few basic apps, including a web browser. webOS can be compiled for a range of device types, but as it comes, the operating system can be compiled from source and installed on a Raspberry Pi 3 with almost no fuss, and everything should work fine on the hardware end. With the OS now open-source, LG is also looking to get partners on board to use it, and has solicited the help of South Korea’s government to garner business proposals.
The newly open source webOS does not come with the uniquely useful and beautiful launchers and system software that were seen on previous devices that used the OS; gone is the intuitive card-based interface seen on the Palm Pixi, and later copied on the HP TouchPad. Likewise, developers don’t have access to the circular OS seen on some LG smartwatches. Instead, LG is providing the OS as a base, and hoping to see developers take off in their own directions with it. Its specialties include, among other things, an easy-to-use React-based framework and a built-in command line editor that can hook into almost any IDE for development and live testing.
webOS started out as a smartphone OS that Palm wanted to use to compete with iOS and Android. When the likes of the Palm Pixi and Palm Pre fell flat, HP bought up Palm and retooled WebOS for its tablet lineup and a few smartphones, such as the tiny HP Veer. Eventually, they sold the platform to LG, and it found a new life inside just about every non-smartphone device that the prominent OEM put out. HP’s implementation of webOS was open-sourced when the computer company still owned the OS, and can likely be found somewhere, but the new version from LG is, developmentally, leaps and bounds ahead of that old version, and it comes with far more tools, apps, and capabilities right out of the box.