Note: Yes, WebOS Technically still exists. However, this article isn't talking about the TV OS version made by LG.

While this article was actually written to discuss getting Palm devices usable, I felt some preamble was necessary.

My Palm History

I've got a soft spot for Palm. My first PDA was the Palm Vx, possibly the greatest PDA ever made. Easily get days of battery from a device that can store all your calendar and contacts information, synchronizing periodically with your master copy on your computer.

Palm lost its way with later versions of PalmOS. Devices got more spec competitive, but batteries didn't. My Tungsten T3 while technically superior in every spec, was actually less capable of performing it's primary PIM tasks than the Vx before it.

We'll just skip over the dark years:

  • Software and Hardware divisions split
  • Software eventually dead-ends in development hell (taking the remains of BeOS with it)
  • Windows Mobile on Palm Hardware

Eventually Palm decided to get their act together.

Hello WebOS

Palm's WebOS showing blew me away. I wanted one so much that when they finally released in Canada, I walked into a Bell store in September 2009 and signed a 3-year contract, despite being laid off work only a week earlier.

The biggest complaint was the Palm Prē launch hardware. While very comparable spec-for-spec with the iPhone 3G and 3GS, WebOS featured multitasking with multiple running applications. Apple didn't. End result was the Prē was often laggy and slow. It was unfortunate.

Palm quickly released an updated Prē Plus in May 2010 with twice the memory. Eventually, the Prē2 (released October 2010) would reveal what a WebOS device should be like. I actually had one shipped up from the United States (since Bell had started converting from CDMA to HSPA+, just in time).

HP's wallet to the rescue

However, Palm was struggling financially. Before the Prē2 was released, HP bought Palm. This was a good thing: Palm will finally have the financial backing to take on Apple and Android platforms.

Looking forward, the Prē3 was on the horizon for 2011. Featuring a major CPU upgrade, a significantly higher-res screen, and a refreshed design. Launching alongside the TouchPad tablet, there were some amazing demos. Tapping content between devices was mind-blowing at the time.

Anticipation was high. Months passed.

Finally, the Prē3 launched in Europe on August 16, 2011. "US is coming up in the near future". Two days later, on August 18, 2011, HP kills Palm.

There was hope that the OS would continue, other hardware vendors might pop-up. Unfortunately, none of that happened (LG smart TVs aside).

Palm Hardware in 2016

Due to the very open nature of WebOS (every device being a development device after a quick, official procedure) there was already a wide community modifying WebOS.

It was due to the efforts of these people that WebOS 2 was backported to the unsupported Prē (including features like voice dialing, etc).

The homebrew scene was particularly active with the "Preware" package manager, and alternative to the official App Catalog. Additionally, the nature of an OS built on HTML and Javascript opened the doors to a wide variety of patches and modifications.

WebOS MetaDoctor allowed users to spin a new, customized WebOS image with pre-applied applications, patches, and features (including massaging hardware support). Then was then flashed to the phone for a customized user experience.

In late 2014, HP announced they were shutting down the authentication servers. Considering a Palm account was a required account for device activation, this had the potential to be the final nail in the WebOS coffin if it wasn't for MetaDoctor allowing you to skip the Palm account step.

WebOS in 2016

Luckily, HP decided to Open WebOS, as well as the Enyo app framework. This allowed others to continue development of the platform.

LuneOS was born, and began modernizing. While this unfortunately means that it can't run on the old Palm hardware, it does run on (slightly) newer Nexus hardware (Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4).

Followups to come

Stay tuned for articles on both Meta-doctoring Palm hardware, as well as running LuneOS on a Nexus 4.