With one paragraph posted three days ago, HP's Open webOS team kicked off a storm in the webOS Nation community: Open webOS would not support any existing webOS devices, including the HP TouchPad. The statement included the entirely factual point that the drivers for the TouchPad are not open source, nor does the processor support the Linux Standard Kernel 3.3 that's at the heart of Open webOS. Understandably, that brief explanation was not enough for the webOS Nation community, who had been operating under the assumption that since Open webOS is shapeing up to essentially be a moderately improved and open source version of the webOS currently available on the TouchPad, that their favorite webOS tablet would be getting an update to Open webOS. We'd been operating under that assumption as well.
Today, after talking about Enyo with HP's Enda McGrath (full disclosure: HP is paying for my flight and hotel for this trip), I asked the question on the mind of just about every member of the webOS Nation community: "Why, HP, why?" The simple answer is that while the Open webOS team wanted to support the TouchPad with an updated version of the OS, they had to make the hard decision not to dedicate the large number of employees and considerable amount of time it would have taken to accomplish the task. Apparently predicting (correctly) that I was about to ask if the departures and layoffs that have hit the webOS group have affected the progress and priorities list, Enda added that their constantly hiring new people to work on webOS.
To put things into perspective, Enda pointed out that to open source LunaSysMgr took tens of thousands of man-hours, with developers going over hundreds of thousands of lines of code to remove and replace proprietary code from dozens of outside sources. And it's not as simple as pulling out one module and putting in another one, often times the new open source code would require rewriting aspects of the existing open source-safe code so it would work. Besides the open sourcing work, improvements were made like integrating the QtWebKit engine and Node.js, all of which took even more man-hours.
While time is obviously a restraining factor in all things, the straw that broke the update camel's back was the choice to use the Linux Standard Kernel 3.3, which the Qualcomm APQ8060 processor in the TouchPad simply does not support, and it's unknown if it will ever be certified for the kernel. While it's technically possible to make a build of Open webOS that will run on the TouchPad, when push came to shove, making that happen was dropped off of the list of top priorities in Sunnyvale.