It's not exactly good, but it's novel certainly

Palm's fallen mobile operating system webOS still manages to make headlines even three years after its new owner, Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ), laid it to rest.  Once viewed as a stronger challenger to Apple, Inc. (AAPL) in the premium smartphone space than Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android, the OS is today finding new life thanks to several projects, one of which targets mobile devices.
Official support from HP for the now-defunct catalog of webOS devices ended in Jan. 2012 with the release of webOS 3.0.5.  Now at last there's some fresh material for webOS die-hards, thanks to the Open webOS Project.
webOS is now sponsored by South Korea's LG Electronics, Inc. (KRX:066570)(KRX:066575) which bought the OS in Feb. 2013 to use as a Smart TV platform.  The new owner is allowing a coalition of fans and veteran webOS developers to bring new open source webOS builds to mobile devices.  The project builds upon the earlier efforts HP, who began open-sourcing parts of webOS, starting with the release of the Enyo, a cross-platform JavaScript framework SDK.
At its core webOS was somewhat similar to Android, using many open source software components and an Android kernel.  As a result it's been fairly easy for the project to freshen the core software.
Started in early 2012, the open webOS project quietly went through several test builds before launching Open webOS 1.0 in Sept. 2012.  In Jan. 2013, a build of OWOS 1.0 launched as an aftermarket ROM for the Nexus 7, an Android device. Since then much of the work has been put towards updating this codebase and porting it to new mobile devices.
The HP Touchpad is among the devices supported by the new "LuneOS".

The fruits of that labor were finally shown this week by WebOS Ports, a companion group of the Open WebOS project.  The group this week announced the launch of LuneOS -- a freshened version of webOS.  LuneOS is based on the latest open source Linux web/GUI framework packages including QT 5.2, QML, and WebKit 2.
The just released launch build of LuneOS is available for the Nexus 4 and HP TouchPad.  The Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 (2012 Wi-Fi-edition) are also supported, but will not receive ongoing support with future releases.

Screenshots of LuneOS in smartphone form

PivotCE, a Palm enthusiast project associated with the release, describes:

The first eye catching change is the new name we’ll be using for our project going forward. The distribution will be called "LuneOS" instead of "WebOS Ports Open webOS" because it wasn’t very catchy.  Lune is the French translation of moon and refers to the user interface we all love so much in legacy webOS, LunaSysMgr, which is named after the Latin/Spanish translation of moon.

The release model for LuneOS is a rolling one where each of the releases will get its own name from a list of coffee beverages. This first release is "Affogato".

All work for each release is visible to the public and users can also update to unreleased stages to support the developers with testing and bug fixing. Our overall aim is to deliver high quality software which is stable and satisfies the needs of our users. We plan to have a new release at the beginning of each month.

The project's evolution since its June 2013 Alpha 2 build includes revamps of many of the core apps (Memo, PDF app, file manager, Calculator, Email), support for Wi-Fi internet access, and a rewrite of the SysManager, which handles tasking on the target mobile hardware.

The project borrowed Android's telephony system and graphics drivers.  The developers plan to later integrate Android's open source camera and sensor drivers, as well as Android's open source hardware-accelerated video decoding packages.

The Wi-Fi enabled LuneOS has revamped versions of many of the core webOS apps.

This is obviously a very limited release for a small set of devices -- including deprecated webOS devices that have few current users.  And the developers involved realize that.  Their ambitions are much more down to Earth than Meego's resurgent "Sailfish OS" effort by Jolla.  As they say:

The main focus of LuneOS is to provide an operating system which is driven by the community and continues what we love(d) about webOS. We’re not trying to reach feature comparison with Android or iOS but rather building a system to satisfy basic needs in the mobile environment.

Despite the limited scope, the developers involved are excited that LG is allowing them to make the most of webOS' second chance at mobile life.  If you have a compatible device and would like to check out the LuneOS, the installation instructions can be found here.
In related news, HP recently settled with shareholders who were disgruntled at the death of webOS.  The settlement is reportedly worth $57M USD -- more than enough to buy some devices to run LuneOS on.

Sources: PivotCE, via Engadget

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