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PreCentral: Hands-on with the alpha Open webOS port for Galaxy Nexus

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Hands-on with the alpha Open webOS port for Galaxy Nexus

Ah, webOS, it's good to see you again.

Sure, I see webOS every day on my Pre3 and TouchPad, but they're starting to show their age. And, well, they're getting boring. Still great hardware and all, but just long in the tooth. So when I found out that WebOS Ports was targeting the Samsung Galaxy Nexus as their first Open webOS port device, you can imagine my excitement. "New hardware!" I shouted from the nearest hilltop.

Having procured a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, so began the wait to be able to install Open webOS on my shiny new toy. It was an anxious wait, during which time I toyed around with the build instructions, getting to know my way around Ubuntu and Terminal (I'm a Mac guy who likes graphical user interfaces). At least I thought I was getting to know my way around - turns out I'm really only good for copying and pasting the commands given by the fine folks that hang out in the WebOS Ports IRC channel. Earlier this week we got the installation instructions, and after two days of utter headaches trying to hack my way around Ubuntu, swap space, the Android SDK, and the build process with minimal knowledge pertaining to the operation of any component, I finally managed to get Open webOS running on my Galaxy Nexus (again, with significant assistance from the WebOS Ports IRC gang - a number of the hurdles I as a 'normal' person encountered made their way into addendums to the instructions)

It's webOS, as we know it on the TouchPad, but seriously stripped down. Open webOS as released to open source by HP is lacking in many areas, which we won't waste your time going over here. Suffice to say that even when the WebOS Ports team gets the Galaxy Nexus port running at full speed and all cylinders, there will still be significant application and services hurdles to overcome.

But back to the port. It's still an early alpha state, and there are some things that would prevent you from using this as anything more than a guinea pig right now. It has to be tethered to your computer to boot. There's no working radio support, be it Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular. The accelerometer doesn't work. Everything is absolutely tiny, being formatted for the four-times-larger TouchPad screen but still displayed pixel-for-pixel on the Galaxy Nexus. And it's not super stable or remotely optimized on many fronts.
It's a proof of concept at this point that's rapidly evolving to what will hopefully someday be a fully functional device.

Even as a development toy right now, it's still a delight to see and play with. Sure, I can't really do much with it so long as there's no radio functionality, but that will come eventually. In the meantime, I'm going to launch Calendar again and start swiping through the empty schedule. Video after the break.

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