Maybe good news, maybe not so good

Story: HP buys Phoenix's HyperSpace quick-start LinuxTotal Replies: 3
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Jun 13, 2010
12:38 PM EDT
I will be disappointed, but not particularly surprised, if, when we next hear about this HyperSpace system, it's launching some form of Palm's WebOS, another recent HP purchase, rather than Linux.

HyperSpace was an odd duck, coming as it did out of Phoenix Technologies, whose strength has always been in the BIOS space, and who have spent the last decade or so buying up other contenders in that space. The BIOS world is low-level, mostly in x86 assembly, bound tightly to the specific hardware it's shipped with, and heavily masked by NDA's and their trade-secret attitude, as that is one place where the coder really has to have access to all the gritty details of the foundation hardware, trade-secret or not, just to make it work -- an uneasy pairing with a multiplatform GPL'd kernel in C. The culture clash has to be abrupt, because those are fundamentally opposed viewpoints. Maybe that's why Phoenix let go of it.

IMNSHO HP is a slippery friend to Free Software. Its "Hewlett-Packard Integrity" theme largely got swallowed up by the Compaq people brought in by that merger of Carly's; now it's as situational as any other large corporation, with a fondness for shaking the money tree hard (printer inks come to mind here) and a bias towards keeping MS happy as a partner, I'll be happy to be wrong, but I don't see any part of this HyperSpace being open-sourced anytime soon, rather I see it as HP's new advantage in integrating the device and computer spaces. Maybe this will become their universal sub-OS recovery-and-maintenance mode, with some netbook apps thrown in so the customer likes it, as well as their device GUI.

Maybe this is where the next fundamentally-enabling open-source project (along the lines of Live-CD and GRUB) should go: the low-level hooks and functions to convert your choice of minimal distro into a boot-ROM-launched desktop... after looking into exactly what patents Phoenix held that it used litigation to enforce. Unless and until the present holder, be it Phoenix or HP, drops them into the Open Invention patent pool, they'll be a pain, maybe even a roadblock, to code around. Maybe it'll become an extension of OpenBios. The more this corner of computing is opened up, the better.

Jun 14, 2010
1:09 PM EDT
Half empty? or Half full? The bright side is that if they do anything with the code, they are required by the GPL to release their source code changes,... which could mean more insight into hardware drivers, and downstream contributions to the Linux kernel...

So, the worst case scenario is that they bury the code, or they don't comply with the GPL. After buying Palm, and now this,... I tend to think they are on their way to becoming better partners with open source then they had been in the past. Besides,... working a Linux angle can have beneficial consequences for them in negotiations with M$ over vendor pricing. It works in their advantage to do a small amount for the community to get M$ to continue to take notice and try bargaining with them.

Jun 14, 2010
1:19 PM EDT
HP has always had one toe in the Open Source waters while largely remaining in the proprietary world. They will certainly do what is best for their business. Their history has not shown any cases I can think of where they deliberately violated licenses. If they continue to develop purchased GPL software I expect they will comply with the GPL.

Jun 14, 2010
1:37 PM EDT
Probably it has something to do with their 'internet capable' printers, which are going to run WebOS. Things like mailing pictures / text from a smartphone to the printer and such.

It looks like they're aiming at an 'approachable easy to use simple interface' OS, and I guess they're going to mix WebOS and HyperSpace.

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