Hewlett-Packard's is taking WebOS open source, but its success may depend on what license it chooses as well as protecting developers from lawsuits.
When HP outlined its open source plans, it left a lot of key details hanging. The biggest item is the license scheme. Here are the answers to four key pieces of the open source logistic puzzle via HP executives.
Who owns the patents? HP is retaining the patents related to WebOS. Why? HP will use them to defend developers that use the WebOS code.
What license will HP use? HP said it is going to use something similar to Apache. CDDL, Apache and MPL are all possibilities. HP's biggest goal is to keep WebOS from splintering, but it also can't create a parallel licensing universe. Apache would be the most logical choice with MPL as a possibility.
What happens to WebOS employees? Employees will remain with HP until an organizational structure is created.
What's the governance model? HP will use an open governance model and has looked extensively at Red Hat's Fedora model. The goal is to be open, but prevent forks. Under the Fedora model, contributions are evaluated by the community.
Overall, HP's plan sounds reasonable. Going forward, HP is reportedly going to consider WebOS tablets in 2013. Whether that actually happens or not---HP could be hinting at WebOS tablets just to garner developer interest---will largely depend on the four items above.