HP TouchPad afterlife: Hackers bringing Android, Ubuntu to HP’s tablet

HP TouchPad

HP has repeatedly stated that while the company is discontinuing webOS hardware including smartphones and the recently launched HP TouchPad tablet, that the webOS operating system will continue. HP is hoping to find a partner to license the software for use on other products — and we may still see software updates for existing webOS devices.

But if you’re not convinced that there’s a future for webOS, there may still be a future for the HP TouchPad tablet if you manage to get your hands on one before the company ships its final tablet.

The HP TouchPad has a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core processor, a 9.7 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel capacitive touchscreen display, and it’s selling for less than the price of an Amazon Kindle this weekend (if you’re lucky enough to find one). The hardware is pretty good — especially for a device that can now be had for as  little as $99.

If you only plan to surf the web, watch videos, or read eBooks, it might not matter that there aren’t as many third party apps for webOS as there are for Android and other platforms. But there’s no reason you couldn’t chuck the webOS software and install something with a little more support and a wider selection of third party apps.

Right now there’s no really good way to replace webOS on the HP TouchPad. But there may be soon.The folks behind the popular CyanogenMod Android distribution have released software that lets you install Android on the tablet. And hackers are already playing around with early versions of Ubuntu Linux on the tablet.

While you won’t get official support from HP for Ubuntu or Android anytime soon, if either project seriously takes off, there will probably be hundreds, if not thousands of independent developers and users working with the software and forming an unofficial support group. More importantly, while there are only a few hundred tablets apps for the HP TouchPad running webOS, there’s already a much wider selection of third party apps for Ubuntu and Android. Installing an alternate operating system could be a way to breathe new life into the tablet, whether you spent $99 or $599 to buy it in the first place.

Android update

As of October 13th, 2011, anyone can download and install Android for the HP TouchPad using CyangenMod’s tools. The software is still a little rough around the edges, but for the most part it works. You can follow our step-by-step guide for installing CyanogenMod 7.1 on the TouchPad.

Previous updates:

On September 7th, the CyanogenMod team posted a video showing Android 2.3 Gingerbread on the tablet, with support for hardware graphics acceleration and multitouch input.

On September 17th, a second video was posted showing even more features, including working WiFi and accelerometer functions and partially working audio.

A few days later on September 20th, another video was posted showing HD video playback, WiFi, Audio, and 3D gaming.

Early builds will be based on Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but eventually we may see tablet-optimized software based on Google Android 3.x Honeycomb. Of course, depending on how long that takes, it may just be easier to skip Honeycomb and move onto Ice Cream Sandwich — the upcoming version of Android which Google is building for both smartphones and tablets. While Google hasn’t released the source code for Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich source code is expected to be made available.

A competing team of developers called TouchDroid had also been working to get Android up and running on the HP TouchPad, but the team disbanded following a series of internal struggles between team members and the revelation that TouchDroid only managed to get touchscreen drivers working for the tablet by stealing code from CyanogenMod without giving credit where it was due.

Linux update

I’ve put together some basic directions for getting Ubuntu Linux up and running. I haven’t been able to test these yet, and the process certainly isn’t for beginners. Some areas are still rough around the edges. But users report that this method will allow you to install Ubuntu as well as a number of apps including web browsers, office software, bittorrent clients, and graphical user environments.

The on-screen keyboard words — but it doesn’t currently disappear if you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard. Developers are working on a fix for that problem though.

  • Anonymous

    Damn it HP, why did you kill it before it was globally available?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrey-Royer/1220520152 Andrey Royer

      why couldnt i have just been next to a canadian bestbuy when this went into effect yesterday?

      • Anonymous

        I was.  Hee hee hee.

  • Anon

    Tri-booting this would have saved HP from disgrace.
    Imagine where they SOLD it with tri-boot of Ubuntu, Android, and WebOS and over time, after app developers got to play with it, and they built up a store for WebOS (where folks still had access to the Android stuff they already got too).   Then HP would have had a chance.
    Still do, a lot of geeks ran to these outlets and got em today, everyone I checked is SOLD OUT.

    • Anon

      PS – I didn’t get one, but almost pulled the trigger.  I just can’t see having a tablet, without Pixel Qi direct sunlight usable screen.  And for me, 7 inch is what I am looking for.  Waiting for ZTE light 2 that actually has ZTE out with a YouTube Video (so it’s waiting in the wings ready to go I would assume).
      See:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcM9ILaPnDU
      This is a fairly new video.

    • http://www.facebook.com/theospaghetti Teddy Parks

      Too bad ubuntu sucks dick.

      • Anonymous

        Enjoy your Windows XP on your iPad1

  • Anonymous

    I bought one today at $99. This thing doesn’t compare to a 1st gen iPad let alone the iPad 2. They killed it off in disgrace because they simply couldn’t compete. Now, that being said, I’m really looking forward to an android 3.x port :)

  • Anonymous

    Picked up one each online from OD and sams club. Spent hours hitting F5 on the slick deals forum. Hopefully at least one order will ship.

    The fact that this can be converted into an android or win 8 tablet makes the deal incredibly hard to pass up. Even the semi-decent Chinese knock offs cost more than this.

  • Anon in Texas

    I got two of the 32 GB version this morning!! ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrey-Royer/1220520152 Andrey Royer

      aw fuck you dude haha, wish i could have found one at any of the stores in my area, this would be so dope if they get ubuntu or android or even fuckin windows 8 rollin on this, fuck!!!! 

    • Com

      ditto

      • http://www.facebook.com/theospaghetti Teddy Parks

         ditto x2 :)

      • Blackpaint

        ditto x3 kaka

    • Anonymous

      where?

  • L1tw0od

    St. George, Utah Best Buy still has 16gb available but I just bought one of the last 32gb… also accessories are at 1/2 price.

  • Anon

    damn, I work at BestBuy.. and this is the first that I am hearing about this.. bet there wont be any tomorrow..

  • Greg T

    I should have bought all 12 !!! Dammit I only purchased 1 :

  • http://www.thenerdynurse.com The Nerdy Nurse

    I picked up a 32gb model. Its a great media player, reader, and web browswer, if you use it for nothing else. Already have an iPad in the house, but it’s often hogged the the toddler.
    Looking forward to developements with porting android onto it.
    What a DREAM it would be for it to Tri-boot webOS, ubuntu, and Android. That would own.

    • Anonymous

      where

      • Yellowfish22003

        barn and noble

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HDOOQUNBXIN35XFAV5DCN4Q22Q Mario

       We’ve got an iPad(2) in the house and it, too, is also hogged by the toddler!  I lucked out on a $99 Touchpad, earlier today, and can’t wait to get it!

      • http://www.thenerdynurse.com The Nerdy Nurse

        Toddler throws down the iPad and lunges right for the touchpad now. Of course
        I’m pretty sure that’s just bc mommy is holding it. It doesnt have Netflix, or Toy story, so it doesnt hold his interests near as long.

    • ben

      you are one kool nerd

      • http://www.thenerdynurse.com The Nerdy Nurse

        Hah- I didnt think “kool” would ever be used to describe my nerdiness. Thank you ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Ray-Overby/100001056370766 Michael Ray Overby

      GRUB would probably be able to do that.

  • Hern_chen

    Why stop at HP touchpad?  A lot of Android tablet are not selling well either.  May be we will see some Android tablet firesell soon at slightly higer price.  That would probably the only way they can take a bite off iPad

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Asad-Lionhart-Niazi/100002278184613 Asad Lionhart Niazi

    Windows 8 is impossible to put on this because Windows does not support ARM Processors. Honeycomb/Android is the best bet.

    • Anonymous

      Not true; Windows 8 will support ARM processors.

  • aftermath

    So, there is enthusiasm for buying abandoned hardware because a misguided and delusional community is working hard to drag proprietary software on to it that is worse than the operating system than it ships with? No wonder our economies are in the toilet and employers don’t want to hire anybody.  We’re all morons. These must be the same geniuses who “hack” their diet by throwing out the bun of their Big Macs.  Talk about missing the point… if you actually want to invest effort into improving software and expanding hardware support, then try contributing to actual open source projects that benefit PEOPLE rather than subsidizing Google’s shareholders by volunteering on behalf of its software development and publishing.  What fools…

    I think people forget that the Touchpad was on the market for about 6 weeks. I think people forget that investors scratched their heads just as hard when HP acquired Palm as when it acquired Compaq because HP’s consumer computing efforts have been struggling for a very, very, very long time.  HP trying to cram a great OS into a form factor that nobody wants unless it has Apple branding was idiotic.  It was like piling whip cream on top of an entree of cold liver and onions that nobody has wanted for years in the hopes that enthusiasm for whip cream will change anything.

    Consumer computing is in absolute crisis.  We’re back where we were when Microsoft ruled everything, and nothing got bettered until Linux and other open source projects like Firefox came along and held Microsoft in check.  Apple and Google are the new Microsoft in that sense, and ironically, the new Microsoft is so much like Linux in terms of trying to play along more fairly that it sees Linux as a friends rather than a threat.  We desperately need hardware and software in the handheld space like we’ve won for ourselves on desktops and in laptops: openeness, choice, rights, freedom, control.  These shouldn’t be optional.  These shouldn’t be subordinate.  These shouldn’t be afterthoughts.  These should be first and foremost above anything else, but consumers are either too dumb to know or too dumb to care.  People who buy or use iOS and Android aren’t merely indifferent to these traits; They hate them.  All of this vulture like enthusiasm to pick over the carcass of the Touchpad is bizarre.  Apparently you don’t want quality or progress.  You want distraction and waste.  And you‘re willing to spend a hundred bugs to experience it.  Hooray!

    • Anonymous

      Wow, dude. You are one negative person. At $99, it’s a toy to tinker with. How do you think Linux (and finally Android) came into being in the first place? How do you think the first Apple computer came into existence? People sitting around doing things no one else tried.  It’s called learning.  You should fly off the branch sometime, it’s fun.

    • Anonymous

      Speaking of moronic: since the MAJORITY of iPad owners add few software titles they use on a regular basis (its email, calendar, contacts, and web surfing for most) since when is $99 for a device that is quality built and can do ALL of those same things “misguided and delusional?” So it’s better to support iOS or Android for the good of those of you who wnat more from their tablet experience…should we buy your next house for you too…

  • BoyMonkey

    My brother, while at work at 4 in the morning, brought like 13 of them. He’s buying more now

  • Loganengkehart

    best fucking buy dude!

  • gman

    Asus has stated that at $399, then don’t make money on the tablet. They are making money on the dock. That’s why there aren’t sub $300 tablets on the market. Here is the problem. Tablets can’t be made for cheap, but netbooks can. At $250 netbook or $300 tablet? Remember, a tablet you need the folio case so add $25+ to the price of it. It’s a no win situation for tablets. That’s reality. The economy still sucks. Notice that?

    • JMAN

      HP says the landed cost on the Touchpad is $318 plus $10 assembly.  Cheap tablets+cheap crap components.  I’ve seen Koby tablets priced at $199.  I’ve seen the same tablets with a return rate of 50-60%.  So yeah, your post is bang-on.  That being said, I grabbed a 16gb and am playing the crap out of  Crono Trigger with the SNES emu app.  Classic games on an expensive piece of technology FTW.

  • AdamWorth1979

    I got 3 today.  I can’t wait to get them.  I tried one ad HP Invent in June and liked it.

    @aftermath You’re rambling doesn’t make any sense. I don’t believe you quite get consumer response.  This “enthusiasm for abandoned hardware” and the “vulture like enthusiasm to pick over the carcass” is not bizarre at all.  You just don’t understand consumer products and economics.  Apple and Android based tables have been around for a while and are the clear market leaders.  When you introduce a new product ant try to compete head on with the #1 and #2 tablet vendors, you better have something to make your product attractive. namely great innovation or price, or both.  Unfortunately, the HP Touchpad didn’t have either.  It does have some good features, but nothing so great that would make most consumers choose it over an iPad or Android based table. You see, the “Vulture like” enthusiasm shows that people are willing to pay for a new good quality product IF it is priced right.  I assure you that if HP would have introduced their Tablets at $299 (32GB) & $199(16GB), it would have been a complete game changer.  I assure you, at that price people would buy an HP Touchpad over an iPAD or an Android based tablet.  Anyway, the increase sales of the HP Touchpad is a combination of a great product at an unbeatable price.  The consumer behavior is not “bizarre” at all.  

    • Tieuhtunhi

      The BOM cost for the Touchpad 16gb is $328, and you want HP to sell at loss?  

      • Anonymous

        Check out the console gaming industry, selling them at a loss is basically part of the business

      • Notverysocial

        That works for the gaming industry, doesn’t mean it will necessarily work everywhere else

      • Freehonza

        You telling me that is made in Chine for $328, That’s BS. It will not cost more than $120.

  • Abby

    Bought five at HP business site yesterday . . it’s a no brainer.  My daughters will have a great Xmas.  Nice to see the poss of porting to Android and Ubuntu.  Great info . . .

  • Hegs1969

    what is the difference between HP touchpad FB356UT and FB359UA?

  • Hegs1969

    what is the difference between FB356UT and FB359UA models

    • chris

      There is no difference.  The 356 was sold as a Business unit and the 359 was sold as a Consumer unit.  HP’s way to track which channel was selling/ buying them.  Besides the model number, no difference.  I have one of each.

  • Hugogomezsaldivar

    what is the difference between model FB356UT and FB359UA?

    • chris

      There is no difference.  The 356 was sold as a Business unit and the 359 was sold as a Consumer unit.  HP’s way to track which channel was selling/ buying them.  Besides the model number, no difference.  I have one of each.

  • Tony

    I bought one and Im dissapointed,I didnt expect much but what I got was even worse.Mark my words HP will be gone as a whole very soon.