How to Run WebOS Emulator In Linux

When we talk about mobile operating system, the attention immediately turns to iOS or Android. If you recall, not so long ago, there is also another mobile OS in the market – WebOS, which Hewlett-Packard (HP) used on their own tables and phones and resulted in total market failure. WebOS, by itself, is a great mobile OS to start with, but in the world where iOS and Android dominates with tens of thousands of apps, it pales in comparison. After HP decided to dump their tablets at a cheap price, they have also released the WebOS as an open source project. Today, we will show you how you can run WebOS in your Linux computer, using Virtualbox.


Note: Before we proceed to install WebOS SDK, you need to have Virtualbox and Java running in your machine.

If you are using a 64-bit machine, you will need to install the “ia32-libs” package too.

sudo apt-get install ia32-libs

To install the SDK, first download the deb packages from the site here. You will have to download and install the package “palm-novacom” and “palm-sdk”.


For the emulator to work, you will need the “novacomd” to be active. If it is not done by default, you can launch it via

sudo /opt/Palm/novacom/novacomd

You can then call the emulator:


The SDK will then ask which version you want to launch.


By default, if you just installed the packages mentioned above, the only version you have is the latest 3.0.5. The emulator will then launch VirtualBox.


And after a few minutes waiting, the welcome screen will be displayed.


However, since WebOS is designed for tactile devices, you should know a few shortcuts in order to operate the OS properly.

  • A click will be interpreted as a finger touch
  • The “Home” key will bring you back to the main screen.
  • Alt will display the keyboard and the search page.
  • Escape is for showing the notifications.
  • The right and left keys can be used to switch between opened applications.

So you can now play with this OS for a little while.


If you want to go deeper and maybe use it to develop some apps, you may want to open a terminal. For that, you can use the command:


from any shell. This terminal will help you explore the device, but also simulate incoming calls or texts.


To create an incoming call, the syntax from a novaterm terminal is:

luna-send -n 1 luna://com.palm.pmradiosimulator/set_incomingcall {\"number\":\"9876543210\"}


And for a text, the code is really similar:

luna-send -n 1 luna://com.palm.pmradiosimulator/set_incomingsms {\"number\":\"9876543210\",\"message\":\"'This text is a test'\"}


Another interesting application for the emulator is the possibility to install third party applications. From your computer shell, you can use the command

palm-install [path to .ipk package to install]

to find third-party applications, you can query with your favorite search engine or start from here (requires an inscription in order to download applications).


Finally, like a lot of other mobile devices, you can transfer files to it via SSH connection. By default, the SDK uses the port 5522 to receive, so you can do something like:

scp -P 5522 [file to transfer] root@localhost:/media/internal


While the apps catalog is not as furnished as Android’s Play Store or the iOS AppStore, WebOS remains an interesting system for mobile devices. I don’t know about developing on it, but testing it is definitively an interesting experience. For all the TouchPad users, we can only hope that the open version will survive and expand.

What do you think of WebOS? How would you compare it to Android or even CyanogenMod? Do you have any questions? Please let us know in the comments.


Adrien is a young but passionate Linux aficionado. Command line, encryption, obscure distributions... you name it, he tried it. Always improving his system, he encountered multiple tricks and hacks and is ready to share them. Best things in the world? Math, computers and peanut butter!

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