How to install Preware onto your HP TouchPad on a Mac

Trying out the new HP Touchpad tablet #touchpadvanI’m a little late to the party but I was recently given a HP TouchPad by the nice folks at HP Canada and stumbled across an interesting app today called Preware. In the WebOS world (which runs the TouchPad and other Palm/HP smartphones) it’s the equivalent of Cydia for iOS devices which basically allows you to jailbreak your TouchPad and install homebrew applications like Cydia does on iPhones/iPads/Touches.

The big difference though is that HP has embraced this and even supports it’s development unlike someone else. WebOS has a large homebrew community and it appears to be quite vibrant…at least as far as the smartphones goes…it’s still very early days for the TouchPad.

Why would you want to ‘jailbreak’ your TouchPad?
To enable functionality that hasn’t yet made it to the official firmware and generally have more control over your device. The options this gives you is still in it’s infancy because the tablet only came out a few days ago but it’s already progressing at lightening speed.

The install process is quite similar on a PC or Linux but since I hacked mine with a Mac, this is what you get from me. There are a number of ways to get Preware on your Touchpad but I’m going to cover the WebOS Quick Install method that doesn’t require installing the SDK.


Let’s get started.Step 1: Enable Developer Mode
The first thing you need to do is enable Developer Mode on the TouchPad. I can’t believe that the way you do this is by simply performing a search in the “Just Type…” search box for the Konami code:

upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart

Preware

This will reveal a hidden app that has a slider to enable Developer Mode and set a password if you want to on this mode.

Step 2: Install WebOS Quick Install
Grab WebOS Quick Install from here and run the .JAR file

I didn’t need it but you can also grab Java 1.6 from that same link. I did this whole process on a stock Snow Leopard Mac Mini running 10.6.8.

Make sure your TouchPad is connected and ensure you click cancel on the USB drive prompt:

Preware

Allow Quick Install to install the Novacom drivers if it prompts you.

UPDATE: Someone in the comments suggested that if you’re having problems installing the drivers, use the HP SDK method instead.

WebOS Quick Install

Once you get the above screen, click on the globe icon on the righthand side, just about the phone image. This will give you the repository listing for all the apps. Type ‘preware’ in the search box (make sure you’re in the Applications tab), select it in the results list and click install.

I didn’t get any feedback that it was done…but rest assured, you should have Preware in your downloads tab on the TouchPad:
Preware

Launching Preware gives you this screen:
Preware

At the moment, there isn’t a lot of TouchPad specific apps/patches but more is being added all the time.

Preware

I installed these patches to start and can say for sure that they have dramatically sped up things on the TouchPad:
Preware

I also installed “Add Launcher Tabs” after this screenshot was posted in order to give me the “Games” and “Homebrew” tabs.

Good luck and have fun hacking your TouchPad!

Update (August 18, 2011): Looks like HP has thrown in the towel on WebOS based devices with the OS future uncertain at this point.

46 Comments

  1. Pocket says:

    Thanks for the info. I do need a little help though, I am getting an error message “There are no devices currently connected. Please connect a device” I’ve followed everything you’ve done step by step.

    Thanks

  2. Chet says:

    I’m also getting the same error and it will not recognize my device

  3. RoyHobbs says:

    BOth Lion and Snow Leopard are failing at the driver install…..any ideas?

    • John says:

      Sorry Roy…All I can say is that it ‘just worked’ for me…maybe someone else reading this can suggest a workaround.

  4. denniszen says:

    Tried The Web Os install on Mac, but it doesn’t work on me. If I use PC installation, am I going to be tied to PC. Or it doesn’t really matter. Would appreciate your advice. Thanks.

    • John says:

      Shouldn’t matter pc or Mac for the installation…once it’s done, you don’t need to use that computer again

  5. Ri says:

    This is cool, but I have a question: How long does the install process take for Preware? I have been sitting here for nearly an hour; it’s not in my downloads, nor is the Install window gone. There is a spinny blue ball when I hover my mouse cursor over the Install window. I am using a Mac, correct version of Java, developer mode is on, and TP is not in USB drive mode. What’s going on here?

    • John says:

      Sounds like its not working…only took a few minutes for mine to complete…reboot everything and try again.

  6. abby says:

    hey, touchpad shows error post installation and the available packages tab remains inactive…what can I do???

  7. xs says:

    now that touchpad will not be supported anymore (see dead), how does this affect this hack?

    • John says:

      I don’t think it will change anything with this hack as long as the community continues to support the TouchPad…but who knows.

  8. Pocket says:

    Thanks man, but I’ve decided to use the PC (Windows 7) & it worked perfectly no issues. Unfortunately I may have to return the Touchpad, I got it at Costco at full price thinking they will lower the price giving me the opportunity to go in and have it adjusted on my card but they have decided to send their units back to HP so I doubt they will make the adjustment

  9. Anon says:

    For the people getting failed install of novacom drivers, download the SDK off Palm’s developer site. Doesn’t require you to log in to download. I was able to get the drivers to intall (only with the sdk) and then communicate with my touchpad. After I was done, I just ran the uninstall script and it cleaned everything up.

  10. Hagan says:

    For those having trouble with the no attached devices msg, make sure that once you tap developer mode that it is switched to on and that you leave the subsequent password field blank and tap submit. After that you’ll notice the error is gone. Remember not tap usb or cancel just leave it on the touchpad and then on your mac screen click the globe icon in the Quick install window to populate the app list. Hope this helps

  11. Orphee says:

    Many thanks for your tutorial, it’s the only one who helped me. Good Job

  12. Sean says:

    Still can’t get past install failure. It keeps saying reinstall novacom drivers. Went and tried downloading from webs sdk from plan and still get error message

  13. BP says:

    This is great, but I’m having an issue when I’m installing the preware. I did everything you said and when i install the preware, it’s not in my downloads, nor is the Install window gone. There is a spinny blue ball when I hover my mouse cursor over the Install window. I’m a Mac user with OSX Lion with the updated version of Java and my touchpad in in USB mode. What is going on?

  14. Pocket says:

    If I did not say it before let me say it now, thanks for your help

  15. Mike says:

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=17041983

    this forum post has good novacom drivers for lion

  16. JonathanJK says:

    Thank you Mike, your link worked. I’m running Lion and now installing Preware, finally!

  17. GarrettQ says:

    I had the same persistant problem of the touchpad not being recognised when trying to install preware. I plugged the touchpad into a different computer, followed the same steps (running webosquickinstall) and voila! Suddenly the device was recognised and I could follow through with the outlined steps.
    It must be OS related, ie, I was attempting to install it using winxp (wouldn’t work) but with vista, worked straight away.

  18. Prakash says:

    I’m not able to install preware on my touchpad. I followed all the instructions but when I click on install preware it says “Error: Unable to download org.webosinternals.preware_1.7.5_arm.ipk”. Someone pls help. I’m not able to find this error hapenign to anyone else either…still searching…

    • John says:

      Sounds like your download is failing either due to a connection issue or the file isn’t there anymore/has been renamed or something else. Keep trying it.

  19. Ben says:

    I can’t get PreWare to install. I’m using the quick installer, which downloads Preware, then says installing, but just seems to hang, there’s no activity. The device is detected no problem by the installer, and if I disconnect, that is picked up. I’m running this on Linux (Ubuntu Natty 64 bit). Any ideas?

  20. Michaelangelo says:

    I followed your MAC instructions but once the process has been complete it tells me IT FAILED TO INSTALL THE NOVA DRIVERS and to contact a Administrator about it. By any chance did you stumble upon this type of scenario?

  21. Bill says:

    Thanks for the walk through. I am running the latest version of Lion and it worked like a charm. I hope everyone installing this leaves Jason a donation. He deserves it for all the hard work he has obviously put into this.

  22. AJ says:

    Forgive my ignorance – I have searched everywhere and can’t seem to find a straight answer on installing this on Pre-intel chip Macs. I have OS X 10.5.8 on a PPC G4 Mac and cannot get Java 1.6 on it to run the .jar file. Anyone know if it is still possible to get preware loaded using a PPC Mac?

    Thank you

  23. Shelagh Stone says:

    Does anyone have an updated link for good novacom drivers for lion? The link above is no longer working.
    I am about to do this in a few days when I pick mine up as I have one for $99 and am working on Mac OS Lion so I want to read up and understand it all before it do the hack.

    Any advive head of time will be greatly appreciated, now that you have all had yours a few weeks at least.

    If you cant ad the link here for the novacom drivers for Lion for some reason, I can be reached directly at
    shelagh db 1959 at gmail dot com (all one word, no spaces etc)

    Thanks In Advance

  24. Shelagh Stone says:

    Perhaps I am missing it but I dont see any info/links for where to leave a donation?

    Please advise.
    Thanks

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