I've recently had to reinstall Preware on my little Veer after I factory reset it the other day (long story short - after running the Nokia N9 for about 6 months I got nostalgic for a taste of webOS). It's been a while since I've had to connect a webOS device to a computer to install software as my TouchPad, which I still use almost daily, has been ticking along fine for a while now.
The last time I needed to do this I downloaded and ran webOS Quick Install from my MacBook. These days I no longer have the use of that device, and I'm loath the install Java on my Mac Mini so I thought I'd do it from my work computer, a Debian 6 workstation. Although webOS Quick Install is a Java app that does the actual installation of things like Preware it relies on the Novacom drivers which talk over USB to the phone. Unfortunately HP only provide packages for Ubuntu, but it turns out that these work fine on Debian, if a little clunky.
The first thing to do is to download the Novacom package from here (scroll down to step 5 "Install the HP webOS SDK for Linux" and select either "Download Novacom - 32-bit" or Download Novacom - 64-bit" depending on your system architecture). Install the downloaded package, and the ia32-libs package if you're using the 64-bit build and ignore the error about missing "start" and "stop" (these are Ubuntu launchd commands). Once installed as root run /opt/Palm/novacom/novacomd to start the daemon (you'll need to do this each time you want to connect as it won't get started at boot).
That's it! To see if all is working you can plug your phone/TouchPad into your PC using the USB cable and run "novacom -l" from a terminal - if you see something like "56247 d09b89d7f7be20919f0622401e900299871724f2 usb broadway-linux" then it can see the device and your good to go.
Well it's finally happened - the 1.0 release of Open webOS has been announced. What this means is that manufacturers can now take this source code and theoretically get it up and running on their own hardware, or hobbyists can port it to "open" android hardware such as the Nexus line.
In fact this is exactly what the Open webOS Ports Team has done - only a few hours after the source was released they have it booting on a Galaxy Nexus (though there is a long way to go before it is usable as a phone), a pretty amazing feat. And this is just the beginning I suspect - if there is one thing I've learned during my time using webOS it's that the webOS Internals team are coding machines, I'm amazed at the speed at which they pump out tweaks and improvements and also the quality of their work, often better than factory!
My Nokia N9 uses an open mode kernel - I'd love to dual boot webOS on that!
UPDATE: And now it's running on a Transformer Prime
UPDATE 2: And running on a Nexus S, these devs don't mess about!