Here's the facts about the history of WebOS Patches (in rough chronological order), to hopefully cool down some of the heat in this thread ...
1) We (WebOS Internals) created a wiki at webos-internals.org and encouraged members of the community to use it to document information they had learnt about the internals of WebOS.
2) Members of the community contributed wiki pages which outlined how to manually change files in WebOS to achieve certain outcomes. Initially, there were some wiki pages which included modified copies of Palm's proprietary webOS source files - this was quickly corrected, since it violated the policy of webos-internals.org to fully comply with all copyright laws.
3) We devised a standard interoperable interchange format for patches to Palm's proprietary copyright files, since redistributing such files in full is a violation of international copyright law. It was pretty easy to do this - we just used the standard Linux patch format, and standardised the way it would be used.
4) We created a patch repository on gitorious.org, and we turned a number of those manual modification instructions into patch files in that patch repository. We also wrote a wiki page which described how to use patches from the repository, and also how to create and upload new patches.
5) We encouraged community members to contribute directly to the patch repository instead of writing manual instructions. A number of developers did so, including Eric Gaudet (emoney_33) with the virtual keyboard.
6) I registered preware.org, and created the vision and design of an open standard interoperable homebrew package ecosystem. We (WebOS Internals) designed and implemented the Package Manager Service and the Preware application. We knew that eventually we would be able to package up all these patches and use Preware to manage them. We released a single patch (the virtual keyboard) to make sure we had covered all the issues involved in the complete lifecycle of patching Palm files.
7) Jason took some of the patches that had been created, and added them to WebOS Quick Install, but did so in a way which did not use the patches as-is, but re-cast them into a format which (in my opinion, and I think Jason agrees) was very labour-intensive to keep up to date. He called them "tweaks". His user interface or applying and removing these "tweaks" was far far superior to the instructions on the wiki page for applying and removing the patches manually, and this was the means by which "tweaks" (or patches) become mainstream for the Pre.
8) Jason and I were in continual discussion about how best to make WebOS Quick Install and Preware interoperable. I had already worked out how to do so for Themes, so Patches was the next logical area to work on. I encouraged Jason to contribute any work he did on updating "tweaks" for 1.2 back to the patch repository.
9) Once we thought we had all the issues worked out, we created an "autopatch" mechanism (which was primarily Eric's work), and started releasing some patches using that mechanism for alpha testing.
10) Meanwhile, WebOS 1.2 was released, I went on holidays for a week or so, and Jason undertook a massive rewrite of WebOS Quick Install.
11) Eric and a number of other people packaged up a good number of patches using the new autopatch system (which runs on the preware.org autobuilder machine), and made them accessible through Preware (note that Preware did not change at all for this to happen - which shows the versatility of Preware's design and implementation).
12) Eric and Jason had discussions, and Jason announced that WebOS Quick Install 2.7 will use the autopatch mechanism going forward.
13) Jason contributed some patches back to the patch repository, and now also has commit rights to be able to maintain any of the patches for which he is the original author directly in the repository.
14) The original vision of an open standard interoperable patch format is eventually realised in both Preware and WebOS Quick Install, as had previously been achieved for open standard interoperable application and theme packages.
-- Rod Whitby
-- WebOS Internals and Preware Founder.