Despite never officially releasing an Android-powered TouchPad, HP has gifted the Android kernel on which it based prototype versions of its tablet to CyanogenMod, the team behind the Ice Cream Sandwich port for the now cancelled device.

webOSNation reports that when HP was shipping out TouchPads faster than you could say ‘Firesale’, it mistakenly sent a few tablets running an older version of Android to customers, highlighting the fact it had tested the platform within its labs.

With some Android TouchPads in the wild and webOS now heading down the open-source route, HP decided as a goodwill gesture to share the kernel that it had used for its testing, thereby helping third-party ROM developers CyanogenMod to create more polished, reliable and feature-rich versions of their Android software, possibly allowing TouchPad owners to flash a more stable build of the OS in the future.

HP didn’t have to do this; because the Android TouchPads were never meant to see the light of day, it never had to release the source code publicly to comply with the GPL licensing covering the platform. HP simply recognised a large number of people were using Android on the TouchPad and wanted to help out.

If you have a TouchPad and want to install Android on it, or you have already done so but crave something more reliable, you might be in luck. With a stable kernel on which to work, the CyanogenMod team may be able to deliver new builds in the very near future.