[Discuss] OSHW Best Practices / Layers of Openness

Michael James michael at opensourcehardwarejunkies.com
Thu Feb 28 13:15:04 UTC 2013

Very thought provoking...there are a lot of questions that need addressed.

Even though in all three examples the part which provides the primary
functionality of the device is not open, I would lean toward saying there
is no need for differentiation of openness in these cases (where
the primary functionality is provided by a non-open component).  I am
thinking these components are  covered by line 11 of the OSHW Definition:

11. License Must Not Restrict Other Hardware or Software
The license must not place restrictions on other items that are aggregated
with the licensed work but not derivative of it. *For example, the license
must not insist that all other hardware sold with the licensed item be open
source, nor that only open source software be used external to the device*.

...but I may be misinterpreting the intent of this criteria.


On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 7:16 AM, Tom Igoe <tom.igoe at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Feb 27, 2013, at 12:41 PM, Michael Shiloh wrote:
> 1) The overall guideline might be "can someone reproduce this project to a
> reasonable degree (e.g. functionally the same, if perhaps the case is not
> identical) with the information provided?
> So, let's pick a few specific examples, all of which think highly of, and
> use myself (admitted bias on the third). But I struggle with defining them
> as entirely open:
> https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11378
> The major piece of hardware on this board is a proprietary module from
> Roving Networks.  Though SparkFun's support schematic is clearly open, the
> module that makes this functional is not, nor is it reprogrammable. The API
> for it is open, though. Is this OSHW?  What's the replacement part that
> could drop into this board and make it work, with minor modifications?
> http://adafruit.com/products/746
> Similarly, the major piece of hardware (the GPS radio) is proprietary,
> even though Adafruit's support schematic is clearly open. What's the drop
> in part (note: Adafruit hasn't put the OSHWA logo on here, so it's possible
> they don't claim this is open)
> http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoWiFiShield
> The WiFi radio on this board is proprietary, even though the support
> processor and its firmware and board schematics are open. This is perhaps a
> more complex board than the other two, but I'm not sure that complexity
> changes things much. Or does it?
> Contrast those three with this:
> http://logos-electro.com/zigduino/
> This is perhaps closer to the definition than the others, in that the
> firmware for the radio module *is* open.
> My question is: do we need to differentiate between these in terms of
> their openness,or not?  There are plenty of other examples I could pull. I
> know my work would suffer if I decided not to use these parts, they're all
> staples in my work. And I'm not an open source hardware absolutist, I use
> plenty of proprietary hardware.  But I'm genuinely not sure where the line
> is with some of the products we make and use every day.
> t.
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