[Discuss] Possible abuse of the term "open source hardware"

David Carrier dcarrier at parallax.com
Fri Mar 15 23:37:40 UTC 2013

     Considering the first example, Pogo Linux is selling hardware for 
open-source software, which could awkwardly be called  "open source 
software hardware", or less awkwardly, as they wrote it, "open source 
hardware".  They aren't trying to say the source for their hardware is 
open, they are trying to say their hardware is for something (software) 
that is open source.  You can't really blame them, and you can't legally 
stop them, but we want to draw the distinction whenever possible.  I 
think this was the argument for the term using the term "Open Hardware" 
over "Open Source Hardware" before OSHWA was founded.

To make the most of the situation I agree it would be worthwhile to send 
Pogo Linux an email asking them to clarify their advertisements, but I 
don't think there is much else we can do if they don't respond.

--- David Carrier

Windell H. Oskay wrote:
> Hey there, OSHW aficionados,
>   While browsing stackexchange today, I came across a banner ad for 
> Pogo Linux, selling "[The Best Open Source Hardware] for your 
> IT department."     Naturally I was interested, because, hey-- open 
> source servers --neat!
> I'm attempting to attach my screenshot of the banner ad to this 
> e-mail.  If it doesn't work, I've cached it as well, here:
> http://evilmadscientist.s3.amazonaws.com/scratch/pogo_linux_banner.png
> Anyway, from their About page (http://www.pogolinux.com/about/) Pogo 
> Linux sells "Hardware Built for Open-Source" -- rackmount servers that 
> run linux and so forth.   But... so far as I can tell, they do not 
> sell any actual OSHW-definition compliant products.   (Or do they, and 
> just not indicate that clearly?)
> On this page, they further state "Trust the experience of Pogo Linux 
> for the best-supported Open-Source hardware in the industry" :
> http://www.pogolinux.com/products/go/intel-xeon-servers.php?pm=vmw16883
> I'm afraid that this is not a good thing.  To the extent that we care 
> about the term "Open Source Hardware" having a clearly defined 
> meaning-- one that can be used to hold up a false-advertising claim 
> for those that abuse the term --I think that we should care about how 
> the term is used, and do our best to prevent dilution of its meaning.
> Cheers,
> -Windell
> Windell H. Oskay, Ph.D.
> Co-Founder and Chief Scientist
> Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
> 175 San Lazaro Ave, STE 150
> Sunnyvale CA 94086
> http://www.evilmadscientist.com/
> _______________________________________________
> discuss mailing list
> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
> http://lists.oshwa.org/listinfo/discuss

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