[Discuss] Misuse of "Open Hardware" term?

Ben Gray ben at phenoptix.com
Wed Feb 11 09:10:07 UTC 2015

There is a whole lot of spurious use of the term Open Hardware and the gear
logo gets splashed on just about anything these days, often there is an
"intention" to open source at sometime in the future.

It seems that there's still little understanding of what constitutes Open
Hardware, even to people who follow this list. There are some notable
products that help muddy the waters by their association with Open
Hardware, the Raspberry Pi is probably the most notable of them.

My favourite (and I have no doubt unintentional) misuse of the gear logo is
on the BADGEr OHW Summit Badge (http://wyolum.com/projects/badger/). I've
seen the actual board file somewhere (Github maybe) but it wasn't available
for over three months after the summit if my memory serves correctly. I
know the Wyolum lot fairly well and they're a great bunch committed to the
OSHW cause. However given its position in the OSHW ecosystem it should
probably be easier to find the source files (.brd files for KiCad in this


Best Regards

Ben Gray - Director


On 11 February 2015 at 06:06, Tsvetan Usunov, OLIMEX Ltd <usunov at olimex.com>

> Hi Drew
> OSHW have clear definition, using this term to any board which have PDF
> schematic will confuse all beginners who have no glue what OSHW is and wear
> the term value.
> I think somewhere Massimo Banzi named these projects "Pseudo Open Source
> Hardware" and "marketing" as these guys know very well what OSHW is but
> keep using this term intentionally. Same is the situation with many Chinese
> vendors like Banana, Vocore, etc. They name their projects OSHW then never
> release anything more than schematic in PDF or JPG format,sometimes with
> intentional errors inside pretty useless if you want to learn, study,
> modify and make your own.
> Tsvetan
> On 02/11/2015 01:13 AM, Drew Fustini wrote:
>> Exciting news this week out of the LinaroConnect conference in Hong
>> Kong about new low-cost ARM 64-bit dev board and the introduction of
>> 96boards.org.  However, I am concerned that Linaro and 96boards are
>> using "Open Hardware" to describe hardware for which only schematics
>> are offered.  Here are examples:
>> 1) Press Release states: "96Boards is an open hardware specification"
>> https://www.linaro.org/news/linaro-announces-96boards-
>> initiative-accelerate-arm-software-development/
>> 2) 96Boards.org website displays in a big font on its homepage: "32-
>> and 64-bit ARM Open Hardware Boards": https://www.96boards.org/
>> 3) LinaroConnect Opening Keynote:
>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aAFNCUUVj4  (seek to 42:40)
>> George Grey, Linaro CEO, explains that they have created an "Open
>> hardware platform specification"
>> I have only found schematics on the 96boards.org website, and it does
>> not appear the PCB board layout or BOM are required to be released for
>> the 96boards branded products.  The first real product, the 8-core ARM
>> 64-bit HiKey by CircuitCo, offers only a schematic.  Social media
>> conversations with Linaro engineers (who are awesome guys in their own
>> right) reinforce this assessment:
>> https://plus.google.com/u/0/+gregkroahhartman/posts/LkfitGPTU5h
>> a) Do we as an Open Source Hardware Association care about the term
>> "Open Hardware"?
>> b) If so, do we feel that Linaro & 96boards is using the term "Open
>> Hardware" incorrectly?  Is there a less ambiguous way to phrase "Open
>> hardware platform specification"?
>> thanks!
>> drew
>> http://keybase.io/pdp7
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