[Discuss] Free Hardware

Nancy Ouyang nancy.ouyang at gmail.com
Thu Mar 12 15:35:39 UTC 2015

I strongly object to using the term "Free Hardware", as stated previously
[1]. I hope other people agree with me, or care to explain otherwise.


I like the idea of GSoC, but for hardware, or more accurately, for
developing open-source computer-aided-hardware-design tools and standards /
standard file formats.
Wow, what a mouthful. Maybe it's time to poke google.

Anyway, I'm pretty distressed by the millions of dollars being poured into
closed-source 123D, Circuitmaker, OnShape and the continued lack of
interoperability in circuit design land. (also in my opinion we should
explicitly search for UI/design contributors... I think prioritizing
usability could even give open-source tools a lead in EDA).

Re: open books, http://en.wikibooks.org/


> I do not know the difference between free software and open source
> software. I assume "OSS" is more business-friendly. I don't particularly
> care and certainly hope that OSHW does not split in a similarly confusing
> manner (distinguishing "free hardware" vs "open-source hardware" would
> *justbe exasperating*).


narwhaledu.com, educational robots <http://gfycat.com/ExcitableLeanAkitainu>
 [[<(._.)>]] my personal blog <http://www.orangenarwhals.com>,
arvados.org (open source software for provenance, reproducing, and scaling
your analyses)

On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 11:06 AM, Timofonic <timofonic at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello.
> I'm new at electronics, but I was thinking about it.
> I have some questions about Free/Open Hardware, maybe even full of radical
> thinking:
> - Can IC based designs be considered as Free Hardware if the design and
> manufacture process aren't free too? I have some simple examples:
> lm237-based adjustable power supply vs one using only discrete components
> (are those patents expired? Another issue), computer hardware such as
> Raspberry Pi using free schematics but proprietary components (CPU and
> others).
> - Can computer systems with open source schematics and PCB not full
> featured open source hardware drivers be considered as Open Hardware?
> Raspberry Pi or an hypothetical Open Hardware AMD-based motherboard with
> ported Coreboot, but opensource hardware drivers a lot behind the
> proprietary ones, OpenPandora/Dragon using PowerVR GPU without proper Open
> Source hardware drivers.
> - Free Hardware designs but using proprietary software such as
> DipTrace/Eagle/Altium/CircuitMaker/Other.
> - Are there some kind of planning for priorities of projects to be done
> and some effective way to incentivate it? For example, something similar to
> GSoC but for hardware.
> - What about Free/Open Hardware tes tools? High precision power supplies
> and multimeters, soldering iron stations, oscilloscopes, logic analyzers,
> CNC, UV PCB exposure boxes...
> - What about Free/Open Hardware from the ground up? High quality open
> learning material:
> --Open Books: different levels from basic for children (no idea about
> available material, sorry) and adults such as works from Forrest Mims to
> complete (think of something like Art of Electronics and Practical
> Electronics for Inventors) and advanced, organize translations , didactical
> games even for adults but not dummy ones, practices, volunteering tutors
> for learning aid to people interested on Free/Open hardware but having
> issues with the learning process and collaboration with learning centers
> (schools, colleges, vocational training schools, universities...).
> -- Software: EDA (KiCad and FreeEDA looks promising) and a solid
> interoperability file format initiative similar to IDF and OpenDocument,
> favouring development of new tools and good project management.
> Kind regards.
> El 12 de marzo de 2015 12:15:20 CET, "Antoine, as a contact of a free
> smallwindturbine project" <smallwindturbineproj.contactor at gmail.com>
> escribió:
>> Excuse me all, but I just would like to write this: the question of
>> "free" for everything-but-software, is a right question, with or without
>> philosophical inputs, with or without pro or cons arguments.
>> For instance, the level of requirements of GNU-GPL terms and conditions,
>> is not yet completely replicated and reach into the non-software univers.
>> That is a fact.
>> The question is: is it possible to reach such a level of GNU-GPL for
>> everything-but-software, and how could it be reach ?
>> The question should not be: reaching such a level, is it good or bad ?
>> Works, publications, of FSF or their representatives or members, on this
>> question of "free notion for everything-but-software", will be very useful
>> for all of us, don't you think ?
>> Freely,
>> Antoine
>> 2015 -03-11 21:28 GMT+01:00 Emilio Velis <contacto at emiliovelis.com>:
>>> If you don't have a strong philosophical argument against the "sweat of
>>> the brow" provisos, then there is no real case against property.
>>> Regarding these arguments, although it's not specifically 'libre', a
>>> good case for hardware as part of the commons and peer production is laid
>>> out by Michel Bauwens in his FLOK research paper about transitioning to a
>>> commons-based society:
>>> https://floksociety.co-ment.com/text/xMHsm6YpVgI/view/. I think there
>>> are more on the subject on that project, but there are so many papers that
>>> I lost track of all of them. I think it was George Dafermos who w as in
>>> charge of developing the model for commons-based production.
>>> On 11 March 2015 at 14:18, Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> It's also confusing that in an argument based on pure morality, the
>>>> conclusion is somehow that because something is too hard it is not a moral
>>>> imperative. I never understood that part of Stallman's argument.
>>>> He always said that hardware wasn't relevant to Free Software. It looks
>>>> like he's changing his mind because proprietary hardware might make it
>>>> impossible to run Free Software.
>>>> I've never heard a good argument for why a thing MUST be libre. Taking
>>>> it to that extreme seems like it just discourages creation. It means that
>>>> the creator has to give up control of their creation or they're inescapably
>>>> immoral merely because they didn't give up control. I don't think there's
>>>> much of a precedent in philosophy for the idea that it's inherently wrong
>>>> to control the thing you created. If you add something to the world the
>>>> only reason anybody can have a discussion about whether or not you should
>>>> give it away is because you made it in the first place. Seems like creation
>>>> is a prerequisite to sharing.
>>>> Of course, I strongly encourage sharing :)
>>>> On Mar 11, 2015 1:01 PM, "Emilio Velis" <contacto at emiliovelis.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Not to mention the lack of viability in most cases of jumping right
>>>>> into that definition without any context. I think that any 'free' endeavor
>>>>> of the sort should not be derived from a philosophical standpoint on
>>>>> intangibles, but rather on the study of philosophy behind private property
>>>>> (perhaps an anti-Lockean view). Drawing a software-hardware parallel is
>>>>> confusing to say the least.
>>>>> On 11 March 2015 at 13:57, Drew Fustini <pdp7pdp7 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>> hmm, just saw this on Slashdot:
>>>>>> "Why We Need Free Digital Hardware Designs"
>>>>>> http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/15/03/11/1648243/why-we-need-free-digital-hardware-designs
>>>>>> Links to Wired:
>>>>>> http://www.wired.com/2015/03/need-free-digital-hardware-designs/
>>>>>> It appears to me that Richard Stallman wrote this article.
>>>>>> Here is a quote:
>>>>>> "the concept we really need is that of a free hardware design. That’s
>>>>>> simple: it means a design that permits users to use the design (i.e.,
>>>>>> fabricate hardware from it) and to copy and redistribute it, with or
>>>>>> without changes. The design must provide the same four freedoms that
>>>>>> define free software."
>>>>>> I do like the philosophy behind it, but I am afraid the introduction
>>>>>> of the term "Free Hardware" will increase confusion about hardware
>>>>>> licensing.
>>>>>> cheers,
>>>>>> drew
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