[Discuss] Free Hardware

Jeffrey Warren jeff at publiclab.org
Thu Mar 12 15:43:02 UTC 2015

Nancy, I think the distinction between free and open source software is
quite important and am happy to talk off list about it, but I def. agree
that the distinction isn't likely to be helpful at this point in the
hardware space and is likely to add confusion when we need clarity.
On Mar 12, 2015 10:35 AM, "Nancy Ouyang" <nancy.ouyang at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> Timofonic:
> 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/
> =====
> [1]
>> 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*).
> http://lists.oshwa.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-March/001461.html
> ~~~
> narwhaledu.com, educational robots
> <http://gfycat.com/ExcitableLeanAkitainu> [[<(._.)>]] my personal blog
> <http://www.orangenarwhals.com>, orangenarwhals
> 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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>> --
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