[Discuss] Free Hardware

Javier Serrano Javier.Serrano at cern.ch
Thu Mar 12 22:36:34 UTC 2015

On 03/12/2015 10:38 PM, Matt Maier wrote:
> Back to your question of people making their living off of
> free/libre/open work; it's possible that many of the electronics
> engineers you mentioned want a certain salary mostly because they have
> to put up with a lot of BS. If the way they spent their day was just
> inherently more enjoyable maybe they wouldn't need as much money to do
> it. What if the free/libre/open community could make itself an
> inherently pleasant place to be? Maybe the community could approach
> disagreements as opportunities to compete and explore rather than
> battles to decide winners and idiots.

Money *is* one more way to show your appreciation for somebody. Let me
illustrate this with the case of Werner Koch [1]. Werner writes software
which is important for many of us. He decided to be a free software
developer but lack of funds made this experience far less pleasurable
than it should have been. You can thank Werner for his work with words
and with a donation. He will be pleased with both, I guess, and
something tells me he will especially appreciate the latter. A donation
involves getting rid of a scarce good (money) and can therefore be a
powerful way of saying "I really mean it," not to speak about how useful
it will be for Werner. Money is just a tool which has got a bad name in
some circles because many people misuse it.

> That's not to say that people can pay their mortgage with love ;) just
> that if free/libre/open hardware is always going to inherently cost
> money we can at least reduce the other barriers to entry.

I have always thought that the fact that one has to pay for hardware is
actually good for OSHW. I am not a fan of unpaid labor. In order to vote
with your wallet, you have to pull it out of your pocket first. In free
software, the temptation is big to not pay at all. In hardware that's
just not possible. Once you are in a paying mindset, it is natural to
wonder what the best way of spending your money is.

> Thanks, this is a really interesting conversation :)

Thank you, I also enjoy reading your opinions, and I agree with Nancy
about the benefit of constructive controversy. I should apologize for
having diverged from the original subject of the thread, but I feel
strongly about the incentives issue. I think I made my point and I
understood yours, so thank you for that.




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