[Discuss] Free Hardware

Pierce Nichols pierce at logos-electro.com
Thu Mar 12 23:29:44 UTC 2015

Free software makes me think of free-as-in-puppy and free hardware
makes me think of free-as-in-boat... I *much* prefer the open source
terminology for both.

On a slightly more serious note, the existing open design tools are
distinctly user un-friendly. UI design is a critical need if they are
go attain wider adoption.


On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 8:35 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
>> just
>> be exasperating).
> http://lists.oshwa.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-March/001461.html
> ~~~
> narwhaledu.com, educational robots [[<(._.)>]] my personal blog,
> 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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>> --
>> Sent from my Android device with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.
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Pierce Nichols
Principal Engineer
Logos Electromechanical, LLC

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