[Discuss] Free Hardware

Wouter Tebbens wouter at freeknowledge.eu
Fri Mar 13 10:47:29 UTC 2015



On 03/13/2015 09:59 AM, Antoine, as a contact of a free smallwindturbine
project wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm afraid we may consider the following :
> 
> Just go back to the article of Mr Stallman, and to the comment of Mario
> where it said that, compared with digital stuff (software, ...) :
>> "so commercially made hardware won’t be gratis" (Stallman Wired article)
>>  "There is no way to reproduce (and that's the key) hardware a zero
> cost." (Mario Gomez post above)
> 
> As I've already explain, those assumptions are not fully fair, not fully
> correct, not fully exact.
> 
> FIRST: A FREE SOFTWARE IS NOT DELIVERED AT ZERO COST, NEVER !!!
> Why: because, to deliver the software, energy was needed, computer was
> needed, or pen was needed, host was needed, and so on, the supply chain
> to design and deliver the software is NOT at zero cost at all. It's an
> idea you have, but it is not true. If you are very lucky, a free
> software could be fully sponsored by its supplychain - ie, it will
> delivered to you gratis by a way gratis on a computer gratis with energy
> gratis and its running gratis requiring you nothing to do ... lol !!! A
> free software generated cost. Sometime, part of these costs are
> sponsored by its supply chain.
Antoine, you are completely right, but I think we should rephrase: the
*marginal cost* of reproduction IS zero (or near zero) in case of
digital files. In other words, the energy consumption isn't really
different when I hit the copy command and move files from one disk to
another. And that cannot really be said of hardware (at least yet).

Reproduction costs for hardware are dramatically going down however, so
people like Jeremy Rifkin are seeing a zero marginal cost society coming
closer and closer by the day. But that's never gratis.

So if the fixed costs of R&D and setups and so are not counted, the
marginal costs of making additional units is indeed going down
drastically. That makes local small scale production more and more
feasible, and helps communities becoming more free and autonomous.


cheers,

Wouter
> 
> SECOND: AS FOR FREE SOFTWARE, AN HARDWARE SUPPLY CHAIN COULD BE FULLY
> SPONSORED
> A "Free Libre" non-software tangible thing, could be delivered at cost
> sponsored for the user, if the supply chain is sponsored (as for a free
> software): R&D, distribution, installation, etc ... It could exist, even
> if it sounds more complicated to reach. Sure, the supply chain of a
> *digitalised documentation* of an hardware, is similar to software
> supply chain. If the the supply chain of a *digitalised documentation*
> of an hardware, is sponsored, in the same manner as a free software,
> then, people will have the feeling "it is gratis", even if it is erroneous.
> 
> Freely,
> Antoine
> 
> 2015-03-13 3:02 GMT+01:00 timofonic timofonic <timofonic at gmail.com
> <mailto:timofonic at gmail.com>>:
> 
>     Hello, Nancy.
> 
>     Wikibooks are great, but those documents aren't nearly as didactical
>     and easier to read than these copyrighted works. Despite they aren't
>     perfect and offer simplifications I don't get (I did read a free
>     chapter from the author on Usenet about getting LT3086 from Linear
>     Technology to make an adjustable power supply. Its okay, but those
>     are expensive chips and I would prefer to use discrete electronics),
>     they are easy to read.
> 
>     I understand writing proper books about electronics or any other
>     technical stuff without being boring, having good/excellent writing,
>     proper design and great explainings (so people without proper
>     physics and/or maths are able to understand it and learn that
>     missing stuff) is a total challenge and it would require a totally
>     dedicated team of people. After all Newnes, Cambridge Press and
>     others have tons of money to invest in writers, graphic artists
>     (okay they are from India and cheap labor, but still too much to
>     pay) and scientific people fixing the texts. I'm still not sure if
>     the same QA could be done in a Wiki way, without a strong project
>     management.
> 
>     Another idea I had is about didactical games for learning the core
>     concepts to practical exercises without getting boring. I would like
>     some kind of mix between "There are no electrons" from Kenn Amdahl,
>     Cisco Binary Game, the best humour from classic adventure games
>     (Lucas Arts, Sierra and such) with some kind of adult but not stupid
>     twist, Forrest Mims way, from basic to intermediate about
>     electronics (like in Art of Electronics) and interactive exercises
>     from all topics. But that would require a big team of very dedicated
>     people, a
>     very-advanced-and-very-educational-classic-style-good-looking-good-playability-and-not-boring-at-all
>     game aimed to adults is a very difficult challenge, I think.
> 
>     On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 4:35 PM, Nancy Ouyang
>     <nancy.ouyang at gmail.com <mailto: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 <http://narwhaledu.com>, educational robots
>         <http://gfycat.com/ExcitableLeanAkitainu> [[<(._.)>]] my
>         personal blog <http://www.orangenarwhals.com>, orangenarwhals
>         arvados.org <http://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
>         <mailto: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
>             <mailto: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
>                 <mailto: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 <mailto: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
>                         <mailto: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
>                             <mailto: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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