[Discuss] Free Hardware

Wouter Tebbens wouter at freeknowledge.eu
Fri Mar 20 10:38:09 UTC 2015

On 03/19/2015 06:12 PM, Matt Maier wrote:
> They're giving him airtime because he's Richard Stallman
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman
> He started GNU, the concept of copyleft, and the Free Software
> Foundation.
Exactly, for those great contributions he merits a little more
respectful treatment than some give him on this list.

> He talks a lot about the distinction between free software
> and open source software, and his argument that free software is a moral
> imperative. Every now and then people ask him to extend his argument to
> hardware and this article is interesting because it looks like his
> perspective has evolved a bit.
We don't need to exactly agree with RMS's view and way of putting
things, but it sure does help to keep clear where the open movement
comes from, and that from an outside perspective, be it free/libre or
open, we all advocate for commons-based peer produced forms of
knowledge, in our case of hardware designs. That's our shared vision,
and even if we can dispute about it, Richard is part of that vision, for
many many years already.

Of course the morale/ethics perspective is harder to accept for many,
and focusing on the pragmatic side of having designs that allow people
to use, make, modify, distribute and sell is very valuable as well, and
more easily accepted in general. At the end, maybe it is two sides of
the same coin.

But I think it is very valuable that we have people like Richard
insisting on the ethical side. At the end adoption in part depends on
people valuing the ethical in combination with the pragmatical. Take
renewable energy, early adopters mainly cared about a sustainable
future, even if that would cost them money and time to solve
impracticalities (that was for ethical reasons mainly). Now it is going
mainstream and people adopt it (also) for economic reasons (pragmatical).
> It seems unlikely that he'd reach out to the open source hardware
> community because he doesn't think open source hardware is really
> relevant to what he's doing (free software).
Richard wasn't happy when people rebranded Free Software into Open
Source Software and has fought about this for years. He will always take
the opportunity to clarify why he disagrees with the term "open source"
and why he values "freedom" as defining criterion. For many people new
to this discussion, that provides insights. For others who already have
heard it, it may be tiring. But take him for who he is and don't try to
convince him of adopting the OSHW term, that won't work ;-)


> On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 9:52 AM, Nancy Ouyang <nancy.ouyang at gmail.com
> <mailto:nancy.ouyang at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Why... why is WIRED giving airtime to this rms crank who can't even
>     be bothered to reach out to the entire open source hardware
>     community on this list (prior art, please) or mention the hard work
>     done by OSHWA / Alicia Gibbs / other folks?
>     --Nancy, semi-seriously, I realize rms is a Big Deal, but really?
>     Wired is going to promulgate rms on this "free hardware" term when
>     we've already standardized around open source hardware? I hope at
>     least this wasn't published in the print magazine, or else I'm going
>     to start picking a fight with rms and that's going to be a drastic
>     waste of everyone's time, lol.
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