[Discuss] CAD software: where does OSHWA stand?
amgibb at gmail.com
Sat Mar 18 20:54:37 UTC 2017
Yes, OSHWA stands by this clause.
"Ideally, your open-source hardware project would be designed using a
free and open-source software application, to maximize the ability of
others to view and edit it. For better or worse however, hardware design
files are often created in proprietary programs and stored in
On Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 3:52 AM, Javier Serrano <Javier.Serrano at cern.ch>
> Dear all,
> Phillip's message about the Adafruit interview to Altium has reminded me
> of something I have been wanting to submit to the list for some time. My
> question is whether OSHWA has a strong official position about CAD
> (including EDA) software, and in particular about proprietary vs FOSS.
> And my suggestion if it does, would be to communicate it more clearly.
> In the OSHWA "Best practices" page  one reads:
> "Ideally, your open-source hardware project would be designed using a
> free and open-source software application, to maximize the ability of
> others to view and edit it. For better or worse however, hardware design
> files are often created in proprietary programs and stored in
> proprietary formats."
> Maybe it's just me, but I like to think about OSHWA as "the FSF of
> hardware", or OSI, or the Linux Foundation. Pick your favourite FOSS
> organization. FSF identified the need of FOSS tools to create FOSS very
> early on, and contributed decisively to tools like emacs and gcc. Before
> the advent of such tools, and others, it was quite normal for e.g. C
> code to be written in such a way that only a proprietary compiler would
> be able to deal with it. Happily for software developers, those days are
> long gone. Is such a state of affairs acknowledged as desirable by
> OSHWA, and is OSHWA willing to be more than a spectator in this regard?
> Taking a strong stand may have economic consequences. I am not thinking
> about economic contributions to the development of FOSS CAD tools. FSF
> itself contributes very little to FOSS development. I am rather thinking
> about things like potential loss of sponsorship opportunities for e.g.
> the Open Hardware Summit.
> A similar argument applies to some of the bigger companies which are
> championing the OSHW movement. I would be surprised if they don't have
> big reductions, or even a complete waiver, of licensing fees for the
> proprietary software they use for designing PCBs. That's what I would do
> in any case if I were selling those tools. These companies have a big
> indirect effect on what tools thrive in OSHW, because many people
> download their designs to study them and modify them. Proprietary tools
> can afford to lose some licence money with them and more than make up
> for it thanks to their trend-setting role.
> This is all very legitimate, of course. I, as an individual, have
> complete freedom to vote with my wallet, by deciding what to do with my
> OSHWA membership or where to buy OSHW. For instance, I think Olimex is
> really showing a nice example by designing all their hardware with KiCad
> now, including their new laptop!  And I am sure I will get one in the
> near future. When Olimex decided to migrate from Eagle to KiCad, they
> wrote a short post explaining their intent . This is very valuable to
> me as an OSHW advocate and as a potential client, because it allows me
> to clearly know what it is I am supporting when taking decisions,
> financial or otherwise.
> I guess I don't need to revisit the old Free vs Free debate here. Recent
> events in the proprietary EDA world illustrate the risks of proprietary
> free-as-in-beer perfectly. In that respect, I would like to praise the
> efforts of Phillip and others on trying to convince proprietary
> companies to go open-source or at least have a publicly documented set
> of file formats. I am sure those initiatives would have more chances of
> success if there were a clear stand from OSHWA and the backing of its
> members and friends, including OSHW companies.
> Again, I think all positions are legitimate and respectable, but I think
> it would be very interesting to spell them out and discuss them
> publicly. Thanks for reading this far!
>  https://www.oshwa.org/sharing-best-practices/
> discuss mailing list
> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
CEO, Lunchbox Electronics <http://www.lunchboxelectronics.com/>
Executive Director, Open Source Hardware Association <http://www.oshwa.org/>
Director, Blow Things Up Lab <http://www.btulab.com/>
Author, Building Open Source Hardware
Please note: I tend to check my email once a day during the hours of 9-5
and refrain from checking it outside of work hours and weekends. Thank you
for your patience.
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