In 1999 Richard Stallman had interview commenting on “Free Hardware” for Linux Today, where he says “freedom to copy software is social imperative, but freedom to copy hardware is not so important as hardware is hard to copy”
Totally wrong! When I read this I said to myself, sure for one who deal mostly with software is not so easy to understand that the goals basically are same – to share knowledge and to learn from other people’s work.
And not only this, OSHW is not just for nerds and geek enthusiasts. OSHW is also very appreciated by the business, we got many industrial customers who prefer to use OLinuXino instead of other alternatives because it’s OSHW design:
- they get and know everything about how the board is implemented and how it works, nothing is hidden
- they have control over the design – they can alter and change up to their needs
- they have security – if we decide to not produce this board anymore, they can produce themself or ask someone else to produce for them
- our design is made with the help and suggestions for improvement from the community, we listen and we update our designs continually, some boards have up to 10-12 revisions with changes until they become what they are now
The boom of Open Source Hardware designs caused by the easy way to share and publish in Internet and GitHub though made RMS to change his opinion, he backed up the Novena hardware design then made his own statement about the Open Source Hardware, which he name “Free Hardware Desing” this is interesting reading released January 2016 :)
Why all people love so much OSHW? Because every one love to learn something new for free and to see how other people did this or that and improve his own skills, this is why OSHW has many fans even among people who never released something as OSHW. This is how many people got infected with the Open Source virus, they watch, learn and at one point decide to give something back to the community.
OSHW became modern word and many saw this as good marketing pitch. So many projects are announced as OSHW but never actually comply with the definition. On OSHW summit in 2014 many of the people questions were “what licensee to choose for my project to may benefit most” this is totally wrong state of mind. If you want to share just do it, if you start making tiny estimates how I will sell more if I choose OSHW licensee or not you are in the wrong direction.
You can see almost all projects on Kickstarter are promising to be open or OSHW … when the campaign is finished … or when we return our money spent, etc. This is clear mark for one to detect pseudo OSHW designs.
OSHWA made perfectly clear definition of what OSHW is, but they miss one very important point, they do not specify when the CAD source files of this project should be made public, so using this oversight many peoples just play the marketing pitch and later forget to release the sources. The arguments are that somebody will make their project better or release earlier, but actually they lose the essential customer feedback which they could potentially receive during the development phase and make their product even better.
IMO one project is not OSHW until the CAD source files are fully released and available, all other statements are just marketing tricks.
The exponential grown of these pseudo OSHW projects on the Internet seems to made OSHWA to worry that the term OSHW may lose it’s value and they announced on the last OSHW summit that they will introduce OSHW certification process with penalty if one uses this OSHW term and logo but fail to release the CAD sources. This surely provoked many comments, some positive, some negative, caused by the absence of clear view who and how will do this.
Right now OSHW scene is Wild West – every one is doing whatever he wants, names his product how he wants, uses or not uses OSHW logo etc. and comply or not is something different, but the attempt to organize this seems to me impossible or even to cause more harm than good. Probably we should just leave it “as is” as any fear of penalty or administration just can choke the enthusiasm of the beginners – we all did mistakes when started something new.
My view is that we should make people more aware of what OSHW is, as still many people are just confused or don’t understand, and if they learn this they would easily recognize these pseudo OSHW designs and community will reject the pseudo OSHW projects without any authorities.
Or maybe a “wall of shame” on OSHWA web site where pseudo OSHW projects are listed by all community members with remark what is wrong or what corrective action is necessary to complain may help?
Then when the project comply with OSHWA definition it’s removed from this site?