Open source has been a successful driver in software innovation, but how does it — or how can it — apply to hardware? A number of hardware projects are testing open source concepts, from microprocessors to microcontrollers to complete single-board computers. This article discusses licensing, availability, community, and other challenges and successes in making hardware open.
…Open hardware is open in the same sense as open software — the “free as in speech” concept Stallman discussed in his GNU Manifesto. Hardware can never be “free as in beer” because duplication always costs something, and even the best-intentioned advocates can’t afford to offer physical products free of charge indefinitely. However, a physical product is simply an implementation of a design, and the designs of hardware, along with permission to create a physical product from those designs, can indeed be made available free of charge with an open license, whether copyrighted or patented. The licensing is up to the owner…
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