Web site promoting open hardware?

Al Johnson openmoko at mazikeen.demon.co.uk
Fri Sep 11 17:52:47 CEST 2009

Short answer as an end user: because I want to be able to fix or modify stuff 
I buy, not rely on the whim of the manufacturer.

Longer answer: Products are rarely exactly what I want, and I'm not afraid to 
modify them to get what I'm after. Access to mechanical and electrical dessign 
documentation makes this both easier and more effective. With software-based 
products the openness is more necessary. My TV contains some GPL software, but 
nobody has worked out how to build a complete firmware image, let alone load 
one, so I can't readily fix any of the niggles or add features.  

Also I hate arbitrary limitations and designed obsolescence. Phones are a good 
example; why should I need to buy a new handset to get a feature the existing 
hardware is capable of, and supposed to have, but doesn't because of botched 
firmware the manufacturer has decided not to fix? Why is this simple software 
feature only available on the 'pro' model at 3 times the price, or not 
available at all?

Finally I find the faults somehow less irritating when I know I could fix them 
if I could be bothered. 

Small scale commercial answer: because custom software on an existing open 
platform can make small market niches commercially viable when they wouldn't 
be otherwise.

On Friday 11 September 2009, Wolfgang Spraul wrote:
> Stefan,
> what would drive someone to this site/list and what are the criteria people
> are looking for?
> I think at some point I will start to work on a table of 'hackable'
> hardware, because at least technically it's relatively easy to pin down
> features: Reflashable, unbrickable, all drivers in source form or some in
> binary, toolchain open, schematics/datasheets/layout/BOM published or not,
> etc.
> But this is only interesting to hackers, not normal users.
> What if a company supports the free software scene covertly (quite a few do
> because the reason they fear openness are patents, not hackers)?
> Who should 'rank' or 'qualify' hardware makers for how 'open' they are?
> I think we first need to define why someone is looking for openness, and
> what they expect from it.
> Can you explain your motives? What makes you interested in Openmoko, Qi,
> OpenPandora, etc.?
> Thanks,
> Wolfgang
> On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 11:00:49AM -0400, Stefan Monnier wrote:
> > While looking for new hardware, I noticed that all the open hardware
> > I know, I discovered it by accident while reading some mailing-list.
> >
> > Is there a web site somewhere that kind of centralizes this info to try
> > and make it easier for openness-conscious consumers to find
> > appropriate hardware?  Of course, there are various notions of "open
> > hardware", so there might be parts of the site for hardware-hackers, for
> > example, but I'm more interested in a web-site for end-users.  Also it
> > might include hardware that is not itself open source, but where the
> > company states a clear commitment to Free Software principles.
> >
> > I.e. a site that links to things like Openmoko, Qi, AlwaysInnovating,
> > maybe Lemote, OpenPandora, ...
> >
> > Any hint?
> >
> >
> >         Stefan
> >
> >
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