Bruce Perens on Open Source Hardware

Posted on 2012/02/01

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Linux Conference Australia, Ballarat 2012. The creator of Busybox and co-founder of Debian makes a compelling and rational argument about who should speak for Open Source, and then offers a hopeful perspective on the new frontiers of Open Source Hardware.

He is convinced that today there’s plenty of enabling factors to make Open Source Hardware a big thing, just like Linux did at the time thanks to the enabling factors of the Internet, cheap PCs and efficient compilers.

In my opinion there are still at least two factors that make the Open Source Hardware movement slower than Open Source Software, especially in the field of electronics:

  • The number of electronic experts in the world is so much lower than the number of software experts.
  • The cost to copy software and have a new “finite product” is almost zero, the cost to copy a “thing” is linked to the cost of manufacturing and is still quite high.

I hope that the second problem will soon be overcome thanks to the constant progress of the technology of electronic board manufacturing and the lowered cost of programmable logic chips. The first problem instead will simply be something to be acknowledged, that affects the variety of the ecosystem, the speed of progress and the number of bugs that can be solved by public review.

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Posted in: Hardware