• open hardware

last modified August 4, 2019 by strypey

More information on "open hardware" topics can be found on the wiki of the P2P Foundation. This page will eventually retired and all the contents added to the appropriate page(s) there.

Introducing Open Hardware 

The "open hardware" movement entered geek awareness in 2012 when Slashdot featured a story on the rumblings of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), over the similarities between the trademarked OSI logo and the 'cog and keyhole' logo being promoted for "Open Hardware", by the emerging Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). The idea of "open hardware" is, of course, a nod to the use of open source development in software. OSHWA happily admit this, citing the OSI's Open Source Definition as the template for their Open Hardware Definition. The key question for supporters of the nascent OSHWA was whether they should accept a licensing deal with the OSI, and put the use of their logo under its control. Since then, OSI has allowed their registered trademarks to lapse.

There are two main threads in the open hardware movement. First, there are the chip and board makers who figure it's worth sacrificing trade secrets for the benefits of having an open source community (including unpaid contributors) constantly evolving and tweaking new designs for them to manufacture. Then, there is the Maker Movement, like the free code software movement, a loose rebel alliance of hardware design communities, hacker spaces, and media channels for people engaged in peer production (or "co-production" to quote Timebank founder Edgar Cahn). Makers like to make and use existing open hardware designs, using cheap circuit boards and 3D printers, and contribute their own improvements and new designs back to the wider movement using sites like Thingiverse.

Coordinating Organisations 

In 2012, I (Strypey) wrote: "As well as OSHWA, a number of other organisations and community platforms currently exist. One has already been founded, and foundered, and it will be interesting to see which are still in existence in 5 years time":

Regular Events

Hardware Foundries

These host online collaboration tools for open source communities around open hardware designs; like a SourceForge or GITHub for hardware.

Advice, Guides, and Manuals


Seemed like Promising Projects in 2012

  • lowRISK - "creating a fully open-sourced, Linux-capable, RISC-V-based SoC, that can be used either directly or as the basis for a custom design. We aim to tape out our first volume chip this year"
  • openRISK (defunct?) - "a free, open source RISC architecture with DSP features"