RMS: Hardware Designs Should Be Free

Richard Stallman has an article today in Wired arguing that hardware designs should be free. Traditionally he has been pretty quiet on the subject of open hardware, but now I’ve seen two articles from him in the past few weeks in that area. It think it’s pretty interesting because in the past he didn’t even have an interest in endorsing open hardware.

Now that home-scale manufacturing is becoming easier with the proliferation of 3D printers, the differences between compiling software and “compiling” hardware are getting smaller. Having access to the “source” of a 3D model of some consumer hardware can now actually be useful to the end-user, so I think I get why he’s interested.


It feels like we’re on the cusp of an OSHW breakout.

One of the revolutionary things about 3D printing seems to be that it’s enabling small teams or solo ventures to bring product to market profitably where larger companies could not.

What we need now is a few more major successes from businesses adopting an opensource model. It’s such a major/frightening decision to make – to make your product opensource. It’s counterintuitive, but I think for a large class of new startups OSHW can be just the thing to bootstrap a venture.

I’m super excited that this is finally getting discussed at the level of RMS & Wired. It feels so new and unformed, but we are kicking off a huge change in the way the world works. In 10 years it will seem like it was inevitable.

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