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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Equivalent of GPLv3 for hardware???

From: IngeGNUe
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Equivalent of GPLv3 for hardware???
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2016 08:46:12 -0400

On 04/05/16 12:39, Pen-Yuan Hsing wrote:
> On 03/04/16 08:06, Fabio Pesari wrote:
>> On 04/03/2016 03:38 AM, Pen-Yuan Hsing wrote:
>>> Finally, RMS said that since making copies of hardware is costly
>>> compared to software, free hardware is not as urgent of an issue right
>>> now. That might be true, but I propose that since technology will
>>> progress and one day copying hardware might become quick, it *is* a good
>>> idea to set a good precedent and start a trend asap to ensure that
>>> hardware designs will be free.
>>> Love to hear your critiques.
>> The real question is not if new technology can be patented, in my
>> opinion, but if existing patents apply to libre hardware designs. I
>> suppose so, and this severely limits the amount of things which can be
>> built.
>> Also, is there a database/index for libre hardware designs like the Free
>> Software Directory? If not, there should be. There are dozens of
>> Arduino-based libre designs out there, for example.
>> I also think there should be some equivalent to the FSF for hardware -
>> including firmware, which has always been the elephant in the room when
>> it comes to free software, and the poor (or inexistent) performance of
>> free drivers has prevented GNU/Linux (and free distros in particular)
>> from gaining mainstream adoption. Just think about how many WiFi cards
>> require blobs (I don't think I've ever come across one which doesn't).
> Some equivalent effort of the FSF effort for hardware looks especially
> important now.
> First of all, there is the patent issue you mentioned. The later work
> begins on free hardware, the more technologies are locked up by patents.
> And the holders of those patents will likely prevent lots of free
> hardware from being made or even conceived.
> More than that, in light of the recent post by Mike about the x86
> platform being locked up
> (, there is a strong
> imperative to either (a) free the x86 platform (which seems extremely
> unlikely), or (b) develop to maturity a replacement platform that
> Respects Your Freedom.
> This is exemplified by the challenging situation the libreboot project
> is in. It currently only supports very old hardware. Even if some people
> find the performance of those hardware acceptable, one day those
> hardware will break down.
> On that day, if there is no freedom respecting
> hardware/firmware/software combination, then there will literally be no
> free computer to use!
> Developing a *mature* and well supported platform to replace x86 seems
> incredibly difficult, but it seems to me that without it free software
> will eventually become futile because there's no hardware to run it
> on??? (I hope to be corrected on this!) What to do?
This is why I've been thinking the next step is to move to a different
architecture. RISC V or maybe POWER8?

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