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Open Source Hardware Gets Public Introduction

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the make-our-stuff-bettter dept.

Hardware Hacking 106

JoeBorn writes "The Sunday New York Times has an article on Neuros video recorder and describes the benefits of open source hardware to its mainstream readership. Can a mainstream audience appreciate that hackability can translate into new features or will it all just seem too geeky? In this case, the Neuros OSD got a YouTube browser. While the details might be lost on the average reader, are they getting the sense that some companies allow users to benefit from other users modifications while others are actively bricking products for applying 3rd party apps? In other words, is openness starting to add value to the brands that support it?"

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Verilog, motherfucka! Do you speak it?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21930698)

Verilog, motherfucka! Do you speak it?!

Re:Verilog, motherfucka! Do you speak it?! (1)

FoolsGold (1139759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930946)

architecture reponse of slashdot is
begin
      post = "F-you, I only speak VHDL";
end response;

Re:Verilog, motherfucka! Do you speak it?! (1)

mako1138 (837520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931018)

Dammit, just looking at this snippet makes me want to fix/fill out the rest of the module...

entity slashdot is
  port( clk : std_logic,
        post : bad_grammar,
        dupe_count : std_logic_vector(7 downto 0); )
  generic ( annoyance : fanboys := apple; )
end slashdot;
Eh, it's past my bedtime.
   

Re:Verilog, motherfucka! Do you speak it?! (1)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932100)

Nice, but your 8 bit dupe counter is not likely to survive Zonk's next session at the controls :).

OpenSparc (1, Offtopic)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930710)

*cough* [opensparc.net]

are there other open-source processors ?

Re:OpenSparc (3, Informative)

femto (459605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930762)

Some versions of the LEON and any of the forty one processors on this page [opencores.org] .

Not flamebait (0, Offtopic)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930880)

Flamebait? I think some mod didn't understand something....

The PC Showed Open Source Hardware Not Necessary (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932628)

Open Source hardware is mostly unnecessary! Make open standard platforms that can become commodities, and the benefits of open hardware are yours.

If you have a good idea for a new capability, then make and market an add-on. If it's a good enough idea, then if you don't do it, someone else will.

Make your open standard with a way of extending and upgrading your hardware, and 90% of what you want with open hardware is already yours.

Re:The PC Showed Open Source Hardware Not Necessar (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21937418)

Its not really just "open hardware" it is the firmware/OS that powers the device. I am sure that 4 months ago we could write code for the Wii but it was useless until someone found how to run code on it. Most devices have the same hardware as computers (processor, RAM, storage space) but finding ways to execute code is very difficult if the developers haven't either encouraged hacking on it or trying to stop code from being run on it.

Re:OpenSparc (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934092)

To a certain degree, yes [opencores.org] . These aren't used much desktop/laptops (yet) but in embedded systems.

Warranty and expectations of the average consumer (1, Insightful)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930740)

Don't forget that most open source software comes with big warnings that there are absolutely no warranties. Do most consumers really expect the same from their hardware? While open hardware sounds great for me personally and probably much of the Slashdot crowd, the companies behind it need to have a very different focus than normal mass-market hardware. That is, they either need to choose to offer zero warranties on damage resulting from a user's actions, OR they can put a lot of effort into supporting and encouraging developers (which is what my company chooses to do). I'm not sure if we're ready to have mass-market expectations and developer-friendly devices meet.

Side note: I'm excited about openmoko [openmoko.com] , the open hardware (and open source software) cell phone. Waiting for the second revision, which will include 802.11.

--
Our microcontroller kit, guide, and free videos. Your GCC compiler. Learn digital electronics today! [nerdkits.com]

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (2, Informative)

VValdo (10446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930778)

As I understand it "OpenMoko [openmoko.org] " is the software platform & base applications. The neo1973 is the name of the hardware (the phone), although I think the new incarnation has a new name "Freerunner [openmoko.org] ".

The Neo whatever-its-called as hardware will be able to run OpenMoko-- but it can also run Trolltech's Qtopia [molkentin.de] software, which is further along, development-wise.

As far as Google's Android platform-- it's my understanding that it won't run on the Neo hardware due to some kind of lack of backwards compatibility [benno.id.au] with the ARM processor in the Neo.

Finally, I think there are some parts of neo1973/openmoko that are not fully open-- can't remember, but I think it's the GPS or GSM driver/daemon.

W

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (2, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930850)

Finally, I think there are some parts of neo1973/openmoko that are not fully open-- can't remember, but I think it's the GPS or GSM driver/daemon.

The GSM radio and GPS receiver are covered by NDAs. The GSM radio provides a plain serial interface, so the software side is completely open. The GPS receiver requires some processing to be done on the host processor though, and this requires a binary blob. The binary blob provides an NMEA output though, so everything above it is open.

I understand that these are closed for regulatory reasons (fiddling with the GSM radio would be illegal in many jurisdictions, and ISTR the GPS licences require that there be some "safety" mechanisms built in, such as maximum speed and maximum altitude that the GPS can operate at, because the US government are idiots and are paranoid about people using GPS devices in missiles, etc.)

You can bet that someone will reverse engineer the GPS blob and write an open one before long though (I rather doubt this will make it into the official release though, due to the previously mentioned regulatory problems).

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931912)

The GPS receiver requires some processing to be done on the host processor though, and this requires a binary blob.
Doesn't the GPS System's binary blob require a PIN number ?

(hint : Binary Large OBject) ;)

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933976)

Doesn't the GPS System's binary blob require a PIN number ?

(hint : Binary Large OBject) ;)


Blob isn't an acronym. "Binary Large OBject" or the alternative "Basic Large OBject" are both backronyms. Additionally, the backronyms refer to a data type stored in a DBMS - I have never heard them applied to binary blobs in drivers.

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (2, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930798)

Don't forget that most open source software comes with big warnings that there are absolutely no warranties.

So does most closed source software... or did you expect Microsoft to compensate you every time Windows crashes?

Side note: I'm excited about openmoko, the open hardware (and open source software) cell phone. Waiting for the second revision, which will include 802.11.

Yes, I've been keeping an eye on the OpenMoko project for a while, since my experience of devices (phones, routers, PDAs, etc) of the past 5 years or so has been that the first versions always ship with serious bugs and then they are end-of-lifed after only a few months as they are replaced by a new version (with a similar number of serious bugs) - the product life cycle is too short and the firmware never gets stablised. So I've come to the conclusion that I have to be able to fix the bugs myself since the device vendors sure as hell show no sign of doing it.

Unfortunately the OpenMoko project seems to have had a lot of delays (their first "consumer grade" version was supposed to ship for Christmas, but they are going through another hardware revision cycle and from what I understand the firmware is no where near ready for normal users). Also, as tempting as it is to get the GTA02 revision of the FIC1973 phone, I'm still holding out for a version with HSDPA support since I have plenty of experience with GPRS, and frankly it sucks. Also, a smaller case and/or bigger screen would be nice - from photos there seems to be a lot of empty space in the case.

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (2, Informative)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930818)

If I recall correctly, most consumer software comes with the warranty disclaimer.

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (5, Interesting)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930870)

Don't forget that most open source software comes with big warnings that there are absolutely no warranties. Do most consumers really expect the same from their hardware?

Have you actually read Microsoft's EULA? Any of them?

Besides, one could argue that the source code is a warranty unto itself: a warranty that nothing is hidden, and if it doesn't work, you can check it yourself. And if the development stops, you can pick it up yourself.

Therefore, Open Source software in itself warrants you the ability to check for spyware, to make provisions for continued development (what can you do when MS decides to EOL one of their products?) and the ability to fix bugs if you have or can afford the know-how.

And it seems to me that's much more than closed source software guarantees.

Side note: I'm excited about openmoko [openmoko.com] , the open hardware (and open source software) cell phone. Waiting for the second revision, which will include 802.11.

I'm buying it the moment it's ready for mass market as well.

Why don't you use a real signature? I don't mind seeing them, but I do mind having to edit them out.

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932874)

Why don't you use a real signature? I don't mind seeing them, but I do mind having to edit them out.
Because we can't use open source to increase the 120 character signature limit of Slashdot. Even Usenet best practice allowed 280 characters.

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21934360)

Why don't you use a real signature? I don't mind seeing them, but I do mind having to edit them out.
Because then people like me who turn off signatures wouldn't be forced to see his wanton advertising.

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (1)

rnswebx (473058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932062)

Unfortunately, in typical Slashdot fashion, everyone responding to your post has decided to focus their attention on something that isn't even fucking relevant.

Don't forget that most open source software comes with big warnings that there are absolutely no warranties. Do most consumers really expect the same from their hardware?


The responses have been quick with rebuttals about that closed source typically doesn't either, with the usual Microsoft bashing. Focus here folks, the open source software comparison was used to lead into to the open source hardware question. Nobody was talking about closed source software. JFC.

Anyway, on to the OP's question about the 'average' consumer being likely to buy open source hardware without a warranty. I don't think so. I think the technology adept crowd will definitely appreciate the ability to hack away at hardware, but most people don't care. They don't buy their hardware because of what it could possibly do if they spend XYZ hours hacking away and manage not to break it. (Of course, without any warranty, the odds of the average Joe even attempting this are probably even more slim.) They buy it for what it does do, and how well it does it. (Whatever 'it' is.)

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21935354)

This is a total straw man considering that most open source software companies will support their paid product just the same as a closed source company. It is the sites and programmers giving away the software for free who say "no warranties", because obviously they are not going to have time or money to assist everyone who has a problem with their software.

A hardware company which sells hardware products based on open source designs will most certainly have a warranty for their product just the same way closed source hardware companies have warranties. Just because the product you sell is based on open source, doesn't mean you can't warranty it. In fact, you could have more confidence in the design because many other people have tested it too. Who ships out a product without at least testing it a little anyway?

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (2, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933820)

That is, they either need to choose to offer zero warranties on damage resulting from a user's actions, OR they can put a lot of effort into supporting and encouraging developers


Isn't that already the case? Most warranties cover only manufacturing defects, and only for a limited period of time. Damage that results from a user's actions - whether it be hacking it to add functionality, or simply spilling a coffee on it - are generally not covered. The trick is determining whether it was the user's actions that caused the hardware to fail, or a defect in the hardware itself.

This is where buyers need to protect themselves by researching the experience of others when dealing with a given company over warranty issues, and factor that in to their purchasing decision. If a company looks for any excuse to deny warranty coverage, it should be avoided. Too many people only consider the cost at the till, and ignore the TCO including the level of after sale support.

Re:Warranty and expectations of the average consum (1)

dave87656 (1179347) | more than 6 years ago | (#21938032)

Most commericial software comes with the same waivers. There is no guarantee for suitability for purpose or functionality. Usually your only recourse is to return the software for a refund of your money and often you don't realistically have that option either.

Isn't It Simple? (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930780)

Aren't the benefits of open source, or, generally, hackable hardware very simple to explain?

If there is any bug, or desireable feature that is missing, or really any kind of improvement to be made, it can be made by anyone. This includes you, but you don't have to do it yourself - chances are there is somebody who wants the same improvement and will make it and share it with the world. Sure, companies will also enhance closed-source products, but now it's not just the company that does this, but a large group of volunteers, as well. This means that improvements can be expected to be made much more quickly and in many more directions at once. Plus, if the company ever stops supporting the product, the community will continue supporting it until the last person has lost interest.

There. Was that so difficult?

Re:Isn't It Simple? (2, Interesting)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930904)

Aren't the benefits of open source, or, generally, hackable hardware very simple to explain?

Indeed. But so are the reasons for closed hardware. Your argument that ANYONE (your word) can modify a device that uses electricity is, for the majority of the population, an argument against, not for, openness.

Yes, I know this is slashdot, and people here see the benefits of hardware openness (even though for most it's just a matter of principle and never hack anything anyway).

BTW for another good piece of open hardware, check chumby [chumby.com] .

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931010)

``Indeed. But so are the reasons for closed hardware. Your argument that ANYONE (your word) can modify a device that uses electricity is, for the majority of the population, an argument against, not for, openness.''

That's a very good point! I honestly hadn't thought of that.

People are right to be concerned about others tampering with their devices, and the concern that this will happen when it's open source (which about literally means "anyone can tinker with it") is definitely understandable.

Perhaps it would be good if we started spreading the message that open source does _not_ mean that anyone will tamper with _your_ things without your permission. And that, in fact, open source can help prevent this behavior; without being allowed to know what something does, exactly (closed source), it's easy enough to insert parts that monitor you, modify your settings, etc., and go undetected. When anyone can see what's going on (open source), this is much more difficult...and given that there are many in th open source crowd who frown on these practices, it is likely that they _will_ be detected..._and_ stopped.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931120)

On the other hand, one must be careful of the difference in logic between the arguments, "Just because it's open source doesn't mean anyone can come in and hack it." and "Just because there are lots of hackers are viruses on the internet doesn't mean you need a firewall." The problem is that many people can't see a difference in format of those two arguments.

Also, "open source" does not mean "anyone can tinker with it" as you suggest. Hackers (the malicious type) may be able to read the source code, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can modify it or the compiled version on your machine.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931436)

``Also, "open source" does not mean "anyone can tinker with it" as you suggest. Hackers (the malicious type) may be able to read the source code, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can modify it or the compiled version on your machine.''

Exactly what I was trying to communicate. Anyone can change their own copy, and you can apply the changes to your own copy if you want, but you don't have to.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

russellh (547685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934498)

All hardware used to be "open". The idea of closed hardware is what is new, and the well known analogy is that of car hoods being locked by the manufacturer; nobody would accept that even if we're not all competent mechanics.

Your argument that ANYONE (your word) can modify a device that uses electricity is, for the majority of the population, an argument against, not for, openness.
Better to ban electricity itself because you never know who might try to mod a lamp by cutting the cord with scissors while the lamp is plugged in.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21935430)

Why is this modded up? This doesn't make any sense. ...or is there some sort of new interdimensonal technology which can modify a chip's circuit after it has been manufactured? WTF?

Or are you saying some black hat may break into the project's server and make some "interesting" modifications to the circuit, which ends up being used by the people manufacturing your hardware. Yeah, that could happen, except the same argument could be made with closed source as well...

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936080)

Why is this modded up? This doesn't make any sense. ...or is there some sort of new interdimensonal technology which can modify a chip's circuit after it has been manufactured? WTF?
Read my comment and the parent's, carefully please. And chill :-)

Re:Isn't It Simple? (2, Interesting)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930924)

I wish that Sony would learn that with the PSP. I have mine loaded with custom firmware and I love it. There are so many more features available when I'm not locked into Sony's crap. I can stream video from my computer straight to it, I can read books on it, it has SSH now so I can mess around with my fileserver anywhere that I have a WIFI connection. That's just the tip of the iceberg too, there is just so much more that is available for it now that it's opened up no thanks to SONY. I'm sure that there are a ton of consumer devices out there that would do well with similar treatment. Really what does the company stand to lose if they let people write programs for it, they can get ideas from these programs and even have the good ones sponsored on their websites. Sure there are some people that will try to screw you, but since you are loading something not endorsed by the company that made the product that's a risk that you take. Emblazon that across the device at purchase time and even your most ignorant buffoon will have no recourse should they break it with software. I apologize if my post rambles a little, it is after all very early in the morning.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

melonman (608440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931394)

If there is any bug, or desireable feature that is missing, or really any kind of improvement to be made, it can be made by anyone. This includes you, but you don't have to do it yourself - chances are there is somebody who wants the same improvement and will make it and share it with the world.

There ought to be a Slashdot autoresponder for this suggestion. It is not and never has been true of software, and is even less true of hardware. If you really think you can personally add whatever feature you fancy to any and all open-source software in anything like a reasonable timescale, I suspect you've never tried. I'd really like emacs to display all regexes properly (# is a particular problem in both perl and tcl modes). The bug has been around for years, and I'm sure tens of thousands of technical users have noticed. Can you fix that for me by next Wednesday?

If you think it makes sense to even try fixing other people's code in most cases, you are probably still in full-time education. I suspect I could work out a fix for the above problem if I had nothing else to do for a few months, but the reason I use emacs in the first place is because I have other things to do. That's true of the vast majority of software users. The options are to live with the bugs, hold out for a bug fix and find another product that does the same job better.

Cathedral and Bazaar describes (probably, I suspect, in a rather rose-tinted way) the development of fetchmail as a collaborative open source project, but, for heaven's sake, it's part of server-side email infrastructure. The contributors were all übertechies. What proportion of end users of systems that use fetchmail do you think have even heard of fetchmail, let alone being able to improve the source code, let alone persuading whoever handles their mail to install the improved version?

The reality is that modern software is generally extremely complex to maintain, that there's a huge learning curve in unpicking even well-documented projects, that there are politics attached to getting your mods accepted by the main project, and that effectively forking the project in order to add your one new feature is generally the worst thing you could possibly do in terms of long-term reliability. You might possibly be able to fix the bug you've noticed, but making sure you haven't introduced three more bugs in the process is a little more tricky.

That's software. The main thing stopping most of us from hacking our hardware isn't DRM, it's not having the technical competence and the extremely expensive kit to go with it. Heck, it's virtually impossible to do routine maintenance on most cars nowadays without the vendor's test rig.

There are advantages for everyone in open standards, and maybe in open hardware, but the advantages don't come from Grannie Brown being able to turn her PC into a video recorder on a wet Tuesday afternoon. You still need the backing of a fairly large institution (university or company) to do hardware hacking that achieves more than a mention on Slashdot hardware hacks.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931448)

``There ought to be a Slashdot autoresponder for this suggestion. It is not and never has been true of software, and is even less true of hardware. If you really think you can personally add whatever feature you fancy to any and all open-source software in anything like a reasonable timescale, I suspect you've never tried. I'd really like emacs to display all regexes properly (# is a particular problem in both perl and tcl modes). The bug has been around for years, and I'm sure tens of thousands of technical users have noticed. Can you fix that for me by next Wednesday?

If you think it makes sense to even try fixing other people's code in most cases, you are probably still in full-time education. I suspect I could work out a fix for the above problem if I had nothing else to do for a few months, but the reason I use emacs in the first place is because I have other things to do. That's true of the vast majority of software users. The options are to live with the bugs, hold out for a bug fix and find another product that does the same job better.''

Ok, you win. Open source clearly isn't perfect. Therefore, we should all throw in the towel and go back to closed-source software. After all, since open source software isn't perfect, closed source software is clearly better.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (3, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931648)

Ok, you win. Open source clearly isn't perfect. Therefore, we should all throw in the towel and go back to closed-source software. After all, since open source software isn't perfect, closed source software is clearly better.

No, we should just stop over-selling open source as if the mere fact that the code is available makes all things possible and solves every problem from bugs to world poverty and acne. Selling points for the general public are more along the lines of long-term availability of the software, a better record on fixing bugs and a culture that encourages interoperability. "You can fix it yourself" isn't a selling point for most people, even if it were true. "This car comes with no warranty, there are no dealers, but you are free to cast your own engine parts when it breaks down, and even to distribute those engine parts to third parties" isn't a sales pitch you are going to see on TV any time soon.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932604)

I don't know why you got modded up. I mean, obviously overselling something isn't a Good Thing, but I don't think we're overselling open source. If anything, open source is underappreciated because it is misunderstood, meaning we need to spend _more_ time informing people.

``solves every problem from bugs to world poverty and acne.''

Have I ever claimed it does this? I didn't even start out talking about open source per se, I said "generally, anything that's hackable". But now that you brought it up, I do think open source can help with bugs and world poverty, if not acne.

``Selling points for the general public are more along the lines of long-term availability of the software, a better record on fixing bugs and a culture that encourages interoperability.''

Yes, and open source generally does well here. So why are you arguing against it and why did you get modded up for it?

``"You can fix it yourself" isn't a selling point for most people, even if it were true.''

It's not what I said, either. I said that everyone who wants to can make improvements, and even if you do not make any improvements yourself, you can benefit from them. And that _is_ true.

``"This car comes with no warranty, there are no dealers, but you are free to cast your own engine parts when it breaks down, and even to distribute those engine parts to third parties" isn't a sales pitch you are going to see on TV any time soon.''

And is completely irrelevant to everything in this thread. We are not talking about products for which there is no warranty and no dealer.

Seriously, you are putting things into this discussion that weren't there before, and then attacking them, while trying to make me come off as some sort of blind open source zealot. Pretty much everything you've said is flawed or even complete nonsense. And yet, you got modded up. I am astonished, and angry.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932958)

``Selling points for the general public are more along the lines of long-term availability of the software, a better record on fixing bugs and a culture that encourages interoperability.''

Yes, and open source generally does well here. So why are you arguing against it and why did you get modded up for it?

He wasn't arguing against that. He was stating that we should advertise THOSE parts more than the "anyone can hack it" part.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

melonman (608440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933748)

I'm sorry you are astonished and angry. But your post went

Aren't the benefits of open source, or, generally, hackable hardware very simple to explain?

[explanation that is almost entirely irrelavent to 99% of software users]

There. Was that so difficult?

In future, if you must be patronising, try to be patronising and right. I've explained why I think your entire explanation heads off in the wrong direction, and some of what you say is downright wrong. For example, your claim that open sourcing of code somehow ensures ongoing support of the code is patent nonsense, as a brief look at sourceforge will confirm. There are lots of open source projects out there with an active user base and no developers.

Now, on that point, I'm inclined to agree that open sourcing the code provides better guarantees of ongoing support in most circumstances than closed source code. But posting a gross generalisation and then signing off with "There, was that so difficult" is a way to paint a large target on your butt.

Incidentally, I see from your website that you do write code, so I take back my suggestion to the contrary a few posts up.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934324)

"This car comes with no warranty, there are no dealers, but you are free to cast your own engine parts when it breaks down, and even to distribute those engine parts to third parties" isn't a sales pitch you are going to see on TV any time soon.
No, it isn't. How about 'this car comes with no warranty, but you can purchase one from the manufacturer or from any of the mechanics in your area who have read the (free) maintenance guide, or you can maintain it yourself if you prefer?' Not likely to appear in any TV ad because it's not really in the manufacturer's best interest at the moment, but if I were in the market for a car this might be quite attractive.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

melonman (608440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934388)

Ok, I'll bite. Since my earlier example concerned emacs, how much does Richard Stallman charge for an emacs warranty?

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933142)

If you really think you can personally add whatever feature you fancy to any and all open-source software in anything like a reasonable timescale, I suspect you've never tried. I'd really like emacs to display all regexes properly (# is a particular problem in both perl and tcl modes). The bug has been around for years, and I'm sure tens of thousands of technical users have noticed. Can you fix that for me by next Wednesday?
How much are you willing to pay?

The argument is that you are allowed to change the source of open source software. Your counterargument is that it might not be easy. Well, that's not the argument. You can change the source. It might be a trivial fix. You might have to hire an expensive team of developers for a year. But you can, and if you need it enough, you will.

It doesn't matter what expensive team of developers you hire to modify Windows; they can't (legally) do it. If Windows was open source, you can. (Businesses are still left with a manpower advantage here; I think this argument gets more compelling the more people you have available to make changes.)

Obviously, the pain of the bug you cite has not risen above the threshold where you're actually willing to do something about it. But with open source, you have that choice, even if you have not chosen to exercise it because it's too expensive.

It's not about it being "easy", it's about it being possible.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

melonman (608440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933638)

A choice you can't afford to make isn't a choice. I understand the benefits of the code being available to be modified. I'm simply pointing out that, in practice, most people have no option but to use open source software as if it couldn't be modified, because they do not have the resources (technical or financial) to modify it. This means the theoretical possibility of them modifying the code isn't any kind of selling point for them.

Also, I think you'll find that a lot of closed source companies are willing to modify or fork their code, for a price. I've seen more than one small software vendor make small fixes, for free, in response to my feedback. OTOH, XFree86 forked after complaints that the project owners weren't as responsive as my small closed-source vendors. The picture is a lot more complex than "Open Good, Closed Bad".

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

chadruva (613658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932246)

It is very simple, I have a Neuros OSD attached to my TV, when we bought it it could not play MP3s and only played a few videos, we just updated to latest firmware and done, mp3, ogg, more video formats and youtube, although youtube didn't work, a few days leter a fix for youtube was in place and working.

I have already recorded a few shows from TV and quality is top notch, some may miss HD features (HDTV input/output and recording), but how many of you have HDTV anyways?, it is in their TODO list for future products too.

I'm quite amazed at how fast this things get fixes and features from developers an community, everything you need to develop apps for it is documented, the APIs (GUI, audio, video, youtube) everything is there.

It is simple to hack, is just another Linux machine with multimedia hardware (DSP) and APIs thrown in and everything is Open, except for video and audio codecs for the DSP, but the community is already working on replacing those.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933600)

That's the theory anyways. But as a deaf person I've tried unsuccessfully many times to get Closed Caption support added or enhanced in open source projects. Unfortunately since it doesn't personally affect anyone else on the teams I get the usual "Sorry, maybe you can add it yourself" replies. Sadly proprietary software meets my needs better at times.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

ouachiski (835136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934516)

So when exactly did we get away from open source hardware. Didn't at one point all appliances, TV's and radios come with wiring diagrams inside the case. Whenever it broke you where expected to either fix it yourself or take it to someone to get fixed. A lot of people would fix it differently than it originally was to make it either more feature rich or less likely to break again. There was a lot of innovation being done by people at home trying to fix there broken appliance. Take the control knob on your washing machine for example. That was thought up by someone at there house when the control for there washing machine broke. A lott of things we are used to having on products came from this time when people fixed and improved the products that they bought. now if something we own dosnt do something we want or breaks we throw it away and buy a new one, and we wonder why our landfills are filling up.

Re:Isn't It Simple? (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21935616)

The problem is that you can do all that you want, but until you pay a fab to make it for you (and that ain't cheap for small runs), you're just doing some mental masturbation over how neat this stuff is. It isn't like OSS where you can just download the stuff and use it for free. You can't download hardware... you either have to get it fabbed yourself or you have to hope someone fabs it and sells the stuff so you can get it.

Sharp DVD Recorder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21930846)

We need Open Hardware! Otherwise... My Aunt who lives overseas got a Sharp DVD Recorder. Recorded some shows to send to my young Son to watch in our second language. Trouble is: The new Sharp DVD Recorders save everything in copy-protected format that aren't playable on any other systems. Why can't we program our own consumer hardware? Why do I need some dweeb at Sharp to write code that disadvantages me as a consumer?

Re:Sharp DVD Recorder (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932800)

We need Open Hardware! Otherwise... My Aunt who lives overseas got a Sharp DVD Recorder. Recorded some shows to send to my young Son to watch in our second language. Trouble is: The new Sharp DVD Recorders save everything in copy-protected format that aren't playable on any other systems. Why can't we program our own consumer hardware? Why do I need some dweeb at Sharp to write code that disadvantages me as a consumer?
Because they've already got your money !

Re:Sharp DVD Recorder DRM and open markets (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932968)

Recorded some shows to send to my young Son to watch in our second language. Trouble is: The new Sharp DVD Recorders save everything in copy-protected format that aren't playable on any other systems.

Thanks for the info. DRM will only survive in an open market if alternatives are outlawed. Defective products don't sell the momemt a working alternative appears. Remember the DAT? DAT by law required Serial Copy Management..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_Copy_Management_System [wikipedia.org]

Computer hardware unencumbered by the broken format simply bypassed the DAT which rightfully died in the cradle. Computer CD drives gave way to CDR's which didn't include the restriction.

If a single vendor solution is broken, continue to look at alternatives. For me the alternative is a PVR-150 capture card in a Linux machine followed by my editor of choice and DVD author of choice to a DVD drive of my choice. DRM free and region free DVD creation is not that hard. Ask around. Some hardware is more friendly than others.

Since you dropped a brand name, I'll mention my technophobe wife. (I know.. Slashdot and wife..) She needed a simple solution. For her it is simply a Magnavox MWR20V6. She shoots the grandkids using a camcorder. Making a DVD is as simple as playing back the tape and pushing record on the DVD recorder (after selecting line in instead of a TV channel). Menu creation is very basic and she needs to remember to finalize the disk. To pass out copies, a simple right click in a linux box using copy to file and then on the ISO copy to disk is the fast way to make duplicates to pass to relatives. Making an iso and making lots of copies from the iso is a very simple process and much faster than any other way I have duplicated DVDs on a budget.

Re:Sharp DVD Recorder DRM and open markets (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934402)

Computer hardware unencumbered by the broken format simply bypassed the DAT which rightfully died in the cradle. Computer CD drives gave way to CDR's which didn't include the restriction. CDDAs have a form of copy protection almost identical to that described in the wikipedia article you link to, so I don't think you argument entirely makes sense. CDs beat DAT because 'you don't need to rewind' was a bigger selling point than 'better quality'. CDs gained widespread acceptance in the late '80s and early '90s, several years before it became possible for home users to duplicate them. Consumer CD copiers which were available in this period respected the copy protection and didn't allow the creation of second-generation copies. Early CD ripping software also did. The CD ripper I used in 1998 had a command-line option you needed to pass to ignore it.

Apple Dig (3, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930852)

The iPhone/Apple dig had nothing to do with the article and was normal slashdot FUD.

Why does everyone keep going after Apple for possible bricking of iPhones? You're applying 3rd party hacks which mess with the firmware, bricking is a possibility. No one has gone after Linksys for a bricked router after trying to apply 3rd party firmware.

Apple ships the iPhone with firmware:
#AAAAAAAAAAAA

Some 3rd party comes along and hacks that firmware to do nifty stuff, even if it is a hack. Firmware is now. #AAAAFFFFFFFF

Apple decides to update all the firmware in their iPhones to
#BBBBBBBBBBBA

However since you applied your hack, you now have firmware:
#BBBBBBBBBBBF

Which could very well possibly brick the iPhone. Apple doesn't have the resources to test with every single firmware hack out there. They test their firmware with what they shipped, if nothing bad happens it gets pushed as an update. If I secretly swap a Ford engine into my GM engine and take it back to the dealer, they're not going to fix it no problem.

If you don't want the iPhone and Apple's product model, get an open source phone. Get another brand. Apple makes stable platforms for people who sometimes don't want to tinker. Things may be tinker friendly, but if you fuck something up don't go suing or crying to Apple.

I got into an argument at work about living in one of the more socialist countries (Full healthcare, full welfare, full retirement, etc) and then I bring up income tax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Income_Taxes_By_Country.svg) and they start bitching about how much the USA already takes, who in their right mind would let someone take MORE.

There are trade-offs to every single thing in the world. Make up your fucking mind and take the good with the bad. No, you're not entitled and no you can't have everything the way you like it.

Get over it.

The Problem (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930878)

Seems to be that Apple is (supposedly) actively trying to brick your phone if you unlock it, instead of it just being a side effect. They are caring too much about who provides the service, because their iPhone business model revolves around locked phones. Personally, I think the iPhone is a POS (for the price) and wouldn't buy it anyway, but it is not a good idea to try to piss off those you want as customers.

Re:The Problem (2, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933476)

The people hacking their iPhones are not the people Apple wants as customers anyway. The target demographic for the iPhone is not the Slashdot crowd. I was in an Apple store over the holidays and there was some guy in there with his 13 or so year old daughter. He was going to get her an iPhone. (Aside from wtf buys a 13 year old a phone like that, etc). She didn't care that it didn't run Wiki or what ever 3rd party apps were available. She wanted an iPhone. She wanted it to just work(tm). If Apple bricked her phone I know that her dad would have been up in arms.

Slashdotters and hackers saw a nifty piece of hardware and decided that they were entitled to doing stuff to it and got up in arms when Apple fixed security holes, etc.

Re:Apple Dig (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930886)

Why does everyone keep going after Apple for possible bricking of iPhones? You're applying 3rd party hacks which mess with the firmware, bricking is a possibility.

1. People were only applying 3rd party firmware because Apple intentionally prevented people from doing all the stuff you usually expect to do on a SmartPhone.
2. Apple knew the firmware would brick the phones - they made a press release saying it would _before_ they released the firmware, yet they did nothing to correct the problem (they could at least have prevented people uploading the new firmware to hacked phones). Read into it what you will, but it looked to me very much like the bricking of the phones was an accidentally-on-purpose thing.

No one has gone after Linksys for a bricked router after trying to apply 3rd party firmware.

To my knowledge, LinkSys have never released a firmware that would brick your router. Sure, you can brick it by applying a broken 3rd party firmware(*) but applying an official LinkSys firmware (even after you've been running a 3rd party one) won't brick it.

(* Actually, it's pretty hard to brick the WRT54GL - the boot loader, which is never replaced by the user firmware, is pretty smart and will let you upload a new firmware even if the one already on the router is completely screwed. So even if you uploaded a compeltely broken 3rd party firmware, you can usually just upload the official LinkSys one again and it'll all start working).

Re:Apple Dig (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21938114)

Apple knew the firmware would brick the phones - they made a press release saying it would _before_ they released the firmware, yet they did nothing to correct the problem (they could at least have prevented people uploading the new firmware to hacked phones). Read into it what you will, but it looked to me very much like the bricking of the phones was an accidentally-on-purpose thing.


Actually, it turns out the "brick" was a corruption of the baseband firmware. In fact, there's a nice detailed analysis of why unlocked iPhones were bricked [google.com] .

Sure Apple could fix it, but that would be expending software development effort on something they don't want to acknowledge exists.

Apple doesn't force the upgrade on you, either. Plug the iPhone into iTunes, and iTunes prompts if you want to download, download and install, or cancel (with "Do not prompt again" checkbox). People who don't read the very prominent notices that unauthorized mods may damage the phone, deserve what they got.

Funny enough, not everyone bricked their iPhones when 1.1.1 came out! Because they saw the warnings, and ignored the call to upgrade their phone. It's only a notification in iTunes that you can ignore and even tell iTunes to not bother you again. A few weeks later, the same hackers released a way to upgrade to 1.1.1 without bricking. (Which also happened to fix bricked phones, as well).

Probably the worst crime Apple committed was releasing a product that people wanted with some features they didn't want.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930906)

I throughly enjoyed the deliberate apple dig included in this summary: it was clearly for the sole purpose of getting more attention and almost entirely unrelated to the topic. Factually however, clueful people have not bricked their equipment. You can brick your microwave with the stupidities that people have been up to with their iPhones. (One of the hacks involved opening the unit and then using a soldering iron.)

I actually only checked this thread just to see how many people noticed what an obvious dig it was.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936196)

Well, it was a deliberate dig, and perhaps not totally appropriate, but I think the real point of the article is about a mainstream perception, and to that end, I think it is related to the topic. The point is that the subtleties known to the people reading this discussion are often lost on the average user, but that doesn't mean that they don't care at all. More often what happens is that a lot of the details get aggregated into a more understandable general concept. That's why the term, "openness" is really a more useful term because it describes a host of user level attributes: allowing third party applications, using standard file formats, encouraging alternative uses of the device on a variety of levels. Slashdotters don't like this because it's too vague and allows marketing people to wreak havock with terms that should seemingly be precise, but I think that ignores the fact that even a fairly involved, but non technical user simply doesn't have the appetite for distinctions that seem like splitting hairs to them. To win the war or words, you need sound bites and easily digestible concepts. The Neuros OSD is flexible and allows different applications, consider that an artifact of it being "open." Many other products are closed, and as a result can't realistically do anything not intended by the manufacturer, and it's often not interoperable. Sure, drill a level down and there's a precise definition as to what's open and what's closed and what's open source or just an open API or just open Standards or just DRM free media, but don't hit the average user over the head with those details with the elevator pitch so to speak.

Re:Apple Dig (0, Flamebait)

pioppo (61573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930938)

"Apple decides to update all the firmware in their iPhones to
#BBBBBBBBBBBA"

The problem is they shouldn't be allowed to do this.
If I buy an iPhone I'm the one and only owner of that object.
Apple has no right to change firmware on *my* iPhone without asking me consent.

And by the way, checksum verification is cheap so they could easily skip iPhones with non-original firmware and let them alone.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931004)

Good thing that they get verification before doing the update, then. So in other words, your problem isn't a problem.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

pioppo (61573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932258)

I just said they /could/, not that they do.

Its even worse (1)

sebastianlewis (1145989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931126)

Apple only patched the security flaws used by the hacks to install 3rd party software. There's no reason to get upset over security updates, and there's no reason for them to even bother testing every hack out there or even go out of their way to make sure that it wouldn't brick the damn thing, whether or not they could because when you hack it, it is at your own risk, and that especially applies to firmware hacks. Sebastian

Re:Its even worse (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931522)

It's even worse yet: It doesn't BRICK the iPhone. It only un-hacks it and patches the flaws. The phones works exactly as Apple has always said they would: Only on AT&T's service, and without third-party applications.

The only reason I'm not completely irate at the idiotic use of the word 'brick' (which even the dumbest PSP gamer can use correctly, but iPhone users can't) is that I think it might just influence the market to move back to a more open way of doing things, instead of following Apple's lead and closing it all off. Closing off the iPhone to third-party development has got to be the single most heinous thing Apple has ever done (I can't think of a second, actually) and I'm very disgusted with them.

I had planned to buy the Neo 1973 (running OpenMoko) when it came out in November, but November came and went and they're still talking about releasing the devkits at the 'end of the year' last year, and now there's a second version due sometime in 2008. I'm starting to wonder if they'll ever get on the ball and release it. Still, I guess this gives them longer to copy as much of Apple's stuff as they can without violating patents or copyrights. Personally, I'd rather have the first generation out already and be working on shaping the second generation, but oh well.

(Yes, I've seriously considered a devkit, but I -really- want the motion sensors for some gaming ideas I have.)

Re:Apple Dig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21932310)

Why does everyone keep going after Apple for possible bricking of iPhones?

You're a tard. Please remove yourself from the gene pool.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932486)

I think the technical aspects of why changing firmware on iPhones might brick them is well understood. The problem people have is that Apple is pitting themselves against the people who pay them (aka customers).

Sometimes trade-offs are necessary because of physical or technical limitations. The iPhone is not such a case. Apple should not be fighting developers who want to make the iPhone a more valuable product by writing software for it. Nor should they be fighting their customers who want their iPhone to be more useful by running extra software on it.

Other devices have managed to allow users the freedom to install software on them without breaking upon firmware updates. The only reason the iPhone can't is because Apple is determined to fight their customers and would-be developers.

You are right in saying that people should not buy the iPhone and should buy something else, though. That's definitely the most effective solution.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21932596)

Apple decides to update all the firmware in their iPhones to
#BBBBBBBBBBBA

However since you applied your hack, you now have firmware:
#BBBBBBBBBBBF


This is an idiotic way to upgrade firmware on a phone. The only reason not to include a full image update is for size purposes. Updates to software used to include full executables, but as the size increased and people were stuck with 360K floppy disks or dial-up networking a new way was devised to distribute updates. They would include a binary patch system where it would modify the existing files instead of replacing them. However, that is no longer necessary. There is plenty of bandwidth available, and no reason why Apple should not send #BBBBBBBBBBBA to the phone instead of just #BBBBBBBBBBB and leave the last nibble as whatever happened to be in the current firmware.

Plenty of bandwidth other than cable or DSL? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933044)

There is plenty of bandwidth available
Even for somebody whose only connections to the Internet are through dial-up and the cell phone network?

Re:Plenty of bandwidth other than cable or DSL? (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933296)

For a phone firmware upgrade, yes, there's plenty of bandwidth.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21935518)

Yes, and there are also security considerations. If I'm patching firmware vulnerabilities I must assume somebody might have exploited them in the meantime. It's not always about white hat hackers opening up the gadget (whose phone I have not the right to brick since it's THEIR friggin' property anyway).

So if I want something that just works(tm) i must re-image completely the firmware, or I risk bricking an innocent user who had the misfortune of being pwned.

Re:Apple Dig (1)

Erpo (237853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936342)

The iPhone/Apple dig had nothing to do with the article and was normal slashdot FUD.
Why does everyone keep going after Apple for possible bricking of iPhones?


People keep going after Apple because most people believe that Apple expended extra effort to ensure that the firmware update would brick modified iPhones. The moral continuum looks something like this:

malice and punitive-----------------modifications--------------------modifications encouraged &
action towards modders--------------not supported--------------------dev tools provided
If you don't want the iPhone and Apple's product model, get an open source phone.
Yes, this is the right thing to do. It's unfortunate that all of the FOSS/Linux-based phones suck right now compared to closed offerings. I don't think it's going to get much better until someone steps in and starts Mark Shuttleworthing things.

I got into an argument at work about living in one of the more socialist countries (Full healthcare, full welfare, full retirement, etc) and then I bring up income tax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Income_Taxes_By_Country.svg) and they start bitching about how much the USA already takes, who in their right mind would let someone take MORE.

Yes, we all need to get t-shirts printed that say TAXES = SOCIAL PROGRAMS. Eventually, people will get it.

Open Source Hardware - what's it all about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21930942)

Is it good or is it whack?

Open Source Hardware - Ch-Ch-Check it out (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930960)

With word-choice that atrocious, I just have to!
Cyinide and Happiness [explosm.net] (It's not often I get to link to a non-xkcd comic!)

Re:Open Source Hardware - Ch-Ch-Check it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21931338)

What is it with dipshits like you who always respond to others with some obscure Web comic, or some quote from Family Guy/The Simpsons/Futurama? I mean, are you really too stupid to think up a response of your own, and instead must always draw a quote from some TV show?

It's even stupider when you take a quote from some episode in Season 16 of The Simpsons that most people haven't seen, since most people realized that The Simpsons when apeshit retarded after about Season 7, and stopped watching. So not only have you been unable to come up with a response of your own, but you've provided a response that nobody comprehends, making you look like a moron.

Would have thought the hardware was adaptable (1)

Kris C (1068864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930962)

I took a look at the schematics for this box http://open.neurostechnology.com/files/r3_rev-b_2006-07-02-0713-1.pdf [neurostechnology.com] and realise that this isn't what I would consider "open source hardware". These are all asic's and the hardware itself is not really adaptable (as far as I can see). It's a shame they didnt put down a decent low-cost FPGA, like a Spartan 3aDSP. Then the user would have been able to adapt the hardware, adding video acceleration, custom coprocessors etc. THEN it could have been open source hardware.

Re:Would have thought the hardware was adaptable (1)

coppice (546158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931000)

Can you point out an ASIC in that design? I can't see one myself.

bricking != disabling a hack (2, Informative)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930968)

Learn the difference.

Cynical of "Open source friendly" marketing (1)

mattbee (17533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930990)

From what I saw of the OSD (though this was nearly a year agonow ) the interface just seemed plain unfinished, and was nowhere near as functional as their nearest competitor, XBMC on a hacked XBox which costs probably 1/3 of the price of the OSD. I did rather cynically think that the "open source friendly - new features coming soon! (we hope!)" marketing was a cheaper option than actually putting in the software engineering time on the firmware themselves. Possibly they've been proved right and 18 months later it's turned into a decent product thanks to free labour - anyone have one care to comment?

Easier (2, Interesting)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21930996)

"It's a lot easier to design future products with openness built into them," he said, "than to open a closed product."
Oh yeah, It certainly helps if you don't start with 3rd party licensed software. Building a new device based on linux is not what I'd call easy, but in legal terms it's a hell of alot easier than trying to "open" up a WinCE device.


Following the old adage "Do it right the first time."

/goes back to bootloader code debugging.

Patents (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933064)

"It's a lot easier to design future products with openness built into them," he said, "than to open a closed product."
Oh yeah, It certainly helps if you don't start with 3rd party licensed software.
Even if the alternative to 3rd party licensed software is to use open-source video codecs and just forgo revenue from countries that have software patents, likely including your own?

Re:Patents (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934154)

Even if the alternative to 3rd party licensed software is to use open-source video codecs and just forgo revenue from countries that have software patents, likely including your own?

Actually, I've thought for a long time that we should have separate Linux distributions for the retarded parts of the world. For example, Fedora US Edition and Fedora Rest Of The World Edition (complete with the ability to use patented file formats). I for one am getting pretty tired of having to jump through hoops just because of moronic laws which don't apply to my part of the world.

(And yes, I'm aware that it's *really* trivial to install the appropriate software from Livna, but this sort of thing should be installed as standard).

Re:Patents (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934542)

If your aim is to create an open piece of hardware then yes. Foregoing patent encumbered 3rd part licensed software components is foolish and misguided.

Not all open source video codecs are software patent pariahs.

For a different kind of open source hardware ... (1)

eric76 (679787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931088)

For a different kind of open source hardware, how about open source compressed earth block machine?

From Factor E Farm Weblog [openfarmtech.org] :

One of the goals of our CEB development is to neo-commercialize it: provide an open source business model for producing the machines, where all enabling information is in the public domain. No strings attached.

Schroeder's summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21931330)

"While the details might be lost on the average reader, are they getting the sense that some companies allow users to benefit from other users modifications while others are actively bricking products for applying 3rd party apps? In other words, is openness starting to add value to the brands that support it?""

Well it's certainly the old unlimited freedom vs limited position revisited. Not a bad position overall if one could believe that slashdot could handle the responsability of the former with the same maturity it writes summaries. Something you might want to chew on while reading the above that limited freedom may have advantages of it's own and that unlimited freedom will not cure all that ails the world.

Licensing? (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931358)

Sorry to bring it up, but how does licensing work in the world of open-source hardware? Normally manufacturers can't just go around adding any technology they like to their devices because there are all kinds of patent or service licensing issues attached.

Who becomes responsible/liable in the case of open-source hardware, the project owner? The people manufacturing the hardware? The people selling the hardware? Only one thing is guaranteed: If it is successful and makes money there will be lawsuits. Heck, if it threatens someone else's business there will probably be lawsuits.

Looks great but why no AVC/H264? (1)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931398)

This looks like a great device, and it being open source is definitely a huge advantage. Unfortunately, it lacks AVC (H264) support. I wonder why. Is this related to it's open source nature (are there specific problems with including H264 in an open source device)? And/or may it be hacked on independently?

Also, they only mention NTSC resolution (720x480). That would be a problem in PAL countries (720x576).

Re:Looks great but why no AVC/H264? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931532)

I'm not so sure about it being great. Yes it looks useful but it requires an external dvd player and can only rip in real time. It would be better to have an onboard dvd drive and rip from that at whatever speed the processor can handle, this would be faster and wouldn't tie up your dvd player while ripping.

High-speed dubbing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933114)

I'm not so sure about it being great. Yes it looks useful but it requires an external dvd player and can only rip in real time. It would be better to have an onboard dvd drive and rip from that at whatever speed the processor can handle, this would be faster and wouldn't tie up your dvd player while ripping.
Not supporting high-speed dubbing might help Neuros stay under the major U.S. film studios' radar. So just set the DVD on play and the OSD on record and go to bed. Among people who routinely buy more than seven DVDs a week, what is the fair use case?

Patents (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933088)

Unfortunately, it lacks AVC (H264) support. I wonder why. Is this related to it's open source nature (are there specific problems with including H264 in an open source device)?[...]

Also, they only mention NTSC resolution (720x480).
Two highly developed countries use 480-line television: United States of America and Japan. Both allow patenting of algorithms used in software.

Re:Looks great but why no AVC/H264? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21937014)

Indeed - yet another device that requires re-encoding of almost everything I watch before I can actually watch it...

Arghh!1 the very thought makes my blood boil.

How is this an introduction to anything? (1)

CagedBear (902435) | more than 6 years ago | (#21931498)

"Here are detailed circuit diagrams of our products -- modify them as you wish."

Wasn't this commonplace for electronics until about 30 years ago? How about automobiles today? You can purchase wiring diagrams for your car, either direct from the manufacture or from a third party. Is your Volvo open source?

It's neat that they include schematics, but I suggest the term open source be reserved for source code.

Re:How is this an introduction to anything? (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21934364)

I agree wrt to the terminology, and after years of pitching the benefits to a mainstream audience, I've come to use the term "openness" to try to describe the phenomenon generally: inviting community cooperation and feedback, releasing documentation, using open source software, using open standards, etc. It's really splitting hairs to a mainstream audience to get them to understand the distinctions that are so clear to the folks here. For years, we'd try to explain open source in more precise terms, only to get reactions like "so that means its recordings will play on my iPod?" so we ultimately came to focus more on "openess" as an umbrella term to describe all the related aspects. It's certainly more ambiguous, but look at the article and you'll understand what I'm talking about. That was not a casually written piece, she interviewed not only Neuros employees, but community members as well as references from the EFF and Cory Doctorow, etc.

What I don't understand (2, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933008)

Free and open source software are great. I can get the source code, study it, modify it, and recompile and install it if I like. Cool.

On the box I'm typing this on, I have access to a lot of high-quality development software for the work of installing it, which isn't much. It's easy to set up a world-class development environment (particularly with the neat new big screen my wife gave me for Christmas). I paid less than a thousand dollars for the computer, and everything's cool.

So what am I supposed to do with open source hardware? I have few skills for working with hardware, not many tools, and everything costs money. Tools cost money. Sensors cost money. Parts cost money. Developing the skills costs money (either for formal instruction or to replace stuff I break). It's much more of a commitment.

Now, suppose I come up with a neat new software hack. I can distribute it freely, and people can use it easily. Suppose I come up with a neat new hardware hack. I can distribute the plans freely, but the only people who can use it have the skills, have the tools, are willing to spend money for the parts, and are willing to live with the risk of breaking something that can't just be rmed and replaced.

I like the idea of freedom of information, but there's a very large difference here between hardware and software.

Re:What I don't understand (1)

AndreyFilippov (550131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933414)

> Free and open source software are great. I can get the source code, study it, modify it, and recompile and install it if I like. Cool.

Yes, it is somewhat more difficult to do that withe the open hardware, but not impossible.

First of all - you definitely can study the open design, those who are developing hardware know that working designs can help them to create their own, it saves their time.
Then - FPGA code is still considered as "hardware" and it really has hardware performance. With the open FPGA code you can do exactly like you wrote: study-modify-recompile-install (and then run, of course). Yes, that requires you to have the same hardware (like you have to have a computer to run your code).

Of course, I understand - you already have a computer but not the open hardware design and you need to invest money to get it - just downloading the code is not enough to copy the hardware even if you build it yourself. Solution that I see is to make open hardware that is already competitive with the out of the box functionality, not as a "development board" or "evaluation kit" that you need to invest a lot of your time to make it useful. High-end hackable device is more attractive. You all know of many hacks applied to devices without manufacturer support (at best), there is a visible demand /low offer in this segment and so some business opportunities.

The FOSS going mainstream adds to the demand for the similar hardware - that opens more opportunities for hardware vendors.

Re:What I don't understand (1)

DaftShadow (548731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936400)

Add ten years to your scenario, and then re-evaluate your question. The costs and challenges involved in manufacturing are continuing to decrease. Automation and Adaptability in the Manufacturing industries are increasing. Right now there are Open Source fabs [fabathome.org] which can take your CAD instructions and produce tangible objects. Automation is the cutting edge of manufacturing.

It's not too far-fetched to believe that very soon there will be strong "on-demand" production facilities that have a completely automated start-to-finish process. I put together CAD designs, send them to a Mfg, who produces a run at a 'fair' price and then ships it to me. Open Source Hardware Hacking is merely a step on this path.

Think of all the amazingly cool products we could open up to the world if producing your "dream product" was a simple as learning to use Autodesk Inventor!

- DaftShadow

No H.264? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21933388)

At first I was excited about the Neuros OSD, but after digging into their byzantine website I found out that it neither writes nor even reads H.264 (AVC). No support for the upcoming standard in video codecs is very disappointing. I would buy one of those on the spot as a media center, but I don't want to recode half of my movies to xvid so it can play them. What's wrong with x264, is the hardware too slow?

OTOH I love the size and the fact that it has USB. Imagine this plus a webcam in a basecap.

Slashdot greatly overestimates the mainstream (2, Interesting)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21933724)

Slashdot is *greatly* overestimating the mainstream audiences and general public.

The sad truth is, the general public really doesn't care about open source. They want something that works, and to them, the things that you buy from Sony, LG, Microsoft and others work. They don't care whether the hardware is open-source or proprietary. The fact that the iPhone lacks support for 3rd party applications surely didn't stop hundreds of thousands of people from getting one on opening day.

I think you all are greatly overestimating the capabilities of the mainstream public when it comes to "open source". I'm guessing that the millions and millions of readers of the New York Times will just skip over the article and move on to reading about Britney Spears.

tl;dr: Too much is going on in the news - this was a terrible time to release an article like this that is supposed to introduce the mainstream audience to *anything*.

I need 400 of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21934994)

Does this mean I can finally get my 400 core hardwire clustered ultra OS (linux based) for free?
Where do I sign up?

How to filter out New York Times? (1)

eviljav (68734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21936020)

Is there a way to filter out slashdot posts that are just links to the NYT?

prefer "open schematic" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21936084)

Because this is sort of new, and open source software is tried successfully. They could say "inspired by open source".

Step in the right direction (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21938414)

I could post 2 dozen paragraphs about the evils of the DRM/Copy Protections paradigm at work in various industries. It is that mentality I believe, that causes Sony and Apple among others to restrict the functionality of their devices. They fail to realize that they are trampling on the rights of their consumers when they do this. A legal, technical, and philosophical debate to be sure, but it does apply here.

Regardless of whether or not enough people will actually use these pieces of hardware, I am very encouraged that the New York Times seems to be publicly advocating, or at least educating people that:

1) You own the hardware.
2) You should be able to create, modify, and share any code for it.

This is a GOOD THING.

I'm not going to say Open Source is better then Closed Source. They both have their advantages and drawbacks. There just needs to be a balance between the two.

Open Source Hardware is a little misleading. All hardware by default should be this way, and most of it really is. In fact, from the very beginning, all hardware had been "Open Source". The fact they mention it in this way, may lead one to believe they never had this ability or right to do so, which is very sad.

Linksys routers don't have measures to stop DD-WRT. So with notable exceptions by Sony, and Apple, hardware is already "Open Source". The PC is the best example for this. It is "Open Source Hardware". You can run any code on it that you want, Open Source (Linux) or Closed Source (MS). There have never been any actual restrictions on what you could load onto a PC.

It was companies, that for profit driven reasons, decided to take it away from you the ability to completely own your hardware. IMO, DRM and implementations like that, stop you from enjoying the use of your own property in any way you see fit. For the benefit of the discussion, there has always been big companies that could not risk their hardware being used for unauthorized purposes, needed to control its use, and protect some of the technology from reverse engineering. Instead of selling it, they leased it. That would be the morally correct way to do it. You can't go into someone's home and rearrange the furniture. You should be able to do it in yours.

I don't know of too many hardware products that are openly facilitating custom firmwares. I think Netgear has had a "Hobby" wireless router for "Enthusiasts" for awhile, but aside from that I don't know of too many other examples.

The more manufacturers that figure out that they can release firmware for their hardware, but have an open agreement that customers can use their own, the better off we all are. The warranties would have to be rewritten to allow for this, since a manufacturer should not be responsible for 3rd party firmware crapping out, but I am sure a warranty could cover those situations while protecting the interests of all parties.

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