[LINK] Open Source PC Design

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Sun Jun 1 13:09:35 AEST 2008

On Sat, May 31, 2008 at 04:05:12PM +1000, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
> So what exactly does "open source houses" mean?

open source is about source code, and the freedom to use, modify, and
redistribute it at will.  and the sharing and collaboration that goes
along with that.

for software, the source code and the product are pretty much the same
thing (with optional translation by a compiler to produce binary
executables, depending on the programming language)

same for other things that are "software" even though we don't
usually think of them that way - movies, music, books and so on. the
"source code" to a song is the sheet music, the "compiler" is the
band/musician(s), and the "binary executable" is the CD or mp3 file.

(these can be and are produced in "open source" ways as well as
proprietary ways. in fact, from a historical perspective the current
proprietary way is the exception, not the norm)

for physical objects, like houses or cars or solar cells, the "source
code" is the design, the plans, the blue-prints. all the documentation
and notes and thinking needed for someone to actually build something.

like music etc, this design can be and is done in an open source,
collaborative manner - where part of the goal is to benefit everyone
rather than just one person or one company.

translation ("compilation") to the physical world is the thing that
takes resources (money, materials, tools, infrastructure, etc).

BTW, there are open source designs for basic fabricator machines that
exist now...they've even got to the point where they can create all the
parts needed to make another copy of themselves....and the designs for
them ARE undergoing the same process of continual evolutionary
improvement as open source computer software.    and this is with
current technology, not nanotech science fiction.

For example, see http://www.fabathome.org/

this is a particularly important issue at the moment, with all sorts of
basic and obvious ideas being locked up by individuals and corporations
with patents and copyrights....and with the scope of such locks being
extended way beyond the original intention of the legislation to enable
such short-term monopolies.

building up a massive library of open-source "prior art" is one of the
best defenses against this on-going land-grab style theft from the
intellectual commons.


craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>

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