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Date:      Tue, 19 Dec 2000 14:05:06 -0800
From:      Nick Sayer <>
To:        Matt Dillon <>
Subject:   Open Hardware Initiative (was Re: FreeBSD vs Linux, Solaris, and NT)
Message-ID:  <>
References:  <000101c069fc$c0e3bf00$> <>

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Matt Dillon wrote:
>     Yes, it's a pretty sad state of affairs.  What annoys me the most is
>     that companies actually believe they are protecting something when
>     they don't make their device driver source or hardware documentation
>     available.  It has been well proven for years that the most withholding
>     accomplishes for the vast majority of these device drivers is a slight
>     delay--- perhaps a week or two, before competitors figure out what
>     they've done.  Pirates don't care... they want the binaries anyway,
>     they aren't programmers.  And the open-source community has always
>     strictly adhered to copyright and license restrictions.  So all these
>     companies are doing is making life harder for themselves and for
>     their products.  Unnecessarily.  The XFree folks have some godaweful
>     stories about the crap they've had to wade through to get video
>     manufacturers on-board.  Some video manufacturers have figured it out,
>     a lot haven't.

I think the time is right to reward companies that "get it". I propose
that the way to do this is to create an "open hardware" trademark that
can be used for marketing by companies that sell hardware for which they
either provide sufficient documentation that a fully featured device
driver can be written without reverse engineering, or for which they
provide at least one open-source driver. The idea is to do for friendly
hardware vendors what the "OSI certified" mark ( does
for open-source software.

I wrote ESR about this, since it's something that would have fit in well
with OSI's mission, but he declined to take it up, as OSI was fully
committed. He did mention, however, that an OSI board member had tried
this in the past, but suggested that perhaps now the time is right.

I invite discussion on what the OHI (Open Hardware Initiative)
requirements should be and how best to proceed.

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