Today is Hardware Freedom Day

The third Saturday in April is Free Hardware Day

The friends of the Venezuelan distribution Canaima GNU/Linux remind us in their X account that today is the Hardware Freedom Day. To tell the truth, it is one of the days since there are other entities proposing other dates.

The thing is, for some reason, The Digital Freedom Foundation decided in 2012 that the third Saturday of each month would celebrate the spirit of open hardware.

What is free and open source hardware?

The main difference between free and open source hardware and traditional hardware is that Behind the first there is a design philosophy that encourages the total availability of information about the devices and components that constitute it so that interested parties are able to study them to modify, distribute, manufacture and market them without obstacles except that they respect the licenses.

Fundamental aspects of free and open source hardware

  • Unrestricted access to the design: Design-related files, schematics and documentation have to be easily obtainable and published under open source licenses.
  • Complete information. To be considered free and open source hardware, those responsible must share the entire design. This includes technical details that allow interested parties to understand how it works and make modifications.
  • Fostering collaboration: Ideally, the creator of free and open source hardware promotes the proposal of ideas, bug fixes and improvements by other people.
  • Reproduction: With the designs and technical information provided, anyone should be able to copy the design and create their own version of the appliance whether for their personal or commercial use.
  • Adaptations: The information available about the product must allow others to modify it for other uses not intended by the original creator.
  • Discharge. Licenses must allow use, modification, and distribution without further requirements that the products created comply with the license.

Free Hardware Day What is it about?

According to the organizers' description

Freedom from Hardware Day is a global celebration of free and open source hardware (FOSH). Our mission for this celebration is to inform audiences around the world about the benefits of using high-quality FOSH in education, government, at home, and in business—essentially, for every application imaginable. The nonprofit group Hardware Freedom International is leading these efforts on an international scale, offering resources, gifts, and a platform for collaboration. However, it is teams of volunteers around the world who adapt the day's local events to have a lasting impact on their communities.

The goal of the organizers is to make it easier for everyone to explore, innovate and share freely in a transparent, sustainable and open digital space.

According to its website, the objectives sought are:

  • Celebrate freedom of the hardware and the innovators that make it possible.
  • Make the public aware what is free hardware and promote the adoption of those that comply with free and open source standards.
  • Contribute to match the possibility of access to technology through the promotion of innovations generated by the community.
  • Promote the exchange of ideas about the rights and responsibilities of people in a digitalized society.
  • Incorporate new people and organizations to dissemination tasks.

Although some free and open source hardware projects such as the Raspberry Pi single-board computer or the Arduino electronics kit are the best-known free and open source hardware devices, their importance was seen during the recent pandemic.

Among other projects that sought to make up for the lack of medical equipment, a robotics engineer named Marcos Mascorro published on the Internet the design and software to build a respirator based on the Raspberry Pi.

Unfortunately, free and open hardware did not reach the diffusion of free and open software. It's up to us to achieve it.

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