Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware Hacking Technology

Open Source Hardware Gets Public Introduction 106

Posted by Zonk
from the make-our-stuff-bettter dept.
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?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Open Source Hardware Gets Public Introduction

Comments Filter:
  • OpenSparc (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by BrainInAJar (584756)
    *cough* [opensparc.net]

    are there other open-source processors ?
    • Re:OpenSparc (Score:4, Informative)

      by femto (459605) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @05:53AM (#21930762) Homepage
      Some versions of the LEON and any of the forty one processors on this page [opencores.org].
    • 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.

      • 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.
      • by Ant P. (974313)

        The PC Showed Open Source Hardware Not Necessary
        That's true, you don't need open hardware when you have all of Compaq's reverse-engineering resources at your disposal.
    • by PPH (736903)
      To a certain degree, yes [opencores.org]. These aren't used much desktop/laptops (yet) but in embedded systems.
  • 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
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by VValdo (10446)
      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] wi
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FireFury03 (653718)
        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 ar
        • by Fred_A (10934)

          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) ;)

          • 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.
    • 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 pa
    • If I recall correctly, most consumer software comes with the warranty disclaimer.
    • by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:32AM (#21930870) Journal

      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.

    • 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 comparis

      • by sowth (748135)

        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

    • 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 tha

    • 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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @05:59AM (#21930780) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ccguy (1116865) *

      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 op

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``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 wou
        • by arotenbe (1203922)
          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 tha
          • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
            ``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.
      • by russellh (547685)
        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 th

      • by sowth (748135)

        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...

        • by ccguy (1116865) *

          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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chuckymonkey (1059244)
      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 ther
    • by melonman (608440)

      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 fan

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``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 technica
        • by melonman (608440) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:42AM (#21931648) Journal

          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.

          • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
            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 thi
            • by X0563511 (793323)
              ``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.
            • by melonman (608440)

              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

          • "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.

            • by melonman (608440)

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

      • by Jerf (17166)

        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 s

        • by melonman (608440)

          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 willi

    • by chadruva (613658)
      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
    • by CODiNE (27417)
      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.
    • by ouachiski (835136)
      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 y
    • by fitten (521191)
      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.
  • Apple Dig (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:26AM (#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.
    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 h
    • Re:Apple Dig (Score:4, Informative)

      by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@@@nexusuk...org> on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:36AM (#21930886) Homepage
      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).
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        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 w [google.com]

    • by catwh0re (540371)
      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

      • by JoeBorn (625012)
        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 r
    • 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
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        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 le
    • by babbling (952366)
      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
    • by fwr (69372)

      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 whe

      • There is plenty of bandwidth available
        Even for somebody whose only connections to the Internet are through dial-up and the cell phone network?
        • by fwr (69372)
          For a phone firmware upgrade, yes, there's plenty of bandwidth.
      • 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.
    • by Erpo (237853)
      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---

  • 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 ha
    • by coppice (546158)
      Can you point out an ASIC in that design? I can't see one myself.
      • Glancing at the schematic I don't see anything that jumps out at me as a custom ASIC. I don't know how you would know or not other than google-ing all the part numbers. Surely not all of the components are custom ASICs as the original post claims.
  • by emj (15659) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:58AM (#21930968) Homepage Journal
    Learn the difference.
  • 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
  • Easier (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @07:11AM (#21930996) Homepage Journal

    "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.

    • "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?
      • 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 becaus
      • by MrCopilot (871878)
        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, 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.
  • 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, i
  • 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).
    • by funkatron (912521)
      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.
      • 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?

    • 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.
  • "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.
    • by JoeBorn (625012)
      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
  • by david_thornley (598059) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @12:59PM (#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.

    • > 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 c
    • 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
    • by real gumby (11516)
      I heard comments like this 20 years ago when distributing software sources. "Software is a difficult discipline." "Only a trained elite can do it." etc. In fact they were correct -- but the development of more sophisticated tools reduced some of the difficulty and, more importantly, the widespread access to computers with available source made it much easier to join the "trained elite" and removed many of the gatekeepers who had previously controlled access to that "elite".

      This is no different on the ha
  • 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 grea
  • Is there a way to filter out slashdot posts that are just links to the NYT?
  • 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
  • This is what the market needs -- a device that can integrate different sources of material so the user can decide how and when to experience it.

    Back in the olden days of audio/video, everything hooked up to everything else with a phone jack or an RCA plug. Other than knowing whether a source was high level or low level output, you could do what you wanted -- record a radio broadcast on your reel-to-reel, make a cassette of your favorite LP to listen to in the car, dub a new soundtrack onto a video cassett

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

Working...