Arduino and Open Source Hardware

It has come to our attention recently that there is reason to question the Arduino team’s commitments to its community and to open source hardware.

Dale Dougherty posted on the Make blog about Arduino’s apparent lack of progress toward their announced Arduino Foundation. Phillip Torrone posted to the OSHWA mailing list about Arduino products that fail to meet the basic criteria of open source hardware projects. These are both troubling. As members of the open source hardware community and members of the Arduino community, we would like to add our weight to the call for Arduino to return to their open source hardware roots.

(Some disclosure on our relationships to these communities: we have been building Arduino-compatible open source hardware projects for years, and have been an official Arduino reseller. We have participated in developing the Open Hardware Definition and in the formation of OSHWA. While not everything we do is open source, we have been heavily invested both personally and professionally in open source hardware and software for many years.)

We love Arduino and we, along with a large and diverse set of communities, have benefitted enormously from the breadth and depth of the Arduino family and its resources. This is an exciting era for Arduino and for open source hardware, with the debut of the first Arduino and compatible boards based on silicon level open source hardware.

However, we are deeply concerned that several recent products from Arduino are claiming to be open source but upon research, indeed do not appear to be so. Arduino, once one of the standard bearers in our community, now seems to be falling into the grey area of OSHWINO (Open Source Hardware in Name Only).

We would like to openly call for Arduino to immediately publish the missing design files and license information for these products. Even from a basic truth in advertising perspective, future products labeled as open source need to have these requirements met by their time of release. We also join in Dale’s call for bringing the Arduino Foundation into existence: it is more clear than ever that Arduino needs to renew its promise to the community.

Update, June 16, 2017: Massimo Banzi comments below: “Arduino is open source HW and SW. Full stop. Some files seems to be missing and I’ll inform my colleagues at .org that they need to update them.”

Update, July 28, 2017: Arduino appears to be under new managment, with Massimo Banzi in a larger role. We are optimistic that this represents a major turning point in the story.

11 thoughts on “Arduino and Open Source Hardware

  1. “It has come to our attention recently”

    Arduino have products not fully disclosed, this has been known about for years. AFAIK, Arduino have never used the OSHW logo, or claimed compliance with OSHWA rules.

    Was the source of this information someone from Adafruit, by any chance?
    You know that Adafruit have launched a campaign against Federico Musto, because he lied about his MIT degree?

    1. >this has been known about for years.

      There is a gulf of difference between a single product (rightly called out at the time) and what appears to now be a continuous and widespread pattern.

      > AFAIK, Arduino have never used the OSHW logo,

      The OSHW logo is not a regulated logo — its use is neither necessary nor sufficient to designate open source hardware. You can read the article about OSHWINO (linked in the article) for more information about that topic.

      Is Arduino claiming that these boards are open source? Yes. They have the words “Open source” printed right on them. This is not hard.

      > or claimed compliance with OSHWA rules.

      OSHWA does not have “rules” about needing things to be open source. Things can be fully open source without following any of OSHWA’s guidance about best practices.

      > Was the source of this information someone from Adafruit, by any chance?

      We are not citing anonymous sources. If you had read the sources that we linked to, yes, one of them is from Adafruit.

      > You know that Adafruit have launched a campaign against Federico Musto, because he lied about his MIT degree?

      There are significant issues here — and a pattern of them — that predate the story about fabricated degrees coming to light. We are, like Adafruit, concerned about this topic. Fabricating degrees and fabricating open source documentation are not entirely dissimilar.

      1. Ok, as long as you are aware you are being recruited for a personal feud between Adafruit and Federico Musto.

        If Arduino refuse to get rid of Musto, what is the plan? Bear in mind, part of the deal to resolve the first Arduino dispute was to give joint share of the company to Musto. We are just re-igniting that dispute.

        Musto is no doubt a bad guy, but he is not going to sell his share and step away. He has fought for it once, he will do so again. Re-igniting the Arduino dispute will not help the community any more than the first occurrence.

        The time for Adafruit and every else concerned to raise objections was years ago, and they didn’t. Actually, I tried to raise objections about Musto and, but I was firmly told by Adafruit not to get involved.

        But now we are being asked to get involved, what changed exactly? A personal affront?

        1. You are asking us to defend a position that we have not asserted. We are not interested in a feud, and we are not interested in telling the Arduino team who should and should not be working there. That is their business to work out on their own.

          Rather, by addressing Arduino as a whole as we have here, we are expressing our hope that the team can come together and work effectively to keep making wonderful open source hardware and software. That is the sum total of our goal.

  2. Let’s all take a collective breath…

    Arduino is open source HW and SW. Full stop.
    Some files seems to be missing and I’ll inform my colleagues at .org that they need to update them. I’m pretty sure that they are not the only people on the internet who have forgotten to post all the files for an open source project.

      1. No problem. Can you edit the post to at least signal that I’ve addressed your concerns?
        It would be unfair to leave the post as it is considering that are a number of incorrect statements in it.

        1. massimo please ask about the status of the arduino foundation, announced by arduino last year and additional when the missing design files and licenses will be up and if “doghunter” is the owner of the designs, code, etc. since that is what is indicated on the files now.

    1. hi massimo,

      when you inform your colleagues at . org

      here are additional design files that are missing, some for years, open-source licenses missing and ownership issues (“doghunter” is the owner/author of the arduino products, not arduino). i cannot post all the links here because the form does not allow this many links.

      the arduino products are advertised and sold-as open source which means something specific and the core arduino team was/is aware of what open source hardware is defined as – they each signed the oshw definition.

      tom igoe, david mellis, davide cuartielles and massimo banzi –
      1. Documentation
      The hardware must be released with documentation including design files, and must allow modification and distribution of the design files. Where documentation is not furnished with the physical product, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining this documentation for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without charge. The documentation must include design files in the preferred format for making changes, for example the native file format of a CAD program. Deliberately obfuscated design files are not allowed. Intermediate forms analogous to compiled computer code — such as printer-ready copper artwork from a CAD program — are not allowed as substitutes. The license may require that the design files are provided in fully-documented, open format(s).

      1. pt,
        Massimo and the rest of the team are well aware of the Open Hardware Definition — Let’s give them a chance to follow through so that we can all move on.

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