Open hardware or libre hardware is used with two closely-related meanings, both in the tradition of open source:

Open source hardware (OSHW) consists of physical artifacts of technology designed and offered in the same manner as free and open source software (FOSS). Open source hardware is part of the open source culture movement and applies a like concept to a variety of components. The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned. Hardware design (i.e. mechanical drawings, schematics, bill of materials, PCB layout data, HDL source code and integrated circuit layout data) in addition to the software that drives the hardware are all released with the FOSS approach. Most everything on Appropedia is actually open source hardware - although the term normally is reserved for high-tech devices and systems - and the work here is more focused specifically on open source appropriate technology (OSAT), which may be low or high tech depending on the circumstances. Open-source hardware is also very useful for scientific research equipment,[1][2] which can also be considered OSAT.

Fab labs are a common platform for open hardware, allowing designs to be shared around the world, electronically, and manufactured locally.

Special challenges exist in sharing the intellectual property of physical goods, as compared to "binary" information, i.e open source software and open content.[3]


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  1. Pearce, Joshua M. 2012. "Building Research Equipment with Free, Open-Source Hardware." Science 337 (6100): 1303–1304.Podcast
  2. Open-source Lab
  3. Non digital commons a lot more complicated than Free Software

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FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors KVDP, Chris Watkins
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Translations Chinese
Related 1 subpages, 41 pages link here
Aliases Libre hardware, Free and Open Source Hardware
Impact 1,353 page views
Created December 13, 2009 by Emesee
Modified December 15, 2023 by StandardWikitext bot
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