[hackerspaces] Hackerspaces survey on Free/Libre Open Source Software

Mike Dupont jamesmikedupont at googlemail.com
Tue Apr 8 10:48:25 CEST 2014

On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 8:24 PM, Ethan Chew <spacefelix at gmail.com> wrote:

> I would definitely appreciate the chance to discuss such guidelines.  It
> will be a learning experience for me as I am more of an atomic/dirt hacker
> than a bit hacker (I work with gardens, airplanes and rockets) and it would
> be interesting to see how FLOSS translates from software into hardware.

Well the open source hardware definition is a good stab in that direction.
Of course you have layers and layers of things once you get down to the
physical. Not everything is protected by copyright that is the basis for
FLOSS licenses. But wikis can be used to describe howtos. If you look at
the open source ecology wiki you will also notice that many file formats
are an issue, cad and otherwise.

As a software developer I see everything as a nail to hit with the software
hammer. So many times it might be possible to use free software graphics or
cad systems, but people dont know how to use them. So comfort or training
is one big issue for users doing designing.

On the other side as a software developer, we need exact specifications,
and the hackerspace community could do well to produce exact problem
specification for developers to work on, these can be turned into software
solutions. As people have pointed out, cad software is generally a problem,
I am working on different cad tools once in a while for openstreetmap. I
tinker for example with libredwg to read autocad dwg files, and there is a
google summer of code project to help improve it. So maybe we can find
funding to solve your problems as well and promote sharing.

So I would say that in the interest of sharing, we should avoid having to
pay for licenses because they are barriers for sharing. I cannot share my
work with you if you cannot read the file. Then it gets into having to
install a certain operating system to read the file and we get into the
many other issues. If you live in a third world nation, you cannot afford
to buy all this software.
Even if you are a non profit in some other country does not make you a non
profit for tax purposes in USA. This might be another barrier. Otherwise
why would public schools all over the world not have free copies of these
non-free applications? Even if they do have some limited licenses, there
are limits, and why not use Free/Libre software that has no restrictions
and allows for customization, translation and improvement.

If we as a group can agree on the principle of sharing, and for example
agree to share our work on the hackerspace wiki + some git repos for code
then we will also want to agree on using open data formats that can be read
by using open software.

This gets to be more important for visually or otherwise disabled people.
It is not enough to produce pdf files because many time they cannot read
them using screen readers, because the text is jumbled and not accessible.
You need to put in extra effort that many do not to make text accessible in
pdfs. So again if the source of the program is available it can be
customized and its output can be made readable and usable.

All of these should be arguments that to truly share knowledge in the
deepest way about hackerspace projects with the whole world we need to use
open data formats and lacking those formats and standard at least we need
to use open source software to read and write those files out of respect of
the poor, the disabled and those who would like to remain free of license

I can imagine that hackerspaces.org could come up with a list of tools used
in all the spaces/projects and then we can classify/analyse them for reuse
and replication. That might be a great project to work on as a group, a
common tool kit, and instructions to build them. Like the open source
ecology project, we need a toolchain of dependent to build hackerspaces.
Access control solutions, Security cameras, power and water measurement,
power supplies, motors and gears, door locks and the like. All these are
candidates for creating schematics describing to the detail for someone to
make them themselves, not just 3d printers, pcb board printers, routers and
laser cutters. Also hackerspaces statutes, project management software,
disclaimers and waivers, sign up sheets, membership software, payment
portals, meeting and voting systems are also candidates for a hackerspace
toolkit that I can imagine, there are many more.

James Michael DuPont
Member of Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova http://www.flossk.org
Saving Wikipedia(tm) articles from deletion http://SpeedyDeletion.wikia.com
Mozilla Rep https://reps.mozilla.org/u/h4ck3rm1k3
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