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10.24.13

Hackable (as in Freedom-Respecting) is Becoming Hip Again

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Hardware at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The young Stallman

Summary: The ascent of machines that are controlled by their users rather than by companies and sociopaths who may run them

ONCE upon a time, the likes of Bill Gates demonised and ostracised people who had shared code and ‘dared’ to suggest that control over software should be put in the hands of many (the users). But that selfish ideology is quickly eroding. Nowadays, devices that sell well are those which empower users, both at the hardware and software level. Raspberry Pi, for instance, is selling quite well [1] and creating jobs in the UK. The Raspberry Pi Foundation sure is thriving [2] and it is getting support from some large corporations. Arduino too is doing well [3] and it’s hardly alone; this is part of a trend now [4] — something we never saw in previous years.

Software freedom is very important, but it is not enough. If hardware refuses to boot particular bits of code (e.g. TiVoization) or if Free software like Ubuntu indirectly trasmits your search queries to strong CIA partners like Amazon, then freedom is seriously compromised. We need to work at many levels to assure that hackability (as in modifiability) returns to being the norm.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Baked in Britain, the millionth Raspberry Pi

    For British computing this is quite a day. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that a million of the tiny cheap computers aimed at transforming education have now been made in the UK.

  2. The Raspberry Pi Foundation aims to make a Pi for the internet of things

    The creators of the $25 credit-card-sized microcomputer Raspberry Pi didn’t intend to start a hacking revolution — they just wanted to encourage a new generation of young computer users to learn how to program.

  3. Arduino boards to run full Linux thanks to TI’s new ARM-based chip
  4. Hackable DVR dual-boots Android and Linux

    A Shenzhen-based startup called Wizarm has launched an Indiegogo campaign for a hackable media player with DVR recording, HDMI pass-through, Miracast support, and video overlay capabilities. The Wizarm device dual-boots Android and Linux on a Samsung Exynos 5250 system-on-chip, and offers SATA storage and extensive I/O including USB, HDMI in/out, DisplayPort, and S/PDIF.

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