Wilson, this is not such a suprising result. I was a little suprised on the hardware side, though. On the other hand, students and hobbyists are not designing to deploy large scale commercial products. In addition, since the BeagleBone is an ARM processor, it is a good platform to use for learning that CPU family.
What I find surprising about this, Naperlou, is the percentage of professional engineers who are likely to try open source. for hobbyists and students, cost would certainly be a factor in the choice. For professional engineers, the quality of the open source tools would come more into play.
Rob, another interesting aspect of the open source hardware plarforms is that there are cheaper alternatives that represent parts that can be had for production applications. I have a number of interesting boards that I have worked with. If you are looking at ARM CORTEX-M3 or M4 then STMicro has boards that are in the $10 (for the M3) to $15 for the M4. You can get professional tools for these that are restricted to the boards in question for free. Then, if you develop something that you would want to implement and sell, you have the parts available in mass quantities. If you are looking at these types of parts, I would stick with the ARM architecture at this time. I am not pusing STMicro, but this is just a set of devices I have recently worked with.
Open Source offers a method of rapid prototyping and proof of concept. A problem for companies is how to protect the idea from competition as the low barrier to entry minimizes development effort of similar products. Another problem is that Arduino boards and shields take more 3D space than projects laid out for a specific purpose. The Beagle Bone does minimize this by packing a lot of computing power in a small space if computing power is what you need.
We could see open source in bigger projects. Fisker has tried to open source its component layout though the company is struggling. Didn't I read that Elon Musk has offered his Hyperloop Transport as an open source project? He has provided the dream and the plans and will let others contribute to building it.
Wilson, you mentioned, "Traditionally, open-source designing in the commercial space were seen as a risk." You're right, but recognize that the source of that perspective were various Corporate Marketing Strategies, in general. The perceived "risk" was a loss of potential revenue, and it was broadly viewed that any development efforts not company-controlled, translated to a weaker bottom line.
The first Open-Sourced initiative I ever experienced was the explosion of the Linux OS; which I completely mis-understood at the time. 10 years ago, I considered it sloppy, risky, and just plain 'hacked'. But time proved me wrong, and it is clear now that allowing any developer, anywhere in the world, on any payroll, from any strategic vantage point, can improve the overall good of the community.
Yes, JimT I, too, was a skeptic of Open Source at one time. Your Linux example is a good one. Lots of people thought Open Office couldn't work but it has actually worked better as the Libre Open Office broke off from corporate control. Many thought Wikipedia couldn't work. How can you have a credible encyclopedia when anybody is able to edit it? But it keeps getting better. Open Source is kind of like the paradigm of Stone Soup -- or maybe a bee hive.
Good mention about Wikipedia. That's a resource that I use almost daily; and it's funny I didn't even think of it when pondering past examples. Just goes to show how comfortable & familiar we get with things.
Really it's the same as commercial products; there are good ones and bad ones. The good news is that when you find a lousy open source product you can just uninstall it, and that means you usually forget all about the negative experience. There are a few open source tools that are so exceptional, I rely upon them daily, so I too am a convert.
Don't forget to donate to the open source products you depend upon. Just because you got them for free doesn't that they don't have value.
Thanks to everyone who provided input. Jim, you have a good point. I would say that perception became the reality relative to the "risk" involved in open-source software. Even though corporations were painting that picture, technology was slow to adapt. Now, the diversity of technology combined with the speed with which new technologies are coming out is creating this new era and springboard of open-source adaptation.
,,,and just since I made that Linux comment (about a week ago), there have been several other Open-Source examples that have come into light, even right here in the DN blogging space: from NASA opening space mining to commercial entities, to 3D Printer Mfgr's who are challenging their customer-base to propose new printing ideas ('sugar' was discussed, in the confectionaries arena). It's not just about software and code development anymore.
I am probably way over my head here, but isn't OSS easier to hack? As far as Wikipedia is concerned, I have not used it in years as I found too much bogus information there. As a college student, I never had a class that would accept it as a source in any research paper. It was a place to get started, but never the final word.
Tool_Maker - No. Per the people in the agencies who test these things...OSS is neither less secure nor more secure than proprietary code. The difference is that vulnerabilities are often discovered and mitigated substantially faster with OSS than proprietary code. (think crowd sourcing approach).
MrDon - You bring up a great point and there are teams of people here in the National Capital Region addressing your point specifically. We have an event coming up September 4th that includes several sessions specifically addressing your point. Both applications and hardware include code and all code has some level of vulnerability. At the core, security is an ongoing process and not a task performed and checked off of a list. The adoption of Open Source Software is growing rapidly in the government. New product development cycles are reduced by years thanks to the collaberation of OSS. Total life cycle costs are reduced by orders of magnitude because consumers are not held hostage by proprietary development practices. Ironically, the first year costs are alomost the same (within about 7%) between OSS and proprietary projects with the key difference being where the money is spent. Side note: People would be shocked by many of the hardware providors that are perceived to be proprietary code when in fact they contain large amounts of OSS.
I agree. Companies like Adafruit and Sparkfun are supporters of OSHW (Open Source Hardware) and have made a sustainable business in this technology domain. Like OSS, OSHW should be investigated carefully if its intended use is for consumer products. With all of the files available for download, mischievous hackers delight in exploiting these devices which increases the cost of the product for the customer from OEMs security/IP perspective. I believe OSHW does have a place as an educational tool to learn about embedded design as well as to check feasibility of product concepts. But that's where OSHW should stop. Incorporating OSHW as a mainstream product opens the gate for unexpected outcomes.
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