Mike, General Counsel of Sun, blogged that the concept of Open Source Software has been with us for over 15 years. And now Sun has done something really interesting by opening up their hardware as part of their OpenSPARC program.
“While open source in the context of software has been with us for more than 15 years, this is the first time that a microprocessor design has been made available under an open source license. Within our legal team, there was a question as to whether the open source (software) model would work in the hardware world. A significant amount of effort went into determining which license was appropriate, the structure of the governance model and understanding any third party technology included in the verilog that could inhibit our ability to release under a free or open source license. Because hardware has a longer development cycle, we have been waiting for an indication that this concept – open source for hardware – would work.”
I hope Sun’s direction is the right one as I think there can be so much fun in the hardware arena if this concept of Open Hardware works out well.