Is Arduino Heading Towards The First Open Hardware Fork?

from the adventure-continues dept

Although Arduino has figured a few times here on Techdirt in the DailyDirt section, it's not very well-known outside the world of open hardware, where it was one of the pioneers (its reference designs are distributed under a CC-BY-SA license, and all of its software under the GNU GPL or LGPL). One sad sign that Arduino has arrived is that there is currently a falling out between some of the founders (original in Italian), partly over the rising monetary stakes involved.

The Italian company set up by one founder, Gianluca Martino, has been the main supplier of Arduino products for years -- the open hardware license allows others to make them, too, but not to claim that they are "official." Originally called Smart Projects, it has now renamed itself Arduino Srl, and taken on a new CEO with the aim of growing sales and taking the company public in a few years' time. That hasn't gone down too well with perhaps the best-known of the founders, Massimo Banzi, who oversees the development of the whole Arduino project, and heads up the Swiss-based company Arduino Sa, a subsidiary of the main Arduino Llc, registered in Massachusetts.

Alongside the original Arduino site arduino.cc, Martino's company has now created arduino.org, with a similar color scheme, and the motto "the adventure continues." Both Martino and Banzi say they are discussing partnerships with other manufacturers -- Martino with Bosch and Panasonic, Banzi with Intel -- with a view to selling more Arduino boards around the world (original in Italian). Inevitably, perhaps, the two factions are fighting each other in lawsuits.

However those suits are decided, it seems possible that there will be some kind of fork of Arduino, with the two rival camps claiming to be the true heirs of the original project. That's common enough in the world of open source software, but this will probably be the first time it has happened in the open hardware field.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:46am

    Hmmm, it means the open hardware scene is maturing, which is a good thing even if its puberty is somewhat turbulent. Hopefully we'll see cheaper and more trustworthy hardware (ie: no backdoors or proprietary wizardry).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      RonKaminsky (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 12:29pm

      Re:

      Right... from Intel, Bosch, and Panasonic... we certainly can trust them to both not actively cooperate with national intelligence agencies, and be competent to defend themselves against active attack by said agencies (like Sony!)...

      Did that 16 kg. of meth somehow make its way to you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 5:17am

    The monetary stakes aren't very high when you're dealing with a prototyping board. I only use the arduino to program stand alone atmega s.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 7:00am

    Lacking in detail

    There's not much here for people who don't read Italian. What do the founders disagree on? What are the lawsuits about? How would the forks differ from each other.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 8:41am

    This is a good thing

    The fork, not the dispute. I am always happy when I see a new fork of something as it increases the odds that something innovative and useful will happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jackn, 19 Feb 2015 @ 10:25am

    I dont' think this is the first fork. Geez, you can build your own arduino from scrath for just a few bucks. Atmega328 + power supply (2 caps and a transistor) and you got the base adruino (minus USB).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 11:45am

    requisite meme:

    in soviet italy, arduino forks you !

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jsf (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 9:32am

    Not a lot of difference

    There are dozens of Arduino compatible clones already out there. So outside of who owns the trademarked name this won't have all that much effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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