CERN played a pioneering role in the early 2010s in introducing Open Source Hardware (OSHW) to physics and beyond. Our activities go beyond the sharing of hardware designs and include licence drafting and stewardship, hosting and curating designs from all over the world and contributing to the development of software tools to simulate and design hardware. Identifying opportunities to collaborate with industry for the development and commercialisation of OSHW is another key part of our process to maximise impact on society.
Goals at CERN
CERN makes its technologies broadly available to society and introduced open hardware licensing as a key mechanism to achieve this goal. Open hardware designs are made available through the Open Hardware Repository. The legal basis for sharing of open hardware is enabled through variants of the CERN Open Hardware Licence. Hardware design releases will consider opportunities for collaboration with other research communities and industry. In cases where extensive documentation and ancillary components like software for interfacing and testing are required for projects, these should be licensed under appropriate open source documentation and software licences respectively.
Services and activities
CERN has established an Open Source Programme Office to support the CERN community and external organisations dealing with Open Source Hardware.
Internally, the OSPO is mandated to:
- Consult, advise and train CERN’s community on best practices, tools, licences, developments, etc. for Open Source projects;
- Provide recommendations for open-sourcing hardware;
- Advise on questions and develop guidelines regarding contributions to non-CERN Open Source projects;
- Provide guidelines and best practices for the technical aspects of sharing code and designs, e.g. where to host, what services to use, appropriate use of CERN infrastructure, general tooling for Open Source such as licence compliance checks and how to set up testing;
- Facilitate due diligence for Open Source dissemination;
- Identify and track where and how Open Source hardware is used through a centrally maintained inventory, in particular for critical services;
- Advise CERN management on Open Source matters with impact on the organisation.
Externally, the OSPO is mandated to:
- Provide a public catalogue of CERN’s Open Source that is easily accessible from the OSPO website;
- Guide interested external parties to opportunities, projects and experts at CERN through the public catalogue, events, external communication, website etc.;
- Support external inquiries to CERN’s management related to Open Source.
Contacts at CERN