Episode 211

FOSSY 2023 with Kyle Wiens


December 8th, 2023

16 mins 23 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Kyle Wiens


Richard Littaueropen-source

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! Richard is in Portland at FOSSY, the Free and Open Source Software Yearly conference that is held by the Software Freedom Conservancy. In this exciting episode, Richard welcomes Kyle Wiens, the driving force behind iFixit, a large open source collection of user-generated repair manuals. Born out of a response to Apple’s stringent copyright regime on their service manuals, iFixit has grown into the most extensive collection of medical service manuals for hospitals. Kyle shares his journey from combating copyright laws to working on right to repair laws for everyday devices like tractors. From discussing locks on toasters to exploring the use of Linux and WINE on John Deere tractors, Kyle offers an insightful glimpse into the world of repair, open source contributions, and the potential futures of hardware. Press download now to hear more cool stuff!

[00:00:46] Kyle explains that iFixit is a large open source collection of repair manuals. The manuals are created by the users, not sources from other companies, and they are the largest collection of medical service manuals for hospitals, from ventilators to vital sign monitors since the COVID-19 pandemic.

[00:02:08] Kyle explains that iFixit is a for-profit company that sells parts and tools. He also mentions his friendship with Scotty Allen from Strange Parts.

[00:03:08] Richard brings up the topic of legal implications surrounding iFixit and Kyle explains that while they do receive takedown notices, they’ve never been sued. He discusses how they deal with these notices, providing a detailed analysis of fair use.

[00:05:27] Richard asks about LEGO building guides on iFixit, to which Kyle mentions a separate website dedicated to it.

[00:06:04] We hear about the “Right to Repair” laws they are advocating for in various states. Kyle discusses the success of passing four bills in three states, focusing on electric wheelchairs and tractors, a consumer electronics bill passes in New York, and a law passed in Minnesota.

[00:09:00] Kyle tells us his perspective about the intersection between right to repair and open source.

[00:11:07] Richard asks Kyle if he collaborates with groups like Software Freedom Conservancy to circumvent these protections, and he confirms and gives an example of their work with “Right to Repair” laws for tractors.

[00:12:46] What’s exciting for Kyle about this conference? Kyle expresses optimism about the conference and the potential of transferring the momentum from the right to repair movement to the open source world.

[00:13:33] Kyle suggests that open source contributors can help by assigning their copyrights to the Conservancy, aiming to get GPL software into as much physical hardware as possible.

[00:14:46] You can go to iFixit.com for guidance on fixing their devices and find out where you can follow Kyle online.



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