Adventures in Making and Breaking Hardware
Andrew “bunnie” Huang
For over a decade, Andrew “bunnie” Huang, one of the world’s most esteemed hackers, has shaped the fields of hacking and hardware, from his cult-classic book Hacking the Xbox to the open-source laptop Novena and his mentorship of various hardware startups and developers. In The Hardware Hacker, Huang shares his experiences in manufacturing and open hardware, creating an illuminating and compelling career retrospective. Huang’s journey starts with his first visit to the staggering electronics markets in Shenzhen, with booths overflowing with capacitors, memory chips, voltmeters, and possibility. He shares how he navigated the overwhelming world of Chinese factories to bring chumby, Novena, and Chibitronics to life, covering everything from creating a Bill of Materials to choosing the factory to best fit his needs. Through this collection of personal essays and interviews on topics ranging from the legality of reverse engineering to a comparison of intellectual property practices between China and the United States, bunnie weaves engineering, law, and society into the tapestry of open hardware. With highly detailed passages on the ins and outs of manufacturing and a comprehensive take on the issues associated with open source hardware, The Hardware Hacker is an invaluable resource for aspiring hackers and makers.
Quoting bunnie’s forum post:
It’s not quite got the specs to make a decent laptop — it’s missing graphics and SATA. The effective performance of a system built around this would feel much more sluggish than a Novena, which means it’ll be tough to use on a daily basis for productivity work. It does have tagged memory and minion cores, which means it’ll be great for security and some types of I/O; but there is no integrated Ethernet controller, so application in network stacks is limited. It is also going to be the first open-to-the-RTL processor you can buy, so maybe despite the limitations some people would prefer to use it as a primary computing solution, but wondering if there aren’t other niches this can occupy.
Bunnie Huang, founder of Bunnie Studios, makers of the Open Source Hardware-based Novena laptops, is also the author of “Hacking the Xbox”, and is being asked to testify in an Xbox jailbreaking case, as the BoingBoing article says:
Terrified feds try to bar Bunnie Huang from testifying at Xbox jailbreaking trial
Bunnie “Chumby” Huang, whose Hacking the Xbox is a reverse-engineer’s bible, has been asked to testify at the trial of Anaheim’s Matthew Crippen, who faces three years in prison for jailbreaking Xbox 360s (that is, modding them so that they could run software that Microsoft hadn’t authorized). But federal prosecutors have asked the judge to prevent Bunnie from testifying.
The 35-year-old Huang argues that mod-chipping is not a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it unlawful to circumvent technology designed to prevent copyright infringement. He said he hopes to prove that point to jurors via a step-by-step tutorial.
“Basically, what he did was insufficient on his own to violate anything,” Huang said in a recent telephone interview from Singapore, where he serves as vice president of hardware and general manager for Chumby’s operations in Asia.
(3 years in prision for modifying a device you ‘own’? Wow.)
Earlier this week, bunnie Huang, creator of Bunnie Studios and the open hardware-based Novena system, created a video on YouTube that helps remind people about how closed phone-based computers are, how little options consumers have, and the need for more openly-available (unlocked), Open Source Hardware, firmware, and software options, for the community to be able to drive things, not just a handful of corporations.
“The phone lies at the foundation of 21st century human (and non-human) communication, and shapes these exchanges for the hand, for the eye, and in the mind. The video was created by bunnie huang and Kevin Slavin.