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We’ll release a GPL-licensed firmware for Glowforge

We’ve heard a ton of amazing feedback from our community in the 12 or so hours since Glowforge has launched, and one question stood out to us: what if you buy a Glowforge, and something happens to us?

This came up both in person at MakerCon while we demo’d the unit and online, particularly in the lively discussion on Hacker News. Because Glowforge is powered by the cloud, it’s an important question. Long term, we’re working on some cool solutions, but short term, here’s a commitment we’ll make right now: When we launch Glowforge, we’ll also release a copy of the firmware under GPL.

Glowforge firmware is user-flashable, so you’ve got both an escape hatch (if something happens to us) and a platform to experiment with. If you buy it, it’s yours – you should be able to do what you want with it.

Thanks so much for your interest and excitement in what we’re building. If you’re in NYC this weekend, come by Maker Faire to see us and make something!


PS: no pentalobe screws either.

7 responses to “We’ll release a GPL-licensed firmware for Glowforge

  1. Thanks! This was a big concern of mine (esp. as an engineer who really doesn’t want to have to spend time reversing something in support of a “building things” hobby).

    Best wishes. I’m really looking forward to mine once you ship 🙂

  2. Having access to the firmware source is a FAR CRY from having access to the software that actually makes this thing work. How many people in your target audience could make use of that, maybe 0.001%? Without your servers, this little machine is more like a sub-$1K Chinese laser cutter. If you’re honest and serious about giving us a reliable and useful system, then sell us the “cloud” software too. It would be worth at ???????????????????? a few hundred dollars more to me to have a truly standalone system.

    Sorry, but I don’t buy your explanation that putting the software on a remote server dramatically reduces the cost/increases the capabilities of your machine. I have lots of computers sitting around, and I’m sure that most of them could handle the software required to run the Glowforge at its full capabilities. Dan, you’re clearly very knowledgeable, a nice guy, and a superb spokesman for your products. Your marketing prowess is a wonder to behold, and I wish I worked with someone like you. But shit happens, so help us have more confidence in your project. This is especially important since you’re asking for full payment up front for an unproven machine that won’t ship for at least a few months.

    I’m guessing that the true motivation behind your server approach is to protect you from cheap Chinese clones. If so, I can’t argue with that–I’d be tempted to do the same. But you know, there are a lot of other smart people out there who could pull off something at least ???????????????????????????????????????????????????? similar to what you’ve done–just tack a couple of cameras and some software onto a cheap laser cutter–and it only has to resemble yours to eat your lunch since “cloud” is starting to take on an air of unreliablity and “standalone” is becoming a powerful marketing word. I really, really hope you succeed with this, because I think you’ve put together an attractive package that could bring laser cutting to the artistic masses. I’d like to buy one for myself, but that’s not going to happen unless and until I know that what I’m buying is truly mine.

    By the way, the only thing that really interests me in the “pro” model over the base version is the passthrough. I’d really like to have that, but I can’t justify paying an extra $2K for it. Presumably, it’s not much more than software and a few door hinges–couldn’t we have an intermediate model with passthrough but without all the other pro enhancements?

    Best wishes,
    Tom Burke

  3. Oops. I see that your commenting system can’t handle formatted text. The first “????????????????????” in my comment was supposed to be “least” in italicized, boldfaced text, and the “????????????????????????????????????????????????????” was supposed to be “superficially” in italics.

  4. Open source firmware is great, but if it doesn’t do anything without the cloud it’s not terribly future-proof. What if I want to take my Glowforge somewhere where there is no internet?

    Would it be possible to release (even if just in binary form, since it appears that the cloud service is your “secret sauce”) the cloud software such that one could run it on a raspberry pi / Nuc / other platform to provide the interface and power the Glowforge?

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