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Is Raspberry Pi Open Source? [Yes and No]

    Raspberry Pi is not completely open source
    March 12, 2022
    Raspberry Pi is not completely open source

    Raspberry Pi is the most popular among the small board computers (SBCs) with limitless possibilities for making fun projects, but is the Raspberry Pi free and open-source, or do you have to pay to use it or build any projects using it?

    Here in this guide, I will explain to you some lesser-known facts about the well-loved Raspberry Pi, such as if it is software or hardware if it can be used commercially and lastly, can we make money out of it?

    Firstly, if you’re wondering what Raspberry Pi actually is?

    It is a series of single-board computers (SBCs) developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in partnership with Broadcom.

    You might think of it as a miniature computing platform that inspires a new generation of makers and tinkerers.

    Bringing it back to whether or not it is open source, let’s first define it.

    A software or hardware is considered open source if its design and architecture, as well as all its working methodology, are made public and anyone can make, modify, distribute, or sell them.

    Is Raspberry Pi Open Source?

    Raspberry Pi is based on the ARM chipset made by Broadcom Corporation, and Broadcom is a for-profit corporation, although it supports and contributes to non-profits, it is not a non-profit.

    Due to this fact, the Raspberry Pi hardware cannot be considered fully open-hardware and has been widely criticized due to its Broadcom chipsets.

    The foundation hopes to drive Raspberry Pi demand by providing an open-source design for its input, output, and power supply components, allowing the device to go beyond mere “builder” projects and into genuine industrial and embedded applications in order to raise funds to support their open-source project.

    But stop there. Did the Raspberry foundation succeed in scaling into more industry-based applications to help them go fully open source in the future?

    Well, yes, they did, unlike the predominantly open-source and Broadcom-based Raspberry Pi boards, the Raspberry Pi Pico is fully open-source and the schematics are already available.

    Is Raspberry Pi A Software Or Hardware?

    Raspberry Pi is a small board computer (SBC), its small size is due to its SOC (System on Chip) setup, which places CPU and GPU on a small chipset combined.

    With respect to the software part, yes, the Raspberry foundation made their operating system based on Debian along with other software that supports their main project.

    But does that make Raspberry Pi software?

    Well, Raspberry Pi refers to a line of single-board computers made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

    It is a pocket-sized computer, not software, although there are many open source applications that work on it.

    Can Raspberry Pi Be Used Commercially?

    Since the start of their Raspberry Pi project, the foundation has made it clear that anybody can use, distribute, or sell it for profit, so yes, Raspberry Pi can be used commercially.

    In fact on Raspberry’s blog, they mention and here are a couple of words from it. You can also find more information on Raspberry’s blog.

    “If, like Brian, you’re making a product which requires a Raspberry Pi to run, we don’t ask you to buy special permission or licenses from us to use it. All we ask is that you include the words “Powered by Raspberry Pi” somewhere on your packaging.”

    In mass production, a Raspberry Pi Compute Module may be a better option. It is a Raspberry Pi in a more flexible form factor intended for industrial use.

    Although using the trademark of Raspberry PI can be a concern, they have indicated that using it commercially doesn’t require any special permission. Whether you include “Powered By Raspberry PI” or not is also completely up to you.

    Can You Make Money With Raspberry Pi?

    Raspberry Pi is so popular because it can be used for so many different purposes.

    It is possible to build and scale projects with Raspberry Pi in an unlimited number of ways, as well as make money using it.

    Whether you want to make passive income from building small projects, building and selling school or engineering projects, or creating a product on a full scale, there are numerous ways through which you can profit from this open-source and extremely inexpensive software.

    Statistics from Statista show that the number of smart homes in the USA alone will rise to 77 million by 2025.

    Raspberry Pi can be used to make money in any field, whether it be crypto, smart homes, security, automation, social media, DIY projects, gaming console assistants, etc. The internet is full of ideas on how to make money using Raspberry Pi.

    Can I Sell My Raspberry Pi Projects?

    With the launch of Raspberry, the team behind Raspberry Pi made it clear that anyone can use, modify, sell, and redistribute it without needing permission, so if you’re wondering if you can create projects and sell them, then definitely.

    One thing you might find appealing is selling Compute Module boards since Raspberry Pi made the Compute Module with the sole purpose of building scaling applications.

    Therefore, you can start building projects on it without worrying about obtaining permission from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

    Due to the Raspberry Pi’s lower cost and lower power consumption, it bridges the gap between controller boards and personal computers (PCs).

    There have been over 80 million Raspberry Pi units sold to date and it has already become the third most popular computer after Mac and Windows. The creativity is endless, and there are reports that people are making good money from their Raspberry projects.

    Wrapping It Up

    Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding of Raspberry Pi and know whether it is open-source hardware, what projects you can create, and can you sell projects created with Raspberry Pi.

    Finally, here are the concluding thoughts:

    • When Raspberry Pi was first launched in 2011, it was not fully open source, but that changed with the launch of Raspberry Pico in 2021.
    • A Raspberry Pi is a small board computer (SBC) from the Raspberry Pi foundation, not software.
    • According to the Raspberry Pi website, you can use Raspberry Pi projects commercially without attribution.

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