Crypto Security

When we talk about open source, what are we discussing?

Dec 08, 2023
5 mins read
open source bitcoin wallet2.jpg

It’s undeniable that open source has become a necessity, not just an option. Especially for a security product, not being open source is equivalent to violating the most fundamental principle of asset storage: “Not your key, not your coin.”

For Keystone, every line of our code is released based on the principles of open source.

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

D'où venons-nous ? Que sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ? —— Paul Gauguin

As Keystone engage with more open-source communities and deepens interactions with various open-source groups, we find ourselves increasingly curious, much like the existential questions posed in Gauguin’s paintings:

Why Keystone choose open source as the path to Valhalla? What exactly is open source? Where is Keystone’s open-source agenda headed?

Open source is our philosophy

Upon delving into the history of open source, it becomes apparent that the concept wasn’t innate but emerged as a compromise, initially known as “free software.”

At the close of the 20th century, the free software movement endured over a decade of struggle and negotiation with commercial proprietary software. In February 1998, a small gathering of veteran hackers in Silicon Valley coined the term “open source” as a neutral alternative to the ideologically charged “free software.” This meeting was convened by Eric S. Raymond, the author of “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” a book that non-technically describes the open-source phenomenon and has become a classic in the open-source world.

Launched by its founder, Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS), the movement was a call for software user freedom in response to proprietary software vendors not providing source code, thus hindering programmers’ ability to modify. RMS’s philosophy had three tenets:

  1. Freedom to use the software.

  2. Freedom to modify the software.

  3. Freedom to redistribute the software.

Many misconstrue open source as merely “making the code public”. However, at Keystone, we view it as a philosophy that drives our commitment to code transparency, security, and product excellence.

All hardware wallets should be open-source. Hardware wallets, as a form of self-custody for storing crypto, are the keystone of the concept of decentralisation. Open source is not an option; it’s a necessity.

The source code tells you exactly what the program will do, so with open-source software, anyone can examine the source code, learn how the program works, and compile the code into a usable program.

We can proudly say that all of Keystone’s hardware products have been open source from day 1.

What is Keystone’s Open Source?

The rise of the internet allowed engineers globally to collaborate on a platform, regardless of location, time, or even race, for a shared vision. This combination of factors, backed by geniuses like Linus, has its true genesis in a “culture of honor” rooted in the hacker community — a community passionate about computer hardware and software. While ostensibly about sharing and showing off skills, the overt outcome is altruism. However, the underlying driving force is the self-gratification that hackers gain from recognition and praise.

“ If I am not for myself, who is for me? But if I am for my own self only, what am I?” — this is the soul of the open-source culture.

Clone, Build, Run

Open source is not just about making code publicly available on GitHub; it’s about providing software that anyone can access freely.

Open-source empowers individuals to view, modify, and distribute the code they deem appropriate. This level of transparency and flexibility is fundamental to our ethos at Keystone, ensuring that our community can actively participate in and contribute to our ongoing mission of creating secure and reliable hardware wallets.


Anyone can clone our code from Keystone’s GitHub repository, compile it locally, and independently verify the results.

Where is Keystone’s open-source agenda headed?

In today’s world, open source seems to be a developing trend, both at the policy level and in the capital market, for various reasons. However, behind this enthusiasm, we should soberly and rationally see that open source is essentially neutral. The soul of open source lies in software user freedom, and the driving force of open-source contributors is fundamentally rooted in the culture of reputation and honor.

In the field of software, technical collaboration and knowledge sharing through open source have obvious advantages. One clear view is that human knowledge should be advanced, shared, and utilized on a broader scale.

The Keystone 3 Pro epitomizes our growth and our commitment to these philosophy.

After the release of Keystone 3 Pro, we will be organizing a series of co-creation events closely related to community developers.

About Keystone

Keystone is an open-source airgap hardware wallet that utilizes an embedded system. To further enhance its security, the device is equipped with three secure element chips. One of Keystone’s unique features is its ability to support multiple recovery seed phrases, reducing the need to purchase multiple hardware wallet devices.

With the primary aim of maximizing security against potential threats, minimizing dependence, reducing human errors, and eliminating single points of failure, Keystone also places a strong emphasis on extensive interoperability.

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