Xorg license policy

Marc Balmer marc at msys.ch
Wed Aug 27 13:21:11 PDT 2008

* Alan Coopersmith wrote:
> Daniel Stone wrote:
> > On Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 04:10:24PM -0300, Paulo Cesar Pereira de Andrade wrote:
> >>   It would require rewriting a lot of code also, to become fully GPL,
> >> but at start would be just accepting GPL code.
> > 
> > The policy is still not to accept any GPL code.  The first step to X.Org
> > becoming GPL is for an interested party to take the case to the
> > Foundation.  So far, no-one's done so, so any talk is just that -- talk.
> Given modularization, it could change from our current one-size-fits-all policy.
> For instance, I think there would be little argument against allowing new app/*
> modules to be GPL, and allowing new lib/* modules to be LGPL would also seem
> reasonable.

Alan, you must be on drugs ;)  Think of the embedded people.  GPL and LGPL
given their viral nature is just not acceptable.

> From the perspective of my employer and it's software releases (not that this is
> an official corporate statement, or anything beyond my opinion of what I think
> we'd be likely to agree to), those both seem fine.   Our requirement is that
> we be able to ship the Xorg server with the best available drivers for the
> hardware, and that we allow hardware vendors to ship drivers that they keep
> closed for whatever reason (3rd party licenses, support of features like
> Macrovision or HDCP, or just confusion).   We also have to support software
> vendors shipping apps under other licenses (including closed source) that call
> the X11 libraries.
> We're glad that market pressures have gotten companies like Intel & ATI to be
> more open with their drivers & docs, and hope more will follow, but can't
> refuse to support those hardware vendors who haven't.    Obviously, we've
> learned in the OS space that the ideas our predecessors had in the 90's
> about taking the X11 sources and forking with proprietary "value add" doesn't
> work as well as simply participating in and shipping open source, and we're
> now open source as well for most of our X11 stack - again, simple market forces
> and economics worked, without the license forcing our hands.
> The MIT/X11 license meets those requirements without the turmoil and work of
> relicensing a 21 year old code base with hundreds of copyright holders, but
> something like LGPL or a MPL/CDDL family license, that requires publishing
> sources/modifications only to the X server itself and not to all linked
> or loaded modules could possibly work as well - but then we're back to the
> question of whether such a change is really worth all that work?   Pretty much
> all vendors I know of actively shipping Xorg are making their sources available,
> and I really don't see many people saying "I'd contribute to Xorg if only it
> was GPL" - certainly not more than the people saying that they'd stop if it
> was forced GPL.

GPL and LGPL just have no place in X11.  We've always been MIT licensed
and it should stay at that.  Without any compromise.

> -- 
> 	-Alan Coopersmith-           alan.coopersmith at sun.com
> 	 Sun Microsystems, Inc. - X Window System Engineering
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