Non-free (?) GLX code under GLX Public License and SGI Free Software Licence B

Carsten Agger agger at
Tue May 6 11:09:51 PDT 2008

Daniel Stone wrote:
> It's definitely on the list of things that should be remedied at some
> point, but I don't know of anyone rewriting the GLX code right now.
> We've already managed to get rid of all code under the (rather similar,
> IIRC) CID licence, and I think GLX is the only obnoxiously-licensed
> piece of code left.  Right now, our policy is to only accept MIT/X11 and
> non-four-clause-BSD software (or anything with a more liberal license
> than that).
> Patches welcome, I'm sure. :)

Thanks a lot for this response. I've started looking at this bug on
behalf of the Gobuntu project, which aims to build a completely free
(according to the definition of the FSF) version of Ubuntu.

This is an important thing thing to get fixed for many downstream
distributions: Debian[1] has marked the corresponding bug as "serious",
while Ubuntu and many others have a policy of keeping non-free code away
from the main repositories, which is impractical at least as the Ubuntu
source code is structured right now (see [2] for the current status of
this bug in Ubuntu).

Other distributions such as Fedora have similar issues, even though I
don't know how they handle this particular issue. The Debian people seem
to have at least started working on convincing SGI to change the
licensing of their GLX implementation; do people on this list know of
any suct contacts, or have an idea about SGI's attitude to this?

SGI have released other things in X under more permissive licenses, so
maybe they would want to do this with the GLX stuff also; the present
licensing makes their code problematic for many distributions, and I
suppose they originally published it so it could be used.

If not, the GLX code will need to be replaced - but I'm not even
qualified (as yet) to estimate the magnitude of this task. Can anyone
give a qualified guess as to the man-hours needed for a reimplementation
- we are talking weeks or months, I suppose? Plus extensive testing on
many kinds of equipment. Which is why a relicensing of the SGI code is
much to be preferred if at all possible.

best regards,
Carsten Agger


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