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

Carsten Agger agger at
Tue May 6 22:34:45 PDT 2008

James Cloos wrote:
>>>>>> >>>>>> "Daniel" == Daniel Stone <daniel at> writes:
> >
> > Daniel> Yes, I was one of the people involved in those efforts on behalf
> > Daniel> of Debian, a few years ago (possibly six?).
> > Daniel> They pretty much went nowhere.
> >
> > Did the 1.1 version of the B license address its issues enough?
> >
> > (The web page referenced in the src says they modified the license
> >  to make it more friendly to FOSS.)
> >
No, not according to the FSF:

"The SGI Free Software License B, although its name says “free”, is not
a free software License. It has three major problems. 1. It restricts
its patent license to unmodified versions of the software. 2. It
terminates if your use of the software infringes copyrights or patents
which are not SGI's. This is problematic because it gives SGI grounds to
sue you even when you have done nothing to them. 3. The license requires
you to inform SGI of legal problems with the software. This violates
your privacy rights, and can conflict with professional confidentiality
requirements, such as attorney-client privilege."

These problems are also problems with the Debian Free Software
Guidelines, and as the Open Source definition is basicallly a refined
version of these, also with that.

The GLX Public License used in a limited number of files has similar

Daniel Stone wrote:

>> >> 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.
> >
> > Well, you'd have to convince their legal department that the cost (and
> > the cost will be non-trivial) would be worth it.  I'd imagine this would
> > be difficult.

Excuse my ignorance, but what are the nature of these costs? There's the
logistical costs of changing the files, communicating the changes,
updating the Web site, but is there more?

Do they have third party obligations which would mean they'd incur costs
(e.g., patent licensing problems) if they were to change the license?


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