[fdo] xorg-xf86-input-keyboard license

Alan DuBoff aland at softorchestra.com
Sun Oct 27 17:07:33 UTC 2019

On Sun, October 27, 2019 9:37 am, Alan Coopersmith wrote:
> Why do you care about the server license if you're writing an application
> (i.e. a client)?

Not the OP, but I will tell you why it is important. GPL, as you know, is
put in place to protect the opensource aspect of the code, and as such
requires the changes be published for modifications that are done on top of
the existing drivers/sources.

Although this is violated all the time, the entire reason the conditions are
put in place is to keep everyone honest. If not for that, everyone would be
similar to Huawei. Currently Huawei is in the news and being scrutinized
over taking IP, and I couldn't agree more. I once interviewed at Huawei and
I was asked how I felt about taking Linux sources and porting them to
FreeBSD without putting the changes back to the Linux repositories?

Well, I didn't have the warm fuzzies about that to be honest, because it is
in violation of the GPL.

>> https://github.com/freedesktop/xorg-xf86-input-keyboard/blob/master/src/lnx_kbd.c
>>    * Portions based on kbdrate.c from util-linux 2.9t, which is
>>   * Copyright 1992 Rickard E. Faith.  Distributed under the GPL.
>>   * This program comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY
> We should probably delete lnx_kbd.c, both to give license clarity and to
> stop
> people from thinking it's a useful driver to have on Linux systems any more.

That I can't answer for you, but remember that the one way to keep folks
honest is to require they post their changes, which the GPL does.

If you go back to the 2.4.17 kernel, which is right around the time the GPL
requirement was really starting to be enforced, there was a lot of screaming
from folks about the exporting of GPL definitions in drivers, I was one of
them. These basically governed how drivers were to be handled within the
opensource realm.

In the case of an Xorg input driver, they are drivers, just that they run in
user space. The question becomes how you want you sources to be protected
under the opensource umbrella.

I used to think the GPL was bad, in the way it is infectious. However, here
we are almost 20 years after the fact and we see people trying to take
sources without putting their changes back all the time. People like
microsoft now include entire Linux subsystems to install on their operating
system. While this environment is fragile, it still uses a good lump of
opensource code. In return the Linux community is lucky to get basic git
communication with TFS. It seems microsoft is more take than give.

Obviously a long answer to the GPL point of licensing. Please consider the
long term and how it will effect people that use opensource, and especially
Xorg drivers.

Honestly, I can't believe I'm defending the GPL after close to 20 years when
it started to change with GPL2 and GPL3, but I now believe it is for all of
or good. I see better why Stallman changed the conditions of the GPL now.


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