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Re: [vox-tech] XFree86 4.4.0 non-GPL compatible
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Re: [vox-tech] XFree86 4.4.0 non-GPL compatible



On 2004.02.29 21:19, Mike Simons wrote:
On Sun, Feb 29, 2004 at 07:35:23PM -0800, Ken Bloom wrote:
> On 2004.02.29 18:32, Mike Simons wrote:
> >On Fri, Feb 27, 2004 at 07:18:38PM -0800, Jim Lowman wrote:
> >Xfree86 4.4.0 does have support for the Radeon 9800 video card...
> >however it seems that XFree86 recently (Jan 29) decided to change the
> >license on the X server to be GPL incompatible. Depending on how
> >the various distributions deal with with this it may take a while for
> >that card to work in most distros.
> >
> >http://xfree86.org/legal/licenses.html
> >===
> >What about GPL-compatibility?
> >
> >The 1.1 license is not GPL-compatible. To avoid new issues with
> >application programs that may be licensed under the GPL, the 1.1
licence
> >is not being applied to client side libraries.
> >===
>
> How exactly does GPL incompatibility cause a problem for the distros?

Well the old license was GPL compatible.

If there are any parts of the distribution that the non-GPL X server
portions
run time link with GPL'd code then distributions would not be able to
continue
shipping both the new X server and that GPL'd thing. They could chose
one other the other but not both.

People are upset about this, and a fork of the XFree86 code is possible...

which will delay progress.

If you search on google for "xfree86 gpl license change" you should get
plenty of material to read.

http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html
===
There's also some recent evidence that GPL compatibility is important
from one project that's tried to go from GPL-compatible to
GPL-incompatible: XFree86. The XFree86 project has historically led
development of a popular X server, and traditionally the vast majority
of its code used the simple "MIT/X" open source license that is
GPL-compatible. The XFree86 president, David Dawes, decided to change
the XFree86 license to one that isn't GPL-compatible, primarily to give
developers more credit. This proposed license change caused a serious
uproar. Jim Gettys, a well-respected developer, strongly opposed this
change to the XFree86 license, even though he's not a strong advocate of
the GPL. Richard Stallman asked that something be worked out. An article
at Linux Today and a discussion at Freedesktop.org show that Red Hat,
Debian, SuSE, Gentoo, Mandrake, and OpenBSD plan to drop XFree86 if they
switch to this new license. [...]
At this point it's not clear what will happen, but I think it's very
likely that the license will change (again) or the project will be forked
(with most users switching to the fork).
===
I think I'm beginning to understand now by reading the GPL FAQ what all this means. Apparently the GPL is designed to save your code and allow it to be used in development only for other free-software reasons. So they want to disallow a non-free program from linking to your GPL library. Now as best I can figure out from the GPL FAQ, a link is a two-way street. If you design your code to link to a library, then that library is linking to you as well, and that violates the GPL. (Apparently the Microsoft runtime libraries are a bit of an exception because this is the expected use - however, the X libraries wouldn't be.)

Am I understanding this correctly? I doubt I can be because it makes no sense for the FSF to remove so much of their own flexibility.

If this were the case, could we still include XFree 4.4 in a distribution but use somebody else's (freedesktop.org) client-side X libraries? (These talk to the X-server only over the network)

=========

As for forks, I'm not sure what else is out there right now, but I have heard about Xouvert - this fork started semi-recently, because the developer that started it was fed up with the political difficulty of making contributions to XFree. I checked their website (www.xouvert.org), and they're targeting an April 1 release.

That said, their email list and their IRC channel don't look all that active, so I don't know what will become of it.

Didn't freedesktop.org also have an X-server, maybe even a fork of XFree?

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