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Re: Question on X and new license...

On Sun, Feb 22, 2004 at 09:40:07PM -0500, Steven J. Hill wrote:
> Greetings.
> I really really apologize in advance for the question. Please flame me
> if I should be on a different list. I have attempted to read some
> archives on 'freedesktop.org' as well as the Debian X archives. With
> the new license, how is the Debian project going to proceed with X? I
> am interested if there is going to be a new tree and what the last
> development snapshot is that does not contain the 1.1 license? Thanks.

No problem, right list.

* No member of the Debian X Strike Force, the team that now maintains
  Debian's packages of the X Window System, has declared any intention
  to package any work under the XFree86 1.1 license, also known as the
  X-Oz license (whose terms are identical, and which predates the new
  XFree86 license by a few months).

* The X-Oz license is not GPL-compatible according to most parties who
  have expressed an opinion, including the Debian Project and the Free
  Software Foundation.

* The infrastructural nature of the X Window System sample
  implementation, which XFree86 includes, and the large base of
  GPL-licensed software built on that sample implementation, renders a
  GPL-incompatible change to that base deeply problematic from a
  practical standpoint.

* David Dawes, President of The XFree86 Project, Inc., claims that a
  a decision to apply the X-Oz license to any "client side library" code
  shipped by that organization has been "deferred".[1]  This statement
  is a lot weaker than a guarantee that it never will happen.

* Code that forms part of the XFree86 SDK, a driver development kit
  (which there has been some work to package for Debian) *is* under the
  X-Oz license, and would prohibit the development of GPL-licensed
  drivers for the XFree86 X server.

* I have argued to the debian-x mailing list that the X-Oz license is
  actually not even a Free Software license, because, at the least, it
  fails clause 9 of the Debian Free Software Guidelines in two distinct
  ways.  If you're interested, you may wish to read my message[2] to
  that list.  (It is worth noting that the debian-legal subscribers have
  not formed a strong consensus one way or the other regarding the
  DFSG-freeness of the X-Oz license; the matter is still pending.)

Given all of the above, it is my recommendation to the Debian X Strike
Force, the Debian Project in general, and to the Open Source and Free
Software communities to avoid all code under the X-Oz license (a.k.a.
XFree86 1.1 license).

I expect a consortium of GNU/Linux and *BSD vendors to coalsece around
the efforts of the Free Desktop organization[3], one of which is likely
to be a fork of the XFree86 code from CVS HEAD, probably as of 12
Feburary 2004 (immediately prior to the application of the new license).
Furthermore, code to which the X-Oz license applies will have to removed
as well.  Specifically, this comprises two commits made to XFree86 CVS
on 8 October 2003[4][5], which implement automatic configuration of the
XFree86 X server, obviating the need for an XF86Config file in some

I hope this information is helpful.

(Fellow debian-x subscribers: I'd like your feedback on this message, as
once debian-legal has made its decision regarding the DFSG-freeness of
the X-Oz license, I'd like to re-purpose it, perhaps as a mail to
debian-devel-announce and/or as a position statement to placed on the X
Strike Force news page.  If any contributor to Debian's X packaging has
any objection to the above statements, please speak up.)

[1] http://www.xfree86.org/pipermail/forum/2004-February/003998.html
[2] http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/debian-legal-200402/msg00162.html
[3] http://www.freedesktop.org/
[4] Message-Id: <200310081458.h98EwV4O058646@public.xfree86.org>
[5] Message-Id: <200310081501.h98F1orA003387@public.xfree86.org>

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |           If ignorance is bliss,
branden@debian.org                 |           is omniscience hell?
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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