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XFree86 4.4: List of Rejecting Distributors Grows 682

Bootsy Collins writes "Yesterday, we discussed Mandrake's decision to revert their release-in-development from XFree86 version 4.4 back to version 4.3 because of issues with the new XFree86 license. To update this, the list of OS distributors opting out of XF86 Version 4.4, and future releases, based on licensing concerns continues to grow. While Fedora seems to be "preparing to support multiple X11 implementations", Red Hat has explicitly stated that they have no plans to ship XFree86 v4.4 under its current license. Also add to the growing list list Debian, Gentoo, and OpenBSD."
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XFree86 4.4: List of Rejecting Distributors Grows

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  • What is the issue? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:55AM (#8315037)
    Why is the new liscence being rejected?

  • I agree. (Score:-1, Interesting)

    by MooKore 2004 ( 737557 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:57AM (#8315051) Homepage Journal
    There are no compelling reasons why I should upgrade, I am happy with XFree86 4.3. NVidia's drivers work great on 4.3, so need to upgrade! KDE 3.2 and Gnome 2.4 both work well on it so they need not worry. What reasons do you need 4.4 for?
  • by Ymiris ( 733964 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:57AM (#8315054) Journal
    Won't rejecting this actually hinder the linux desktop movement? Xfree is a huge factor in using linux, at least for a lot of the gamers, and we need the best support we can get.
  • by Larry David ( 738420 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @09:59AM (#8315067)
    With this shift back a version, does it mean we'll lose a bunch of features, stability, etc? It seems like this is petty squabbling for squabbling's sake. This reminds me of the PHP fiasco with MySQL. Hardcore PHPers are sticking with the sluggish MySQL 3 family because of the licensing on MySQL 4.

    Reading their 'diff' of the new and old licenses is a waste of time, as it's pretty much:

    - all the old license
    + all the new license

    So could someone break down the basic point of the changes? As far as I make it out, it's a simple case of 'we want to have everyone who contributed be credited with every copy', or is it somewhat deeper than that?

    Perhaps distros should distribute XFree86 4.4 as source only and have it compile in a 'firsttime' sort of system when you boot Linux up after installation. From what I read in the XFree86 license, this would work. Could this turn into a BSD-like 'build all' for Linux?
  • by kinnell ( 607819 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:01AM (#8315089)
    This could be a good thing. If this continues to be a problem, it could drive a lot of people to the freedesktop.org XServer implementation [freedesktop.org]. This looks like it will come to be a much better implementation anyway, and will almost certainly develop faster in the future, given the same resources as XFree86. If a considerable number of developers/distributions worked on getting the XServer up to speed, with proper driver support, it would probably be better for everyone.
  • by pacsman ( 629749 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:01AM (#8315091)
    Comparing the old and new license it appears all they added was the requirement to place the copyright in the documentation of binary releases, include an acknowledgement of the XFree86 project, and forbid the use of "he name of The XFree86 Project, Inc" in advertising. It's not like they're closing the source, so what exactly is the problem the distros have with the new license? The only thing I can think of is a general resistance to cahnging licenses mid-stream, regardless of the nature of the change.
  • Re:Forking hell? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevin_ka ( 753643 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:02AM (#8315093) Journal
    I'm no XFree86 expert, but surely any changes committed by developers prior to the license change will be still under the previous license and therefore a good starting block for any forking.

    afaik your 100% right there. And the question isn't if someone will fork ist but when. (unless they change the license back in time)
  • by Ubi_NL ( 313657 ) <joris@id[ ]l.nl ['eee' in gap]> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:03AM (#8315105) Journal
    The really interesting bit is that there is a lot of GPL-ed code in XFree. Chunks have been copied from the linux kernel, and people like Alan Cox submitted patches. As this code is GPL, XFree must also be GPL in order to use it, or the Xfree teasm must rewrite these parts. I understood Alan Cox opposes his contributions to be placed under the new licensing scheme.
  • by Ewan ( 5533 ) <ewan@@@longwords...org> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:03AM (#8315109) Homepage Journal
    XFree 4.3 is not dramatically different from 4.4, and if the 4.3 fork were to gain momentum you'd find very quickly that people who had contributed code to 4.4 would simply resubmit it to the fork, on the basis that whoever wrote the original code can resubmit it to anyone they want unless they transferred the copyright to the Xfree project.

  • This sucks... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jarich ( 733129 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:04AM (#8315122) Homepage Journal
    The card in my laptop had support coming in 4.4!

    I haven't been keeping up... what's wrong with the new license?

    If the new license is bad, what's gonna replace it? Another type of X?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:13AM (#8315176)
    Actually the OpenBSD people (who fight license battles more than just about any other OS/distro -- even Debian) don't think it is equivalent to a BSD license either (the original license was equivalent to the BSD licence in case anyone is wondering: XFree was never GPL'd). David Dawes thinks still thinks it is. If he believes that, I hope he will change the wording back so everyone else believes it too....
  • Anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bobintetley ( 643462 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:15AM (#8315183)
    So, is *anyone* going to use it?

    I guess they have no choice but to change the licence back with very red faces all round!

    Mind you, X is an integral portion of desktop *nix - could someone have set this up on purpose?
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:16AM (#8315191)
    So doesn't this mean that whoever comingled GPL'ed source code with non-GPL'ed source code broke someone's copyright?

    Because either he/they broke the GPL terms, OR they performed in unauthorized GPL'ing of the other, non-GPL-using contributors' source code.
  • Re:The Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markbthomas ( 123470 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:18AM (#8315203)
    The license only requests proper attribution in software and/or documentation like other third parties are getting.

    The license doesn't request attribution, it requires it. That is the problem. Can you see what would happen if every time I started my computer, it printed out the names of all the people and organisations that were involved in making it? It could take days to boot :)

    It's just vanity.
  • by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:21AM (#8315226)
    So I take a look at the new license [xfree86.org]. I'm thinking "What the hell is the problem?"

    So I read some comments and see this [xfree86.org] reference to a mailing list post about some of the licensing issues. In there I see things that don't exist in the license on the XFree86 site (like a reference to clause 6 even though the XF86 license only has 4 clauses).

    So what's up?
  • WTF... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by perly-king-69 ( 580000 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:24AM (#8315240)
    WTF is wrong with the XFree86 guys? At a time when the project's existence is at its most debatable, they change their license (why?) to enable most disties to drop the latest version. They may be technically smart, but they seem politically naieve.
  • Strange behaviour... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phrasebook ( 740834 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:29AM (#8315276)
    What's with the people making these announcements? I read the comments by XFree86's David Dawes a while back - he only wrote about 2 lines or so, and hardly replied when people started asking for clarification.

    Then Theo of OpenBSD in this thread [theaimsgroup.com] writes a quick response rejecting the whole thing, again with absolutely no explaintation as to why, and what the specific problems are.

    Then check out the posts in that thread from Darren Reed, getting shot down as a troll straight away for inquiring what the problem with it actually is!

    This kind of discussion and attitude floating around turns me off OSS a little. The last thing I want to see is multiple implementations of X servers in wide use, different ones on different distributions, some doing some things, others doing things a little differently. And of course yet more duplication of effort, re-writing code, etc. Seems a shame. Seems like we just have more fragmentation to look forward to.
  • by Lussarn ( 105276 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:33AM (#8315312)
    Alan cox can do pretty much what he wants with his own source, it is not GPL just because it is in the kernel and Xfree (It becomes more like dual licenced).

    And as the last Xfree licence was a BSD style one the Xfree team can change the licence to pretty much what they want, including an MS EULA one, the BSD licence is pretty loose.
  • by Dayflowers ( 729580 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:34AM (#8315318)
    Its not really a matter of tryin' to force people into using the GPL. This is done to avoid things like this: from: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/bsd.html "When people put many such programs together in an operating system, the result is a serious problem. Imagine if a software system required 75 different sentences, each one naming a different author or group of authors. To advertise that, you would need a full-page ad. This might seem like extrapolation ad absurdum, but it is actual fact. NetBSD comes with a long list of different sentences, required by the various licenses for parts of the system. In a 1997 version of NetBSD, I counted 75 of these sentences. I would not be surprised if the list has grown by now. " There are other reasons, but this one is good enough to justify the clause. The FSF has a bit of a problem because of its amazingly idealist vision. From what I could tell, Richard Stallman has fully embraced that vision...its truly amazing. ^_^ Anyways, there are plenty of licenses out ther that are neither GPL nor bring problems with it.
  • nvidia (Score:0, Interesting)

    by xeeno ( 313431 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:34AM (#8315322) Homepage
    What about people that use nvidia cards? This makes things problematic for those of us that use their proprietary drivers because the open ones suck.
  • by Zakabog ( 603757 ) <john@@@jmaug...com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:37AM (#8315343)
    I've been using debian unstable for the longest time now and I don't even remember 4.3 being available I thought the highest version they have on the official sites was 4.2? I had to go and find some deb files to install 4.3 (I was trying to get the ATI driver to work for my new video card, took forever and then I replaced it with a GeForce FX anyway, and the drivers don't work on my other computer, damn I wish ATI had better linux support.)

    It's kind of like Libya saying, "Hey we're gonna stop our nuclear weapons program"
    "But sir we don't have one..."
    "So, no one needs to know that!"
  • by Snags ( 18929 ) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:38AM (#8315352) Journal
    How is this different from the license for libjpeg? From jpeg-6b/README: "(2) If only executable code is distributed, then the accompanying documentation must state that "this software is based in part on the work of the Independent JPEG Group"."
  • by Lussarn ( 105276 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:38AM (#8315354)
    If you followed the discussion you would notice that they can't ship XFree 4.4 because they would need to toss out alot of GPL apps from the distributions if they did. Bye bye KDE.

    This move is just stupid. It sets back the *nix desktop 10 years. If they don't change Freedesktop is the way to go.
  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:39AM (#8315363)
    "3. The end-user documentation included with the redistribution, if any, must include the following acknowledgment: "This product includes software developed by The XFree86 Project, Inc (http://www.xfree86.org/) and its contributors", in the same place and form as other third-party acknowledgments. Alternately, this acknowledgment may appear in the software itself, in the same form and location as other such third-party acknowledgments." Several posters on slashdot and elsewhere have mentioned the similarity between this and the old, obnoxious BSD "advertising clause":
    I'll admit I am ignorant on this subject and I apologize.

    Why is this obnoxious?

    What is the big deal about a few lines of giving credit where credit is due? I'm guessing from your response that it goes beyond that?


  • Re:How exactly... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) * on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:40AM (#8315374)
    6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions.
    You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.

    The advertising clause is considered a further restriction.

    Now personally, I do not believe that attribution is any more burdensome than having to make source code publicly available or agreeing to automatically allow your software to be covered by a future revision of the GPL.

    Judging by Mr. Stallman's ravacious vanity and thirst for attribution (ie. GNU/*), I find it ironic that the FSF would discourage compulsory attribution.
  • Re:freedesktop? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheAcousticMotrbiker ( 313701 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:49AM (#8315458)
    except freedesktop does not do 3D accleration of NVidia cards yet ..
    which is (given that Im doing a lot of 3D stuff) really what I need.
  • X server vs xlibs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kinnell ( 607819 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @10:58AM (#8315544)
    If the problem is with programs which link with the XFree86 code, doesn't this mean that the libraries are the problem, not the server? IANAE, but presumably a client compiled with any implementation of the client libs will work with any implementation of the server. So why not just ditch the XFree86 libs in favour of the freedesktop xlibs, and use the XFree86 server. This way you still get the hardware support of XFree86, but no license compatability problems. The freedesktop xlibs are supposed to be mature enough, appart from still requiring XFree86 to build them, but this can't be a big problem to solve, surely.
  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:01AM (#8315576)
    This issue really demonstrates how serious the OSS community is about licensing. Distributors have read it. They understand what all the terms mean, and they are willing to abide by the licensing terms. In this case, they don't agree to the terms, and won't use that version of the product.

    I understand the intent behind the new license, but it isn't practical for the distros. They made their case, and if the license isn't changed then they won't use the product. Isn't that how licensing should work? That is better than the distros saying "Sorry, we can't abide by these terms, but we are going to use your software anyway." At first I thought there might be bullying here by the distros, but XFree made the licensing change, the distros are the ones who have to choose whether to abide by it or not. Seems like the little guy has the power here.

  • Storm, teacup (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bozovision ( 107228 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:03AM (#8315598) Homepage
    This really is daft. It's easily solved.

    The basic problem is that there is no convention for listing contributors. You would think that it was not beyond the intellect of FOSS developers to come up with something suitable.

    For instance:
    If the standard was that the flag -contrib listed contributors, and dedications, together with the name of the program, then it would be simple to gather a list. And the work of gathering a list is what teh complaint is about.

    Once you have the list, it's not difficult to display it on request or put it in a file.

    It might also be a good idea to have a standard comments format (easily parseable) at the top each source file with the same info. You might need to define a format per language. I'd imagine something like

    #Joe Soap - cleansing
    #Alice Soap - project management
    #To all the good people of the world. We hope you find this useful.

    I've used an XML style above, but don't get hung up on that - it's a detail that doesn't matter right now. It could be .ini format, or whatever.

    And guess what.. if you have the list in the source in a standard format, you can easily create the code for the contrib flag.

    Really it's plain old good fashioned courtesy. If someone creates something that you are using then you should be acknowledging it.

    And now for a political subtext... The whole issue with the naming GNU/Linux vs Linux is about attribution. To my mind it's unreasonable on the one hand to campaign for recognition in this way, and on the other to have a GPL that is incompatible with giving credit where it is due. It seems to me that there is a strong streak of not-invented-here at work.

  • by Asmodai ( 13932 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:04AM (#8315608) Homepage

    Because XFree86 changed the license it cannot be shipped? Don't fool yourself.

    Ever looked at the rest of the sources? Allow me to quote:

    xc/src/lib/FS: ``* Copyright 1990 Network Computing Devices;
    * Portions Copyright 1987 by Digital Equipment Corporation
    * Permission to use, copy, modify, distribute, and sell this software
    * and its documentation for any purpose is hereby granted without fee,
    * provided that the above copyright notice appear in all copies and
    * that both that copyright notice and this permission notice appear
    * in supporting documentation, and that the names of Network Computing
    * Devices or Digital not be used in advertising or publicity pertaining
    * to distribution of the software without specific, written prior
    * permission.''

    ``Copyright 1987, 1994, 1998 The Open Group
    Permission to use, copy, modify, distribute, and sell this software and its
    documentation for any purpose is hereby granted without fee, provided that
    the above copyright notice appear in all copies and that both that
    copyright notice and this permission notice appear in supporting

    And these are just two examples.

    By the way xc/src/lib/GLw/README.html is fun to read as well to see an example of how the knife cuts on both sides.

    So how is this different? It was never GPL compatible to begin with. Clearly the above conflicts to clause 6 as well.

  • why not them? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sardonic2 ( 576701 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:05AM (#8315616) Homepage
    Red Hat distributes Apache, OpenSSL, xinetd, all with GPL-Incompatible, Free Software Licenses [gnu.org] What is weird is Apache claims [apache.org] their license is compatible. What i'm really asking is why are all these projects able to get away with it?
  • Re:nvidia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xeeno ( 313431 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:05AM (#8315619) Homepage
    That may be true, but if X forks to handle this issue then which branch does nvidia take? For that matter, what happens as new hardware is released?

    Is redhat going to stay with 4.3 5 years from now?

  • Re:NVIDIA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bfree ( 113420 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:08AM (#8315658)

    I suspect you couldn't be more wrong if you tried :-)

    Firstly I think XFree86 will fall off the face of the earth. If distributions don't package it but instead go with X from freedesktop.org, XFree86 will die in weeks as developers will move over to the new, freer codebase (Keith Packard has said he wants the freedesktop.org release to be DFSG-free).

    Replacing X cleanly on a package managed system has always been one of the more tricky things around, why do you think this will change? And what do you think will be the desire for people to support an organisation which the distributions have all turned their back on? I don't think the distributors only problem is distributing it themselves, I cannot see any good reason for them to help people use XFree86, it only slows development of their chosen system, and unless they release with a major showstopper (like no 3d and I don't see that happening) what will be the justification for doing the work?

    This isn't just about gaming, it's about X! But to address what most people seem concerned about, binary drivers (this is why I try and pick hardware based on the Free driver support) the death of XFree86 will be a fait acompli if freedesktop.org can get the hardware manufacturers who currently supply binary drivers to announce that they will be shipping freedesktop.org drivers (and preferably not be shipping XFree86 4.4 drivers). If the hardware manufacturers won't do that then XFree86 may well become the closed binary drivers X, and freedesktop.org the Free one, in which case perhaps someone like transgaming would take on the work of providing a system for people to use XFree86. This is why it has always and will always be vital for people to work on Free drivers, even when binary drivers exist, otherwise you remain in the hands of the hardware manufacturers.

    I think a bright future is ahead for X, and I just hope XFree86 don't reverse their position and possibly ruin it! The Free X development is probably about to come right out into the open, rejoice and stop worrying!

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:21AM (#8315792)
    Yes, it's a new restriction, and no, it's not a flaw in the GPL. Anyone who doesn't want to use the GPL can easily create their own modified version which does allow additional restrictions, and those who release code under the GPL generally do so _because_ they don't want additional restrictions placed on their work... certainly I do.
  • Re:The Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MoneyT ( 548795 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:23AM (#8315821) Journal
    How is mandrake and RH distributing XFree86 with their build requiring others to include acknowledgements?
  • by iangoldby ( 552781 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:28AM (#8315867) Homepage
    I'm not sure then what they mean by 'incompatible with the GPL'. I've just read the references you gave.

    They mention only 'practical problems' - that is, the problem of what to do if your product includes very many components, all under different old-style BSD-style licenses (with the acknowledgement clause) - that you end up having to include rather a lot of acknowledgements in all your publicity material.

    I don't think it can be 'incompatibility' that is causing the current fuss. All of the following licenses are considered by the GNU to be incompatible with the GPL:

    The original BSD license
    The OpenSSL license
    The Apache Software License, version 2.0
    IBM Public License, Version 1.0
    Common Public License Version 1.0
    The Mozilla Public License (MPL)
    The FreeType license
    The PHP License, Version 3.0

    Yet we don't see Linux distributers refusing to include products with those licenses.

    If RedHat have a problem inserting the required acknowledgements into their publicity and packaging material in time for their next release, that is quite understandable. In that case they should talk to Xfree and come to an arrangement. Perhaps the Xfree people will allow them an exemption this time around.

    Personally, this smells to me like politics and personality disputes. The major Linux distributors ought to be above such things.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:31AM (#8315893) Homepage
    There has been talk about alternative Window systems in the past. The only thing that has been preventing the acceptance of any of these newer, faster systems is the current momentum of XFree.

    Given the mass rejection of the current XFree (4.4) it would seem that not only should 4.3 be used, but also options for other window systems as well.

    Making such significant changes is always a pain at first... or perhaps it's not the pain everyone thinks it might be.

    I enjoy the interest in Linux I inspire at work when I bring my laptop in. They see that it doesn't behave significantly different from Windows and when I point out that it currently does every function that WindowsXX does for them with the possible exception of games, it makes them all the more curious to try it in light of the fact that it makes them VERY immune to email-born viruses and the like.

    I draw this as a parallel to the reluctance that still exists in switching from XFree to another graphical environment.
  • by abdulla ( 523920 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:40AM (#8315965)
    Maybe you should check the stats on the freedesktop X server. It's smaller in file size and memory footprint. It will be faster when hardware acceleration is supported.
  • by grahamlee ( 522375 ) <{iamleeg} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:53AM (#8316101) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly why the GPL is a/the problem. Don't get me wrong, open source is great. Credit should given where it is due. However the GPL tries to control how you develop and deploy your software. Sometimes you may link against GPL'd code, or you may simply include a binary in a release. Either way, you have a good chance of breaking the GPL depending your approach.

    Agreed. Many of the 'edge states' of the GPL are not fully understod, and of course there aren't any precedents to have a gander at.

    If the GPL was really about freedom "they" wouldnt care what you did with it as long as you explicitly stated where the code or binary came from and submitted updates to the software back to the original author or maintainer.

    Disagreed. RMS' stated aim with copyleft was to ensure that once software becomes Free, it is Free for ever more. Giving people the freedom to restrict the Freedom of the software is less ethically favourable in that scheme than ensuring Freedom at the expense of freedom - hence the viral clause.
    Anyway, I'd be interested to hear the justification for your clauses "as you explicitly stated where the code or binary came from and submitted updates to the software back to the original author or maintainer" - these are as much a restriction of personal freedom as clause 2 of the GPL.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @12:02PM (#8316199) Homepage Journal
    The FSF is quite clear (see here and here) in that they do not consider licenses with the advertising clause to be compatible with the GPL.

    But notice that the new XFree86 license does not require acknowledgements in advertising. They recommend you put it in the documentation (``if any'', so if there's no docs, there doesn't have to be an acknowledgement), and also allow you to put it in the software itself. (I am not exactly sure what that means -- source code? binary? about box? all of them?)

    Listing acknowledgements on a TV screen takes precious space. Broadcasting them on radio is awkward. When many acknowlegements must be made, this becomes infeasible. On the other hand, putting acknowledgements in the source, and in about boxes is quite common and not at all disturbing. Even putting them in the documentation is far from outrageous.

    I don't think the new license makes XFree86 non-free. The FSF defines free software [gnu.org] as follows:

    # The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
    # The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
    # The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
    # The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    All these conditions hold for the new license.
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @12:06PM (#8316236)
    IMHO, is much more verbose than what you see in the current XF86 config file.

    Why is more verbose a good thing? What matters is readability, and XML is a lot less readable than the format that XFree86 uses.

    In fact, the XF86 config file would probably be better suited to XML than what it currently uses: XML is for structured data - have you read an XF86Config file lately? notice the structure?

    Yes and the XFree86 file format is perfectly capable of representing structured data. How is
    Section "Screen"
    Driver "svga"
    Device "My Video Card"
    Monitor "My Monitor"
    Subsection "Display"
    Depth 32
    Modes "640x480"
    less readable or less expressive than this:?
    <section name="Screen">
    <option name="Driver" value="svga"/>
    <option name="Device" value="My Video Card"/>
    <option name="Monitor" value="My Monitor"/>
    <section name="Display">
    <option name="Depth" value="32"/>
    <option name="Modes" value="640x480"/>
    </section name="Display">
    </section name="Screen">
    XML is not the best data representation for human edited files, and on linux there is the unwritten policy that while we try to not require the user to edit files directly, we certainly want to make it easy if they choose to do so.

    Even in OS X where XML is king, there are two supported formats for plists, and it is standatd convention to use XML for files that are primarily meant to be edited by the computer, and the other c-struct (old Next-Step?) style format for files that are primarily meant to be edited by humans.
  • Nitpick (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @12:12PM (#8316288)
    Though it's quite likely that the original poster was implying that XML is inherently arcane, "some arcane XML format" only explicitly states that it is probable that the new config file that uses XML will be arcane on its own merits.

    Also, having to mentally parse out the valuable info -- "ZAxisMapping = 4.5" -- from the surrounding detritus -- " -- is tiring on the eyes and mind, and all that extra tag junk makes it hard to format all the information in such a way that makes it easy for the eyes to flow over it as you can fit less info that matters per line.
  • by oohp ( 657224 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @12:27PM (#8316422) Homepage
    The OpenBSD group has done great work in the past taking ipfilter out of the code base and replacing it with something better -- packet filter. I hope this great work gets integrated in every BSD out there.

    Theo mentioned forking -- it has already happened. While the XFree86 codebase is huge, I guess it's better that they don't fork it themselves, but rather join one of the groups that forked XFree86 already (either Xouvert or the freedesktop.org team) and merge efforts. It's a question of objectives and the OpenBSD team is well known for doing things themselves. But then again, three X forks is too much and no vendor will support all of them -- they scarcely support Xfree86 anyway.

    It's good that the distributions reject this kind of David Dawes style sabotage licensing bullshit. This kind of sabotage didn't work in the past and will never work. It just adds more nails into the Xfree86's coffin.
  • by six809 ( 1961 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @12:48PM (#8316698) Homepage
    Indeed. I got a mail today from someone using evilwm saying that if they use Gnome with it, things like the panel, etc. end up in weird places. Best I can guess is that Gnome apps are using new-fangled fd.o _NET_MOVERESIZE_WINDOW messages to position their windows rather than old-fangled ConfigureRequest events, assuming the window manager will send the correct events for it! Shouldn't the Gnome libs see that I don't support their method and fall back to the one everyone else uses? I think so, but apparantly they don't, which means I'm going to have to implement the new stuff at some point. Bah!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:13PM (#8317015)
    Yeah, XML is fine, but for an X config file it's OVERKILL. That was my original point. Look at what's happening in the Linux desktop world now: the hundreds of millions of machines running Win98 or NT4, boxes with 32 or 64 MB of RAM, are completely useless thanks to the bloat of KDE, GNOME, Mozilla and OpenOffice.org. You need AT LEAST 128 MB to be anything less than sluggish.

    Sure, there's IceWM and AbiWord etc., but they're not supplied as the default desktop in any user-friendly, major distro.

    The Linux desktop is one of the worst examples of over-engineering in history. I'll still use it, but it's becoming so slow, so bloated, day by day, cutting out 3rd world countries and millions of older systems.

  • XFree Alternatives (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jago25_98 ( 566531 ) <jago25_98.hotmail@com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:19PM (#8317074) Homepage Journal
    Thread here:
    here [linuxquestions.org]
  • Re:nvidia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by forlornhope ( 688722 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:26PM (#8317148) Homepage
    Redhat and the other distributors are not going to stay with 4.3 for the next 5 years. If the license situation is not resolved you will see a fork or see the distributions going with previous forks or the fdo xserver.

    I personally see the distributions going with the fdo xserver because a few have already stated that they are switching to the fdo xlibs. I personally predict there will be a fork of xfree4.3 that will basically do mantinence and update drivers and keep it stable till the fdo xserver is ready for prime time. There is a lot of work going into making the fdo X11 distribution much cleaner than that of xfree86. I personally think this switch would have happened in the next year or two anyway, this license change just speeds things up and will only result in xfree86 losing developers much faster.
  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:27PM (#8317168) Homepage
    Also - if 20 works down the road I am copying and pasting and accidentally miss contributor #3 I can now be sued for copyright infringement.

    It won't be a big deal at first, but if everyone contributor to a project required a personal acknowledgement any time you acknowledge anyone else, it would be a pain.

    Note that the clause says you have to mention XFree wherever you mention someone else. That is like holding your boss at fault because he contgratulated publicly two memebers of a project team without mentioning every person who had five minutes of involement in the project - leaving somebody out isn't always meant as an insult. The whole idea of open source is collaboration - if we want to make software which can build on existing software we can't design the licenses so that each version has to tack on all the restrictions of every preceeding version and then add two of its own.
  • Re:Free Software (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mirabilos ( 219607 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:27PM (#8317171) Homepage
    Rest assured we can legally continue to provide
    even binaries of these, left alone the ability
    to install them by means of MirPorts.

    Hint: we are distributing the advertising clause,
    and we need not care about licence compatibility
    as long as neither licence explicitly forbids
    that linking.
  • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 ) <snarks@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:44PM (#8317362) Homepage Journal
    The rest of the computing world doesn't care about the community's "idea of Freedom."
    That's like saying "The rest of the world doesn't care about copyright, they just want their free MP3s", which is equally true. However, it's contrary to the law.

    Regarding Linus, I presume you're talking about BitKeeper, but that is different as he is not redistributing it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @02:11PM (#8317626)
    > the FSF disagree

    Face it -- The FSF didn't bother to check.

    Recently the Debian people have actually started to look at the stuff that comes in the XFree tarball and have found many, many interesting problems.
  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @02:12PM (#8317636) Homepage Journal
    Why would you change it to what you wrote and not:
    <Device>My Video Card</Device>
    <Monitor>My Monitor</Monitor>

    Doesn't look that hard to read or that excessively verbose (except for the end tags) to me.

    Oh, and you can't have attributes in end tags so your example XML wasn't valid XML anyway.
  • by buysse ( 5473 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:11PM (#8318287) Homepage
    The key is that the GPL-compatible licenses are those that are more permissive than the GPL. With a revised-BSD license, I can take the code and relicense it - there are no other restrictions on derivative works, so when it's linked with GPL code, it meets the requirements. If I take the original BSD license, with the advertising clause, and link GPL code to it, I've added an additional restriction to the work as a whole. This is explicitly disallowed by the GPL.

  • by amightywind ( 691887 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:27PM (#8318523) Journal

    The XFree86 contributors should come off of their high horse and GPL the code while they are at it. The original contributions of Keith Packard and the original X team dwarf those of the Johnnie Come Lately "Core Team."

    Might Xouvert.org become the preferred X branch now that XFree86 has gone rogue?

  • by j7953 ( 457666 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @04:50PM (#8319523)
    This is idiocy. We are making SCO's FUD into FACT by behaving this way.
    "See? They just want to steal code! Look how they treat one of their own!"

    Uhh, but you realize that using XFree86 4.4 would actually be "stealing" code?

    If a distributor ships a GPLed software that was linked with code from XFree86 4.4, he has to violate the license of one of the two programs. Either the resulting code is shipped under the GPL, but that license doesn't include the acknowledgement requirement of XFree86. Or the resulting code is shipped with the additional restriction of requiring the acknowledgement, but then the distributor is violating the GPL which doesn't allow adding any restrictions.

    Also, what you've said in a previous posting in this thread ("The FSF/GPL community can't be bothered to give you credit for your work.") is complete bullshit. Take a look at clause 2.c) of the GPL.

    This issue isn't at all about not wanting to give credit. This is about not wanting to violate the copyrights of any contributors, which among other things means not to combine things that have incompatible licenses. I think this whole mess is a great counterpoint to SCO's FUD.

  • by Flower ( 31351 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @07:37PM (#8321276) Homepage
    Hey, you brought up SCO and didn't elaborate on their license. Basically they say, any modifications you make are owned by you but due to the licensing agreement you may only incorporate that code into our products unless you get permission from SCO first.

    SCO's interpretation is truly viral in every sense of the word. It takes your code, effectively kills it and makes it into SCO code. The GPL doesn't do anything near as bad as that. If you GPL your code you still have copyright on it and can relicense it however you want. Look at TripWire and GhostScript.

    You know the more I think about it, the more the GPL seems like a wildflower. The seeds get cast out, blown about, some take root, some don't and occassionally you get these blooms that people can't agree on whether it's a flower or a weed. Yeah, that's it. Linux, the dandelion of the operating system universe. Let the wine jokes begin.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @08:28PM (#8321731) Homepage Journal
    It is only linking between software with these licenses that is the problem. With most of the licenses above there are ways of getting around it. The problem with the new xfree86 license is that you have gpled software such as gtk and qt that are going to be directly linking with xlib.

    Is this really a problem? You cannot statically link GPL-incompatible software to GPLed libraries, because that makes the result a derived work. However, in this case, the linking works the other way around, making GTK and Qt derived from xlib, whose license does not have the viral nature.

    Even if the GPL somehow prevents GTK and Qt linking to a GPL-incompatible xlib, an exception clause could be made. IIRC, bison and flex use such a clause to allow the code they generate to be used in non-GPLed projects.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal