April 7, 1998, Bellaire, TX
The XFree86 Project announces its position regarding the recently announced licensing of X11R6.4 by The Open Group (TOG) of Cambridge MA. "As a direct response to the new licensing terms made by TOG a week ago, we have found it necessary to state publicly the position and future direction with which The XFree86 Project will proceed," said David Dawes, President of The XFree86 Project, Inc.
The X11R6.4 sample implementation (SI) from TOG comes with a new license. The new licensing reduces the freedom with which their SI may be used. This is because a license fee must now be paid by those who generate revenue from distributing their SI or code derived from it. TOG has stated that the X11 standards will, however, remain "open".
The TOG licensing change is incompatible with the goals of XFree86 and most of the free software community that have been in communication with The XFree86 Project directors over the last week. Some have made the point that the change would make it extremely difficult for their projects to ship physical media which contains TOG derived product, and they've made their preference for unencumbered X11R6.3-based source releases overwhelmingly clear. A fundamental part of XFree86's mission is service to the free software community. As a result, The XFree86 Project is opposed to TOG's new licensing terms.
The XFree86 Project will continue its development based on the freely available X11R6.3 SI and, where appropriate, attempt to implement future developments to the X11 standards independently of TOG. "It is our intention to beef up our problem tracking system and request that people sending bug fixes or enhanced source code to TOG also send them to us, so that the free version of X can also benefit from them," said Dirk Hohndel, Vice President of The XFree86 Project.
The XFree86 Project remains committed to providing a freely redistributable (in source and binary form) implementation of X11. To this end, the copyright and licensing of XFree86 code will continue to be of the BSD style (as used by the X11 SI up to and including X11R6.3). These terms allow TOG and others to integrate XFree86 code into their distributions without a license fee or other financial consideration.
Linus Torvalds, principal author of the well known Linux operating system, said "The XFree86 Project is doing the only reasonable thing in this context. They have my full support in keeping the idea of free software alive for the X Window System. I hope that the public will recognize this important task and that many people and corporations will continue to support XFree86. I will personally work with them to help with their goals."
Garry Paxinos, Vice President of Metro Link Incorporated said "In keeping with the original philosophy of the X Consortium, Metro Link believes that the sample implementation of the X Window System should remain unencumbered. The decision reached by the XFree86 Project to fork the tree at R6.3 will ensure unrestricted access to the ongoing development and enhancements to the core X technology. Metro Link endorses this decision, and we will continue to contribute to and support the XFree86 Project."
Theo de Raadt, leader of the OpenBSD group said "The OpenBSD group is massively pleased to know the X11 subsystems we ship on our 8 main platforms will continue to be available freely. The fact that XFree86 runs on all our platforms and the TOG's X11R6 SI runs on two or so shows that XFree86 has been doing a wonderful job of support for free operating systems on multiple platforms."
The XFree86 Project, Inc is a non-profit corporation of the state of Texas, USA. The primary charter is to design, implement, and distribute, as free software, an implementation of the X Window System. The software implements the X Window System specifications for many UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems. All products of The XFree86 Project, Inc, are freely available, and freely redistributable. Major supporters of XFree86 include Digital Equipment Corporation, Metro Link, Red Hat Software, S.u.S.E. GmbH, and many others.
For more information please send electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us on the Internet at http://www.xfree86.org/.
"UNIX" is a registered trademark of The Open Group
"X Window System" and "The Open Group" are trademarks of The Open Group
"XFree86" is a trademark of The XFree86 Project, Inc
"Metro Link" is a trademark of Metro Link Incorporated
"Linux" is a trademark of Linus Torvalds
"Red Hat" is a trademark of Red Hat Software, Inc
"S.u.S.E." is a trademark of S.u.S.E. GmbH
"Digital Equipment Corporation" is a trademark of Digital Equipment Corporation
David Dawes, dawes@XFree86.org
President, The XFree86 Project, Inc., http://www.xfree86.org/