Alan Coopersmith wrote:
Think of it this way. Would people be paying as much for products
like Hummingbird or other commercial X servers if those companies had
to acknowledge that they stripped much of their code from XFree86?
If they are using code from XFree86, they already had to acknowledge it
in their copyright statements. Acknowledging it even more wouldn't change
how much most people would be willing to pay for a product from any of the
commercial X-for-Windows vendors.
It's a perceived value, issue, I think. What is the perceived value of
a product that Hummingbird produces, vs. the perceived value of a
product that XFree86 writes most of, and that Hummingbird slaps PC
In GPL, commercial companies wouldn't be able to use the code at all.
<sigh> Ok, technically correct, yes. But companies tend to shy away
from using code in commercial products that would require them to
publish the source code. If people could compile and run Staroffice for
themselves, would there be any reason to use it over OpenOffice.org?
With BSD (and the similar 1.0 XFree license), commercial companies can
use the code, and hide teh fact to their customers.
Again completely untrue.
And again, you are technically correct. There's the "advertising
clause"ish type statement in old BSD and the XFree86 1.0. But it's a
lot easier to hide the fact that XFree86 code is being used in a prudt
when all you need to do is stick some copyright notice somewhere in some
text file, rather than if you have to put something visible in an about
box or similar spot in the GUI.
Sun already includes XFree86 copyright notices and acknowledgements of
various other forms in both Solaris and the Java Desktop System for
Linux, so you can count us out of your conspiracy theory.
A simple search for "XFree86" on http://www.sun.com will find pages
crediting XFree86 in various ways, such as:
The above page, and several others in the search you suggested, talks
about the XF86 video driver porting kit, or mentions that XFree86 is "an
open source implementation of the X-window system". I haven't gone
through the list exhaustively, but no page I've read It never actually
says that XF86 code is used inside the Sun X server.
Now, let me backpedal just a little. That is, I don't really believe
that there is seriously a conspiracy - which is why I put "conspiracy
theory" in quotes (Canadians' attemps humour sometimes fly under
people's radar - as opposed to British humour which slaps people in the
face with herrings). That being said, however, for all the companies to
migrate their support away from XF86, there has to be a perceived value
in the change. And the only perceived value I can see is in the only
real difference, which is the license. This means that putting
"Portions of the Sun (HP/Hummingbird/etc) X Server are based on code
from the XFree86 Project , Inc" in some about box was so much of a
problem for some people, that they were willing to fund the starting of
an entirely new project to get around it.
Sun is in it to make money. Publicly traded companies exist to make
money for the shareholders. Therefore, it looks to me like someone at
Sun thought that the above about box would "cost" Sun more money than
funding a new project.
Perhaps I'm reading the situation entirely wrongly. But while I believe
that the license change was unnecesary (and perhaps unwise), I also
believe that the reaction to it was completely out of proportion to the
If I am reading this wrongly, I would very much appreciate knowing what
all the fuss is really about.
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