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[FSF] Thank you SGI, for freeing the GNU/Linux 3D desktop!

From: John Sullivan
Subject: [FSF] Thank you SGI, for freeing the GNU/Linux 3D desktop!
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 12:05:24 -0400

In January of 2008, software code at the heart of GNU/Linux 3D
applications was discovered to be non-free -- a potential disaster
for free software advocates hoping to see advanced graphical
acceleration now common on modern operating systems.

The code, licensed by Silicon Graphics (SGI), was distributed under
the SGI Free License B and the GLX Public License. These licenses,
although permissive, contained three sets of terms which created
significant burdens for all users and developers and a particular
problem for the free software community because they made the code
non-free (see the Free Software Definition at

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Free Software Compliance Lab's
Brett Smith explained, "We discovered that these licenses covered
contributions that SGI had made to the X.Org Project and the Mesa 3D
Graphics Library. These projects, including SGI's code, are an
important and familiar part of modern GNU/Linux desktop systems. The
FSF Compliance Lab then worked with SGI towards today's

You can read SGI's press release here:

Please vote for their press release on at:

Steve Neuner of SGI said, "SGI has been one of the most ardent
commercial supporters of free and open source software, so it was
important to us that we continue to support the free software
development community by releasing our earlier OpenGL-related
contributions under this new license. This license ensures that all
existing user communities will benefit, and their work can proceed
unimpeded. Both Mesa and the Project can continue to utilize
this code in free software distributions of GNU/Linux. Now more than
ever, software previously released by SGI under earlier GLX and SGI
Free Software License B is free."

Welcoming today's announcement, Peter Brown, FSF executive director,
said, "We couldn't be happier with this decision, and we're very
grateful to SGI for all their assistance. The FSF is committed to
ensuring that everyone's computing tasks can be done with free
software and this SGI code plays an important role in scientific and
design applications and in the latest desktop environments and

Still, there are a few legal loose ends that need to be tied up
before GNU/Linux distributions can utilize all the code base in
freedom. Brett Smith explained, "There are a few other copyright
holders that I'm working with to resolve their licensing issues and
I'm confident that fully free distributions like gNewSense will soon
be able to utilize all of this code." The FSF will be releasing
further information early next week.

In addition to thanking SGI for this major contribution, the FSF
would like to thank the OpenBSD community for alerting the FSF to
the problem.

### Media Contacts

Peter Brown
Executive Director
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942

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