Contributed by ray on from the license-wars dept.
After nine months, an open secret can finally be acknowledged: The OpenGL code that is responsible for 3-D acceleration on GNU/Linux, which was released by SGI in 1999, has been running on licenses that were accepted by neither the Free Software Foundation (FSF) nor the Open Source Initiative. Today, however, the FSF has announced that the licenses in question, the SGI Free License B and the GLX Public License, have been rewritten after months of negotiation between the FSF and SGI. The problem is now resolved, and the result is a code contribution that the FSF ranks as one of the greatest given to the community by a proprietary company.
OpenGL is the specification behind 3-D acceleration. Without an implementation of OpenGL such as the ones found in Mesa and X.org, free operating systems are restricted to 2-D graphics, which are suitable for email and office productivity, but nothing more. Compositing window managers, many games, animation, high-end graphics -- in short, many aspects of modern computing that users often take for granted -- all require implementations of OpenGL.Thanks to the OpenBSD user for kick starting this process!
The licensing problem has been an open secret for some time. A Debian bug report reported part of the problem as early as 2003. However, little was done with the knowledge until January of this year, when an OpenBSD user reported the problem to the FSF, according to executive director Peter Brown. In response to the news, the GNewSense distribution, whose goal is to remove all non-free software, has been omitting OpenGL-related files from its distribution in the months since.
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