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Silicon Graphics helps prevent potential calamity

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January 9, 2009

Due to prompt and preemptive measures taken by Silicon Graphics (SGI), a potential calamity for the open source community and the Linux Foundation has been luckily spared, and FSF members can now be grateful.

Early last year, it was identified by OpenBSD that some of the contributions to the X.org Project and the Mesa 3D Graphics Library made by SGI were covered under certain permissive open source licenses that didn't fall within the FSF's definition of Free software.

Almost immediately, the FSF Compliance Lab worked diligently with SGI to repair the problem and now it is safe to assume that they have succeeded.

They did it by releasing a new version of the open source license that governed the initial problematic code, the SGI Free Software License. The so-called and obscure "B" license. That license has since been adapted to fall within the scope of what the FSF designates as FOSS (Free and Open Source Software).

So now the issue has been successfully resolved for good.

Steve Neuner, director of the Linux division at Silicon Graphics said "we have been one of the most ardent commercial supporters of FOSS, so it was important to us that we continue to support the Linux and FOSS community by releasing our earlier OpenGL-related contributions under this new license."

He added "this open source license ensures that all existing user communities will benefit greatly, and their work can proceed unimpeded. Both Mesa and the X.org Project can continue to utilize this software code in free distributions of GNU/Linux. Software previously released by SGI under earlier GLX and SGI Free Software License "B" is now free, and will continue to be free as long as we see fit."

However, and as can be expected in cases such as this, some loose ends still need to be examined and specifically addressed individually, but they shouldn't cause issues at this stage of the game. Once these issues have been correctly identified and assessed, even hardcore Free software distributions like gNewSense can use the code at their own will.

Naturally, the FSF is happy to see such news.

The FSF said publically "we are satisfied with SGI's decision and we are grateful to them for their assistance. We are fully committed to ensuring that everyone's computing tasks can be done with free software and that SGI code plays an important role in scientific devices, software design applications, in the latest desktop environments and even in gaming applications."

Source: Silicon Graphics.

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