Stallman Responds to XFree86 License

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 10:37 PM

The wake of the controversial XFree86 license modifications that will premier in XFree86 4.4 is growing larger each day. It now appears that Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Mandrake Linux, Debian GNU/Linux, OpenBSD and Gentoo Linux will be sticking with XFree86 4.3 in their next respective releases. With such a large controversy surrounding the license, we decided to ask Free Software Foundation founder and president Richard M. Stallman about the issue.

First we wanted to know - did Stallman see this as a mutation of the old BSD licensing clause? “This is not an advertising clause such as the old BSD license had.” Stallman continued, “It is a requirement for giving credit in the distro. In spirit it is like the revised BSD license, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

So what is the problem with the new license? “The details of the requirement conflict with the GNU GPL,” Stallman explained, “anyone linking GPL-covered applications with that XFree86 code would be violating the GPL.

While we do not know how the XFree86 Project will respond, Stallman has already begun to take action to resolve this problem. “Just yesterday I wrote to the XFree86 developers, asking them to join me in discussing how to change the details to eliminate the incompatibility,” he told Open for Business.

Richard M. Stallman has been a Free Software activist for 20 years. He has never promoted the Open Source movement, the non-philosophical, but related concept. OfB editor-in-chief Timothy R. Butler interviewed Stallman last week.