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SGI Releases OpenGL As Free Software 167

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the let-my-graphics-go dept.
StoneLion writes "Since its release, the OpenGL code that is responsible for 3-D acceleration on GNU/Linux 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 have been rewritten, the problems resolved, and the code freed. Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF, says, 'This represents a huge gift to the free software community.'"
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SGI Releases OpenGL As Free Software

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  • Good news! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fprintf (82740) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:02PM (#25072369) Journal

    Great news for the community. Now lets hope this helps redirect resources, so I can get those laptop drivers fixed, and then I can finally sleep/hibernate properly!

  • by Black Art (3335) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:07PM (#25072441)

    There are still a number of patents covering portions of the OpenGL functions. Does this grant a license for use or are we stuck with partial implementations?

  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:09PM (#25072475)

    Interfaces are one of the most important things in modern software creation. Interfaces are often established by implementations. This change by SGI makes sure OpenGL will stay used and even wider adopted. As far as I can see, it is the only graphics library standard that has the potential for long-term usage.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:10PM (#25072491) Homepage Journal

    Don't be a jerk about it. From the article.

    "Someone came to me on IRC and asked if people should start sending angry faxes to SGI, telling them to please clean up their licenses. And I was like, 'No, that's not the right message right now.' We were trying to avoid that kind of reaction, because among the people in the GNewSense community, there was a visceral reaction initially, and it took some time for people to realize that we needed to give them a chance. And it really paid off. SGI was very willing to work with us throughout the entire process.""

  • Re:Good news! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nawcom (941663) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:10PM (#25072503) Homepage

    Great news for the community. Now lets hope this helps redirect resources, so I can get those laptop drivers fixed, and then I can finally sleep/hibernate properly!

    I've never heard of ACPI depending on an API for generating polygons, but hey whateva.

  • Re:Good news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apathy maybe (922212) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:18PM (#25072621) Homepage Journal

    The code was already "free" for a given definition of "free", however, three problems were identified.

    The old licences:

    • "forbid the distribution of code that infringes on somebody else's intellectual property rights"
    • distributors of the code are required to obey any export laws that might apply
    • require users to inform the distributor if they learn of any potential intellectual property infringement of code releases under the licenses

    As such, it was easy to modify the code, but it wasn't free or open enough by the standards of either the Free Software Foundation or the Open Source Initiative.

    OpenGL is a standard, just like Java is. The fact that there are many implementations of those standards doesn't mean that there is a problem. Besides which, it doesn't really matter, most people will code for the reference implementation (Sun Java and SGI OpenGL).

  • by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:18PM (#25072627) Homepage Journal

    Um, OpenGL already has a documented extension mechanism that is widely used, by virtually every vendor, to provide documented and open access to their extensions. Changing the licensing on one implementation of the standard will not increase the fragmentation of OpenGL, and fragmentation of OpenGL has not led nVidia and ATI to drop it.

    In fact... looking at the listed extensions [opengl.org] I see 15 _ATI_ extensions and 54 _NV_ extensions. :)

  • Re:Big news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BPPG (1181851) <bppg1986@gmail.com> on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:28PM (#25072763)

    Strictly speaking, the games themselves would still be proprietary. But I've never met a free software advocate who had very strong principles against closed source games.

    But this is very good news for free games and compositing managers. Hopefully it will also encourage more development and patches on OpenGL, as well; which helps everyone and not just the people building a free system.

  • by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:29PM (#25072771)
    The response to the latest opengl release has been, to put it mildly, underwhelming. A number of opengl developers in the blogs I have read have declared intentions of moving over to directx. This is the way for opengl developers to get a bigger share of the open source developer mindshare and development effort to make up for the egg they laid earlier this year.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:37PM (#25072875) Homepage Journal

    Yea but only until that wheel can be replaced. Honestly I really doubt that any of the venom from the masses had anything to do with Mozilla renegotiating. The suggestion that Ubuntu would create or use an unlabeled "fork" of FireFox probably did a lot more than any of the screaming.
    I don't have any problem with a click through EULA. If nothing else in the case of free software it tells people that they do have the right to use and even give it to other people.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:42PM (#25072925)

    The response to the latest opengl release has been, to put it mildly, underwhelming. A number of opengl developers in the blogs I have read have declared intentions of moving over to directx. This is the way for opengl developers to get a bigger share of the open source developer mindshare and development effort to make up for the egg they laid earlier this year.

    Would that be mindshare among the people developing open source 3D games? (Both of them)?

    Or the people developing open source desktop apps that depend on 3D? (who are either already fairly committed to OpenGL anyway or weren't even remotely interested in open source, regardless of 3D API)

  • by cOdEgUru (181536) <cherian.abraham@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:42PM (#25072935) Homepage Journal

    I am sorry, but someone has to ask. If you had told me that this happened five six years ago, I would be ecstatic, as this would have proven to be a worthy deterrent to Microsoft's DirectX, which was lagging behind OpenGL adoption.

    But with DirectX with what 90% of the market(?), I fear its too little, too late. SGI, though one of the icons of the past, has had to suffer from people at the top in late 90s who had really not much vision as to how the PC world was going to pan out over the next few years and was really caught unaware when OpenGL went the way of the doodoo.

    But hey, SGI was still the only place then who had Aeron chairs (this from a friend of mine who was gracious enough to invite me to their awesome lunch cafe).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:47PM (#25073017)

    OpenGL isn't a library. It's a standard that describes a set of APIs for vendors to implement in their own libraries.

  • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Friday September 19, 2008 @03:37PM (#25076241)

    Darn, because we really want more gamers in our community.

    I know I stay up nights depressed that more 13 - 16 year olds aren't spamming our forums with even stupider questions that the window drones.

    I wait for the day were the posts change from "Why don't my drivers work" to "Dude, wtf is the problem with this linux pos. This sux!!!'

  • by rk (6314) * on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:16PM (#25078075) Journal

    I wait for the day were the posts change from "Why don't my drivers work" to "Dude, wtf is the problem with this linux pos. This sux!!!'

    The funny thing is I always had more success being a bit insulting when I needed Linux help on a forum. If I asked "I can't get foo to work. I've read the docs and tried bar and baz, but it didn't help." I'd get crickets. If I said "Linux sucks because it can't do foo." Then a ton of fanboys would pile on, call me every name in the book, and then explain in exacting detail how foo can be done. They might've thought I'm a retard, but at least my question got answered. :-)

  • by NullProg (70833) on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:28PM (#25078337) Homepage Journal

    But with DirectX with what 90% of the market(?), ..."when OpenGL went the way of the doodoo."

    90% of what market? DirectX is 100% of Microsofts private Windows/XBox market.

    OpenGL is used on PC/Linux, MacOS X, Unixes, Playstation2, Playstation3, GameCube, Wii. Far from extinction I would say.

    Enjoy,

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