Yeelong and SiliconMotion driver: asking for developers

Daniel Stone daniel at
Tue Mar 16 15:36:46 PDT 2010


On Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 02:49:13PM -0400, Brett Smith wrote:
> When we started looking at software for the SiliconMotion hardware (as
> part of evaluating how free software-friendly a particular machine was),
> we found a modified driver from the SiliconMotion company that seemed to
> have some useful changes.  The company was distributing it under GPLv2
> only.
> Some of the developers who were packaging software for the machine
> pointed out that this license was unfortunate for them, because they
> were interested in getting GRUB running on the box as well, and of
> course, GPLv2-only is not a compatible license for a GPLv3-covered
> project like GRUB.  With that issue in front of him, RMS asked
> SiliconMotion to allow the code to be used under the terms of GPLv3, one
> way or another, which they agreed to.
> Please don't read any malice into that request, because I assure you
> there was none.  The FSF has consistently advocated that developers
> should use licenses that are consistent with the larger projects they
> interact with (as long as those licenses are free and GPL-compatible),
> and that advice definitely applies to Xorg drivers.  If we made a
> mistake here, it was a failure to connect the dots.  As weird as it
> might sound, I don't think it was clear at the time that we were talking
> about the licensing of an entire Xorg driver.  If we had known that, we
> would've asked SiliconMotion to switch to the X11 license, if possible,
> to stay consistent with Xorg generally.
> And I'm happy to talk to SiliconMotion about that now.  I don't know if
> you have a usual way of handling licensing requests like this, but if
> you want me to keep anybody or any lists in the loop on that thread,
> that's no problem either; just let me know.  And either way, if you have
> any other questions or concerns about this, please don't hesitate to ask
> me.

Fair enough -- sorry if my reply was a bit harsh.  It'd be great if you
guys were willing to work with SMI to get it relicensed to MIT/X11, as
for better or worse, we only accept MIT/X11 or non-four-clause BSD.  We
do host the development of some GPL drivers (xf86-input-synaptics,
xf86-video-avivo), but we don't distribute these as a part of X.Org at
all.  Even so, these are GPLv2 rather than GPLv3, which would be a lot
more problematic.

For legal issues, the Foundation Board (board at handles
all of that, and just ask the list or myself about technical stuff (SMI
driver, code hosting, etc).

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