Yeelong and SiliconMotion driver: asking for developers

Alex Deucher alexdeucher at
Tue Mar 16 16:14:26 PDT 2010

On Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 6:36 PM, Daniel Stone <daniel at> wrote:
> Hi,
> 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.

FWIW, SMI has been involved in the siliconmotion xorg driver before
(they contributed a fair amount of the original code), although most
of the recent work has been done by contributors.


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