companies contributing to X

Alan Coopersmith alan.coopersmith at
Mon Nov 29 00:44:15 PST 2010

Eirik Byrkjeflot Anonsen wrote:
> Not competitors to X.Org, but competitors to their company.  If they
> improve X.Org, they also improve the software stack of their
> competitors.  Also, if they have a good market share, a common software
> stack (like X.Org) makes it easier for their customers to switch to one
> of their competitors, as there is a large layer of compatibility in
> place.

Yet the three companies that own over 90% of the graphics market are the
vendors with the best record and continued participation in contributing
to X.Org - clearly it hasn't hurt Intel, AMD or Nvidia.   All of them
contribute to the shared software stack, and Intel & AMD contribute heavily
to the open source drivers for their chipsets as well.

> I see I forgot one other issue: The IP rights management maze of the
> company needs to be successfully traversed before any contributions can
> be made.  This can be a huge issue, as it involves getting the company
> to make a legally binding commitment.

Or worse - other companies, which is why even very pro-open-source,
pro-X.Org companies like Intel & Sun end up with drivers they can't
really contribute.

> Apart from making sure the X.Org licenses are generally palatable, I'm
> not sure what else can be done about this.  FSF has some boilerplate
> legalese that many companies feel reasonably comfortable about signing.
> Something like that could be an idea.  Then again, FSF requires a real
> signature for transfer of ownership of code before accepting
> contributions, which does make the problem more pressing.

Unlike FSF, we allow companies to retain their copyrights, so that doesn't
seem to be a problem (we don't even have an option to allow copyright assignment
to the foundation, but we probably should - that would mostly be for individuals
though, since it's harder to track down people years later or find their heirs,
than it is to traipse through corporate acquisition histories).

	-Alan Coopersmith-        alan.coopersmith at
	 Oracle Solaris Platform Engineering: X Window System

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