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comp.windows.x Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 2/7
Section - 18)+ Can X11R6.1 be a freeware base? Will future X versions be free?

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Here is the text of a letter from rws@x.org (Bob Scheifler) to comp.windows.x
on 8 July 1996:

I suspect many of you have pretty much taken the X Consortium and the
software it produces for granted for the past few years.  Now that the X
Consortium will be going away, a few people have asked whether X will
continue to be available as free software in the future.

The X Consortium has never been a freeware organization.  We have long given
our software away, but that has been a means to an end, not an end unto
itself.  Making our software freely available helped promote the commercial
adoption of X by providing a level playing field, lowering the barrier to
entry into the market, and promoting homogeneity and interoperability.
Naturally, it also encouraged important R&D to take place within the academic
and freeware communities, which was another way of promoting commercial
adoption.

What many of you probably don't know is that, had we not made the decision to
wind down the X Consortium, we had been planning to institute a new software
licensing plan starting with the upcoming Broadway release.  Although the
plan had been designed to have relatively little impact on non-commercial
users (and indeed relatively little impact on X Consortium members), X would
no longer have been free software in the usual sense of that term.

If the XFree86/Linux/GNU/university/etc. communities want to continue to
evolve X, then X11R6.1 is an excellent, and free, software base for you to
make use of.  Rights to that software can never be taken away from you.  The
Broadway release will, I hope, be an even better base, and one that will
still be free.  In a sense, once the X Consortium goes away, the freeware
community may be in a better position to choose their own path, independent
of what the UNIX platform vendors do.

I won't give you any promises about the licensing terms of future releases of
X from the Open Group.  It remains to be seen whether future releases will
add any substantial new technology, or just be maintenance releases.  While
the benefits of providing free software will not be ignored, the economics of
X and indeed of the whole UNIX desktop have changed, and the Open Group will
be working with the UNIX vendors and with us to formulate a business model
which makes sense in that context.  This will take some time, so don't expect
quick answers.

I'm sure some of you have questions about our ftp site, mailing lists, etc.
Those issues too will be dealt with during the remainder of this year.
Please be patient.

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Top Document: comp.windows.x Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 2/7
Previous Document: News Headers
Next Document: 19) TOPIC: USING X IN DAY-TO-DAY LIFE

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