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XFree Developer Clarifies Trident Issues

Aug 31, 2001, 15:00 (4 Talkback[s])
From: Egbert Eich 
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 12:02:18 +0200 (MEST)
Subject: [Xpert]Trident changes policy providing documentation to open source

We have recieved word from the Product Manager at Trident
Mircosystems stating that Trident Microsystems has not changed
their policy of providing chipset documentation to Open Source
Le Nguyen, Assistant Vice President of Trident Microsystems, Inc
  "On behalf of Trident Microsystems, I would like to state on the record that
   we have not changed our policy of providing chipset documentation to open
   source projects. Trident however continues to require an NDA to be signed in
   order to gain access to such confidential technical information."

Please let me clearify my previous posting. 

The background:

1. XFree86 has in the past recieved technical documentation from
   Trident Mircosystems, Inc. Is has developed drivers for all current
   Trident graphics chipsets which would have been impossible
2. Alan Hourihane has tried to obtain documentation for the latest
   Trident chipsest (CyberBladeXP and CyberBladeXPm) without success.
   He offered to sign an NDA with a 'source code exception clause'
   a clause which allowed distribution of unobfuscated source
   developed with the help of documentation otherwise covered by the
   Trident appearantly didn't accept a 'source code exception clause'.
We therefore assumed that Trident Microsystems has modified its policy
of providing technical documentation. This assumption may have been 

The policy of XFree86:

XFree86 respects the the right of hardware manufacturers to treat certain
technical information confidential.

XFree86 is ready to accept NDAs signed by itself or individual 
developers requiring:
           a. To pass no technical documentation, parts thereof
              or information contained therein to individuals or
              companies not being under this NDA.
           b. To make no quotes of any part of technical information
              obtained under the NDA within the source code.
           c. Not to implement functionalities in Open Source projects
              which can not be legally published in source code due to 
              contracts the manufacturer has signed with third
              parties if these functionalities are identified by 
              the manufacturer. 
              (I would like to point out, however that if this covers 
              large parts of main chipset functionalities it will 
              make the agreement practically worthless for XFree86.)

Due to the Open Source nature of the XFree86 Project, Inc. 
it is unable to accept:
           a. The requirement to distribute drivers developed
              from technical documentation obtained by the
              manufacturer in binary-only form.
           b. To distribute obfuscated source code.

In the past most of the leading graphics hardware manufacturers
have agreed to release documentation to XFree86 or individual
developers under these terms.
Few manufacturers have chosen to develop their own binary only
chipset driver modules or sub-modules - which extend the 
functionality of an Open Source driver.

If Trident Microsystems is able to accept terms as stated above
XFree86 will be happy to continue to develop and extend drivers
for future generation of Trident chipsets.


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