Debian to Use Only Free Versions of the X Window System

April 9th, 1998

We are dismayed by the recent decision by the Open Group not to release future versions of X as free software — there will be restrictions on commercial use, including large fees.

Debian's Social Contract promises that we will only promote software which meets our Free Software Guidelines. These Guidelines require availability for commercial as well as noncommercial use.

Debian cannot therefore ship versions of X derived from X11R6.4. Instead we will base our releases on X11R6.3 (which is free); we are confident that the free software community will rise to the challenge of developing further free versions based on X11R6.3.

We note that XFree86 are currently considering their response to this situation. We sincerely hope that they will retain their alignment with the fully-free software community by not putting further work into the new closed X distribution from the Open Group.

We would also encourage commercial vendors (whether aligned with the free software community or not) to express their commitment to keep X free.

The duplication of effort and loss of standardization involved in splitting the development of X is unfortunate, but has been made inevitable by the Open Group's decision to take X away from the free software community.