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02 October 2009, 08:26

Looming patent problems with Mesa and OpenGL 3

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OpenGL logo At the recently concluded X Developers' Conference, XDC2009, Intel's Ian Romanick warned that possible patent problems may arise if the Mesa open graphics library included certain features of OpenGL, such as floating point textures and render targets. This limitation does not apply to proprietary NVIDIA and AMD graphics drivers running under X, since those drivers use their own OpenGL implementation. OpenGL is the standard API for 3D graphics under Linux and Unix and Mesa is the best known open source implementation of the specification.

At the same time, Romanick suggested a number of solutions and workarounds to allow the integration of the problematic features into Mesa anyway. One fix was to store the features in external libraries which Mesa could access. Another idea was to create a kind of configuration switch that would allow users to specify whether they wanted to include patented features when compiling the API. Developers are hoping to get help from the Open Invention Network (OIN), which helps open source companies deal with patent issues.

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