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The Motif License

by Richard Stallman

 [image of a Philosophical Gnu]

A couple of weeks ago, the Open Group changed the license of Motif, inviting free software developers to use it. However, the new Motif license does not fit either the definition of free software, or the looser definition of open source software.

Their announcement says they have released Motif to "the open source community", but this is true only in an unnatural interpretation of the words. They have not made Motif available within the free software community; instead, they have invited the people in the free software community to leave the community by using Motif.

I've written to the Open Group about this, asking them to change the license. We can hope they will, but we can't assume it. In the present circumstances, we have to treat Motif the same way we treated it before: not available for us. Motif still cannot be part of a free operating system, and combining or linking someone else's GPL-covered code with Motif is still a violation of the GPL except in very special circumstances.

Fortunately there is a free software alternative to Motif, called LessTif. Most programs that were written for Motif can use LessTif with no changes. Please support the free software community by using LessTif rather than Motif. Some finishing work still needs to be done on LessTif; to volunteer, contact

Here are some of the problems of the Motif license:

In the Free Software Movement, we disagree with the Open Source Movement about basic philosophy and values. (For more explanation, see free-software-for-freedom.html.) Nonetheless we can't approve of confusing the public about what their basic criteria are. The facts of the situation are complex enough; confusing the issue is not welcome.

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