Joachim Breitner's Homepage
What happened so far: Pretty much one year ago, Xara released a Linux port of there XaraX vector graphics suite under the GPL, and everyone was happy, as it is a pretty good piece of software. A small portition of the program, the drawing library CDraw, was still distributed as a non-free binary blob with the prospect of freeing it later. to prepare for that, I created a debian package in non-free. About half a year ago, development as slowed down as the company’s team was tight into other tasks and outside contributions were still few.
Last thursday someone asked on the mailing list for news on the freeing of the CDraw library, starting an unseen surge of new posts on the list, from Xara employees, free-time developers and outstanders. Besides some unnecessarily rude messages, it was an interesting discussion on how a small non-free part of a program seems to scare of a lot of developers from working at the otherwise free program at all. It also became clear that Xara, recently being bough by MAGIX, will not release the CDraw library any time soon, being afraid that others might use the code to compete their commercial Windows version of XaraX.
The solution, it seems, will be an “internal fork” that uses Cairo to render if the CDraw binary is not available. This will, at least for a while, cripple XaraLX, it will most likely be slower than the supposedly very fast CDraw, but it will be fully free software. At least the Xara guys don’t oppose the plan, so there is hope that it will succeed. And who knows, maybe they will release CDraw when they see that a real free software does attrackt outside contributions.