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Graphics Software

POV-Ray Is Now FLOSS 121

An anonymous reader writes "Starting with version 3.7, POV-Ray is released under the AGPLv3 (or later) license and thus is Free Software according to the FSF definition. 'Free software' means software that respects users' freedom and community. Roughly, the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. With these freedoms, the users (both individually and collectively) control the program and what it does for them. Full source code is available, allowing users to build their own versions and for developers to incorporate portions or all of the POV-Ray source into their own software provided it is distributed under a compatible license (for example, the AGPL3 or — at their option — any later version). The POV-Ray developers also provide officially-supported binaries for selected platforms (currently only Microsoft Windows, but expected to include OS X shortly)." Update: 11/14 21:57 GMT by U L : The previous distribution terms and source modification license.
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  • What was the previous license? I only ask because I remember being able to download the source code for a long time. The reason I remember this is because I built the source code on my Raspberry Pi, to do some benchmarking, and recall that it took quite a while to compile.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:46PM (#45424046)

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:47PM (#45424060) Journal
      Previously released under the "a href="">POV-Ray License.

      One of those somewhat oddball project-specific licenses that are free-ish, in spirit; but either through some specific limitation, or just bad/old wording, inconveniently incompatible with most 'Free as in FOSS' projects.
    • The old license [] was open source but had restrictions on commercial use.

      The old license is less permissive about commercial use:

      Subject to the other terms of this license, the User is permitted to use the Software in a profit-making enterprise, provided such profit arises primarily from use of the Software and not from distribution of the Software or a work including the Software in whole or part.

      Redistribution is more restricted:

      This licence does not grant any right of re-distribution or use in any manner other than the above. The Company has separate license documents that apply to other uses (such as re-distribution via the internet or on CD)

    • The problem with the old license was that the code was "opened" before the GPL was around. POV-Ray team came up with a license and spent years porting from Amiga to Linux to Windows to OSX under that license. Some, many in fact, of the original code contributors could not be found to allow the current team to just relicense the code. Since a rewrite to C++ was occurring at the same time, that gave the opportunity to rewrite what could not be relicensed.
      • So you're saying if I rewrite somebody else's code in a different language, then I can effectively license it however I want? Since all C is valid C++ (I think), it would be trivial to convert from C to C++, and the relicense the source code however I want. There's even programs that will translate from one language to another. Simply putting the code in another language shouldn't mean that you own it. How much code do I have to change in order to call something my own?
        • Not at all, in fact I recall the usenet discussions regarding how to avoid just copying code. It was just a fact that they wanted to re-license under a floss license, and they wanted to migrate the code; so both were done at the same time. Some functions, it is as easy as "chinese room" coding, one person reads the old code and writes a plain English description of what it does: casts a ray along vector V, or finds normal of surface S. Another person who doesn't look at the old code writes these new functio

          • Yeah, but as a programmer, I could see many of those functions ending up looking pretty much exactly the same. There's only so many ways to write a function, and if you're trying to make the code readable, maintainable and efficient, that narrows down the number of possible outcomes. For instance, if you're calculating the normal of a surface, it's a very mathematical thing. There aren't really a lot of variations.
            • And it's a function that is in every graphics library, textbook, and so on. The goal is to not copy code (copyright infringement). The math for finding a normal isn't in and of itself copyrighted, though.

              Posting from my phone is an awful way to try and teach about the legal side of reverse engineering code, or re-licensing, or any other legal topic. It can be, and is, done. It is one of the arguments made when talking about copyrights on algorithm. Hit google, find some articles about it, look for things
  • I presume this acronym means Free License Open Source Software, since I've never heard it before.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )
      L is "libre", a term borrowed from Romance languages that distinguishes the GNU sense of "free" from the "without charge" sense of "free".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Free-As-In-Libre-Software... FAILS.

  • POV-Ray: noun, the software ray tracer that could but didn't. Bloatware is known to reach sooner their next version than POV-Ray. It's also the ray-tracer which is coded for people living in a planet without GPUs. Synonyms: Duke Nuke'm, i_can_write_one_line_of_code_per_day_fuck_yeah, I_am_a_cpu_only_dinosaur. EOD(efinition)
    • by etash ( 1907284 )
      sorry, i meant to say "abandonware is known to reach..."
    • Well now that you can publish your GPU compute fork we expect good work in a timely fashion. Get busy. Also, if you could work in a Blender module and an Android version, that would be nice.
  • by Electrawn ( 321224 ) <electrawn AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:50PM (#45424096) Homepage

    Nasty, nasty license. GPL used to cause lawyers to run around with the flamethrowers, then they learned all the nuances and all was well. AGPL? Now they run around with flamethrowers and nukes. As they should...

    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:02PM (#45424194) Homepage Journal
      AGPL is GPLv3 with one added term: any modified program that exposes functionality through a service over a network must be a quine [].
      • Except for the fact that the output of a software program isn't copyrightable. Licenses only permit/restrict distribution, not "conveyance", so that provision is unenforceable.

    • So, the problem is that lawyers are slow on the uptake?
    • by gajop ( 1285284 )

      Nah, it AGPL is pretty much GPL as intended for web services.

  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:01PM (#45424186) Homepage Journal

    We are all expected to understand what a FOSS (what the hell is the L for!?) license is, but perhaps you should explain what POV-Ray actually is?

    • Re:bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by Enry ( 630 ) <> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:04PM (#45424210) Journal

      Us old timers know what it is. It's a ray tracer from the early early days (it was used to render one of the covers of my books back in the mid 90s). I honestly thought it went the way of the dodo since I haven't heard about it in years.

      • by Tiger4 ( 840741 )

        Us old timers know what it is. It's a ray tracer from the early early days (it was used to render one of the covers of my books back in the mid 90s). I honestly thought it went the way of the dodo since I haven't heard about it in years.

        I've run it in MS-DOS many times. Got a nice rendering of The Ringworld system, complete with background stars and shadow squares. The last time was on a Vista machine. A NEW Vista machine, I made some springs or some such thing. Haven't been back since.

        • I've run it in MS-DOS many times. Got a nice rendering of The Ringworld system, complete with background stars and shadow squares. The last time was on a Vista machine. A NEW Vista machine, I made some springs or some such thing. Haven't been back since.

          Just curious -- where did your Ringworld scene code come from? I wrote one up back in the mid-90's that had what you describe. ~ Terrin

      • Re:bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

        by shawnmchorse ( 442605 ) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:37PM (#45424484) Homepage

        Very old timers remember using DKBTrace before it turned into POV-Ray. I actually called the "You Can Call Me Ray" BBS that originally hosted all of this, too. It's nice sometimes when a project like this from a completely different era is still alive and kicking.

        • I remember dialing into "You Can Call Me Ray" late at night, when long distance rates were the lowest..

      • Three. Three of your book covers. I should know. ;) ~ Terrin
    • by rlwhite ( 219604 )

      My first thought was that someone was open sourcing a fictional implementation of the Point of View Gun [] from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie.

    • FLOSS = "Free/Libre Open Source Software". The "L" is to give more information about "Free", contrasting it to "free/gratis".

      POV-Ray is a raytracer. Raytracing is an image rendering method that follows rays of light around a scene, keeping track of interactions with the geometry in the scene.
      • I always favored "Gratis / Libre Open Source Software", as being the most descriptive label. But GLOSS never caught on. Too bad, really. I think a tool chain with a high level of GLOSS would outshine a commercial tool chain in oh so many ways.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Free-Libre / Open Source Software

      FLOSS yes, it should be FL/OSS

    • It's a way of making CGI (computer graphics) that actually look real. The engine calculates your light sources and then sends virtual light-rays from them to bounce of the objects in your scene and return them to the camera (the screen) The end result can be, if done right, photo-realistic. Also, the entire screen is by its very nature truly 3D. You can reposition the camera and move around the scene at will.
      Here's a pretty old one: []

      Someday... maybe a long way off

      • I'm a fan of unbiased rendering honestly, though Blender's Cycles is looking pretty spiffy lately.

        Have a look at what luxrender can do [] - this is one of the unbiased ones. It's GPL, btw.

      • What you have described is called photon mapping. I think there is some support for photon mapping in at least some version of povray (I'm not sure if it ever made it in to an official release), but in any case it's an optional feature. It is more accurate to refer to povray as a ray-tracer. In ray-tracing, you send out rays from the camera position and test them for intersection against objects in the scene. These rays can in turn spawn additional rays (for reflection and refraction), and at each hit l

    • perhaps you should explain what POV-Ray actually is?

      Yeah, because google doesn't exist... Or would you like me to explain what a search engine and the internet are?

      Here's a famous poster rendered with POV-Ray from space (the ISS). []

      Oh, I forgot you might not be a nerd for which this news is for. Perhaps you want me to explain what the ISS is?

      Well, you see a when an aerospace engineer loves another celestial body very much they-- Fuck off, Lamer!

      • I know what they are. (for the record I don't like POV-Ray's results that I've seen - I'm a fan of unbiased renders like Lux [] though Blender's Cycles is looking pretty damn good as well these days)

        Doesn't change the fact that it was a shitty summary.

  • I remember rendering "ntreal" on an SGI workstation back in the '90s, it took about two days and I remember watching the individual pixels appearing and looking at all the details.

    I just did it again and it took about 10 seconds and I'm like, "meh, next"

    You'd think they'd have some different demos now...

  • by geekoid ( 135745 )

    POV-Ray, that's a blast from the past.

  • so... (Score:5, Funny)

    by BenSchuarmer ( 922752 ) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:38PM (#45424502)
    we can use it to clean our teeth?
  • ... if it were FLOSS!

    Let's do the FLOSS dance! []
    Youtube clip: []

  • Word salad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhlowe ( 1803290 ) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:48PM (#45424610)
    Software that 99.9% of us will never use has been re-licensed with an even more restrictive license. The word salad about being "free" was gratuitous.
    • Software that 99.9% of us will never use has been re-licensed with an even more restrictive license.

      You're not familiar with the old POV-Ray license, are you?

      The original license didn't let you even distribute a modified version. You had to distribute your changes as a patchset, so anyone wanting to use your version could get the official code, patch it with your changes, then compile it.* So GPLv2, despite all its restrictions, is less restrictive!

      Now this is AGPLv3, not GPLv2, but the differences (A=restrictions on using it to provide a network service, v3=patent-defense and tivoisation stuff) are simpl

      • by bhlowe ( 1803290 )
        Wow. I never imagined a license could be worse than the AGPL. No wonder the story made SlashDot. License goes from horrible to terrible. Progress!
  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @02:02PM (#45424752)

    This isn't a case of a previously commercial program going open-source. It is a relatively minor licensing alteration to an existing product.

    The changes may be of interest to die-hard Stallmanites, and to companies that want to make a profit from POV-Ray derivative works (assuming there are any), but to average users it's a big nothingburger.

    • Could you not say "nothingburger"? It has the distinct disadvantage of sounding hipsterish, and the -burger suffix adds nothing to the meaning. In the future, please use the English word "nothing" as it already exists, means the same thing, and won't confuse ESL speakers. Sorry, I spend a lot of time every day dealing with people who speak English perfectly well but can't understand people when they invent words that don't need to exist. Thanks!
    • While the effect of the change to FLOSS is relatively minor, making the change was a major undertaking. If nothing else, it shows one way in which old free-but-not-FLOSS apps could be rewritten into FLOSS form.

      And now with POV-Ray's ray tracing algorithms opened up, it will be interesting to see what other FLOSS projects like Blender can do with it. Blender already offers the use of Game Render, Cycles Render (not quite finished yet but beginning to look pretty sweet), and the old time Blender Render. Addi

  • I've been PovRayMan since 1997 or 1998.. I don't think FLOSSMan has the same ring to it..

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