Khronos, Mesa, Standards & Conformance / Certification: Open Source, Open Standards

Written by Michael Larabel in Standards on 15 October 2016 at 09:10 AM EDT. 13 Comments
The past week or two in our forums and elsewhere there's been a lot of comments about Khronos' conformance testing for OpenGL 4.4/4.5 with the Mesa drivers finally reaching that point, concern over Khronos' fees being prohibitive for open-source projects (particularly in cases like Nouveau where it's community driven without a main corporate backer), and some FUD related to this matter. I've now received some clarification from The Khronos Group to lay these concerns to rest.

For those not reading the comments in the Phoronix Forums, Reddit, and elsewhere, the conformance process has been raising concerns among some readers with the Mesa drivers having not exposed OpenGL 4.4/4.5 yet officially (though last night Intel officially exposed GL 4.5, as of writing RadeonSI and Nouveau NVC0 still show GL 4.3 while they implement all GL 4.4 / 4.5 extensions). Some of the Git commits and mailing list messages about GL 4.4/4.5 have mentioned "conformance" and the "CTS" (conformance test suite) plus this PDF and links to the Khronos adopter page has also been circulating that shows costs for OpenGL 4.4/4.5 conformance fees as $25~30k USD, which led to a number of concerns by users wondering if they needed to pass this costly process to advertise GL 4.4/4.5 or face trademark issues, what would happen in cases like Nouveau where they aren't backed by a Khronos member company, whether Khronos is trying to shake down developers, and all sorts of other stuff. This hasn't been a problem before for Mesa's OpenGL implementation since Khronos only rolled out their conformance program for GL with OpenGL 4.4 and 4.5. Khronos also maintains adopter conformance tests for OpenGL ES too.

With seeing talk among users on this topic continue and even some suggesting a crowdfunding campaign so Nouveau could have the finances to pass the conformance tests, I set out to get some clarification from Khronos. Khronos President Neil Trevett was able to lay these concerns to rest. Long story short, it's not posing a problem for open-source projects.

Trevett explained, "Khronos always welcomes bona fide open source implementations of any of its APIs - and obviously everyone wins if they can be officially conformant. So - we typically will waive the Adopters fee for any open source organization who wants to be officially conformant - so they can access the tests and make a submission."

They are aware of Mesa's situation and are working with them. If there are any other open-source developers (or e.g. Nouveau developers interested in conformance but without a Khronos contact), let me know and happy to put you in touch.

It was also pointed out on this page, Khronos does back up their open-source project support, "Non-commercial implementations of Khronos specifications, including open source projects, often cannot afford to become a Khronos Member or Adopter. Khronos has often waived Membership and Adopters fees to bona fide open source implementers of Khronos specifications that play an important role in the API ecosystem."

Also exciting is that based upon the success of Vulkan's more open approach with those tests being open-source, etc, Khronos is looking at putting their other API conformance tests as open-source too for making them more accessible to developers.

Basically, all appears well on the Khronos front and concerns raised through various portals recently about conformance fees and processes are not of issue to open-source projects like Mesa. Just another reason to love this industry standards body and their mutual support for open-source.
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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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