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GUI Software GNU is Not Unix

Qt Becomes LGPL 828

Aequo writes "Qt, the highly polished, well documented, modern GUI toolkit owned by Nokia, will be available under the LGPL starting with version 4.5! It was previously only mainly available under the GPL and a commercial license. Selling licenses was an important part of Qt under Trolltech as it was the company's main source of income, but Trolltech is a fruit-fly compared to Nokia, who want to encourage and stimulate the use of Qt Everywhere [PDF]. This is fantastic news for all commercial developers looking to create cross-platform applications without the need to buy a $4950 multi-platform license per developer."
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Qt Becomes LGPL

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  • by SolusSD ( 680489 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:39AM (#26448149) Homepage
    Seriously though- Reasons to write applications for the gnome desktop environment are getting fewer every day. When QT4 became available under the GPL on all 4 major platforms- Windows/BSD/Linux/OSX the argument for GTK was weak. Now, I'd argue its virtually non-existent.
    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:46AM (#26448273) Journal
      I use to be a KDE developer, and I have to say that I love QT/KDE platform (and still use it). But with that said, I find that OSS moves faster BECAUSE of friendly competition, not in spite of it.
      • Strategy fail (Score:5, Interesting)

        by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:58AM (#26448431)
        Open source desktops fail really hard from a strategic point of view because of the split between GTK and Qt. They store l10n and i18n settings in separate places, they look different, the dialogs have different configurations, etc. It creates a desktop that feels less unified, more like a bunch of random applications than a single system.

        Of course, porting GNOME would take so long that people would forget that GNOME even exists. The unfortunate reality is that this split will only be resolved when either GNOME and all of the associated GTK applications die, or KDE and its associated applications die (unfortunately, that would mean a loss of K3B, one of the applications that made open source desktops usable for non-technical users).
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by siride ( 974284 )
          What? Within a desktop, everything is more or less consistent. Yes, there is some inconsistency *between* desktops, but if you avoid using programs from another desktop, it's not a problem. Also, there are themes that make the apps look the same, and the copy/paste problems were solved years ago. Honestly, I have no trouble using mixed apps on the same desktop.
          • Re:Strategy fail (Score:5, Interesting)

            by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:26AM (#26448891)
            "if you avoid using programs from another desktop"

            Which is just not possible. Where is the CD burning program in GNOME that beats K3B? Where is the music player that beats Amarok? In the other direction, where is the office suite that beats You cannot avoid mixing GTK and Qt apps on a desktop without hurting yourself.

            "Honestly, I have no trouble using mixed apps on the same desktop."

            Just three days ago at FUDCon, I saw someone try to use KGPG on their GNOME desktop. He had localized GNOME in Dutch, and when KGPG pops up...everything was in English. The localization settings are stored in different places, which is a problem that goes beyond "installing themes to make it look the same." There is also the failure to have OLE across Qt and GTK, which has so far only been solved by disparate hacks in specific applications, and only works for certain cases. The copy and paste problems being solved was a good thing, but that is only one of many issues that arise from mixing GTK and Qt apps on a single system.
            • Re:Strategy fail (Score:4, Informative)

              by pieleric ( 917714 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:30PM (#26450163) Homepage

              Which is just not possible. Where is the CD burning program in GNOME that beats K3B?

              Brasero, it's there now. I was honestly a fan of K3B, but version 0.9 of Brasero is great. It looks like it has as many features as K3B, but everything is damn simple and clear.

              Where is the music player that beats Amarok?

              Unfortunately neither Banshee nor Rhythmbox can beat this one. Hopefully, competition will push them to become better!

          • Re:Strategy fail (Score:4, Interesting)

            by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:49AM (#26449345) Journal

            What I'd like to see is a decoupling of basic stuff like dialogs from the toolkit.

            the idea is that filechoosers, print dialogs and other stuff like that should be separate applications, that comunicates with the calling app using a standard way, adopted by all.

            this way GTK, QT, GNUStep, etc. apps. all would have _AT LEAST_ those items in common. that'll make the user able to use muscular memory to use those elements no matter wich toolkit was used to build the app, something that we don't have right now.

        • Re:Strategy fail (Score:5, Interesting)

          by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:46AM (#26449279) Homepage Journal

          That is the chance and duty of Combining the parts that are common and the platforms can agree upon. Defining the standards (like trash, cache, drag+drop, etc.).
          It is getting better and better (e.g. I think KDE+GNOME both use DBUS now? ), some services/libs (NetworkManager) are already commonly used.
          What I'd really like to see is a common password storage.

        • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:48AM (#26449317) Homepage
          It's great that Qt becomes LGPL, but it doesn't mean that we should stop developing GNOME and GTK...
          Seriously there's lots of business that depends on GNOME and/or GTK, and lots of reasons to keep them alive...
          Competition among desktop environments is good and having two large desktop environments if probably a good idea... As it drives competition and innovation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          There is possibility that major GUI appications will move gradually towards managed code (Java) so QT + GTK would become only sort of low-level windowing library sitting between X and Java apps. Major IDEs (Eclipse, Netbeans) are proof-of-a-concept, except startup times issue, which certainly should be addressed by Sun VM. I would welcome such transision but it will not happen in next 5 years, thats for sure. There are just too many C/C++ apps in Linux to rewrite and some of them (Office, Browser) are reall

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by liquidpele ( 663430 )
      I was actually pretty close to writing an app in GTK because I'm broke but wanted it to be cross platform and not java... but I suppose I'll have to reconsider now. Anyone know what the best GUI interface builder program for QT is?
      • by puetzk ( 98046 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:56AM (#26448405) Homepage

        Qt Designer is part of the core package, and is excellent.

      • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:50AM (#26449367) Homepage

        Gtk is mostly a widget toolkit. You get a lot more with Qt. And I find Qt Designer to be much more thorough than Glade.

      • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:58AM (#26449529)

        Just to clarify for anyone new to Qt...

        Qt Designer and Qt Creator are two entirely different things.

        Qt Designed is drag-n-drop interactive GUI design tool that lets you design the GUI portion if aplication windows, dialogs, etc without coding. You just drag widgets and layout managers off a menu and drop them into the interface your building. It's an awesome tool. Your interface gets saved as a ".ui" file from which Qt automatically generates the corresponding C++ code as clean C++ classes. To add callback/etc behavior, or to further customize the GUI, you just subclass the generated classes and take it from there. It's done very well so that almost always you can further change the user interface using Qt Designer without affecting the subclasses you've added. Qt Designer has been there since early on and just keeps getting better and more powerful.

        Qt also includes a tool "qmake" that makes building Qt apps ridiculously easy - qmake takes a high level ".pro" file that lists the various types of file making up your project (source files, header files, Qt designer .ui files, resource files, etc) and what type of target you're building (application, DLL, etc), and from the .pro file generates a Makefile that you then run using your normal make program (e.g. GNU make, or mingw32-make under MinGW).

        Qt Creator is an IDE for development of Qt based applications, and seems to deliver the expected functionality of an IDE. It's pretty much brand new, and I havn't personally used it (nor intend to since I don't find IDEs to help my productivity).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:50AM (#26448337)

      Since GNOME is currently brainstorming over how to make GNOME 3, I'd say this announcement come right on time.
      Let's focus on the applications and not on reinventing the wheel.
      The toolkit feud has gone on for far too long. Let's share a common toolkit. GNOME is using more Vala and C#/Mono these days and Vala/C#/Mono on top of Qt would make gnomies very happy I think.

      Re-implementing GNOME on top of Qt with the traditional focus on HIG should not be all that hard.

      This is an exiting opportunity for GNOME. I wonder if they'll embrace it and make the Linux desktop go forward.

    • by AlXtreme ( 223728 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:58AM (#26448445) Homepage Journal

      When QT4 became available under the GPL on all 4 major platforms- Windows/BSD/Linux/OSX the argument for GTK was weak. Now, I'd argue its virtually non-existent.

      The argument was primarily a licensing one: LGPL versus GPL. Going for GTK+ because it was LGPL wasn't a weak argument.

      With both QT and GTK+ being LGPL, the argument will be about toolkit quality, third-party support and language experience (C++ versus C). This is a much more useful comparison, and as a developer well-versed in GTK+ I'm looking forward to using both.

      From QT4.5 onwards, the best tool for the job wins. Thanks Nokia!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by washort ( 6555 )

      "Not using C++" is still an argument for GTK.

    • by Richard W.M. Jones ( 591125 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:47AM (#26449285) Homepage

      Presumably your "arguments" don't include the vast developer and language support for Gtk?

      Also we're using and compiling Gtk on Windows [] just fine. It even has nice native look and feel.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How about people who don't want to use that monstrosity of a Frankenstein language known as c++ and prefer to program in c instead?
  • More.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thyamine ( 531612 ) <thyamine AT ofdragons DOT com> on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:39AM (#26448153) Homepage Journal
    FYI: This article needs more acronyms. STAT. ASAP.
  • Ars Technica report (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eukariote ( 881204 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:40AM (#26448161)
  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:41AM (#26448179) Homepage reason for Gnome to exist anymore! ;)

    • Re:It's official... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tatsh ( 893946 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:18PM (#26449923) reason for Gnome to exist anymore! ;)

      KDE is Qt-based but with a lot of CRAP added on top, just for desktop integration reasons, much like GNOME on top of GTK+. I do not need GNOME to run many GNOME apps; this is not so much the case with KDE (at least with version 3).

      I love Qt 4 by itself. It's stylish, looks good on Windows and Mac, very portable and a VERY easy API IMO. (Only thing I do not like very much is C++.)

      My problem with desktop environments (which is the problem interoperability is SUPPOSED to solve) is there is barely any. You might be able to IMPORT settings from one desktop email app to another's (say they both use MBOX format). I found that KMail imports Thunderbird MBOX files terribly. Besides, if you have Kaffeine for a media player, how do you import those settings to another? Do we need standards here too (a standard settings file for media players)? (Personally I think it is a bit over the line, but could be very useful). Maybe a whole set of standard preferences files?

      Right now I cannot move to KDE 4 or GNOME. I am a little bit stuck on KDE 3 (at least till KDE 4 can do everything correctly) and my life is in Kontact. I love KDE, but the ability to switch at any time with ease would be great.

  • by netpixie ( 155816 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:41AM (#26448191) Homepage

    Whilst being very good at code and generally geekery, Trolltech are total rubbish at the support game, leaving paying developers (i.e. me a few years ago) feeling massively shafted when being told "here's the code, fix it yourself". WTF am I paying for If I have to not only find your bugs, but fix them as well?

    Now everything is back as it should be - free code and no support, the way God intended.

  • Hurrah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoeshere.calu m . o rg> on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:42AM (#26448203) Homepage
    Well, thank heavens for that. Hopefully now the horrible, oldfashioned looking, bad file-selecting-dialogs GTK will slowly disappear. The number of times I've had to select something in /usr/bin, and have started to type /usr/bin only to have it try and go to /usr/sr or some nastiness.
  • Wierd... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:42AM (#26448209)

    It's not every day that a cross-platform GUI framework suddenly turns into (becomes) a licence...

  • by Mad Merlin ( 837387 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:44AM (#26448243) Homepage

    The only complaint I've seen before about Qt is that it's too expensive for proprietary apps, and that's not an issue anymore. I won't be surprised to see a large uptick in Qt usage now, and that's a big plus for cross platform apps, as Qt is quite portable.

    • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:55AM (#26448399)

      The only complaint I've seen before about Qt is that it's too expensive for proprietary apps

      Then you've not been listening. Many don't like the noteworthy long start up times of Qt apps compared to say Gtk. Many don't like the need for obtuse tools like SIP. I know for a while they were working to address the long start up times I've not followed where that went. Perhaps it's no longer an issue.

      Frankly, the API of Qt make Gtk look like a pile of vomit, but simple fact is, Qt is not the perfect GUI programming environment.

      • by vurian ( 645456 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:06AM (#26448557) Homepage
        Nothing human is perfect. However, having used GTK, wxWidgets, XForms, V, Motif, MFC, Borland VCL, Visual Basic, Swing, AWT, GNUStep and Qt, I have to say that Qt beats the others consistently in look & feel, ease of development, clarity of documentation, orthogonality of API and breadth of features. Not to mention cross-platformity :-) Plus, the tools, like Designer, Linguist, Creator and Assistant are top-notch.
        • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:32AM (#26449003)

          GTK, wxWidgets, XForms, V, Motif, MFC, Borland VCL, Visual Basic, Swing, AWT, GNUStep and Qt,

          I've used most of those, although NEXTStep rather than GNUStep. I used Qt very heavily in the late 90's and early 2000's, but moved to wxWidgets a few years ago, in part due to Qt's licensing costs, and now never plan to go back.

          I've found wx easy to use, well-documented, well-supported across platforms and languages (using wxPython heavily at the moment as well as C++) and generally lighter weight than Qt.

          The things wx "lacks" are things that I don't need and don't want anyway, like a nice GUI builder--although arguably BOAConstructor fits the bill for wxPython, and I guess maybe DialogBlocks for C++. I use code generators for all my UI coding, which gives me far more flexible and robust layouts much more rapidly than a GUI builder can.

      • by arendjr ( 673589 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:16AM (#26448725) Homepage

        Then you've not been listening. Many don't like the noteworthy long start up times of Qt apps compared to say Gtk.

        Long start-up times have been fixed ever since Qt4 was released quite a while ago.

        Many don't like the need for obtuse tools like SIP.

        I've never used SIP myself, but it's that tool for generating bindings for other languages, right? So that's only required if you're generating your own bindings. And even then I fail to see how that's worse than writing the bindings by hand...

      • by IceFox ( 18179 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:29AM (#26448943) Homepage
        On the startup issue I think it was many times applications and not Qt that were slow. For Arora ( []) I spent time making it startup very quick. I wanted to be able to launch the browser from nothing whenever I clicked on a link. Feel free to check it out yourself and see how fast startup can be. Qt 4.5 has improved performance across the board and no doubt some of that will help on startup also.
  • Wow, great news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:47AM (#26448285)

    Over the years I have said many times that TrollTech should have lowered their prices considering things like the Apple Developer's kit and MSDN are significantly cheaper for more functionality.

    I have been in need of a good GUI toolkit for years. I have used just about all of them but for my own projects I either use the native toolkit of the OS I'm working on or FLTK for cross-platform stuff. Qt is much more functional than FLTK though with all their SQL and other utility classes. This is really cool. I bet Qt is now going to become the defacto GUI toolkit for everything.

    I wonder how long until someone makes a Qt version of GNOME (ha, I can't imagine how much work that would take). You could start with making a Qt version of The GIMP.

  • Die Gnome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:52AM (#26448361) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps now we can finally get enough momentum to end this Gnome\KDE battle and get KDE to win so we can settle on ONE desktop environment so we can get back to writing 40 different window managers.

    QT + KDE = 1 Desktop Standard Linux (hell even Windows) folk can get behind.

    Gnome + KDE = Goblin Desktop (You can thank me for coming up with that name

    Merge the teams, move forward with KDE and lets get Linux on the desktop in earnest.

    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:09AM (#26448611) Journal
      Think about Xfree. it was basically a closed monopoly. Then X11 grabbed it and opened it up further. Has it improved things? Absolutely. Basically, we NEED competition. GNOME is good competition, vs. say MS's form of competition (involving lots of dirty tricks and legal maneuvers).
    • Re:Die Gnome (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:28AM (#26448929) Homepage Journal

      I really like Gnome better than KDE. You can run QT applications under Gnome just fine.
      What I wonder is if we could see OpenOffice or Mozilla move to QT for the widgets :)

  • Excellent news! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @10:56AM (#26448403)

    Excellent news!

    And a sensible move - the best way for any technology to become a standard (defacto or otherwise) is for it to be freely available and demonstrably good.

    Now this is both we can predict swift adoption of it. Some firms may view Linux as a hobby, but even that is changing - my new job I started last week has two Ubuntu PCs in this very room I am typing from.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Some firms may view Linux as a hobby

      I am working on a Qt application right now. Previously, we planned to release only for Windows since each additional platform cost extra in licensing fees. Now, we can support Linux and OS X as well.

  • Way to go, Nokia! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dexter77 ( 442723 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:01AM (#26448479)

    I love to see when a company understands that giving something away they will get ten times more in return. And nowadays that happens too rarely.

    For a while it seemed that Nokia is about to lose to its competitors, because of Symbian and bad software. This will totally remedy it. I've also heard from Nokia insiders that they're actively dumping everything related to Symbian. It won't take more than couple of years and all their phones use Qt.

    Seeing how well Apple has been selling iPhone applications, I can only imagine the potential Qt phones have in future. With Symbian that just wasn't possible, it was a total nightmare for the developers.

  • PyQt? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robot_love ( 1089921 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:04AM (#26448527)
    I wonder what will happen to PyQt? They have traditionally offered the same licensing as Trolltech, but at a much cheaper rate. I'm curious to know what Qt's change to the LGPL will mean to them.
  • Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:05AM (#26448547)

    I considered QT when I was looking for a good GUI for an open source project I was considering, but ended up rejecting it on licensing agreements. It has actually gotten better licensing twice since then, and now I would actually choose it.

    That project, sadly, never happened because I never found a GUI toolkit I thought would do what I needed. How many other projects were similarly stalled like this?

    This is indeed good news.

  • by oever ( 233119 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:07AM (#26448589) Homepage

    One year after Nokia bought Trolltech [], they've released Qt as LGPL. This positions Qt and KDE in an excellent position for cross-platform application development for FOSS *and* commercial projects. KDE libraries were already licensed under LGPL. This means the entire stack is now LGPL.

    In the mean-time, Qt Creator, an IDE for developing Qt applications, has been announced. This will be all you need to write cross-platform applications with Qt.

    Qt Jambi (java bindings for Qt) will also available under LGPL. Qyoto (mono bindings) and the other bindings (Perl, Python, Ruby) will be able to make releases under LGPL now.

    These are exciting times!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Enderandrew ( 866215 )

      Yet when Nokia purchased the Trolls people insisted they would try to close up Qt and fight FOSS. Nokia did oppose open formats in HTML 5 for some crazy reason, but maybe Nokia isn't so evil after all.

      • Nokia never insisted anything of the sort.

        While they may have opposed the HTML 5 standard, their opposition is based upon their relationship with Webkit (recall that Nokia is one of the big players backing Webkit ... in addition to the fact that Qt now bundles a derivative of it).

        When Nokia purchased Trolltech, they promised not to change much. That's the opposite of what you just claimed. Those of us heavily entrenched in the Qt world knew that there was likely to be a shift in priorities ... the pro

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Enderandrew ( 866215 )


          I realize that Nokia bought Trolltech for Qtopia. Nokia is now trying to push a mobile GTK platform while owning the Qt platform. I did think it was a really smart move to give Nokia n810 tablets to KDE devs. Then the KDE devs worked on getting KDE 4 to work on the n810. Nokia could easily ship a full KDE 4 based desktop on future smart phones and tablets.

  • by dfdashh ( 1060546 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:14AM (#26448693)
    From arstechnica []:

    To further reduce the barrier to participation, Nokia plans to accept code from contributors without requiring copyright assignment.

    If they do what this article suggests they will, this is a big step towards better code and community involvement. Go Qt, go!

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:14AM (#26448699)

    With this development, I hope Firefox and Adobe developers will jump on I would also like to see the folks at on board the QT bandwagon as well. The interfaces I see on Openoffice and Adobe's PDF reader would look better with QT in my opinion.

  • by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:29AM (#26448939) Homepage Journal

    I have a hunch Nokia is looking at XCode and Apple instead. After all, the main battle for them is in the mobile market, and Apple made a big deal about the iPhone being based on OS X. So this is a bid to win over the talented developers.

    QT is available on more platforms, true, and it always has been. Still, XCode was free for anyone with a Mac, and the developer kits for the iPhone only required that you own a Mac and that you registered as a developer.

  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @11:57AM (#26449495) Homepage Journal

    It caught Mono through an ill-considered tryst with Miguel ;)

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson