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Trolltech Adopts GPL 3 for Qt 240

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the for-making-cute-software dept.
Funkmaster F writes "At the KDE Developer Conference today, Trolltech CEO Havaard Nord announced that its Qt application development toolkit will be released under GPL 3. 'Here at the KDE release event, Nord's announcement was met with applause. Like Trolltech's initial decision to move from its own QPL license to the GPL, this announcement and the company's more recent decision to adopt the GPL for all platforms rather than just Linux, demonstrate the company's ongoing commitment to openness.'"
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Trolltech Adopts GPL 3 for Qt

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  • Gnome (Score:2, Insightful)

    by calebt3 (1098475)
    So the complaint that KDE is not as "open" as Gnome is no longer valid?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AJWM (19027)
      I don't think that complaint has been valid in the last ten years, or whenever it was that Trolltech released the Qt library under GPL 2.

      Arguably Gnome is the less open desktop, since GTK is licensed under the lesser GPL.
      • Re:Gnome (Score:4, Informative)

        by philipp-de (1154309) on Friday January 18, 2008 @11:48PM (#22104918)
        Actually, the LGPL gives you somewhat more "freedom" than the GPL does. LGPL allows you to integrate code into commercial products, without putting your "derivative" application under the LGPL too. The GPL requires this.
        • Re:Gnome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AJWM (19027) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:06AM (#22105086) Homepage
          It gives the developer using the library more freedom, not everyone else. Hence the FSF's name change of the LGPL from "Library GPL" to "Lesser GPL".

          Of course it's the same argument that BSD license proponents put forth. It boils down to who you're talking about, the developer or the downstream users (who may also be developers). As a user, I prefer the GPL. As a developer, I only care if I want to release a closed-source application. (And I'll take a BSD or LGPL'd library over a closed-source proprietary one so that I retain control over my own software; it sucks when your library vendor changes things, or it doesn't work quite as documented.)
          • As a developer, I only care if I want to release a closed-source application.

            You've hit the nail on the head.

            In case of libraries, LGPL >> GPL. Why? Because commercial applications won't use GPL libraries. Period. Just imagine if gaming libraries were GPL. Nobody would use them. Oh, look, almost nobody uses them anyway! Most PC games require DirectX.

            It's basic economics. If software makers have to choose between a magnificent GPL'ed library and a crappy library that they can use without being forced t
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Antiocheian (859870)
              The main point of the GPL is inheritance of freedom and not software quality.

              commercial applications won't use GPL libraries [...] between a magnificent GPL'ed library and a crappy library


              Which means GPL'ed applications will be more competitive for they will use the magnificent library instead.
          • by Rix (54095)
            As a user, I want a wide variety of software on the platforms I use. Pure GPL platforms preclude almost all commercial development, and BSD platforms don't stay free (hello, OS X).

            A balanced approach with LGPL libraries and GPL platforms allows the best of both worlds.
        • No! (Score:3, Informative)

          by Rix (54095)
          The LGPL allows you to *link* code into commercial products. You still have to release the LGPL'd code, and anything you've added to it.
        • Re:Gnome (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @02:55AM (#22106080) Homepage

          Actually, the LGPL gives you somewhat more "freedom" than the GPL does. LGPL allows you to integrate code into commercial products, without putting your "derivative" application under the LGPL too.
          It isn't just for commercial products. For example, until this latest development you couldn't write Qt apps that were GPL3, and KDE was having problems with using GPL3 code. The same problem will occur if you want to write using any FOSS license that isn't compatible with Trolltech's licensing for Qt.

          The LGPL lets you use the platform to write whatever you want: free software under any license, proprietary software, etc. etc. Qt being under the control of Trolltech means that they decide what licenses you can use, free or otherwise. Now, Trolltech has been going in the direction of openness recently, and this announcement is more proof of that, but its product is still not as flexible as GTK, or the Linux kernel for that matter - you can write apps to run on Linux that use any license, just like GTK, and unlike Qt. I've posted it before, I'll post it again - would Linux be as successful today if it were licensed like Qt is, i.e., that you need to pay if you aren't GPLed (or on a shortlist of other FOSS licenses)?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gambolt (1146363)
        Not to mention the mono cancer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by donscarletti (569232)

      Well, QT has been using GPL2 for quite a while now. However the big point of concern with some people is that QT does not use LGPL which would allow GPL incompatible licences to interoperate with the libraries like GTK does. Of course there is the argument, such as that that made by the FSF that ALL libraries should be GPL in order to encourage GPL compatible software to have an advantage, but in my mind having a platform open to crazy licences and/or closed software is more important and the fact that Trol

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rumith (983060)
        Not a valid point any longer: since Qt 4.3 Trolltech has added a so-called "GPL Exception". Basically, they have listed plenty of licenses, such as MIT and Apache, that you can legally use in your project while linking against the GPL-licensed version of Qt. Here: http://doc.trolltech.com/4.3/license-gpl-exceptions.html/ [trolltech.com]
    • KDE is unfortunately out of reach for most commercial developers. Trolltech has taken their pricing off their website, but IIRC it was over $1000 per year, per developer, per platform. It's a nice library, but it's not *that* nice.

      Gnome uses the LGPL where appropriate to allow commercial development on it's platform.
    • by teg (97890)

      So the complaint that KDE is not as "open" as Gnome is no longer valid?

      It isn't. Gnome libraries are LGPL. QT is GPL v3. You can develop non-free applications on both - however, if you want to to do it on KDE, you have to pay the Trolltech toll booth. And since QT is GPL v3, you don't even have the option of writing GPL v2 code - and I'm unsure how using GPL v2 only code would work out too. Thus, Gnome is still far more open.

      • Re:Gnome (Score:4, Insightful)

        by muuh-gnu (894733) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:49AM (#22107198)
        From the point of view of a free software developer, LGPL and GPLv3 are both equally free. The differences come in only if you are a proprietary developer looking for ways to embrace, extend and close up somebody elses code. Thats really all there is to the additional "freedoms" you have with the LGPL. Freedom to make code unfree. A way to sue people who copy code closed up which once was free distributable.
        • From the point of view of a free software developer, LGPL and GPLv3 are both equally free.
          No they're not. There are plenty of free software licenses on this list [gnu.org] that are incompatible with the GPLv3 not because of some core ideological difference but because of some technicality.
        • From the point of view of a free software developer, LGPL and GPLv3 are both equally free.
          As a Free Software developer, I take exception to this. Last year I released about 15,000 lines of code as Free Software under BSD and MIT licenses (and contributed to one LGPL'd project). To me, the GPL and LGPL (any version) are not equivalent. The LGPL allows me to release the code under my choice of license.
      • by Uncle_Al (115529)

        QT is GPL v3 [...] And since QT is GPL v3, you don't even have the option of writing GPL v2 code

        Sorry, but please read [trolltech.com] before stating such untruths.

        Qt is now GPLv2 + GPLv3 + commercial + QPL (in the case of the X11 version) + any future GPL version as publicly accepted by Trolltech [trolltech.com] and the Free Qt Foundation [kde.org]. Additionally your own code can be under one of various licenses as stated in Trolltechs gpl exception [trolltech.com].

  • Those devs deserver their salaries. I would purchase a license for their product for a big project even if it was to be open source.
    • by babbling (952366)
      The commercial license is how they make their money. They get their library popular through Free Software, and if someone wants to distribute a proprietary application (eg. Google with Google Earth) that uses their library, they have to buy a proprietary-compatible license for Qt.

      I reckon this is one of the more feasible Free Software business models.
  • QT has two different licenses - their open-source license, and their commercial license. This is not a problem - I'm fine with this.

    The problem I have is that they require that any software written for their commercial-license library be only written for their commercial-license library. This means that if, like me, you're someone trying to start a game studio looking for a basic windowing library for an editor, you have three basic choices:

    * Write your editor with their free library, then never be able to
    • by Brandybuck (704397) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:29AM (#22105212) Homepage Journal
      The problem I have is that they require that any software written for their commercial-license library be only written for their commercial-license library.

      Nonsense! You can use the commercial version to write BOTH commercial and Free Software.

      Write your editor with their free library, then never be able to distribute it in any way without GPL'ing it

      Not entirely correct. Their GPL license includes disclaimers for several common Open Source licenses. You still need to open your source, but you are not limited to a single license.

      As for the future of your app, decide before you start which license you will be using. It is not fair to the Qt developers (who get paid from license sales) to "cheat" by developing under the Free Software license and then switching to the commercial license when you release it.

      You may use the GPL version for training and learning the library. And there is an Evaluation license if you wish to evaluate Qt for your own project. But when you start the actual coding of your software, purchase a commercial license if you intend for your software to commercial itself.

      It's quid pro quo. Do unto Trolltech as you would have Trolltech do unto you.
      • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @03:00AM (#22106110) Homepage
        I think you're missing my point somewhat - I can't, as a small developer who doesn't even know if his software is going to be released commercially, start coding now and then purchase a license later. I'm a small game developer and my editor may be of no interest to anyone but me. But if it does turn out to be useful to release it, and I don't want to release it open-source, I can't simply buy a commercial license and be done with it.

        Why should Trolltech mind if I bought a license later rather than sooner? They're still getting the license. One way just forces me to decide much earlier, when I may simply not have the information that I need to determine which is the right course of action. (Which, in this case, turns out to be "don't use QT".)
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jopsen (885607)
          If you don't distribute during development, there's no way trolltech could know if you did the actual development with the GPL version or a commercial version... Once you want to release it just buy a commercial license and wait say a month and release it proprietary.

          This is obviously violating a term of the commercial license. However if you're a small fish with only one developer, there's no way trolltech will know or care for that matter. The term in the commercial license is there because they don't w
          • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
            "Just do it, there's no way they could know" is not an acceptable option, IMHO. If they wanted to avoid the many-developers one-license thing, they could simply require one license for each person who had worked on the codebase before the conversion. I'd be fine with that. But they didn't.

            As it is, I'm using wxWidgets instead. wxWidgets is basically the LGPL with an added exception, which makes it both a free software library and entirely practical for proprietary software (even more so than LGPL, in fact.)
            • by dbIII (701233)
              Two words - evaluation licence.

              A commercial project should not be the place where you learn how to use a new toolkit anyway. Have pity on your potential customers and work on a test project first instead of releasing your first steps within a commercial product.

              QT is neatly killing an entire segment of the market for themselves (namely, people who later decide they want to close their software)

              Perhaps they do not wish to be connected with such a market. RMS gave them a hard enough time over their old lic

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          They mind because license prices are per developer using it. Otherwise, it's possible to buy just one commercial license for the final build, and use GPL licenses for all devs.

          That said, if you can't afford Qt, then you just shouldn't be using it for a commercial product. It's a full featured and very good quality C++ library, and those don't come cheap. There are always other simpler, "budget" alternatives, such as wxWidgets.

          • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
            So why not require one license for each developer who's contributed code to the project, or something similar to that?

            I can afford it. I just don't see any point in spending thousands of dollars for something that may turn out to be completely useless to me - this particular subproject started as just a minor thing, and I certainly wasn't about to spend that much money at the beginning. It's evolved since then, and perhaps buying QT would have been the best choice in retrospect, but I'm certainly not going
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NekoXP (67564)

          But if it does turn out to be useful to release it, and I don't want to release it open-source, I can't simply buy a commercial license and be done with it.

          Yes you can. If software does not see a public release, it has no license; the GPL explicitly differentiates between private software for your own use and that which is made available to the public. Trolltech make the same distinction.

          You can develop the software using the free library, as long as it does not see the light of day outside of your own use.

      • by bgat (123664)

        As for the future of your app, decide before you start which license you will be using. It is not fair to the Qt developers (who get paid from license sales) to "cheat" by developing under the Free Software license and then switching to the commercial license when you release it.

        How exactly is it that you're "cheating" them, when you choose to buy the license? Isn't that exactly what they _want_ you to do?

        I've had more than one project walk away from Qt because Trolltech refused to let them use their proof-of-concept code in the commercial product. Said code was never originally written for distribution--- and was in fact never distributed--- so the GPL didn't apply. But Trolltech's sales force insisted on an interpretation of the GPL that was so overly and inappropriately broa

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Brandybuck (704397)
          I am not a Trolltech employee, but I do work closely with them.. I have a commercial license. What you are telling me does not describe Trolltech. Not at all. I have never heard of a workstation inspection. What I have heard instead, is offering waivers for those developers who genuinely did change their mind later on. And I have seen cheaters. I have seen companies release a signficant product two months after purchasing a single license.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      This seems like a very common use case, have you contacted them about this?
    • by pherthyl (445706)
      While you are technically correct (Trolltech say you must start with the commercial version if you're gonna use it at all), realistically that's not the case.
      First of all, they don't have a legal leg to stand on. They just want you to buy your licenses early, but its not like they could do anything about it if you don't.
      Secondly, it's not like they're going to refuse to sell you a license when you want to buy one, because you now decided to make your program closed source.
      Thirdly, they won't ever find out.
      • by JohnFluxx (413620)
        > First of all, they don't have a legal leg to stand on. They just want you to buy your licenses early, but its not like they could do anything about it if you don't.

        Um, they could simply refuse to sell you a license.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by filbranden (1168407)

      Actually, you can develop all your software using the GPL version (without distributing it) and then decide to distribute it under a commercial license.

      The GPL actually requires that when you distribute a software you distribute the source code with it.

      If you never distribute the software developed with the GPL version of Qt, you'll never have to give away your source.

      When you have the finished version ready, you may purchase Qt license and distribute it commercially as closed source or anyway you wan

      • by dschl (57168) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @03:11AM (#22106152) Homepage
        Ummm.....no.

        As others have noted already in this thread, that sort of behaviour is expressly forbidden under the QT licensing. The GPL licensing only applies to open source code developed with QT. If you wish to release commercially, you have to make that decision before you start writing code, and follow their commercial license terms (not the GPL). Their commercial license overview is fairly clear in stating that you cannot legally release commercial code that was developed using the GPL edition.

        From Trolltech: [trolltech.com]

        You must purchase a Qt Commercial License from Trolltech or from any of its authorized resellers before you start developing proprietary software. The Commercial license does not allow the incorporation of code developed with the Open Source Edition of Qt into a proprietary product.
        • You are 100% accurate.

          Technically speaking, the GPL does only come into play when you distribute, which confuses some people here. So you can write GPL code for as long as you want before distributing it. But the restriction of applying only at distribution time does not apply to Trolltech's commercial license. Trolltech specifically state that a license won't be given if you didn't start paying for it when you started development.

          Of course, the Trolltech people are completely in control here: if you
    • by dbIII (701233)
      The choice is that you learn on the free licence, make open software on the free licence, or make your professional commercial application under the commercial licence.

      Some people seem to think that writing an open application with the help of others and then closing it off without their consent so you can make money once it becomes successful is a good idea. Personally I do not. If you make money with their toolkit they want you to give them a cut and they have removed the loophole of closing open softwa

      • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
        People seem to think that I'm planning on taking their hard work and running away with it. I'm not. The free version and the commercial version are the same toolkit. If someone contributed to my GPL project, I wouldn't be able to close it later. I don't want to steal anyone's hard-earned work. I just want the option to switch to the commercial library later.

        It's a game editor. It doesn't have much value outside the game. It does have value with the game, and if I were to release it it'd be as a free addon -
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:52AM (#22105356) Homepage Journal
    I'm developing a Free Software audio application called Ogg Frog [oggfrog.com]. It will be GPL when it is released, but I'm not certain whether to make it GPLv2-only, or GPLv3-only. I'm not comfortable with the "or any later version" clauses many GPL programs have.

    I realize that GPLv3 was designed to address a lot of problems such as Tivoization, but in following the debate on the Debian-Legal mailing list, I'm not completely comfortable with choosing version three.

    Trying to actually read the whole license to decide for myself just makes my head spin.

    Note: there is no software to download yet; there won't be any until the alpha test version is ready.

    • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:16AM (#22105488) Homepage

      I'm not comfortable with the "or any later version" clauses many GPL programs have.

      Consider very carefully what the actual potential costs and benefits of such a clause are before deciding not to use it.

      One of the key advantages to using any version of the GPL is that your code can be combined with other code that was written separately and also released under the GPL. "Version X or later" code can always be combined. When the next version comes out, "Version X only" code will be uncombinable. That basically means that - unless your project is Linux sized and can get away with having its own license - "Version X or later" is the only answer that will allow your project to outlive your personal work on it.

      • by Fëanáro (130986)
        A simple solution for this is to shorten the time before the work falls into public domain.

        Eventually your copyright will expire anyway. If you add a clause that says the source is relicensed under public domain [in 10 years | after your death | something else], then it can always outlive your personal work, before it falls into oblivion.

        public domain is compatible with any license.
        And if someone wants to use the source under a different license sooner, they can always contact you.
    • You can always take that clause out. But as another poster who replied to you commented, this may not be the best solution.
    • The thing that Trolltech did here that I find really cool is that they changed their license to basically say "GPL 2, 3, or any subsequent version we announce approval of." This way they don't hand over control to the FSF (I agree, the thought of doing that makes me uncomfortable as well) but next time there's a GPL update, adding the new license will be much less of a hassle.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      For v3 versus v2, the only question is: Are you worried that someone will use your application on a piece of proprietary hardware and not let users upgrade it unofficially?

      I'm a BSD-license person myself, but if I were worried about making companies give back improvements, I'd be going with GPL v3 with the 'any later version' clause. It really does protect the users as much as is currently possible.
  • by Yahma (1004476)

    As the developer of an Open Source package based on GTK called LiarLiar [sourceforge.net], I am very pleased that Trolltech decided to offer the Linux community such a powerful and easy to use toolkit; however, I chose to use Gtk+ because I may decide someday to release a Shareware version of my application. I receive nowhere near enough income from my app to even pay 1/10th of the license fee and I suspect many other developers are in the same boat. While the big commercial developers can afford a license, the thousands o

    • by Vexorian (959249)
      I am not sure shareware is too profitable regardless of the license, something tells me good open source projects that live on donations do much better than shareware, I actually thought/hoped shareware was dying...
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Look at "xv" for how shareware does under *nix. If people are not prepared to pay for shareware that was at one time on nearly every *nix box I think it is unlikely they will pay for yours no matter how good it is. It's not the MS windows world where shareware is sometimes the only solution to a problem so people are not used to using it or paying for it.

      Giving away something for free and then changing the rules in midstream is regarded as bad form in a lot of situations. I don't think you'll get much re

  • Now if they can do something with their name... "Trolltech" sounds problematic, esp. in a tech industry.
    • by 10Ghz (453478)
      Yes. because names like "Yahoo!", "Google" and "Apple" sound a lot more serious....
    • by dbIII (701233)
      They can say they are not trolls - many have "troll.no" on the end of their email addresses :)

      Almost as cool as having "x.org" on the end.

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