Nokia gets Qt

Sorry, I had to use this title. No one else seems to have picked up on it. But then maybe most people are like I was until I actually met a couple of developers from Trolltech at Eclipse Summit Europe in October and learned that it’s actually pronounced ‘Qute’, Not Q.T.

At any rate, the big news in the mobile software industry today was Nokia’s purchase of Trolltech. It’s another piece of news that struck me as potentially game changing. Certainly Nokia has been under the gun with all the hype behind Google’s Android platform. I think this is a strong move by Nokia to firm up their story.

Now, I’ve been a little luke warm to Qt. I’ve received a number of requests to include it in Wascana. I can’t. And it violates one of the policies I have for Wascana. That is the open source version of their library uses the GPL license. That means only GPL applications can use that version of it and I don’t want to get into that game. “Free” software is a paradox. You can’t have freedom of users to do what they want with it, and freedom of developers to license their software how they see fit at the same time. And, of course, being a developer, I tend to side with the developers on this equation.

At the same time, though, I really like the architecture and look of Qt. And I understand Trolltech’s need to make money and fund development of Qt. (Remember, I side with the developer). And they do have a pretty good Eclipse/CDT integration for Qt. And the commercial licenses aren’t that much of a barrier if you’re already used to paying for the libraries you use.

But I always secretly hoped that circumstances would change and we could use Qt without worrying about licensing. Does the transaction with Nokia lead to that circumstance. Apparently not according to the news release and letters to Trolltech’s community. But I really think that if Qt had a free commercial license, like the Eclipse Public License, the whole KDE/Qt versus GTK wars would have ended long ago and we’d have peace and unity on the Linux desktop, and maybe on mobile devices too. At the very least, you would have seen a Qt SWT port.