Looks like the devs are using COVID-19 as an excuse to effectively make Qt proprietary software.

"last week, the company suddenly informed both the e.V. board and the KDE Free QT Foundation that the economic outlook caused by the Corona virus puts more pressure on them to increase short-term revenue. As a result, they are thinking about restricting ALL Qt releases to paid license holders for the first 12 months"

A year in the software world is eternity, may as well not release it.

Let's remember that this is the same company that suddenly restricted access to binary and LTS releases without warning.

This way way before anyone had any idea about what 2020 will bring. They have made an internal decision to make Qt no longer free software, it's just about finding every little opportunity to tighten the squeeze on and the wider community in general.

And of course we 100% believe them- this is just temporary, once they taste the profits, they're going to stop.

"The Qt Company says that they are willing to reconsider the approach only if
we offer them concessions in other areas."

This reads like blackmail honestly.

@MatejLach you really believe there's going to be much profit here?

@hirojin I don't. Especially if KDE executes this right. But there's a lot of people who depend on Qt right now and if the Qt Company makes the price "reasonable " + there's not a viable fork for the community to get behind, I can honestly see a lot of indie devs and businesses just paying up and thus the paid model becoming the new normal in the community.

However, if there's a fork, a large player like is behind it and it is actively maintained, we could see another LibreOffice.

@MatejLach Thank you for staying on top of this! It really clarifies the viability of Qt (i.e., non at all to people like me).

@thufie @MatejLach KDE foundation? Perhaps they don't need to add more features. 😎

@MatejLach Wow.

How is KDE going to deal with this I wonder. They'll have to fork it won't they? But are the resources available to maintain a fork?

@MatejLach I told everybody for years, don't use Qt, licensing is not clear, use GTK+. Nobody listened.

@Mac_CZ @MatejLach GTK, the people who have told developers that GTK+ is only for their use, not for applications?

Sorry, no.

A> QT looks and works better.
B> GTK keeps changing everything under the hood.
C> I can't even freaking get mouse clicks to work properly in the scrollbar area.

If you use GTK for your app, I simply won't use it. You have decided to go with a toolkit that makes life difficult for the user. I'm a user, and I absolutely do not appreciate that.

We need a fork of QT, not GTK. GTK should be written off as a failed project, a guide on how to not manage a project, how to alienate users as well as developers - all while sticking to a license and holding that up as the reason to choose it _over_ everything else.

Sorry, this whole "license over usability" garbage is what holds much of Linux back from the general public. Who NEED a _GOOD_, free alternative.

@Mac_CZ I think people were always aware of the risk, in fact it was the driving decision behind - itself was also aware, hence the agreement that allows them to fork it under a free software license.

The hard part is, back when KDE was made, (before GIMP Toolkit), Qt seemed like perhaps the only modern choice. And from a technical perspective it stood the test of time.

The licensing model didn't. Qt is the one SW that needed to be 'owned' by a corp that doesn't need the money.

@Mac_CZ @MatejLach
It was clear Qt had only papered over their problems. But lets not ignore the problems in the GNOME camp either. They aren't license issues but they are equally severe. RedHat / IBM control it and have taken it in questionable directions the last decade. GTK is subject to churn, they don't care a whit about the pain they inflict on non-GNOME projects trying to use it, documentation is lacking, etc. Firefox also has a bad case of corporate overlord problem, it is larding up quickly with user hostile misfeatures intended only to fund an over staffed "Non-profit" foundation.

Free Software is entering a crisis phase caused by its successes in the 1990s and "Naughties." Having achieved "World Domination" it is big business now and big business has embraced it with an eye to gaining control of it. It has now largely succeeded in that goal. So now what?

@MatejLach hello, I tried a quick search but did not find the information.

Did they communicate publicly?

@DaD I found this: , which contains the exact same phrases @MatejLach cites in the top post.

It doesn't seen too publicized though.
The cited E-mail is actually worth reading in its entirety: I learned a lot of stuff.

@DaD @MatejLach

@MatejLach dang, this is terrible. they're really taking advantage of other people here in establishing and maintaining a large software ecosystem...

@FimbulK It's not easy to fork and maintain a project the size and complexity of Qt and would probably slow down the development of KDE itself, but I agree, at this point I don't see another option.

@MatejLach @FimbulK
>size and complexity of Qt

all the reason to abandon it entirely and devise a simpler ui toolkit
@wolf480pl @FimbulK @MatejLach oh right because software spoils if left on the counter overnight.

no, its definitely fine in the short term. free software is no stranger to people pulling out suddenly and without notice; surely with qt (with its advance notice) a third party (users, distro maintainers, etc) can maintain bugfixes for a while if absolutely need be. it isnt like qt project can legally change the licence of source code thats already out there: see

gtk and qt software more often than not just sucks regardless, so it's entirely a valid course of action (albeit a lengthy one) to gradually replace shitty software with better software, as well as write that better software with better gui tooling. people shouldnt be so afraid to try new and better-designed things

@wowaname @FimbulK @MatejLach
I don't think people who built an entire desktop environment on Qt, and added a ton of tightly integrated frameworks on top of that, would be the ones to agree that Qt sucks, let alone write a replacement that is smaller and simpler.

@wowaname @FimbulK @MatejLach
Haven't programmed in Qt, but AFAIK it's not just a GUI toolkit, it's an entire alternative stdlib for C++. You may even say it's a different language.

@wowaname @FimbulK @MatejLach
it's not like C++ stdlib is much better.
It's not idiomatic, inconsistent, and still lacks things that you'd expect in an stdlib

@wolf480pl @FimbulK @MatejLach c and cxx are shit languages for general-purpose programming, who would have thought

@wowaname @FimbulK @MatejLach
what is a good language for GUI programming anyway?

C and CXX are too low-level and their stdlib isn't rich enough.

Python, Ruby and JS are slow, and dynamic typing makes it hard to keep track of things once your code gets big.

C# support on Linux is still 2nd class.

Go doesn't have good bindings.

What's left?
Rust? Java? Vala? Haskell?

@wolf480pl @FimbulK @MatejLach rust is for systems programming too

i didnt say the ideal solution even existed yet, everyone acts like they have to choose between mediocre options. again, i didnt say this path would be easy, but it's gonna be the most beneficial one down the road, instead of limiting ourselves to short-term shit solutions that will crash down on us not even a decade down the road
@wolf480pl @FimbulK @MatejLach kde built a castle on sand, really not my issue, as much as i want to defend them

@wowaname agreed, but my point was that they built bloat on top of bloat. If they had the manpower to write a new GUI toolkit and OS abstraction layer from scratch, I wouldn't expect it to be any smaller or simpler than Qt.

@wolf480pl @FimbulK @MatejLach fwiw i've been entertaining the idea of assembling a DE based off existing "unix-y" components that are integrated enough for a cohesive experience, but still hotswappable so that the death of one software project wont cause the DE's entire downfall

main reason to have a DE is to avoid configuring individual system components so i'm sure i'd be filling a niche here

@matejlach @fimbulk How much of the development of Qt is done by KDE?

Apparently the KDE Free Qt Foundation has an agreement with the qt company:

“The agreements ensure that the Qt will continue to be available as Free Software. Should The Qt Company discontinue the development of the Qt Free Edition under the required licenses, then the Foundation has the right to release Qt under a BSD-style license or under other open source licenses. The agreements stay valid in case of a buy-out, a merger or bankruptcy.”

If KDE already does a significant part of the development and if:

they exercise their right to release the code under a Open Source license;
a copyleft free software license is not excluded by the term “Open Source” then they would be in a better position, because:

The company will have no choice but to incorporate the copyleft software (they can’t hire more developers to cover what KDE does). But if they do use the copyleft software then they will have no choice but to keep releasing a fully libre version.

But if they indeed are in financial trouble and KDE manages to pull that maneuver the company could get even worse because now anything licensed under a proprietary license can’t include the copyleft contributions from KDE.

It’s very weird to think that a company that develops and licenses software(mainly to other companies) is already in financial trouble because of corona.

I hope it’s not too poorly written, I’m sleepy.

@MatejLach I wonder if KDE’s Free QT Foundation agreement would be triggered by them doing this:

@MatejLach the fear of this is one of the reasons I chose gnome over kde many many years ago...

@MatejLach : I'm SO disappointed, Qt was good software for developing multiplateform apps...

@MatejLach @erkin If they are in trouble for real, I wouldn't mind donating if they start a fundariser (many programs I like are Qt-based).
However, with clients they claim they have and price of $5000/year for each developer, it feels more like an excuse indeed.

I just hope KDE Foundation can resolve this with Qt Company in a peaceful way (crowdfunding or not), without having to fork Qt.

@MatejLach Damned, what alternatives are left for C++ cross plateform developers then :/

@themartylake I'd hope it gets forked by & eventually attracts the majority mindshare, at least as far as is concerned.

I can already see the blog post from the Qt Company saying how they're releasing everything under the GPL and suddenly don't need the money, just to maintain relevance.

@MatejLach I can empathize that it's hard to sell a crossplatform gui tech. every OS update makes it harder and more complex.

While it is a lot of work, right now everyone who uses QT should immediately switch to anything else.
So they're left with only a marginal fraction of their userbase.

@MatejLach Maybe, as an open, huge community, it would be good to consider options how to help the Qt devs (doing this kind of work full-time for a living) survive economically and still provide their work both "libre" and "gratis"?



I'd agree except I don't necessity believe the Qt Company is as cash strapped as they claim to be.

Their stock, (QTCOM), is actually up massively over the past month, as software companies are generally one of the least affected when it comes to the fallout from COVID-19.

Their revenue for last year is also massively up, (up 51.8%).

Most importantly, the FLOSS community contributes about half of the changes that make it to Qt.

Why should only the Qt Company benefit?


@MatejLach I wonder which problems they might see or anticipate at the moment, I only still see a big problem here in funding FLOSS at a point where professional developers (that need to earn a living this way) are involved. Knowing this is funded by the same company selling proprietary licenses to proprietary customers is pretty painful - FLOSS financially depending upon non-free revenue? That's odd.

@z428 I agree. FLOSS sustainability is a problem that needs serious solutions. Maybe a "Silver"/"Gold"/"Platinum" etc. sponsorship model as employed by the likes of could work.

I'd imagine there's commercial customers that are concerned about this, since FLOSS is a major testing ground for new Qt features before they make it to the LTS releases commercial businesses tend to use.

I'd like this to be funded entirely by the community, but that's probably a much longer-term goal.

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