Nokia to license Qt under LGPL

Published Wednesday January 14th, 2009 | by

We have some exciting news we’d like to share with the free software community: Qt will be licensed under the terms of the LGPL version 2.1 with the upcoming Qt 4.5 release, in addition to our standard GPL and commercial licenses. We are also pleased to announce that we are going to open up the Qt source code repository and also make it easier for the community to contribute to Qt.

Adding LGPL version 2.1 will greatly increase adoption of Qt across Windows, Linux, embedded Linux, Mac, S60, Windows CE, maemo, and Ovi web services. Having a larger number of users, including Nokia developers, providing feedback and contributions will help Qt remain a cutting edge, robust UI and application framework.

Going forward we will speed up the development of Qt using additional resources and work in even closer cooperation with the free software community. We will do this in a number of ways, including:

  • Employing more Qt developers
  • Opening our source code repository
  • Reducing the overhead needed to make a submission, including no longer requiring copyright assignments.
  • Launching a new web infrastructure to support contributions later this year.

As we know that license versions are important for many in the free software community, we wanted to also take the opportunity to provide some highlights of our upcoming changes:

  • Versions of Qt prior to 4.5 are not impacted by this announcement
  • We will continue to support the GPL version 2 through the newly added LGPL version 2.1 license, as it allows for the automatic conversion to the GPL.
  • We will continue to release Qt under GPL 3

As a first step we have selected LGPL version 2.1 as this is the version of the LGPL that best fits our purposes and we are most comfortable with at this point in time. We will continue to evaluate the adoption, use and legal interpretation of LGPL version 3 by the community and may use this version of the LGPL for future releases.

Finally, we will open the Qt repositories and provide more information regarding how interested parties can contribute to Qt with the release of Qt 4.5, which is scheduled for March. Until then, if you have any questions, please feel free to post your questions below.

Sincerely,

Sebastian Nyström
Vice President, Qt Software

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Posted in KDE, News, Qt

70 comments to Nokia to license Qt under LGPL

Sergey B. says:

I am in shock…

Thorben says:

Wow, this is unexpected news, but it all sounds spectacular. Qt is such a great toolkit, and now people will be more interested in it than ever before. Exciting times…

Congratulations for this move :-)

Cheers!

Aekold says:

Why are you in shock? It’s a good news, it will make Qt much more popular. It appears to me that some companies avoiding Qt only because of license. But I hope Qt will bring enough money to Nokia with business-compatible free license…

girish says:

This is awesome news! Thank you very much.

Birdy says:

I’m in shock too. This was totally unexpected. And there isn’t even a press release – therefore I belive that this news it too good to be true. Maybe today is the first of April?
Anyway – as long as there is no Nokia press release, I’m in doubt…
… but I really really hope it’s true

Sergey B. says:

This is a good shock!!!
There is a “new of the year”

So as long as saying the communists – to pass!!! :)

Sohail says:

Oh my goodness. Great news.

I may not be able to sleep tonight.

java says:

Hi Sebastian,
There is currently no public source code repository for Qt Jambi. Will the planned opening of Trolltech’s source code repository include Qt Jambi’s source code repository?

naum says:

Good news. IMHO, Qt is the best framework. Good luck, guys!

Sergey B. says:

I have one question.
Will be available ORACLE database driver and other plugins in LGPL version, now available only in commerce version?

Alexandra says:

@java: Yes, Qt Jambi is included as part of the license change.

@Sergey: We are currently looking into the database drivers and will hopefully have an answer soon. Thank you for your patience. :)

Catalin says:

This is indeed great news. I think that it will hugely increase Qt’s usage in commercial applications.

Currently Visual Studio support (compiler and plugin) on Windows is available only in the commercial edition. Do you know if this will change? I’m especially interested in using Visual Studio to compile applications that will use the LGPL Qt 4.5 rather than the plugin. If this would be possible it should boost Qt’s usage on Windows even further as many Windows developers do not want to use MinGW.

The decision to open more to the community is very important and should have positive effects in the future too.

void says:

This is a great news! It will allow Qt to become even more popular. Good luck, guys!

Alexis Medina says:

That’s great! Another great announcement: First Qt-Creator as GPL IDE, now QT being LGPL. You guys are doing great!

Thanks

Tuxie says:

I’m speechless. This was a totally unexpected move! This is so awesome I’m having a hard time finding words for it! Thank you, Nokia! If it was still 2008, this would have been the best news of 2008. :)

Sergey B. says:

@void Qt GPL version support Visual Studio compillers since 4.3.2.

AlekSi says:

What a shock! Guys, you rock!

Thiago Macieira says:

@Catalin: the Visual Studio mkspec and compiler generators have been open source for a year and half, since Qt 4.3.2. The Visual Studio Integration is a plugin to VS and brings qmake support and integrates Designer into the suite. It’s not necessary for developing with Visual Studio, in any version. And it remains, for the moment, commercial-only (you should be using Qt Creator!)

What can I say? Congratulations to Nokia, this is a move I was expecting since years, and now I can foresee a LOT of companies moving to cross-platform and Qt.
Awesome and shocking news! Thank you guys :)

Zenwalker says:

This is a great news + plus a great gift to the FOSS community. Thanks goes to all.

I assume that the future all nokia sets will have good faster apps built on qt. And i also wish if nokia stops stupid winnie on their mobile and support linux.

espenr says:

See our fearless leader(s) explaining this on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsTIIQocSqs I personally recommend the HD version ;D

I think it’s excellent news, and as Thiago says in a later post – I think _all_ of dev here are happy about this.

Marco Borm says:

Very good news!
BUT FAQ “Qt’s commercial license agreement contains a restriction that prohibits customers from initially beginning development with the LGPL licensed version of Qt and then transitioning to a commercial version of Qt.”
I don’t think this is a good idea for customers AND Trolltech.
At first I don’t think this isn’t verifiable by Trolltech but even if, it also means that a company without much money or with a “I think we don’t need support” idea will choose LPGL. After that Trolltech don’t want them as customers forever? What if a company build a application using LGPL without problems and after years they need statically linking for a embedded device? So there are denied to buy a commercial license?

My idea would be a more modular pricing model. Additional Trolltech should offer commercial grade support to every user (LGPL or not) on a per request/bugfix base. For example this could be something like

LPG (dynamic linking) -> 0€
+ complete closed source -> xxx € per Platform
+ support request -> xxx € per request
+ priority bugfix -> xxx € per bugfix
+ x requests flat -> xxx € / year

This would be transparent, fair and I think gives more money to Trolltech.

Xizhi Zhu says:

I think it can draw the attention of more developers. To me, it’s a good news!

Achilleas Margaritis says:

That’s great! Qt is the best C++ toolkit out there, and it certainly deserves to be used more.

This is great news! I think adoption will go way up. I can also keep my fingers crossed that Apple might consider including Qt frameworks in future releases of Mac OS X. After all, they have other LGPL-licensed libraries on the system.

What about the Qt Solutions code? Some of the newer code is available under both commercial and open source licensing. Will the solutions gain open source licenses too?

Catalin says:

@Thiago Macieira: Thanks for the answer. Like I said I don’t really care about the VS Integration plugin, I care about being able to compile with Microsoft’s compiler. So you just gave me some extra good news since it seems I can do that.

However the website is still confusing about this as http://www.qtsoftware.com/developer/faqs/121 says “The C++ compilers from Microsoft, Intel and Borland are not supported by the tools in the GPL version.”. So I have an excuse for not knowing this before ;) .

Alexandra says:

@Geoff: Yes, the license change does include Qt Solutions.

AndyS says:

@Catalin: The faq has been fixed now, thanks for mentioning it :)

JRyland says:

Fantastic news :)

Today is a day to remember. This will totally change FOSS community forever. The 2 major toolkits on the Linux desktop will now be evaluated against each other for their technical merits, not on a comparison of their licenses. This opens all kinds of possibilities on desktop linux, particularly wild ideas thinking out loud like a merged Qt+GTK+ library as the basis for apps on Ubuntu so no need for a Ubuntu and Kubuntu and less confusion for new people to Linux, it will all perhaps become even more seamless than it is now which is pretty seamless already.

And most definitely more developers will be using Qt now after this. I expect this will mean more Windows and Mac apps will use Qt, and as a consequence it will be trivial to produce versions of these softwares for Linux and all 3 platforms that I think more software companies will do this. Right now there are some nice software across the 3 platforms like this using Qt, eg ones like VLC and VirtualBox, but at the moment its limited mainly to apps that are open source. I think that might begin to change with this license change.

And it’s so good to have a company like Nokia behind it to support the developers. Mad props to them and the Trolls / Qt Software Nokians, to Eirik and Haavard, congratulations and well done.

BTW, I think some of the website will need updating now, eg there are still pages like this which refer to why Qt is not LGPL:

http://www.qtsoftware.com/developer/faqs/194

Scorp1us says:

I am suspect of Sebastian. Since when do trolls wear suits, and get photographed in them? I think its a hoax!

Not really.

OMG!!!1!1!!!!

This is the most awesome news since Java was open-sourced. And way out of left field too! I was suspect that Nokia would take Qt away, not push it in this fantastic direction!

There are so many additional questions.. Like what about Qt Solutions, compiler support, etc?

I feel sorry for you sales team though. What’s going to happen to them?

Alexandra says:

@Marco: The solution you proposed would not work with our business model. We sell commercial licenses per developer which includes updates and full support for one year. For those developing their software using the LGPL there will be a support offering available which can be ordered at any time during the process.

Jeff Tranter says:

Yes, this is great news and should greatly accelerate the use of Qt, both on desktop and embedded platforms now that the cost of Qt for most people will be zero even for developing commercial applications.

At ICS, as Qt Software’s largest consulting partner we are very excited about the new opportunities this will bring. We have a whitepaper on our web site at http://www.ics.com/ that talks about the implications of Qt being available under the LGPL.

Orlando Karam says:

Great news ! Thank you guys.

I’m a university prof, and we didn’t use Qt in our classes due to licensing issues. Now they’ve gone away. Thanks !

This is great news. This was one of the only sticking points for me when I was working on certain things and wanted to allow/encourage commercial use of my code. Thanks guys! This is absolutely huge and means that it is going to be so much easier for me to justify using Qt for everything now.

ml says:

Thank-you Nokia, CEO, CTO, shareholders, everyone!

This changes everything. What a perfect time to be looking for a new UI library!

Marco Borm says:

@Alexandra:
I know your current business model, but this LGPL thing changes anything where this is based on. With LGPL and if you opening the source repository, as Trolltech announced, I get updates forever and for free, so that isn’t a point for licensing commercial.
What if one developer in a company has a commercial license and all the others using LGPL. All LGPL developers asking the commercial developer to send their support requests to Trolltech. You can forbid that, but I am sure without any effect.
So I don’t see how Trolltech can handle situation like this without changing the business model in a drastically way to get a WIN/WIN situation for anyone.
Trolltech has to reinvent itself now or it will die tomorrow.
Good luck!

Daniel de Kok says:

This is fantastic! Thank you Nokia/Qt Software!

Benjamin Sergeant says:

This is such a good news. For our commercial project using Qt was a dream. It works so well, in top of being a great C++ library with all sort of services, it has everything (build-system, localization, great documentation, cross-platform, cocoa based on OSX, real UNIX support…). It’s a no-brainer for me. I hope my company will make the right move.

Anonymous Coward says:

Fantastic news, I hope this will be good for you guys too!

bkyser says:

Will any of the snapshots or betas for Qt 4.5 be available under the LGPL prior to the final release version of 4.5?

Miro Kropacek says:

Alexandra,

do you have any information about Visual Studio integration product? Will you offer it for free or it’s still bundled with Qt Commercial? I don’t see any mention about it in FAQ.

Thanks in advance for the reaction.

qwerty says:

@Marco Borm: You seem to imply that Nokia needs to make money on Qt to keep the wheels turning :-) As long as Qt makes life good for Nokia on their phones, it seems like good enough reason to keep it around to me. So, why not give it out? It’s surely its going to get many commercial and open-source application on their phones..

Amazing news. Thank you Nokia!

Acenes says:

Great news thanks!

I have a full commercial license for windows now, but since it is not clear if visual studio integration will be available for LGPL-development, I currently dont know if I can make use of it for this primary development target.

Still it could be interesting to make my applications now also available for other platforms such as linux or mac os/x. Until now I couldn’t afford extra commercial licenses for those platforms because it was uncertain if there would be enough demand to justify the license cost.

Will we see new pricings now for commercial licenses, and will you stop now making a big secret about the cost and publish a price list?

Thiago Macieira says:

If you have the commercial version, you can make open source applications. It’s the other way around that’s not possible.

And, for the moment, the Visual Studio Integration remains commercial-only (as far as I know, at least). There have been no communications interally about changing that. In any case, you should evaluate using Qt Creator.

Acenes says:

No you got me wrong, I dont want to create open source versions of my commercial software. I think of selling it additionally as commercial application on mac or linux using the LGPL option, while continuing the commercial license on windows which is my primary development platform. Would that be ok or would I have to go completely LGPL then?

Qt Creator is very promising, but for the scale of development I am doing it lacks options for refactoring such as I have now with Visual Studio + Visual Assist X, plus the dependencies I have in a large set of exe’s and dll’s.

Martin says:

Potential issues with the use of LGPL v2.1 in this case:
“LGPL 2.1, Qt 4.5 and C++ templates” – http://lab.obsethryl.eu/content/lgpl-21-qt-45-and-c-templates

This has to be taken seriously or we are looking forward to 10 more years of split communities.
I hope QT/Nokia kan work with Eben Moglen, the Software Freedom Law Center, and the Gnome community regarding those issues.

java says:

@Alexandra: That’s wonderful Qt Jambi will be included in the license change but my question is about how open source developers access its source code when Qt’s repositories are opened.

Would you please clarify if the source code repository of Qt Jambi will be made publicly available?

Meaning in the new planned open repository, the Qt Jambi code would be made equally available as the code for Qt itself. Right now this is not the case. Thank you.

Alexandra says:

Sorry for the delay, I was in desperate need of sleep. ;)

@Miro: This is not clear yet, we are still looking into it.

@Acenes: You can do this as long as you are linking dynamically to the Qt libraries and meet the other preconditions of the LGPL.

Marius says:

@Martin: Legal has been made aware of the issue, and are working on an exception for the LGPL 2.1, to fully enable commercial development towards the LGPL library with all its templates and inline functions, as was the intention.

Thomas says:

Congratulations! This sounds great, but I am not sure I really understand how this is going to work.

If the requirements regarding copyright transferral is removed, and contributions are accepted in the repository, how is it possible to release this under a commercial license? You would need accept from all copyright holders to relicense the work OR keep the “commercial” version under the exact same licensing. Or are there plans to make exceptions in the LGPL license?

Jochen Schmitt says:

That are great news, In the past I was afrait about the merging of companies, becaus the result was, that the product of the company, which was bought, was going EOL.

Because, I have got a look on a trial version of Qt, I have the following question:

Will the diffences between the opensource and the commercial version – like Visual Studion support and database adapter for properiey dtabases like DB2 – still exist?

Mike says:

Great news!

I would also like to know what sort of in time frame there would be for an answer on the database driver issue mentioned above but my main question is about the Beta.

http://www.qtsoftware.com/developer/preview-qt-4.5

“The Qt 4.5 Beta is available under a special pre-release evaluation license, as well as under the GPL. ”

Would like to switch to QT immediately, don’t mind that 4.5 is still in Beta. Have a substantial non-toolkit specific code base and I don’t want to expose that code to ANY GPL obligations (which is why years ago I decided not to use QT).

Do I have to wait until the official release to avoid any and all GPL obligations or is the “special pre-release evaluation license” similar to LGPL?

Sylvain says:

… and what about people like me who bought Qt few months ago?

andybrice says:

Great news (I think)! Here is my analysis as a paying customer and Qt developer for the last 9 years:
http://successfulsoftware.net/2009/01/14/qt-to-be-available-for-free-under-lgpl/

I would like to see a definitive statement on the exact differences between the commercial and LGPL version, especially regarding:
-VS integration
-database drivers
-Qt solutions
Are all the widgets available in the LGPL version? IIRC they weren’t all available in the GPL version.

I also hope you can clarify the situation regarding LGPL 2.1 and templates/in-line code. After you get some sleep. ;0)

Thanks Nokia and all the Trolls.

Zolookas says:

I think it is impossible to have one toolkit like it is impossible to have only one distro, but since both toolkits will be licenced under LGPL now, i would like to see them share features/ideas, talk to each other and have some standarts. As a user, i want GTK+ and Qt applications to have the same functionality under Gnome and KDE (for example: look and feel, file open dialogs, ability to use drag and drop, which sometimes does not work). It would be great. But it seems that (sadly) toolkit developers have no interest in that (Qt will have a GTK style in 4.5, but there is no response from GTK+ developers) and don’t see anything happening soon.

Dmitry says:

Great news, thanks!

@Alexandra: unfortunately, there are many “custom builds” for windows expected. As I know, LGPL assumes that a program to be dynamically linked against QT. So, every developer will bring its own “build”. Do you plan to provide a “reference builds” (highly optimized, release/shared, with manifest)? BTW, this problem is missing under Linux – I just need to upgrade QT package.
Best regards,
Dmitry

Doug says:

I was curious if any of the Qt Labs code will be released under the LGPL ?

Specifically, with Jambi going LGPL (LGPL based on previous posts), I am hoping that the Qt Jambi Jython Bindings will go LGPL (http://labs.trolltech.com/page/Projects/QtJambi/jython)

Even better, Nokia, please buy out Riverbank Computing (http://www.riverbankcomputing.co.uk). They have Python bindings for C-based Python. Then you could make their code LGPL.
After all, you did release Python for S60, and it should be a cheaper acquisition than Trolltech.
What are you waiting for! :)

Thanks,
Doug

Thiago Macieira says:

@Thomas: while we will not require a copyright assignment from contributors, we will require a broad licensing, so we can include the contributed code in the commercial product. Also note that we will only accept contributions if they match our directions for Qt and if they pass our quality guidelines.

We will have more on this later: this is a very new subject and we’re still finding out how to accomplish it.

@Jochen and andy: our intention is to provide as much as possible in the opensource version of Qt (GPL and LGPL alike). Right now, the following parts of Qt are not available in the opensource version:

  • ActiveQt
  • 3 commercial database drivers (Oracle, Sybase and DB2)

We will probably make ActiveQt available soon. As for the database drivers, our legal department is reviewing the licenses of the client libraries we must link to, to see if we can release the code under the LGPL.

The Visual Studio Integration, like I said twice before, remains commercial-only. Please give Qt Creator a try instead.

@Alexandra:

Before I get my hopes up, would you mind clarifying your statement that Qt Solutions will be LGPLed? Are you going to LGPL all Qt Solutions or just the ones which are already GPLed?

It’d be very nice to have things like simple, easy-to-use ICO support and a ready-made property browser in some of the applications I’m considering writing.

Kenji says:

@Alexandra:

> Yes, Qt Jambi is included as part of the license change.

Does this mean LGPL will be applied to Qt Jambi 4.5 and later?

Thorben says:

@Kenji: How is that answer not clear?

Kenji says:

@Thorben

I would like to know the details of license change.

Marco Borm says:

@Sylvain “… and what about people like me who bought Qt few months ago?”
You’re posting this everywhere so an answer for you: I know this is annoying for you, but this is the risk of life. What if Nokia had increased the prices? I’m sure you hadn’t written “I bought months ago and save money, please let me pay the higher price.”
Additional you wrote you bought months ago. You have to regard that the LGPL thing needs additional some months, so you app/project couldn’t released before that.
In the end comparing to a LGPL user you are premium user with support now. Whatever this in fact means because my results with the support are, except the German devs., not very good.

Sylvain says:

… for example I would have appreciated a little note to thanks all paying customers to have supported Qt since now, and with the new license LGPL, they offer a new year of contract for all the actual Qt customers, or something like that…
I would be very glad to hear that because I spent my personal money for developing my personal software respecting strictly the licenses. I suppose I am the only one thinking that, and all in all, that’s good that I will save my money over year for the licenses.

don’t misunderstand me (and don’t forget the paying customers), I am happy of the new LGPL license.

Ian M says:

Why don’t you just use LGPLv3 (like OpenOffice.org, for example, has).

That would certainly help encourage other projects to move to it and thus deal with the issues of license proliferation.

It will also be much harder to get LGPL code from others included in Qt if it uses is a special Qt-only LGPL – others can take Qt code but Qt can’t take standard LGPL v2.1 code. Same issue with taking code from LGPL v3 projects – others can take your code, but you can’t take theirs. If you use LGPL v3+ only, that problem simply goes away.

Please also note that the LGPL v3 doesn’t have some bits that people objected to in the GPLv3 (e.g. anti-circumvention clause is not included).

Kenji says:

@Thorben

It seems taht no answer form Alexandra proves Qt Jambi will not be released for Qt 4.5 and later.

anonymous says:

@Kenji,

That is an ignorant comment. They are not answering you because they already did.

Commenting closed.