MAR
31
2003

George Staikos: A Quick Cost Analysis of Qt vs GTK

Last week, CORBA-lover Michael Meeks released some slides that caused something of a stir amongst some in the KDE community. In his slide, Michael Meeks attempted to make the case for GNOME as the only viable desktop on Unix by directing the heat of his argument at the cost of Trolltech's Qt -- the wonderful cross-platform toolkit on which KDE is based -- for proprietary development. Rising up to the challenge, George Staikos has written a nice article that compares the cost of Qt vs GTK in the real world.

George successfully makes his case independent of the specifics, but there are few things in particular about Michael's slide that bother me. For one, Michael seems to be making a skewed comparison of GNOME to Qt as opposed to comparing GNOME/GTK to KDE/Qt. If comparing KDE to GNOME, then certainly two of the three points in favour of GNOME count for KDE.

Other than the points George makes in Qt's favour (check out the dirt on the new tab widget!), and the fact that KDE more or less maintains a copy of Qt in CVS, KDE has a very open development model, and I would even argue that in many ways KDE development is more open and accommodating to contributors than the GNOME development model which is heavily influenced by the commercial powers behind the GNOME Foundation. Personally, I have also seen a lot of whining about how closely-controlled (by Red Hat) GTK development is. And, of course, the ABI/API stability Michael claims for GNOME certainly applies just as equally to KDE/Qt.

Another thing that puzzles me are the prices Michael quotes for proprietary Qt development. He is talking about proprietary development on Unix, and yet he quotes the prices for Qt on three platforms (Mac/Windows/X11) which is twice the price of Qt for X11 alone. And if he does that, he really ought to take into account the state of GTK on Windows and Mac (ports of which do indeed exist). But these quibbles are sort of besides the point, since indeed Qt does cost something for proprietary development whereas GTK is gratis up front.

So, by all means, read George's article carefully, then tell us what you think about this whole matter. Have you used Qt for free or proprietary development? If so, what have been your experiences?

Comments

Then you explain me what Mr Magoo, goosnargh and anonymous *really* meant. If what they said don't imply that they don't want cooporation, but not that they *do* want cooporation either, then what is it?


By FooBar at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

And just to clarify: that was a QUESTION, not a troll. A question that I want an answer on.


By FooBar at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

Fine, you don't get it after 3 years? Banning...

Ryan? Yep, I have my eye on you too.


By Navindra Umanee at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

Who are you? I make it clear who I am here and I'm beginning to think anonymous posting here is becoming a problem. I don't have time to spend all day here but it looks like you do. I Lead the development of Quanta. Tell me it doesn't rock, and while you're at it show me correspsonging apps with less than 10 open bugs in their Bugzilla, a custom dialog building application to go with it and a WYSIWYG part in CVS under active development that you can show me a working demo of. 'nuff said!

It's really offensive for people to make statements under the guise of being any kind of a friend to what a site is dedicated to (regardless of what that is) when they are plainly looking to attack it and, in the tradition of all great prevaricators, pretending to be someone they're not in a meager attempt to validate their assault. That's juvenile behavior! Here's a clue... let mom and dad use the computer to check their email, do your homework and grow up!

I find it difficult to believe anyone would be sophmoric enough to imagine such a thin facade would fool anyone. You have my credentials. Until you can show your credentials don't expect that I consider your further rants worth responding to.


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/01 - 6:00am

So what, i post an occasional troll. And i like to read the feedback i get on it though dot.kde.org and not 1000 times in my inbox.

And this troll wasn't that trolling, cauz _if_ the gnome people _would_ write a fully freesoftware stand in for Qt:
> they'll have something usefull to do that eventually will stop them wining!

So.

Take a laugh man! Smoke some!


By Anonymous Cowar... at Wed, 2003/04/02 - 6:00am

If a person likes GNOME, use GNOME. If a person likes KDE, use KDE. Sheeeez, lighten up people. You aren't going to convert anyone over to your side by telling them how stupid they are for not using what you THINK is best. You might give SPECIFIC examples of why you think your preference works better than theirs. If you're as good as you say you are, then you shouldn't have a bit of trouble showing them the errors of their ways.


By LOfromMO at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

The license problem Gnome developers see with Qt is that it isn't covered by the LGPL. The fact that people can build commercial applications on top of Gnome without paying anybody gives it a big advantage. In fact, if Qt were covered by the LGPL, it probably would have taken over because technically, it used to be superior for many years.


By anon at Fri, 2003/12/12 - 6:00am

> The license problem Gnome developers see with Qt is that it isn't covered by the LGPL.

Not all Gnome developers. It would be interesting to know what share does it for this reason.


By Anonymous at Fri, 2003/12/12 - 6:00am

From a software engineers perspecive I really like QT, I like its programming model and its clean elegant APIs. And as a user I much prefer to use KDE to GNOME.

But I have a problem with QT. Not a big problem today, in fact I agree with George Staikos positive assessment of QT cost/benefits, but the inklings of a future problem in the making. If KDE ever becomes the defacto GUI platform, especially on the corporate desktop, will Trolltech then not have as much leverage over commercial developers as Microsoft does now, with all the attendant abuses we have come to expect from this position of strength.

All this cost benefit analysis is just so much fluff, saying one platform is 10% better or worse. The bigger question is, could Trolltech become the next Microsoft? If KDE ever takes off, especially on the corporate desktop then I think it can. Its control of core developer APIs would give it huge influence, along with a huge future revenue stream, placing it in a similar initial position that Microsoft found itself in with the control of the DOS APIs in the 1980s. This future Trolltech would be a very different company from the one we know today.

A more pertinent question is not asking how much a commercial license costs today but what it could cost, once large scale developer lock in occurs on the QT platform several years from now.


By David O'Connell at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

Please don't overestimate a GUI toolkit's influence and power nowadays. In fact Trolltech operates in a niche market (the Trolls have to be very flexible and to take innovative approaches to be successful..., hence the GPL'd version of Qt)

I don't even want to know how many GUI's are available on the w32 and the Unix platform (interoperable or not) available 3 years after the year 2000. Even if somebody somehow finds a way to gain revenue from Linux and OpenSource (I really doubt it), you still can not turn back time. O.k.... 20 years ago a GUI toolkit might have been a key technology for a profitable future.

If you want to built a basis for a Microsoft-like monopoly-future in the IT-business in 2003: You must become a key-holder of a _key-technology_...(hey: it's not a GUI-toolkit... yes, really not a damn GUI toolkit).

Problem/good thing: Even the Microsoft guys are not sure about future key technologies at the moment, so the game is still open


By thomas at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

But QT is now more than a GUI toolkit, it's really becoming an application developer API. Its potential for influence and control is large.


By David O'Connell at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

forgive my ignorance, but I would have thought for KDE programming you were using kdelibs, not QT, the fact that KDE itslf is QT based should not be an issue since it is licenced as GPL. So the cost of QT should be irrelevant, if you want to develop for kde, now and in 5 years down the line.
Ren


By renato at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

My understanding is that a commercial application coding to kdelibs would still require a commercial license to Trolltech as kdelibs is linked to QT and hence indirectly so is the commercial application


By David O'Connell at Tue, 2003/04/01 - 6:00am

No, commercial applications are allowed under the GPL. If a software developer wants to charge for an application, they are allowed to without paying Trolltech a cent as long as the application is released under the GPL. Therefore, nothing stops a commercial vendor from selling KDE-based software without going through Trolltech first.


By Anonymous at Wed, 2003/04/02 - 6:00am

Let me rephrase - Coding to the KDElibs and NOT making your application GPL would require a Trolltech license which I think was the gist of the conversation.


By David O'Connell at Wed, 2003/04/02 - 6:00am

No. Coding to kdelibs and not making your application free software or open souce software would require a commercial Qt license.

You can make your application BSD, MIT, Artistic, LGPL and several other licenses without a need for a commercial license.


By Roberto Alsina at Wed, 2003/04/02 - 6:00am

You sir, are splitting hairs.


By Re: What will t... at Wed, 2003/04/02 - 6:00am

If the difference between GPL and LGPL were negligible, then the whole argument would be splitting hairs in the first place, wouldn't it?

The post I replied to was factually wrong. Mi response corrected it. Live with it.


By Roberto Alsina at Wed, 2003/04/02 - 6:00am

It is clear what he is trying to say. Just correct him, then reply to him. The fact is, sometimes GPL is *NOT* a good idea because it is designed for you to make money off the services. Now if I want to sell a download manager for example, the GPL pretty much makes sure I cannot do that, because the guy who buys it can legally give away the binary to his friends. The GPL does not allow you to impose an extra restriction like 'you are not allowed to redistribute the binary'

So non-community licensed software using the GPL Trolltech license is not a good idea. LGPL allows you to develop an app and license it in any way you want, but you must give back any changes you make to the libraries you might be linking to. Therefore is is more compatible with non-community licensd software than the GPL.

PS. you can make your corrections if I made any errors, but I think you get the gist of my argument.


By Maynard at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

------
[The GPL] is designed for you to make money off the services.
------

The GPL is perfectly fine for non-nagware shareware, too.
And for custom software, since your client doesn't want to redistribute it anyway.

And, again, Qt doesn't force you to license under the GPL! Get it? I said that clearly already two posts earlier. QT DOESN'T FORCE YOU TO USE THE GPL! YOU CAN
USE OTHER LICENSES! OTHER LICENSES THAT ARE NOT THE GPL! DIFFERENT ONES!

What Qt forces you is to create open software. Unless you want to pay. That is about it.


By Roberto Alsina at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

Exactly what I meant. The point is now that if someone does NOT want to make their software open-source, or rather, does not want to make a decision NOW as whether to use GPL or a closed source license, he has to buy a license or defer develpment. They may not want to pay if they are going to use it for open-source software, so they rather go to using an LGPL toolkit.

[quote]
And, again, Qt doesn't force you to license under the GPL! Get it? I said that clearly already two posts earlier. QT DOESN'T FORCE YOU TO USE THE GPL! YOU CAN
USE OTHER LICENSES! OTHER LICENSES THAT ARE NOT THE GPL! DIFFERENT ONES!
[/quote]

check my post, I thought I tried very hard to say, 'community licensed' instead of identifying any license in particular. That Qt doesn't force you to use GPL I understand very much thank you.


By Maynard at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

Quit beating around the bush Maynard and say what you mean:

"Qt is bad because it doesn't allow poor proprietary developers to create third party software for Free and Open Systems."

If that is your position then fine, but please do not ascribe any noble belief to it. This position does not help Free and Open Systems. The fact is that KDE and Qt provide a complete and Free (both beer and libre) platform for anyone to build Free and Open software. Your only gripe is on behalf of extremely *poor* proprietary developers without any capital.

The FSF regards Trolltech and Qt to be one of the best success stories for the community. The FSF encourages GPL'd libraries. So, in the end all your griping is your problem because the community doesn't really care much for the poor proprietary developers anyways.


By anon at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

Just because you are a proprietary developer doesn't mean you deserve to be gouged in the future by the toolkit owner once you are locked in. The network effect that benefited both Microsoft and also IBM in the 70's seems to be a problem particular to the IT industry and could well happen again if KDE/QT becomes a defacto developer platform.

The KDE/QT foundation protects open source but a successful KDE / Linux platform if it is to take off must provide a fair platform for both open and closed source developers, otherwise we are just repeating the lock in problem that happened on Windows.


By David O'Connell at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

Whaa?? That is the entire point of proprietary software man! To gouge the customer once he get's locked in! The same is true of Visual Studio and the same is true of MacOSX and the same is true of every other piece of proprietary software around. How can you sit there and complain about proprietary developers getting proprietarily locked in? Pot please meet the kettle. Holy Shit the lengths that people will go to assail Qt is really unbelievable!


By anon at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

----
check my post, I thought I tried very hard to say, 'community licensed' instead of identifying any license in particular.
----

Except here:

-----
the GPL pretty much makes sure I cannot do that, because the guy who buys it can legally give away the binary to his friends. The GPL does not allow you to impose an extra restriction like 'you are not allowed to redistribute the binary'
------

And here

-----
So non-community licensed software using the GPL Trolltech license is not a good idea.
-----

Because Qt is also available under other licenses, like the QPL. You can code programs that use Qt, and release them under some licenses incompatible with the GPL because of that. So, even if your license makes using a GLPd Qt a bad idea, it may not make using Qt a bad idea.


By Roberto Alsina at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

But, at this point, purchasing a commercial QT licence do you get support from Trolltech even on kdelibs? (otherwise you are paying on something you do not recieve support on)
Ren


By renato at Sat, 2003/04/05 - 6:00am

---quote
"Qt is bad because it doesn't allow poor proprietary developers to create third party software for Free and Open Systems."
---quote

It's interesting that the word "poor" comes up here.

---quote
Just because you are a proprietary developer doesn't mean you deserve to be gouged in the future by the toolkit owner once you are locked in. The network effect that benefited both Microsoft and also IBM in the 70's seems to be a problem particular to the IT industry and could well happen again if KDE/QT becomes a defacto developer platform.
---quote

There is still a certain level of paranoia hovering over the IT industry because of what these mega-corporations did. This is especially true when a piece of software becomes an integral part of the operating system.

As a system gets more and better apps it becomes much more valuble. This is true even when the apps are third party. Windows keeps a lot of its market because some people want a system that is compatible with a lot of software.

Unfortunately, the "poor" app developers don't see much of these profits. They soon feel disgusted and let down as they see the company they helped to build turn into a monster.

For this reason, it has become imperative that the licensing of all core software and the motives of its owners be place under extreme scrutiny.


By K Smith at Thu, 2007/06/28 - 5:00am

When I see how companies seems to be rallying around GTK, and their reasons for doing so, I think tey might lend credibility to the view that the toolkit is important. Just as the OS is important.

For Linux to come out of the hobby OS level to the real business level, it has to attract commercial as in proprietary development. No need to argue that. Imagine if Corel released a native Linux version of Wordperfect Office. They could use Qt and pay licenses, but if they ever sold enough, or gained enough market power, Trolltech could jack up prices of their toolkit to maximise their profits.

If Qt became preferred, they would have market power. There is absolutely no need for us to accept a potential problem is there.


By Maynard at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

Companies are not rallying around GTK. The only companies that are doing so are losing money out the ears. The truth is that Qt is gaining market share all over the place with the likes of IBM, Adobe and many others. This despite this pernicious myth that GTK is favored by business which it is _not_! Companies that are interested in third party proprietary development want a sure and strong company, aka Trolltech, that will support the tools and provide documentation. It can be argued that GTK is more widely used among free software programmers, but make no mistake that Qt is the champion for third party software developers.

"If Qt became preferred, they would have market power. There is absolutely no need for us to accept a potential problem is there."

Qt is already preferred. They are gaining market power all over the place. What I really find funny is all the gnome folks siting Trolltech as a potential problem, but look the other way when one of your leaders is proposing to put Mono in the some of the core desktop of gnome. I mean, MS is a far scarier company than Trolltech by infinite orders of magnitude.


By anon at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

Well I tend to agree with you. I think QT is gaining market share. I also think it is a better toolkit then GTK from a technical perspective but Maynard is right. QT will be a problem, a future problem.

Companies are short term creatures. IBM asked Microsoft a long time ago to produce DOS without thinking through the long term implications. It gave Microsoft ownership of developer APIs and allowed them to own the developer. Microsoft was able to leverage that powerful lock to great effect, for the next 20 years.

If KDE reaches a critical mass and I think that might be soon then Trolltech will own the corporate developer especially, though of course it will be years before it will become obvious. It took years for IBM to realise the mistake it made.

I find myself in the position of favouring the look and feel of KDE as a user, appreciating the QT toolkit as a developer, but also feel that Trolltech is in a very powerful position if KDE/ Linux takes off. A position it could and probably will abuse if KDE ever was to become the defacto desktop.

However I also think the Mono project is madness itself, giving credibility to Microsofts APIs, but forever lagging the implementation of them much as Wine does and thus always been seen as an inferior implementation. Crazy.


By David O'Connell at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

David, I can see you are truly struggling with this. Yes, Qt plays by proprietary rools when used by proprietary developers. This is not a problem and will in know way harm our Free desktop. Trolltech will not own any corporate developer because if they try then those companies will either port or they will reimplement Qt. In the end this doesn't really matter because third party proprietary client software will not be long for this world on the Linux desktop. It just is not going to happen. And that leaves proprietary software with only a small niche which really won't be of concern since who cares if TT controls a small niche. Really, I don't think you should be worrying so much about this since Trolltech is a wonderful Free Software company and the potential for abuse is really very small and would likely be swiftly and convincingly rectified by the community. It's mountains out of mole hills here.


By anon at Thu, 2003/04/03 - 6:00am

I am always suspicious of people who fly the flag too strongly either way, both QT or GTK. Struggling is a term that is slightly derogative, no doubt deliberate, to describe my position on QT.

However I don't think that TT, should KDE become a defacto platform, will be willing to control just a small niche, that is a purveyor of widgets. They would use there key position in the software stack, much as Microsoft has done, to expand both up into KDE functionality as well as large scale application development, with "additions" eventually coming under all sort of licences ranging from GPL to propriety that will be hard to unpick.

You mention that companies might port or re-implement QT if Trolltech ever got abusive. I don't believe history bears that out on the Windows platform. Despite the existence of other sometimes superior toolkits and development platforms for Windows, once lock in occured those other vendors led a marginal existence. Remember back in the mid 90s how the feeling was that despite Borlands some would say superiour C++ builder environment, most corporates went with the "official" MS studio / MFC /ATL, development environment. The feeling was that becuase Microsoft owned the APIs their tools would be first to benefit. Generally everything felt more cohesive because one vendor owned everything.

Re-implementing QT (maybe under LGPL or BSD) is already reaching the point where it getting too large and would take several years to do so. By the time it was done, the official TT version would have moved on and latest KDE would then be using its new features, which of course commercial developers if they where also using kdelibs (in all likelyhood) would also need to track. Further Trolltech employs key KDE developers who would likely wish to track and use the latest QT features.

Let me quote Erick Eng from Trolltech in an interview dot.kde.org a while back

"So, as soon as we felt that we could outrun anyone trying to make a hostile fork, we switched to using the GPL"

Summary:

- Porting - History hasn't born that out.
- Forking / Reimplementing - Not a chance anymore, its too late.

Predictions:

1) It's probably too late for GNOME despite the backing of the largest distributor (Red Hat). In some ways KDE /QT has rightly won. It really is a better than GNOME /GTK in terms of usability and certainly as a developer platform. but the feeling is "Hey, lets not worry about TrollTech, they are some pretty nice guys anyway and all this talk about them abusing their position is just conspiracy theories."

2) KDE / QT become the defacto user platform in Linux.

3) Eventually the economics of open source mean some day KDE /Linux become the defacto desktop and supplants Windows to a large extent, though this might be a some time.

4) Honeymoon period. Cheap deployment of Linux / KDE everywhere. Third party developers can compete without looking over there shoulder, wondering when Microsoft was going use its position to crush them. Corporate application managers delighted, though get an initial suprise they need to cough up licenses fees for this thing that was supposedly free / cheap. No matter, everybody else is moving to Linux, and the license costs aren't all that bad.

4) Trolltech expands, nice steady and rapidly growing income stream from commercial developers. Starts to employ armies of product managers, business analysts and people who basically don't give a fig about Trolltech open source past. They start figuring a way of leveraging the market network effect that is beginning to happen. License costs start to creep up, new and "innovative" license conditions for commercial developers. Non GPL and "fuzzy" open source licenses start to be implemented, e.g MS shared source, all the way to full proprietary "add ons" Heck, Microsoft when they see which way the wind is blowing might see TT has the only viable way to make proper money in Linux as opposed to all those shaky business plans that generate revenue from services. Use some of their spare $40 billion cash to jump ship with a very generous buy out of Trolltech.

5) A feeling pervades that Trolltech is now leveraging its position to full extent, and using it much as Microsoft has done in the past to compete with its own third party developers unfairly. Options like GTK / GNOME have been semi abandoned long ago and do not provide the the full feature required by todays modern developer. Lots of grumbling but nowhere to go.

It would be interesting to see Trolltech floated on a public exchange. As it is privately held we cannot get a open market viewpoint on the potential value of its position. I would put my money where my mouth is. I would love to buy into it as I believe it is in a very strong position. Probably the only company that has a significant income stream should Linux take off.


By David O'Connell at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

Ok if you are splitting hairs.

Companies like SUN who are putting a lot of investment into Linux for the desktop, not just using some toolkit for some other reason.

Redhat uses GTK and its about the only Linux company to make a profit. Eclipse is released using GTK and Motif. SUN seems to be supporting the GTK-isation of Openoffice, or does not seem opposed to it. Ximian is GTK-ising Openoffice. HP is doing deals with Redhat which will probably bring GTK to the fore. The main point is with GTK that uncertainty is NOT there. With Qt it is.

A question, is it possible to fork Qt. I honestly do not know or have an opinion on that one here. Is Qt itself GPL, or is software produced under it using the free edition necesarily GPL. I get the feeling that the library itself may not be free, as in you cannot change it if you wanted. But this last part I DO NOT KNOW AT ALL, please do not take me wrong here.


By Maynard at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

I am not splitting hairs. You are grasping at straws.

SUN is wallowing in red ink and have yet to do anything of interest on the Linux Desktop. RedHat is another company that can't make a profit and they are supporting KDE too as well as trying desperately to nullify the differences with KDE. Eclipse does not use GTK it uses SWT. Claiming that this is helpful to GTK is really stretching as I can get the same thing by using Geramik. Ximian (another company in the financial pit) is integrating some things with OO, but so what it looks minimal and it is not GTK-ising OO.

"The main point is with GTK that uncertainty is NOT there. With Qt it is."

LOL

Fear. UNCERTAINTY. Doubt. Now please don't claim you aren't spreading FUD, because you've just admitted it. You damn GNOME fanboys should just leave dot.kde.org and go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under. NO UNCERTAINTY EXISTS except the crap you and the Michael Meeks and Miguel and Mike Hearn and Soup and Stof and whoever else are trying to spread! You people. If you are all so damned, 'uncertain' then why don't you go and talk to Trolltech or how about talking to all the companies that are THRILLED with Qt ?? Oh yah, because that wouldn't help your goal of spreading FUD and you might have to grow up and admit you are full of #&$#!

"A question, is it possible to fork Qt."

Of course. Why on earth would you think it is not possible? In fact the cygwin folks are working on a small fork right now.

"I get the feeling that the library itself may not be free, as in you cannot change it if you wanted."

Of course it is Free. What is so complicated? Qt is released under a many different licenses. You can use whatever license you wish.


By anon at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

Actually I always make it a point whenever I install Linux to install BOTH KDE and GNOME. So I am a fanboy of both if you will.

I currently run BOTH Redhat and Mandrake too.

What I am saying, and what you are failing(refusing, stubbornly resisting) to do is to grasp what I mean by uncertainty.

The LGPL is compatible with more licenses than the GPL IIRC. Qt seems to have problems with SISSL the last time I checked.

LGPL enables both opensource and non-opensource development without adding an extra layer of complexity.

If today, I decided to start a project to make an app with Qt, I would have to decide NOW whether it is going to be licensed opensource or closedsource. That may not always be appropriate for projects that start off as hobby projects and then might turn out to be of value such that I may want to make some money off them.

Actually, those(Redhat Sun) are some of the biggest Linux vendors there are, and Redhat probably the biggest on the software side and not too many people are doing much better. If they can't make it, then probably no one else will.

If you are of the opinion that closedsource is BAD, EVIL then there is no changing you. If you think that if I decide to make a closedsource program then I should pay then that is your opinion. If you think that closedsource developers should be at the mercy of a toolkit vendor then so be it. Closed source vendors attract attention to Linux and help improve it. I am not against closedsource. I am against giving someone the power to be able to control a platform.

check out these screenshots. I see GTK there.

http://pobox.com/~hp/eclipse-shots/eclipse-metacity.png
http://pobox.com/~hp/eclipse-shots/eclipse-metacity-compare.png
http://pobox.com/~hp/eclipse-shots/eclipse-templates.png

This is an IBM sponsored project by the way.

And by the way, where I come from, people are born, they do not come up from under rocks. And where I come from it also shows a lot of maturity to call people fanboys and tell people that they are full of #&$#, as it does to rudely answer questions asked honestly.


By Maynard at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

> check out these screenshots. I see GTK there.

I see a proprietary win-copy-widge there packed in themed metacity windows. That's exactly the same like claiming Mozilla and Star/OpenOffice and now Java Swing are GTK based. Oh, and btw, they really aren't.


By Datschge at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

Yes it is possible to fork QT. However the fork would only support open source development. It would not support developers who wanted to keep their source closed. In effect a KDE built on top of a forked QT would not be able to support commercial development which for KDE to be viable and a mainstream platform would need to do so.

Its slightly ironic as forking is one of the basic rights that the GPL gives. however due to its position within KDE, KDE could never fork QT significantly as it would no longer be able to support commercial KDE development. KDE is tied to Trolltech QT, no matter which direction Trolltech decide to push QT.


By David O'Connell at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

"In effect a KDE built on top of a forked QT would not be able to support commercial development which for KDE to be viable and a mainstream platform would need to do so."

Get it through your thick skull, Qt (both the Open Source version[s] and the proprietary version, support commercial development! This is a pervasive meme that was created by MS and here you are repeating it.


By anon at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

"Qt (both the Open Source version[s] and the proprietary version, support commercial development!"

That's not what he is being saying. A forked open source version of QT wouldn't be able to support closed source commercial development. Ask Trolltech, before you spout off, nothing to do with Microsoft "memes".


By sickofidiots at Sun, 2003/04/06 - 6:00am

Clearly you haven't read the post you are replying to. Look in particular at the quoted text:

"In effect a KDE built on top of a forked QT would not be able to support commercial development which for KDE to be viable and a mainstream platform would need to do so."

Which is clearly wrong as the previous poster pointed out.


By Anonymous at Sun, 2003/04/06 - 6:00am

Anyone who claims a commercial application can be GPL is insane.

How exactly do I make money selling a GPL'd application?

While it's true you _can_ sell it, you'll only sell 1 or 2 copies. After that other companies will be reselling your stuff or giving it away for free. With GPL you can not limit redistribution. That is the problem for commercial applications.

I have no problems with my software being open-source, or even GPL-like, but there is no way I can allow someone to resell my product, or only buy only copy then use it with 100000 users. Then I don't make any money and my company goes under. GPL works if you're selling services, but not if you make your money selling software.


By Grasis at Tue, 2003/04/08 - 5:00am

That occured to me too. Another thing that worries me is that the licensing issue is scaring away other 3rd party tools from targetting KDE as a platform. For example, wxWindows doesn't target it, and neither does Eclipse. They all target GTK because it's LGPLness is thought to be safe.

That puts me in an awkward position. I'd like to use something nice like QT, or even just some minor subset so I could use one clean API to write multi-platform applications without having to pay a "toll" to use the best Linux DE. It would be nice to be able to use a more liberal license (e.g. BSD) and target KDE without it being "polluted" by QT.

It would be nice if KDE could define some minimal, KDE-only subset under a LGPL (or more liberal) license so things like wxWindows and Eclipse could target it for people who wanted to. That way it wouldn't threaten Trolltech much, and if someone wanted to go all full-blown QT with all its features and support they could still get it within some $ from Trolltech.


By Anonymous at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

"It would be nice if KDE could define some minimal, KDE-only subset under a LGPL (or more liberal) license so things like wxWindows and Eclipse could target it for people who wanted to. "

How is this for a subset: the kdelibs is LGPL. That's right, the core libraries of KDE are already and have been LGPL. wxWindows and Eclipse can target them all they want just as they can target whatever they like.


By anon at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

It would be interesting to do a code analysis on KDE and see which classes / APIs in QT are being used. I suspect like almost everything in life it would follow the 80/20 rule and 80 percent of KDEs usage of QT would require a re-implementation of only 20 percent of QT. That would significantly reduce the time to re-implement a LGPL QT and make it more manageable to catch up with the current QT. One problem is Trolltech employs key KDE architects. Would they be tempted to ensure that KDE is locked into the latest Trolltech QT? There could be a conflict of interest here if a LGPL implementation was attempted.

I have quoted Eirik Eng, president of Trolltech in an earlier post on this thread as saying

"So, as soon as we felt that we could outrun anyone trying to make a hostile fork, we switched to using the GPL"

I tend to agree with him. Reimplementing QT under a different license is too late, it is now too big and a 80/20 analysis would probably be the only way of cutting the scope of the work.

I suspect Trolltech would consider an alternative implementation as hostile and a potential threat to their revenue stream as developers might prefer to code to KDE API based on a re-implemented LGPL one rather than dual licenced Trolltech one.

However I think it would be better that the open source community rather than a single company dictated the direction of such a key API. It would be fairer for KDE and other open source developers as well as commercial developers.


By David O'Connell at Fri, 2003/04/04 - 6:00am

"Another thing that worries me is that the licensing issue is scaring away other 3rd party tools from targetting KDE as a platform"

...and the licensing issue with Windows is even worse. That's why nobody is writing apps for Windows.


By michael at Tue, 2003/04/08 - 5:00am

its a rare thing around here.


By sadened kde user at Tue, 2003/04/01 - 6:00am

The facts about GTK+ and Qt are easy enough to decipher through Michael's market speak:

1. GTK+ is LGPL
2. Qt is GPL (for UNIX only)
3. Qt requires a commercial license for commercial development (and not just when releasing, but throughout the development)

The savings argument:
I buy the argument about cost savings might make up for the cost, but George does not actually prove that this is in fact the case. You can develop software using GTK+'s C++-bindings, which are actually quite nice, and quite well documented (http://www.gtkmm.org/gtkmm2/docs/). It might still be that Qt saves you money, I don't know, but it has not been proven at all. In addition, you might want to check out Mono, Java or perhaps Python if you want to save substantial amounts of money, and the argument about Qt being better, does not count for much on these platforms. It might be that Qt will save you money, but it has not been proven. The only proven _fact_ on the matter, is that Qt costs money for commercial development. Actually, one of the arguments used for free software against commercial software is just as usable here. With GTK+ you don't have to bother with licenses. You don't have to spend time making sure all of your developers have a commercial license. You don't have to pay for upgrades down the road. This is more complicated for Open Office, see below.

Commercial license from the start:
With Qt you have to decide up front wether the software will be GPL or commercial. You may not "change your mind" just before the release, or you are violating Trolltech's licenses. This might be ok for some, but others may like to see how the software actually turns out, before they make such a decision.

In addition, the Qt-license is basically useless if you are a hobbyist developer, that develops software on your spare time, without knowing wether you want to release it as Free Software, or commercial software.

The choice of Qt for OpenOffice would be a really strange one, since it is licensed under several licenses, some of which would certainly require a commercial license, and some which would not.
If a volunteer contributes to OpenOffice and agrees that his patches can be applied to Star Office as well, does this volunteer have to have a commercial license? Would SUN have to have a commercial license for every single volunteer that helps out?

I find it strange that there are lots of KDE-users that think the commercial GNOME-companies are evil (Ximian, Red Hat, SUN, etc.), but the commercial KDE/Qt-companies (Trolltech, SuSE, The Kompany, etc.) are not. I've never seen the same attitude from GNOME-users towards KDE.

As you might have guessed, I use GNOME. This does not mean that I hate KDE, in fact I think it is great. I love having the choice. If you like KDE, then more power to you. Just because you like KDE, does not mean that Qt is the right choice in all situations.


By Gaute Lindkvist at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

Wrong, you don't have to GPL your code. It can be almost any Open Source license. And you can re-license your own code as proprietary any time you want but if someone has already downloaded your GPL code then you can't take rights away.

SuSE, Trolltech and The Kompany none of these influence the core KDE development processes. KDE can even thumb its nose at Trolltech by overriding whatever Qt provides in kdelibs.


By anon at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

> the commercial KDE/Qt-companies (Trolltech, SuSE, The Kompany, etc.) are not. I've never seen the same attitude from GNOME-users towards KDE.

Please... GNOME developers have been calling TrollTech evil since 1997.


By lit at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

Er... no - they originally disliked the license of Qt, it had little or nothing to do with TrollTech. And nobody has cared for years now, except those who are involved with software that's either :

a) portable (ie toolkit must be free on all platforms) or
b) non-GPLd software


By Mike Hearn at Mon, 2003/03/31 - 6:00am

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