Nokia Acquiring Trolltech

Today, Nokia and Trolltech announced that Nokia will be purchasing Trolltech. Nokia will continue with Qt's dual license model, which was updated to GPL 3 only last week. In an open letter to KDE, the chief Trolls and Nokia VP asked for ideas and comments on improving their relationship with the open source community. Nokia will be applying to become a patron of KDE e.V. and the FreeQt foundation is being maintained to guarantee the continued freedom of the toolkit KDE depends upon. This change should help ensure both the continued longevity of Qt and KDE as well as give the platform a boost in industry, particularly in the consumer electronics industry.

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by Datschge (not verified)

That was a major WTF news to me. Ages ago I read the majority of Trolltech shares were owned by current and former employees, so I'm surprised at the reported easiness Nokia was able to get the majority of Trolltech's shares. Nokia has a long history of heavy pro software patent lobbying. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) lists several worrying points related to Nokia at

-Software Patents in Finnland: Between 1998 and 2003 the Finnish Patent Office (FiPO/FiPRH) did not follow the European Patent Office's (EPO) decisions to grant literal claims to information objects such as "computer program product, characterised by ...". In 2003 the FiPO suddenly rushed to grant such claims, although both the European Commission and the European Parliament had proposed not to allow them and the existing laws clearly forbid them. (...) Nokia owns about 70-80% of the finnish software patents at the EPO and is said to wield overwhelming influence on Finnland's politics. Nokia's patent department has been intensively lobbying for software patentability in Helsinki, Brussels and Strasburg.

-Nokia und Software-Patente: Tim Frain, head of Nokia's patent department, is a "permanent resident" of the European parliament and has used every opportunity to ask politicians in Brussels and in Finland to support the European Commission's software patentability directive. He is present at conferences everywhere. He argues that small companies badly need software patents because otherwise their ideas might be stolen by large companies.

-International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Software Patents: ICC's "Intellectual Property Committee", consisting of 240 corporate "IP professionals" from around the world, headed by Urho Ilmonen, Vice-President Legal of Nokia Mobile Phones Ltd, has vigorously defended the interests of the patent community in Europe. Their letters and statements are characterised by "strong belief" in the beneficiality of patents and disregard for the opinions not only of most ICC member companies but also of national member organisations such as the German Chamber of Commerce, which has pronounced itself against software patents and against the directive proposal.

Trolltech putting all version of Qt under GPL v3 is a good sign, but I sure hope they are aware of Nokia's activity in the patent area and put in their merger contract that such activity no longer happens at Nokia (likely wishful thinking, especially considering Trolltech doesn't bother to mention the issue of software patent once in their numerous merger related articles/letters/FAQs linked).

by Me (not verified)

KDE already in the shit and now QT going there. It was nice while it lasted, but now it's gone.


by christoph (not verified)

So what is your plan? Are you going back to Windows? GNOME? Sell your computer?

by djouallah mimoune (not verified)

hihiihihi, good point

by Iuri Fiedoruk (not verified)

I don't know about him, but forking Qt, removing all not-used features and building a very light desktop over it (think about not having kdelibs, just a bunch of qt programs) seems like a nice idea to me :)

I would call it QuanTum 95 and be happy ;)

by AS (not verified)

One and a half of the above.

by wtf123 (not verified)

This leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Particularly for people who are not paid for working on KDE. Who controlls the future of their toolkit and who benefits from testing, reporting bugs, writing applications...? That's quite important. KDE adds a lot of value to Qt. The fact that a single company is privileged in "chanalizing" this value might not be motivating.

BSD'ing and LGPL'ing would help.

Meesage from Eirik Chambe-Eng and Haavard Nord to the KDE Community;

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

by ano (not verified)

This news really sucks.

I can no longer depend on nokia for supporting the next gen linux desktop.

In few months all lead developers of QT will leave Nokia...

by Stephen (not verified)

now we are certainly going to have native DRM support for KDE 4.2!!!

by Richard Lionhard (not verified)

Google wasn't available?
They would at least let it be open source.

You guys sold out!!!

Hope your conscience eats you. Seriously! The whole open source world is watching and we will ridicule you once Nokia starts wrestling power and jobs away from you, one at a time..

Let's see if development still continues at this great pace, or will slow down. Wonder if this will even cost you programmers, that don't approve of this merger.

by Richard Dale (not verified)

Of course it is 'open source' - it is Free Software available under both the GPL2 and GPL3 licenses. If the Trolltech engineers didn't approve of the change I doubt very much if the takeover/merger would have gone ahead. In fact I'm certain it wouldn't have.

Anyway, what gives you the right to think you speak for 'the whole open source world' with this silly scare mongering?

by Richard Lionhard (not verified)

I'm not worried about Nokia taking any already developed software/ip away. That won't happen because of GPL.

I'm worried about

a) Nokia firing a big chunk of Qt developers (you know open source does not work for free either..)
b) Nokia essentially freezing development on the corporate side of Qt.
c) if you're wondering look to Novell and what SuSE turned into. Novell fired tons of employees from SuSE.

This will cause:
a) development to come to a screeching halt/slowing
b) Manpower being reduced which will make development come to a screeching halt.
c) newly developed technologies that aren't released yet be closed source
d) the open source Qt to fork and just become some hobbyist toy.

Just cause open source software is free, doesn't mean there aren't programmers working on these project full time. Those are usually employed by commercial enterprises, and they have to eat too. You cannot make existing code proprietory but you can effectively stop active development. In the computer world, code that isn't maintained/actively developed/improved, dies off. Remember the computer world is chasing a moving target!!

I hope in the end Nokia will be a good thing though...
Let's just hope.

by Richard Dale (not verified)

"a) Nokia firing a big chunk of Qt developers (you know open source does not work for free either..)"

Trolltech employ large numbers of the very best C++ programmers in the world and there is no way Nokia will just fire some of them as that would be just throwing money away.

"b) Nokia essentially freezing development on the corporate side of Qt."

Nokia doesn't just develop mobile phone software. The desktop side of Qt helps the development of the mobile version anyway as they are the same source. So it would make no sense to freeze development.

"c) if you're wondering look to Novell and what SuSE turned into. Novell fired tons of employees from SuSE."

I don't agree this is a comparable situation. It won't happen because Trolltech's engineers are very valuable for further development of Qt, and for possibly building a complete dual licensed mobile phone stack based on Qt.

by Max (not verified)

I agree with you.

I just hope we're both right.

Hopefully Nokia will pour more money into the KDE project. (E$ 10,000 for Patronage is not a whole lot of money to a big company. Heck it's a tax write off. I hope Nokia donates more money than that. THey should also pay for travel expenses and webcast keynote presentations by Aaron Seigo.)

by Chris H (not verified)

Congrats to Trolltech for making a product that was worthy of such a large purchase!

Congrats to the KDE community for testing (and, in some cases, fixing) such a great toolkit!

And, of course, congrats to the future -- only Good Things will come of this.

by Max (not verified)

"...large purchase!"

TrollTech bought for 155 Millons
MySQL bought for 1 Billion

by m. (not verified)


After all that bitterness maybe something realistic. Announcement like that was inevitable. TT was just a small fish. Some surprise is buyer. But all that badmouthing of Nokia is an overreaction. Not that they don't deserve it but ALL corporations are behaving like that. For all big names in IT world you could tell ugly stories.

About future: someone already wrote that. Nokia really needs crossplatform tool like Qt. With UMPCs, top boxes, more and more complicated smartphones demands of desktop and mobile world aren't so different. *If* Nokia will not put special effort to crippling desktop version of Qt + laying off several hackers working on KDE nothing should really change. Maybe Aaron will quit PR role and spend more time on coding :)

by Thomas (not verified)

Nokia will push Qtopia (if they're going to use it on some of their mobile devices), but at the same time stop any further development of Qt (to harm Google or others which started to built their apps on top of Qt). Trolltechs manpower will be directed towards Qtopia or other software projects inside Nokia and shifted away from Qt. Some of the core Qt developers will eventually start to feel sad about this direction at some point and leave the company.

Yeah, Nokia is great.. big company... big money.. and unbeatable instinct how to ruin peoples motivation and failing all over with forward-looking projects. Selling the usual devices and being aggressive at making contracts with providers. That's their job, that's what these guys are used to... and that's it.

by Anon (not verified)

"Nokia will push Qtopia (if they're going to use it on some of their mobile devices), but at the same time stop any further development of Qt (to harm Google or others which started to built their apps on top of Qt)."

This is some of the lamest speculation so far. Google has only a couple of apps using Qt and, quite frankly, they could probably stick with the already excellent Qt4.3 and not be fazed in the slightest. The damages your suggested move would cause to "others" (are you seriously suggesting that Nokia would deliberately piss off all Qt users indiscriminately, including the ones that are industry partners?) are so trivial they would probably be dwarfed by the meagre license fees they'd get from continuing to deliver a top-notch, cross-platform toolkit. They'd also annoy all the customers who don't want to have to re-write their apps for every platform they deploy on. Also, QTopia and stock Qt4 share a gigantic amount of code, so stopping development on Qt4 while developing QTopia would be quite a balancing act.

This kind of thoughtless pessimism and frankly bizarre dystopian imaginings are even more annoying than the Pollyanna-ish blind optimism.

by Thomas (not verified)

Your point of view is based on sound reasons. If there's one thing, Nokias management is _not_ capable of, than it's basing decisions on reason.

by Carsten (not verified)

Yeah ... sure ... because acting solely without reason is what makes a small producer of rubber boots a big tech company with Gigadollars of profit.

by Thomas (not verified)

no, don't take nowadays management for the past one some 50 years ago. The poeple being in the leader position now have good knowledge how to optimize sales and squeeze the maximal out of existing markets.

If they would have been the decision makers 50 years ago, Nokia would still be selling rubber boots, but probably with 40% market share... Still they would complain about prices for rubber boots falling by 35% in the last decade whereas production costs have gone up.

by Martin F. (not verified)

you're setting a strawman here...

by bero (not verified)

I don't think they will intentionally hurt Qt desktop versions - it doesn't make any sense (first of all, they develop desktop applications - second, they'll want to push Qt as a standard, and you don't do that by crippling it) - but it is true that they will probably shift a lot of focus to Qtopia.

That may be a bad thing, but it could also turn out to be the best thing to happen to Linux for years.

X11, at its core, is 20 years old and it shows -- the Xlib API sucks pretty badly, and the attempts to overcome that (xcb) are just not that much better, they're still a pile of fairly ugly plain C code.

Qtopia on the other hand is relatively clean code and was designed with a great API in mind from the beginning. The only thing that is holding up Qtopia Core+KDE on the desktop is the lack of decent framebuffer drivers.
If they fix that, and chances are they will at least for a few devices, Qtopia can replace X11 and it will be a major step forward.

Compatibility with non-Qt applications could be solved the way OSX supports X11 applications -- launching an X server on top of Qtopia that handles legacy applications and displays their graphics inside Qtopia would work.

by Ben (not verified)

Is Qtopia client-server like X11 is? because say what you like about 20 year old code, that's a very nice feature to have.

by bero (not verified)

Yes, but I haven't tried out to what extent this works so far (not sure if network transparency is there yet for example, but I've run 2 qtopia sessions on 1 machine -- the mechanism is similar to X11 there -- export QWS_DISPLAY=whatever).

Either way the basic infrastructure is there and if anything is missing it can be added.

by anon (not verified)

You do know that Qtopia is built on top of Qt and actually depends on Qt?

by jospoortvliet (not verified)

Funny thing is that afaik since Qt 4, Qtopia and Qt form one codebase... So they would actively have to strip stuff from Qtopia to make Qt any worse. Big companies are harder to keep decent, but they're still people, they still have smaller departments doing their thing. I don't believe this HAS to lead to trouble for Qt and KDE.

by T. J. Brumfield (not verified)

This notion that going BSD license will help is just plain rubbish.

Rubbish, rubbish, and more rubbish. The dual license model allows TT to have some income, and to pay for development. never underestimate that. The BSD license would mean that rivals can steal code and offer nothing back, and on top of that, the BSD license would prevent including GPL code.

While it might seem that BSD is less restrictive, from a certain sense, going BSD would pigeon-hole QT development.

I must say I'm wary of the Nokia deal, but going BSD is not the solution.

by Ian Monroe (not verified)

If the poison pill is triggered, it wouldn't automatically go to BSD. They could license as LGPL instead.

by Sage (not verified)

In the event of a "release condition" (i.e., when the foundation gets to re-license Qt), the FreeQt Foundation Board can select the BSD License *AND* one or more other open source licenses.

by Little fish (not verified)

I'm really undecided if I should cheer or cry.
Nokias current involvement in OSS (as in Maemo) shows, that they are *NOT* committed to Open- and Free-Software.
They basically release only things they *have* to release due to the GPL/LGPL, but nearly all things they can keep closed source, are kept this way.
Best example: The OS2008 (Maemo) tray-applets (volume-, brightness-slider etc.) are kept CLOSED even if they bear no real intellectual property that's worth to protect. This alone shows their commitment to the FLOSS world (i.e. just pure opportunism and "old-economy values").

I *really* hope not only TT shareholders will profit from this.
It's a serious thing that happened and given the possible influence of development priorities we all have to look very closely!

On the positive side:
If we will see Qt(opia) on more Nokia embedded devices and if they really support this way, chances are good they choose Linux instead of doing all as Qt on Symbian and we will have a nice future of Linux based embedded devices (Android and Qtopia) right in front of us.

Anyway, let's hope the best because otherwise we all have to cry ;-)

by ninja (not verified)

munch munch and gobble gobble,
the closed source hounds gulp and swallow,
when will microsoft acquire the nix,
pasty white coders looking for their money fix

by Martin (not verified)

Why are you bashing on Nokia? Don't you think Nokia will read all these posts and perhapse decide on something like that, if they will continue development of Qt? Nokia is the most important partner of KDE, now. You cannot know what Nokia's aim is. But if you start bashing it will be much easier for them not to support Qt any longer and to focus on Qtopia. Be friendly to the companies you rely on!

What is the worst that could happen? Qt to be released under an BSD licence because of FreeQt agreement? KDE has to fork from current development of Qt 4.4? Well if it happens KDE has to do more work. That would be bad. But it would also offer other possibilities for KDE. I could imagine that Google would start helping KDE to develop Qt, so that they can use it for their (few) apps. Or Opera, or Skype. There are so many companies who need Qt and would probably support a BSD licenced Qt hosted at KDE. So don't worry.

Personally I think Nokia bought TT for two reasons. First of all they want Qtopia. I don't think they want to hurt Motorola. Motorola is a partner of Android. That's a threat. Nokia needs Qtopia to compete with Android.

The second thing is Qt and KDE. KDE 4 is so powerful. I could imagine that Nokia wants to have Plasma on their smartphones. And that would be the best that could happen to the KDE community. Perhaps Nokia would start to develop apps in an Open Source model for KDE?

Give them a chance. Now Nokia has the possibility to prove that they really support Open Source.

Personally I was not very happy with Nokia during the last week because of Bochum. But today my feelings towards Nokia became better again. This can be a great chance for KDE. If Nokia becomes a Patron and supports the development of KDE there will only be winners. So please stop bashing.

by George (not verified)

after doing what they just did in Bochum without any second thoughts whatsoever, I'd say they'll support our community as long as they can extract something from us.

The same guys lobbying for software patentability will now decide over QT. In a couple of years we will have a QT library where most of the features are only available for Windows, or some other problems like that.

It's 1997 all over again :(

by OdyX (not verified)

This seems a very rational position to me ! I think that only time will tell. As for now, just keep up the good job !

by blueget (not verified)

Pfff... Patron of KDE just doesn't mean anything. Think of Mark Shuttleworth and his great dedication to KDE - 9 Ubuntu/Gnome dev's vs 1 Kubuntu/KDE dev.

by Martin (not verified)

Please do not mix. Mark Shuttleworth is Patron - not Canonical. For most this seems not to be a difference. But I think it is. Canonical probably thinks that Gnome is better for business. Mark thinks that KDE is the better desktop (at least he uses it). This probably explains some differences. And do you know how much the 9 developers work on Gnome? Or do they work on Ubuntu? For me Kubuntu is Ubuntu with KDE and Ubuntu is Ubuntu with Gnome. Only the desktop environment is different. Most of it is simply the same. So you could say that probably most of the work done by the 9 Ubuntu developers is also for Kubuntu as it is work on the basics: Linux, xorg, apache, etc. etc.

by gerd (not verified)

I know what Tim Frain did in the name of Nokia against European independent software developers

by Erik (not verified)

> Be friendly to the companies you rely on!
1) Asking for motivation or showing your feelings is not being unfriendly
2) As a software developer, Qt's future influences the future of your products, when you are using it.
3) One's personal market share as a customer of Trolltech/Nokia products gives him/her the right to talk about it and to be heard.


Lets think positive:
1. Nokia wants to further integrate Qt/Qtopia into their mobile phones on top of symbian or maybe Linux? (and maybe integrating Qt/Qtopia into the internet tables - since Nokia often expresses their disappointments with GTK due to lack of roadmap)
2. By using Qt, they can get tons of high quality open source software to be deployed on their internet tables for free, such as office (KOffice), pim (Kontact + friends).
3. This acquisition might boost Trolltech and KDE/Qt as well since they're now backed by the largest mobile phone vendor on earth.

But I can't stop thinking negative:
1. For how long Nokia will release Qt/Qtopia under GPL 2/3? Sure KDE can always fork it and release under BSD, but it will really hurt as the current development model is both parties are benefited from Qt. Nokia can close the development of Qt in the future and make it only commercial software.
2. What will happen to Qt/Desktop? Sure Qt/Desktop and Qtopia share the same core, but they might be only interested to the core and neglect the Qt/Desktop? Why on earth Nokia have to buy the whole company if they want a cross-platform synchronization tool? For sure, selling a crossplatform toolkit might be less interesting for them, despite of Google, Adobe, skype all using Qt.
3. What about the fate of the competitors who are using Qtopia?
4. Will Nokia still sponsor the KDE developers to work on KDE? Yes they say support for open source will be the same, but we've been promised that for million times, when Apple forked KHTML, when Novell purchased SuSE and yet we've seen disappointment all over the place.

Only time will tell, I can only pray for good things for Qt, KDE, Trolltech and Nokia. Good luck for us all!!

Errrh... Novell *made* SuSE Open Source. The renamed it to openSUSE and GPL-ed all source code (especially YaST).

by djouallah mimoune (not verified)

i just find this article in zdnet, i think it make the situation more clear.,1000000121,39292448,00.htm

by JRT (not verified)

Doesn't make sense. Why would they spend that much for TT and continue to use GNOME as their DeskTop?

by Riddle (not verified)

Agreed. If your going to spend so much on a company, and then not go all the way, you spit yourself in half. The people from TT are not going to be very familiar with GTK/GNOME.

by andy (not verified)

I am just saying "Tim Frain", Nokia's anti-software tool for ruthless software patent promotion at the expense of European creators. Tim Frain, the radical proponent behind so much Intellect.UK and EICTA policy proposals in Europe that put SMEs and independent software development at risk.

Sure he also had his say on the acquisition. Which makes me think about the possible real forces behind the deal. Novell taking Suse made MS-Novell possible. What safeguards does Nokia provide?

by JRT (not verified)

This seems like a logical business move. Nokia needs a GUI for its products and TT currently develops a GUI toolkit and is not currently a profitable company.

There is also the webbrowsing issue. IIUC, Nokia currently currently uses WebKit and TT is going to adopt WebKit as part of Qt.

I hope that Nokia is also doing this because they intend to use KDE for their products (as Sun uses GNOME). If that is the case, it looks like all of this will lead to a beneficial synergy and it will insure that TT will continue in business since they will no longer need to be profitable to survive.

Possible benefit for KDE is that Nokia will have their software developers working on KDE. They will probably be more interested in fixing the bugs which KDE really needs.

by Iuri Fiedoruk (not verified)

I don't see any logic in Nokia using KDE.
They most probaly will use qt/qtopia and leave KDE alone.

by Riddle (not verified)

Actually, I see plenty of reasons Nokia would want to use KDE. Picture KDE as an extension to Qt, with technology such as libPlasma, KParts, etc. KParts may prove particularly useful if Nokia wants to view a bunch of different file formats...