The KDE community is one of the largest and most influential Free Software communities world-wide with thousands of volunteer contributors and countless users. Most of the software written by KDE is based on the Qt toolkit. With the recent strategy changes within Nokia—the largest contributor to Qt, there is uncertainty about the future of Qt that concerns KDE. This is the position of the KDE community regarding the future of Qt:
- KDE will continue to rely on Qt and cooperate with the Qt copyright owners and contributors.
- Using the strong ties between both communities and existing formal agreements, KDE will protect the freedom of Qt and KDE where necessary.
- Continuing the KDE Frameworks 5 development process that has already begun, KDE will help improve Qt and contribute to it.
Building on top of Qt
KDE software is built using Qt, and will continue to be so. Qt is the best UI development toolkit available, and its quality and continuous innovation have helped tremendously in making KDE successful. The KDE community has an interest in Qt continuing to innovate and striving to get better. KDE's interest is mainly with the Free Software version of Qt, which we see centered around the Qt Project under Open Governance. We encourage commercial contributions to Qt, although KDE will remain neutral with the commercial Qt partner ecosystem.
Protecting Qt and KDE
With the interdependence between the Qt and KDE communities come risks to the future of the both products. Since Qt is licensed under the GPL and the LGPL, and the Qt Project is under Open Governance, we consider the Free Software version of Qt to be safe for the future. The biggest threat to the future of Qt is fragmentation due to forking. Another risk, a growing difference between the Free Software and commercial versions, has already been anticipated and addressed in existing formal agreements between KDE and Nokia. KDE will work actively to make sure that the Free Software and commercial versions of Qt remain identical and continue innovating, by this reducing the incentive to fork.
Under the terms of the KDE Free Qt Foundation, an agreement between Nokia and KDE, Nokia is obliged to continue the development of Qt and to release it as Free Software. This obligation will pass on to another entity should Nokia decide to discontinue its Qt activities and sell its assets. If the agreement of the KDE Free Qt Foundation is not fullfilled, KDE will receive the last released version of Qt under the BSD license. KDE has a firm position that the terms of the KDE Free Qt Foundation are binding.
Contributing to and extending Qt
As part of the ongoing development of a future KDE Frameworks 5, many modules of kdelibs are being re-written to be complementary extensions of modules existing in Qt. The technical gap between the two projects will be closing, and users of Qt will often be users of KDE Frameworks as well, and vice versa. Many KDE contributors also work on Qt development. Many of the Qt contributors, maintainers and approvers are also active within KDE. KDE plans to continue and increase its contributions to Qt, and to keep a close relationship between the projects. For this effort to be continuous and stable in the long term, KDE favors further opening up development of Qt and enabling even more collaboration and cooperation between commercial and volunteer Qt contributors.
Qt and KDE share many common interests, and to a large part depend on each other. The KDE community will work to ensure a bright future for Qt and KDE, and extends an open hand to Nokia to collaborate on that.