Trolltech and KDE Free Qt Foundation Announce Updated Agreement

On July 23rd 2004, Trolltech and the KDE Free Qt Foundation announced the signing of an updated agreement between Trolltech and the KDE Free Qt Foundation about securing the availability of Qt for development of free software. The new agreement replaces the original agreement from June 1998 by adapting it to the current situation and providing a new text which addresses the problem in a more exact and more complete way. The intention and basic content are still the same.
Read the full press release for more details.

Trolltech and KDE Free Qt
Foundation Announce Amended and Restated Software License Agreement

(July 23, 2004) Trolltech,
developer of Qt, the leading cross-platform development framework upon which KDE is
based, and the KDE
Free Qt Foundation
(the Foundation) today announced the signing
of an Amended
and Restated Software License Agreement

(the Agreement).

The Foundation was formed in 1998 by Trolltech and KDE e.V., which represents KDE in
certain legal and financial matters, to provide assurances to free software
developers developing with Qt should Qt development cease.

The revised Agreement continues to honour the original purposes of the
Foundation. In particular, should Trolltech ever discontinue making regular
releases of the Qt Free Edition
for any reason - including a buyout or merger of Trolltech or the liquidation
of Trolltech - the Qt Free Edition will be released under the BSD license and
optionally under one or more other Open Source Licenses designated by the
Board of the Foundation.

The amendments are aimed at modernizing the Agreement in light of
developments occurring after the original agreement was executed - including
the release of the Qt Free Edition under the GPL and QPL in October 2000 -
and at improving the accuracy of the parties' understanding, thereby ensuring
that the Agreement continues to operate in the best interest of both parties.
The major amendments include improved precision in the definitions of the Qt
product releases, the clarification of licensing terms, and the addition of
possible termination of the Agreement under certain limited circumstances.

"Third-party software development is a crucial element of KDE's
continued future success, and the restated Agreement encourages both Open
Source and proprietary software developers and enterprises to develop with
KDE and/or Qt on the X Window System by providing a practical solution should
Trolltech be unable to continue developing Qt", explained Martin Konold,
board member on the Foundation and a key figure in the formation of the
Foundation and execution of the original
in 1998. "As with the release of Qt under the GPL
and QPL, we are very delighted that Trolltech has again demonstrated its
ongoing support of, and commitment to, Open Source software development, and
to the KDE project in particular."

"Maintaining a close connection with the Open Source community is
essential to the success of Trolltech," said Matthias Ettrich, director
of software tools development at Trolltech. "The amended Agreement
provides an excellent framework for a continued and mutually rewarding
relationship between Trolltech and the KDE Free Qt Foundation."

About Qt

Qt is a complete C++ application development framework, which includes a
class library and tools for cross-platform development and internationalization.
The Qt API and tools are consistent across all supported platforms, enabling
platform independent application development and deployment.

About Trolltech

Trolltech® is a world leader in delivering tools, components, and
libraries for C++ developers across all major operating systems. Trolltech
products constitute a leading open source application development framework
and are an integral part of the Linux desktop. Trolltech also develops
innovative UI platforms that enable key players to adopt Linux for mobile

Trolltech creates two product lines: Qt® and Qtopia®. Qt is a complete C++
application development framework, which includes a class library and tools
for cross-platform development and internationalization. Qtopia is the first
comprehensive application platform built for embedded Linux, and is used on
numerous Linux-based PDAs and mobile phones.

Trolltech is a second generation open source company with a dual licensing
business model and provides development software to some of the largest
companies in the world including Intel, IBM, Motorola, and Sharp, among
thousands more. Trolltech is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with offices in
Brisbane, Australia, and Palo Alto, California. More about Trolltech can be
found at http://www.trolltech.com.


About the KDE Free Qt Foundation

The KDE project, via KDE e.V., and Trolltech, the creators of Qt,
announced the formation of the KDE Free Qt Foundation in June 1998.
The purpose of the Foundation is to assure the availability of Qt for free
software development now and into the future. The Foundation is controlled by
a Board, which consists of two KDE e.V. representatives and two Trolltech
representatives; in many cases, the KDE e.V. representatives break a voting
tie. The governing document of the Foundation is available online (Page 1, Page 2).

About KDE

KDE is an independent project of hundreds of developers, translators,
artists and other professionals worldwide collaborating over the Internet to
create and freely distribute a sophisticated, customizable and stable desktop
and office environment employing a flexible, component-based,
network-transparent architecture and offering an outstanding development
platform. KDE provides a stable, mature desktop, a full, component-based
office suite (KOffice), a large set of
networking and administration tools and utilities, and an efficient,
intuitive development environment featuring the excellent IDE KDevelop. KDE is working proof that the
Open Source "Bazaar-style" software development model can yield
first-rate technologies on par with and superior to even the most complex
commercial software.

For further information, please contact:

Trolltech AS
Tonje Sund
+47 21 60 48 78

Martin Konold
+49 7071 940353


What's really the problem?

So.. If it was Debian it would end up in contrib, but there really aren't any Debians for Windows, and there can't be. And since compilers especially outside the Cygwin-distribution are expensive and rare on windows, I can't see the point of distributing the source-code for windows-users.

By Allan S. at Tue, 2004/07/27 - 5:00am

That's simply not true. MinGW and Cygwin both provide GCC, and Microsoft's compiler (not the IDE) is available for download gratis.

By brion at Tue, 2004/07/27 - 5:00am

> As you said, you can't do it on a GPL'd package
> without changing the license; this isn't always
> possible if ownership is spread out and not all
> authors can be contacted.

But it is possible, and has already been done with one large KDE app (KOrganizer).

> Further, it destroys the package's free software
> status on that platform by making it impossible
> for users to recompile the app and distribute it
> under the same terms without getting an expensive
> per-seat license from Trolltech.

The QT binaries can be redistributed without problem.

I'm not sure about the headers, but if you see a karm.exe appear in the next few months, the answer is yes. ;)

By mbucc at Thu, 2004/08/12 - 5:00am

Please, I don't wish this to sound like a troll, but I have to point this out.

Without a GPL software licence for QT on all platforms, QT is eventually going to loose out to GTK. Just look at the most popular open apps (OO.org, Mozilla, Evolution, Gimp); none of these are based on QT, and this is for a reason; IBM/Novell/Sun all want to develop cross platform solutions for business. QT doesn't allow them to develop 'free' cross platform solutions. I love KDE/QT and have been using it for over five years now, but GTK is getting a lot more money poured into it now.

I just hope the powers that be can find a way to GPL QT on all platforms.

BTW, how much is the estimated market value of Trolltec? Could Novell just buy them out and completely GPL QT?

By john_ireland at Sat, 2004/08/21 - 5:00am

> weaning the Windows masses by gradually replacing their
> proprietary apps with tasty free alternatives is

this is rather OT, but..... i don't agree. most computer users don't notice or care about the relative freedom afforded them. all they know is how well (or not well) their current system works. if we work hard to provide quality Free(dom) software on non-Free platforms, all it does it make the pain of those non-Free(dom) platforms lessen while removing much of the strategic advantage of running Free(dom) OSes. this will result in people sticking with the devil they know (e.g. Windows) because it's now "cheap enough" and does what they need. this in turn allows those who maintain those non-Free systems (e.g. Microsoft) to once again work their way up from the OS to the application space by changing APIs, giving their products efficiency advantages through internal knowledge of non-published APIs, etc. while sucking resources from the Open Source development community.

i'm starting to hear people who say they wish certain apps (e.g. K3B, Apollon, Scribus, etc...) ran on Windows. these applications are a REASON to switch to a Free OS. if they existed on Windows, they would stay with that non-Free system.

you know: competitive advantage. unique sales proposition. supporting the development ecosystem. and other such marketing phrases that have an actual basis in reality.

By Aaron J. Seigo at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

These free apps have other advantages, though; they keep a singly commercial entity from controlling computers on the small and large scale (locally and on the internet). BY supporting open standards and cheap or free software, we are giving power to the people and basically democratizing the whole process.

By Mikhail Capone at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

To explain myself better:

I meant that not everybody running mozilla or open offices knows and care about the freedom behind the apps, but they are nonetheless encouraging open standards, thus making things better for everybody.

By Mikhail Capone at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

I doubt that somebody who doesn't care about Free Software will care about open standards at all.
We have to educate the people and explain them what Free Software really is and why using Free Software
on a propritary system will always sucks...

By Tobias König at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

That's really true - creating free software (or any other free support) for non-free (M$-) OS is nothing else than just feeding the Bosses of the evil empire for free.
Btw. that's also the reason why I've stopped fixing my friend's wondoze boxes.

By hoernerfranz at Sun, 2004/07/25 - 5:00am

Well, there are cases where you *have* to use windows, and then it is very nice to be able to run at least some of the software you're used to from linux. (e.g. at work where can't simply replace your windows with linux, because there are some proprietary apps essential for the job where no replacement exists)

At least I am happy that I can use cygwin, mozilla, doxygen and OOo on my windows box at work.


By aleXXX at Sun, 2004/07/25 - 5:00am

That's exactly my point of view. Most users are pragmatic. If they can install k3b, scribus and the gimp on Microsoft, they'll do it (if they don't manage to suck a spyware-contaminated WaReZ Photoshop, Corel, whatever..) and won't ever start to think about _what_ they're using.

By thomas at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

I'm curious; what's your opinion on proprietary Unix? Should we all be removing Solaris and AIX support from our software? Why or why not?

By brion at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

How many proprietary Unix vendors fit the following descriptions?
* Investigating pushing a DRM scheme that requires you to a run certified binary kernel to run multimedia and other content effectively giving them root control of your system
* Expressing an interest in eliminating spam by providing their user base with a proprietary signature generated by their software which they can protect from reverse engineering with DMCA
* Notorious about leaving security holes in their software to bog down the internet with spam (so they leave room for a solution)
* Convicted of abusing monopoly status in numerous anti competitive practices (only one company in the last century fits that)
* Uses a proliferation of APIs and undocumented APIs as tactical warfare to dominate key markets
* Is financially structured around a growth model that makes competition and co-existence unacceptable to them so their approach is to attempt to eliminate any perceived threats by whatever measures necessary
* Traditionally manages data in proprietary formats with licensing that effectively means users don't really fully own their own information without paying their dues

You might be able to alledge some degree of the above on some proprietary Unix vendor, but this and more is largely the exclusive domain of one company and product line. If a single proprietary Unix vendor were doing all these things and putting our freedoms at risk there would be reason for concern, but as it happens proprietary Unix is getting it's butt kicked up around it's ears by Linux. Just ask Sun.

Of course if they are doing commercial development with Qt they will be buying license that are very reasonably priced (as evidenced by the health of Trolltech). The reality though is Sun is talking about open sourcing Solaris to a collective yawn and IBM is pushing Linux on the mainframe because it delivers better tools then AIX and saves them billions in development. Any support for these fading OS's is on GNU tools by people adapting the software and is a non issue.

By Eric Laffoon at Sun, 2004/07/25 - 5:00am

I would argue that the best way to defeat those evil vendor lock-in schemes is probably _not_ to guarantee the lock-in wedge applications a large market share by not providing any competition for them in the biggest OS market.

Maybe I'm wrong, though. Maybe turning the OS into a commodity to resist lock-in schemes is counterproductive. Maybe we should *encourage* people to use Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office and all those DRM technologies so it'll be as hard as possible for them to to make the switch to a free OS... I'm not sure I understand how that would help, though.

By brion at Sun, 2004/07/25 - 5:00am

You encourage people to do that by making people look at applications like K3B and others, and giving people a great alternative environment to run them in - that isn't Windows. If you like applications like K3B and others, you can move - it's that simple. That is the attitude Microsoft has taken with Windows over the years, and we can't be any different. You don't give people an excuse to keep using Windows by expending massive amounts of needless effort to port applications to it. I think Microsoft has enough resources to do that for themselves.

The commodity desktop does not mean accepting, and porting to, Windows.

By David at Sun, 2004/07/25 - 5:00am

what props up OSes are the apps and 3rd party development. which is why i'd much rather see proprietary apps (inc MS apps) join the mix of Free Software on Free OSes than Free Software applications join the mix of proprietary apps on proprietary OSes.

moving from IE to something not IE is going to be as expensive whether you do it on Windows or not on Windows. the only IE issue, really, is ActiveX components (and other such Windows specific technologies). this isn't helped whether they stage their move or do it all at once.

moving from MS Office to something not MS Office is going to be as expensive whether you do it on Windows or not on Windows since it's all about the file formats and not much else. moving things like Access databases is more troublesome because those file formats are weakly supported by Free Software apps.

just as important as the browser or Office switches, however, are the supporting apps. these are applications to which there is little to no data issues: music, CD / DVD authoring, desktop publishing (there are no switching alternatives here, usually; it's often "recreate everything"), graphics, file management, educational software, etc...

if we have nothing but a bunch of apps can also get where you already are (e.g. Windows or MacOS X) and they run just as well there, why would people switch? meanwhile, Microsoft will take advantage of this lead time and once again mess with APIs to give their application software a competitive edge landing us right back at square one.

By Aaron J. Seigo at Mon, 2004/07/26 - 5:00am

i don't think removing people's hard work is a useful approach, and i wouldn't want to dictate what other people can or can not work on when it comes to Free Software. however, i do think it's important to keep the focus and direction moving towards Free software rather than away from it. the proprietary UNIX world is already well on its way in that direction, and the proprietary UNIX world has been much more accepting and supportive of the Free / Open Source community. usually it's people running those proprietary UNIXes that do the porting (if at all necessary) so they can run Open Source software (this includes the MacOS X ppl); whereas it has been my observation that on Windows it's often people on Free systems hoping to dangle a carrot out to Windows users who then spend their time doing just that.

our priority (and by "our" i mean the whole Open Source community, not "KDE") should be on Open Source systems first and foremost. non-Free OSes which are no t providing support for themselves should be a distant second concern.

By Aaron J. Seigo at Mon, 2004/07/26 - 5:00am

The hypocrite of the repeated request for removal of the already reasonable per-developer license in favor of a market dominating proprietary system which is only available with per-machine licenses plus lots of additional EULA restrictions is not even funny anymore.

By Datschge at Sun, 2004/07/25 - 5:00am

Trolltech can put the price they want to the qpl license? They can put a special price for a particular company?. If KDE take over the desktop this can be a problem?

By I at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

Well, in this case just use the GPL'ed version, that's the correct licence anyway...

By Tobias König at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

and if your company depend on a propietary program? you want to say that qpl license is useless? all the world must embrace GPL? is Windows more free? you can use the license you want

By I at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

Right. Trolltech will start charging $1billion for Qt commercial license to screw KDE...

Do understand the concept of making money at all? Let me explain this to you:
- Trolltech is a company,
- they need to be earning money,
- they want Qt used everywhere,
- they can't be charging silly prices or they won't achieve any of the two above.

By Reality Check at Sat, 2004/07/24 - 5:00am

If KDE take over the desktop Trolltech is the new monopoly, at least for propietary programs

- Microsoft is a company,
- they need to be earning money,
- they want Windows used everywhere,
- they can't be charging silly prices or they won't achieve any of the two above.

but we have a problem

Microsoft were the goods when IBM were the bads

I am very paranoic but you are very trusting :)

By I at Mon, 2004/07/26 - 5:00am

I must have missed Microsoft releasing Windows under GPL.
I must have missed KDE being owned by Qt.
I must have missed this announcment which assures that if something bad should happen Qt will be released under the BSD license.

By Reality Check at Tue, 2004/07/27 - 5:00am

KDEs developer-base is many times larger than Qts. If it really became an issue and they somehow circumvented the FreeQt agreement (can't see how it can be done though), Qt would be reimplemented in half a year or so.

It's not like there are secret undocumented API calls we could be strugling to implement for a decade like win32.

By Allan S. at Tue, 2004/07/27 - 5:00am

How is Windows more free? You can distribute software by any license (same as Linux), but you can't bundle dependencies without legal action. I really hate this business about more choices being a bad thing; a license is a license is a license, and if you can't abide by it, you're breaking the law. The difference is that licenses like the GPL give you the freedom, but I guess it's like the old saying about giving an inch: give a user a little freedom and they whine about little restrictions.

Rant finsished.

By Keith at Mon, 2004/07/26 - 5:00am

Windows is there, users pay the libraries. Windows is more free as in free beer for developers, OK?

By I at Mon, 2004/07/26 - 5:00am

First, it is a nice move from Trolltech to renew the agreement and Trolltech has shown that it really cares about Free Software when it GPLed Qt.

But what is the agreement really worth when Trolltech gets bough up?

"... should Trolltech ever discontinue making regular releases of the Qt Free Edition for any reason - ... - the Qt Free Edition will be released under the BSD license ..."

What is regular? Every 10 years?

What is a release? Change a few bits and delete a method and give it a new number?

"... the Qt Free Edition will be released under the BSD license ..."

Who will release if Trolltech does not exist anymore and the company which has bought it doesn't want to?

I do not want to be negative as this encouragement to use Qt is a positive act. But could it have real legal consiquences when I want to develop non-free software, and make sure that another (not too small) company cannot severely hurt my business by buying Trolltech and let Qt practically die?

By guenther.palfinger at Mon, 2004/07/26 - 5:00am

"What is regular? Every 10 years?"

The agreement spells these things out, see the links at the bottom of http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/kdefreeqtfoundation.php#updated_agreement

"Who will release if Trolltech does not exist anymore and the company which has bought it doesn't want to?"

If they stop releasing either Qt altogether or just Qt Free Edition (which continuing to release non-free Qt), then the provisions of the agreement kick in in 12 months and the KDE Free Qt Foundation has the right to make the BSD-licensed release. "Doesn't want to" would be followed by a lawsuit if necessary, and a court will order them to fulfill the obligations they took on by their purchase.

By brion at Mon, 2004/07/26 - 5:00am

Thank's for the link. I don't know why I didn't find it myself, although looking for it.

IMHO, it is really very well phrased - one couldn't ask for more.

-- Guenther

By guenther.palfinger at Tue, 2004/07/27 - 5:00am