Qt, Open Source and corona
ojschmidt at kde.org
Wed Apr 8 11:53:47 BST 2020
Dear KDE community,
the relationship between the KDE community, the Qt project and The Qt Company
has always been close and beneficial for all three.
* The Qt Company benefits from having a large and healthy community of
contributors, developers and experts around their product.
* KDE benefits from being able to use Qt and to contribute directly to Qt.
* The Qt project benefits from having the company as a steward and very large
contributor, and having KDE as a large and well-known sub-community.
Last December, I published a document explaining the win-win-win-relationship:
Unfortunately, The Qt Company is currently considering to stop this healthy
Fortunately, the KDE Free Qt Foundation exists, which secures the continued
existence of Open Source Qt:
Together with Martin Konold, I represent KDE in the board of the foundation.
I will now give you a bit of background information.
During the past two years, there have been negotiations between The Qt Company
and the KDE Free Qt Foundation for updating the contract.
Our goals in negotiations:
* helping the company increase their revenue without harming the Qt project or
the KDE community
* strengthening the protection of the Qt project and of the KDE community
* avoiding a parting of ways between The Qt Company and the Qt+KDE communities
Concrete areas included in the negotiations are:
* Fixing the incompatibility between paid Qt license terms and using or
contributing to Open Source
(“Prohibited Combination” in https://www.qt.io/terms-conditions/ )
* Fixing the license incompatibility between the Qt Design Studio (which is
only partly Free Software) and our existing contract with the company
* Making our contract with the company stronger, requiring them to make
immediate Free Software releases of Qt (currently, they are allowed to delay
by 12 months) to ensure the availability of LTS security fixes for KDE
* Updating our contract to include Wayland
* Evaluating contract changes suggested by the company aimed at making the Qt
business more profitable, for example the option of selling bundles of Qt with
other software, or making integrations with proprietary third-party software
One setback in the negotiations has been an announcement of The Qt Company in
They announced that LTS releases of Qt will only be available for paid license
holders. It is still unclear what this implies for contributions to Qt and for
the sharing of security fixes between the various parties (including The Qt
Company, the many Qt experts contributing, the KDE community, and Linux
At an in-person meeting in Frankfurt on March 6, we nevertheless managed to
lay the groundwork for a possible path forward, continuing with an approach
beneficial to all sides.
But last week, the company suddenly informed both the KDE e.V. board and the
KDE Free QT Foundation that the economic outlook caused by the Corona virus
puts more pressure on them to increase short-term revenue. As a result, they
are thinking about restricting ALL Qt releases to paid license holders for the
first 12 months. They are aware that this would mean the end of contributions
via Open Governance in practice.
Obviously, it cannot be in the middle- and long-term health of The Qt Company
to separate itself from the very strong Qt + KDE communities.
We hope The Qt Company will reconsider. However, this threat to the Open
Source community needs to be anticipated, so that the Qt and KDE communities
can prepare themselves.
The Qt Company says that they are willing to reconsider the approach only if
we offer them concessions in other areas. I am reminded, however, of the
situation half a year ago. We had discussed an approach for contract updates,
which they suddenly threw away by restricting LTS releases of Qt instead.
What does this mean for the future of Qt and for the future of KDE?
All software changes in Qt will still be available at as Open Source as
required by our contract – maybe with a delay of 12 months if the company
decides to part ways with the communities.
We will continue to work on a contract update that helps all sides. But even
if these negotiations were to be unilaterally stopped by The Qt Company, Qt
will stay Open Source, and KDE will be able to use it. I am also absolutely
sure that the Qt + KDE communities will continue cooperation on new features,
bug fixes, and security fixes, even should The Qt Company decide to forgo the
benefits of cooperation.
I invite The Qt Company to stay with us. It will be worthwhile.
More information about the kde-community