Qt, Open Source and corona

Florian Bruhin me at the-compiler.org
Thu Apr 9 13:00:44 BST 2020


(Apologies for not answering to the original mail in this thread, I only
subscribed after it was sent and can't find a Message-ID in the web archives.)

As the maintainer of a web browser[1] using QtWebEngine, I find this deeply
concerning. A year delay in security updates would be unacceptable for my
project (and I suspect KDE Falkon as well), so, realistically I'd need to take
a decision between:

a) Switching to something different like Chromium Embedded Framework, which
means months of work on top of an ever-growing backlog;

b) Buying a Qt Startup License with all that it entails (probably including
qutebrowser not being a proper FOSS project anymore), which is pretty much not
an option given the licensing terms;

c) Throwing the towel after 6.5 years (which also means losing a
donation-funded part-time job, not to mention abandoning a project and
community which is of immense importance to me personally).

Needless to say, that wouldn't be a decision I want to make, and this
announcement from KDE really wasn't an easy thing to digest.

One possible reading of Olaf's original mail is that TQtC simply was bluffing
in order to force "negotiations" about some other part of the agreement they
don't like:

  The Qt Company says that they are willing to reconsider the approach only if
  we offer them concessions in other areas.

Indeed, they now released a (very brief) announcement[2] claiming that they,
apparently, never meant things that way:

  There have been discussions on various internet forums about the future of Qt
  open source in the last two days. The contents do not reflect the views or
  plans of The Qt Company.   
  The Qt Company is proud to be committed to its customers, open source, and
  the Qt governance model.

Needless to say, after more and more moves against the open-source side of Qt
recently, I place a lot more trust in statements coming from KDE rather than
those coming from TQtC...

Still, their announcement seems to claim that they have not made the statements
(or at least, don't commit to them) as quoted in Olaf's original mail.

Could someone from the KDE Free Qt Foundation please clarify?

Some quick thoughts regarding forks: I do not think a community fork of
QtWebEngine would be realistic in any sense.  As far as I remember, in a Qt
talk it was mentioned that it takes around two man-months to rebase their APIs
on top of a new Chromium release (which often means *millions* of changed
lines, in the subset of Chromium code QtWebEngine imports!). However, I suppose
most projects could somehow live with the delay, even if inconvenient (as
they're not using QtWebEngine to display untrusted web content).

Thanks for all the work you do - this is yet another example showing how
important it is.

(Note: I plan to send a similar mail to the Qt Interest list. I hope it won't
attract too many trolls, and will instead result in the Qt Company clarifying
their position on this whole thing. Wish me luck...)


[1] https://qutebrowser.org/
[2] https://www.qt.io/blog/qt-and-open-source

me at the-compiler.org (Mail/XMPP) | https://www.qutebrowser.org 
       https://bruhin.software/ | https://github.com/sponsors/The-Compiler/
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