Why GTK+ will prevail, and what needs to be done

Taylor Byrnes taylor.byrnes at gmail.com
Fri Jan 28 01:45:34 GMT 2005

First let me say, the following is not supposed to be trolling or
random KDE bashing, I use KDE everyday and have no complaints about
it. The following is my view on what will be a problem for it (or at
least for QT) in the near future. I realise Qt and KDE are not
inseparable, but lets not create extra work for the developers.

Linux is growing, it is gaining market share everyday, as it grows
more and more corporations are paying attention to it. As Linux grows
and more people begin to use it there will be increasing demand for
proprietary windows applications to be provided on Linux; and with the
growing market demands the companies that make those products will be
forced to port them to Linux.

When a company is planning or porting an application to Linux one of
the first things they are going to come across is the choice of a
widget library (probably Qt or GTK+). The problem that I see here is
the licensing of the two libraries. Qt is available for free under the
QPL and GPL, with commercial licenses available for a price; GTK+ is
available only under the GNU LGPL.

Both the QPL and GPL have viral clauses in them; any applications that
uses them must be released under an open source license, a clause the
LGPL does not have. When the proprietary software company looks, the
choice for them is obvious: GTK+. Why? For them to use Qt they are
going to have to either:

-> Open source their applications; not likely, companies are here for
profit. I know IBM occasionally does this, but most companies wont do
-> Pay for Qt; why bother when GTK+ is free?

I know in an ideal world the company would pay the fee or open source
their app, but we do not live in a perfect world. The reason is the
same as above, companies are out to make money. Buying Qt licenses
hurts their bottom line, and open sourcing apps does even more; and
from the position of a company which doesn't have a side in the
desktop war, both libraries are just as good.

This not an impossible problem, in fact the answer is easy, get
Trolltech to license Qt under a non-viral license, probably the LGPL.
The only problem is that this will hurt Trolltech's bottom line;
convincing them wont be easy, but I think it is necessary.

Qt must get LGPL style licensing, plain and simple.

Using GTK+ will not kill KDE, but it will make life more difficult for
end users, why deal with theming in two places? It may also cause
distributions to make Gnome the default; if more apps use it might as
well make the UI (user interface) consistent.

Also, in Windows, the UI is all the same, there is only one widget
library. This may not be a large issue at first glance, but this is
one of the things that really bugs end users. And if we want Linux to
win the OS war we're gonna need to make it user friendly, and this is
one thing which I think will need attention.

I hope you all have enjoyed reading my explanation, I'd love to hear
some thoughts.

Taylor Byrnes
Slashdot user: taylortbb

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