Nokia has announced that its Qt cross-platform user interface and application framework for desktop and embedded platforms will be available under Lesser General Public License Version 2.1 starting with the release of Qt 4.5, scheduled for March 2009.
Previously, Qt, pronounced "cute," had been available to the open-source community under the GPL (General Public License). Qt will now be available from the new domain www.qtsoftware.com. Using Qt, developers can develop applications and user interfaces once, and deploy them across many desktop and embedded operating systems without rewriting the source code. Qt Software, formerly Trolltech, was acquired by Nokia in June 2008.
Nokia officials said the move to LGPL licensing will provide open-source and commercial developers with more permissive licensing than GPL and thus increase flexibility for developers. In addition, Qt source code repositories will be made publicly available and will encourage contributions from desktop and embedded developer communities. With these changes, developers will be able to actively drive the evolution of the Qt framework.
Qt 4.5 will also be available under commercial licensing terms, while licensing for previous versions of Qt remains unchanged, the company said. In addition, service offerings for Qt will be expanded to ensure that all Qt development projects can have access to the same levels of support, independent of the selected license, company officials said.
"Broader use of Qt by even more leading companies will result in valuable feedback and increased contributions, ensuring that Qt remains the best-in-class, cross-platform UI and application framework," said Sebastian Nystrom, vice president of Qt Software at Nokia. "The accelerated development of Qt will allow developers, including Nokia, to deliver better devices and applications, reduce time to market, and enable a wider deployment base for their solutions."
"Nokia is making significant contributions to open-source communities through ongoing work with Qt, its contribution of Symbian OS and S60 to the Symbian Foundation, and open development of the Maemo platform," said Kai Oistamo, executive vice president of devices at Nokia, in a statement. "By moving to LGPL, opening Qt's source code repositories and encouraging more contributions, Qt users will have more of a stake in the development of Qt, which will in turn encourage wider adoption. Nokia will be able to leverage improvements in Qt across S60 on Symbian OS, Maemo and OVI services without rewriting the source code."
Other open-source software proponents also weighed in on the new Qt licensing news.
"Qt being available under the terms of the LGPL streamlines the licensing of applications built using KDE components on top of Qt-based applications," said Sebastian Kugler, KDE e.V. board member, in a statement speaking of the KDE open-source desktop for Linux and Unix systems. "This more permissive licensing will further lower the barrier for adoption of Qt and KDE technologies. The KDE team welcomes opening up the development process and is looking forward to further improved collaboration between KDE and Qt Software."
Meanwhile, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu project and Canonical, said, "Qt is used extensively in Kubuntu and KDE applications, and Canonical is delighted to see this breakthrough in its licensing model. Qt's new licensing terms will help us deliver ever more 'lustful' applications to users. Nokia's continued investment in cross-platform Qt libraries, and the Linux platform, is a major driver of innovation in the free software desktop and mobile device stack."