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Free Software Faces a Test With Qt 177

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the here-code-pick-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an article in TechRadar. From the article: "Thanks to Nokia's jump to Windows Phone 7, from the frying pan into the fire, its Free Software darling, the Qt toolkit, has been left living on vague promises and shell-shocked, hollow enthusiasm. Nokia has pledged some continued investment, bonuses for developers who stick with the platform and even a phone or two that might use it. But the truth is that Qt is deprecated, the project has stalled, and its future is uncertain."
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Free Software Faces a Test With Qt

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nokia today [theregister.co.uk] restated their sales and profit projections for this quarter and retracted the full year prediction completely. They report seeing strong competition in emerging markets and pricing pressures around the world. The stock's price fell over 14 percent on the day and plumbed a new full-year low. On the upside there is increasing confidence they'll be able to ship at least one WP7 product before the end of the year.
    • by Compaqt (1758360) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:10PM (#36301758) Homepage

      In a statement Stephen Elop, Nokia's CEO, said the company must "accelerate the pace of our transition"

      Hilarious. Translated: March faster to oblivion.

      What fool would buy a Nokia smartphone after all the jerking around of customers and developers? The sad thing is Nokia had the best actual phone technology in the business (i.e., actually making calls with good voice quality).

      • by npsimons (32752) *

        What fool would buy a Nokia smartphone after all the jerking around of customers and developers?

        I'm actually severely tempted to get another N900 as a backup. Seriously. It's that fucking good. The only reason I haven't is that, going by my previous rate of phone replacement, *something* as open as the N900, with much better hardware, will be out by the time I'm looking to replace my current one. Here's hopin'.

    • On the upside there is increasing confidence they'll be able to ship at least one WP7 product
      A WP7 product is an upside?
      • upside-down
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      On the upside there is increasing confidence they'll be able to ship at least one WP7 product before the end of the year.

      Now that is promising... we're just in June. Not even halfway the year. And "before the end of the year" they hope to have a single model on WP7. That's a complete generation away in the mobile phone world! And then aiming for just a single model? I thought Nokia got large in part because they had so many different models to choose from, low-end to high-end. Now it seems in the lower end they're still strong, Nokia phones are all over the place, and WP7 is high-end work.

      So they're going to be completely ou

      • by gtall (79522)

        It's clear you have never done development. How do you know how hard it will be to marry WP7 to one of Nokia's platform? The second worst thing Nokia could do is ship a WP7 phone with bugs. The worst thing they could do is ship a WP7 phone.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Well no I haven't done development.

          Yet I count on Nokia to not be stupid. By going for a certain piece of software (WP7) while you have a working alternative (Symbian) and a perfectly capable and very popular free alternative (Android) I would expect no less than that they can quickly release a phone with it.

          Many many handset makers opt for Android - and are capable of bringing phones to the market one after another. New makers stand up all the time - no way they can spend a year or longer on development

      • I don't know about you, but I don't care how old my phone's OS is, as long as it runs the apps I want and is designed from the ground up for touch integration. If you're always desperate for updates to your OS, that's an indicator that your OS sucks. I'm not saying updates aren't nice, but what has actually changed in this last year that WP7 needs to keep up with? Most of the changes in iOS and Android have been focused on making them work better for tablets.

  • by brennanw (5761) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:00PM (#36301628) Homepage Journal

    ... hasn't QT been LGPL'd? I don't see the problem.

    • Re:er... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jonbryce (703250) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:04PM (#36301666) Homepage

      The problem is that development is funded by the people who pay for non-free licences. If that income dries up, the KDE project would have to put their own development team together with volunteers or donation/grant funded developers.

      • KDE is already involved in the changes it wants for QT that are KDE-specific, aren't they? It's not like that would stop development cold. Hell, it might even make it easier for them to get the changes they want put in. Whether that adversely effects the rest of the developers who use QT for other things... well, I can't speak to that.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        They do that with the rest of QT, what's so hard about supporting a widget kit at this point?

      • Two commerical reasons why it isn't going to dry up anytime soon:

        Autodesk Maya
        The Foundry's Nuke
        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          isn't Google Earth written in Qt too?

        • by SQLz (564901)
          Also The Foundry's Katana (new awesome product). Qt, specifically PyQt/PySide are huge in VFX industry. I don't know of a large VFX house that is not using PyQt at all levels of the pipeline.
    • Re:er... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrHanky (141717) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:04PM (#36301678) Homepage Journal

      It has. Also, anyone bothering to check facts, such as the public git repository, can see that it's still actively developed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... hasn't QT been LGPL'd? I don't see the problem.

      Some feel that Qt's superiority stems from its corporate sponsorship, and that being "demoted" to a sponsorless open-source project like GTK will result in a loss in quality. Others (like me) think that a lot of the quality is in the product design itself and that while development may slow down post-Nokia, it will still provide a superior open source toolkit for the forseeable future.

    • Re:er... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mirix (1649853) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:43PM (#36302640)

      It was GPL/commercial dual licence for ages, and more recently LGPL'd.

      Development is continuing, this is a complete FUD non-story. Qt isn't going to disappear even if Nokia did.

      • Absolutely correct. Unfortunately to many reporters, even tech reporters, lack of money means technology dies. With (L)GPL and similar licenses, it's lack of use that really kills a project. As long as something is used widely, someone will develop it, or at least keep it running as new hardware comes out. Money helps, certainly, but it is not everything. For instance, Torvalds certainly is no billionare who pays others to make all of his software. Though, that is another option [microsoft.com] for creating software.

  • No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It hasn't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:03PM (#36301658)

    From the first comment on the linked article:

    You obviously have no idea what you're talking about, and have not been following the Qt project's development lately.

    Development is steaming ahead, releases are coming out, and they are hard working on Qt 5. They are also putting Qt into open governance, so even "outside" people may take "ownership" of certain parts of the project, and be more involved in the development of the project.

    Qt is, in other words, no way near its end of life. (Also, KDE wouldn't *need* to fork, if Qt did come to its End of Life. Obviously you haven't heard of the KDE Free Qt Foundation, which was set up very early on between KDE and then Trolltech (and updated when Nokia bought Trolltech). Should Nokia discontinue the development of the Qt Free Edition under the LGPL 2.1 and the GPL 3 licenses, then the Foundation has the right to release Qt under a BSD-style license or under other open source licenses. The agreement stays valid in case of a buy-out, a merger or bankruptcy.)

    So please, stop spreading FUD.

    This is a lot more accurate than the article or the Slashdot post. Seriously, folks, Qt existed a long time before Nokia. KDE never needed Nokia's support, and Nokia didn't use KDE. Keep calm and carry on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can only agree. Just take a look at all the (FOSS/non-FOSS) projects that currently use Qt (from wikipedia [wikimedia.org]):

      Qt is most notably used in Autodesk Maya, Dassault DraftSight, Google Earth, KDE, Adobe Photoshop Album, the European Space Agency, OPIE, Siemens, Volvo, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Skype, VLC media player, Samsung, Philips, Panasonic, VirtualBox and Mathematica.

      Maybe it will be developed by other people, but it's probably safe to say that it won't die so soon.

      PS: Skype uses Qt? Could be interesting to see what Microsoft will do about that...

      • by Locutus (9039)
        but the catch is that MS-Nokia only needs to show some progress and I'm sure that's a very ambiguous clause so therefore it can effectively stall and there's nothing any one can do about it. Get this, Qt is a threat to Microsoft because not only is it NOT a Windows only development kit it's got it's own complete SDK across other platforms. Microsoft has always been hell bent on doing everything to make sure developers are tied to the Windows platform and Qt is 180 out from that business method.

        And just look
    • by Kjella (173770)

      But things aren't going to go back to the way things were. Qt is LGPL'd, they'd have an extremely hard time going back to a dual GPL/commercial license which is what funded Qt before Nokia bought them. Is "the community" going to pick that up with just as many full time developers to replace them? And with my experience with Qt (excellent) vs KDE (very mixed), do you want KDE teams taking over? And isn't their developer resources spread pretty thin as it is?

      Face it, Nokia is going tight with Microsoft. I do

      • by jbolden (176878)

        I guess it depends a great deal if your priority is other QT apps or KDE + KDE applications. I'm the latter. I love having a standard C++ widget kit that's really really good. But I think KDE is more important by a long measure. I think having QT become a component of KDE fully would be to open source's general advantage; while willing to acknowledge there are plusses and minuses.

  • Troll? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:05PM (#36301684)

    Sometimes I get the feeling that all you need to do in order get on Slashdots front page is to post an inflammatory article about open source.with no real basis.

    • It doesn't even need to be about open source, remember the "is science a matter of faith?" article?

      Maybe the Slashdot editors are trying to get rid of the trolls by giving Slashdot a reputation as a target with no challenge.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:05PM (#36301692)
    We have some options here:
    1. Fork Qt, let the community maintain it.
    2. Ditch Qt, use any of the dozen other free/libre toolkits out there.
    • Re:...so? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrHanky (141717) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:07PM (#36301716) Homepage Journal

      3) Stop believing in crap opinion pieces by random know-nothings on the web.

    • Ditch Qt, use any of the dozen other free/libre toolkits out there.

      The problem with this option is that Qt is vastly superior to any other FOSS toolkit. In fact, I dare say that it's better than most UI toolkits, regardless of the license.

  • by hardaker (32597) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:07PM (#36301720) Homepage

    ... where a reputable news source would have checked its sources for accuracy first. stagnated and stalled? Hmm... Just two weeks ago we had very different news [slashdot.org].

    In reality, even if Qt stopped dead in the water with no development from anyone, it'd still be one of the best documented GUI libraries out there. I've never been a fanboy of any particular software suite, but the more and more I've dove into Qt in the last year the more I'm truly impressed with the design and documentation of the toolkit. Somehow I don't think it's going away.

  • They can spin Trolltech back out, if as a product it is worth the money. Or, all the fans/supporters can pick up the GPLed portions of QT and keep the ball rolling (if there is indeed a groundswell of community support). It's not like Nokia is holding the only copy of the QT source code, and is dangling it over a bottomless pit...

    This happens to projects and products all the time. The article, for it's good intentions, makes it sound like no software ever died on the vine before. Yeah, right.

  • by t_hunger (449259) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:15PM (#36301822)

    Since the windows 7 announcement the following things happend in Qt land: The Qt SDK had mayor update, Qt Creator had a new release, Qt had some minor updates, the open governance program is in full swing, Qt 5 was announced with open planning, there is a Contributor Summit coming up to discuss all these changes with non-Nokia developers...

    Yeap, Qt has all the hallmarks of a dead project!

    • by suy (1908306) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:57PM (#36302758) Homepage

      Exactly, just a quick look at the dev blog [nokia.com] shows the following updates with respect to new features (some stable releases, some tech preview):

      • QML Scene Graph in master branch
      • Qt Webkit minor releas
      • Qt 4.8 tech preview
      • Updates on Qt Creator, and its integration on the SDK
      • Updates on the open governance
      • Qt Quick 3D
      • Qt Mobility 1.2
      • First plans for Qt 5

      This is only during May. If anything, I see Qt more alive than ever.

      There is also the misconception that only the Qt developers do interesting research and add features. That's very wrong. Lots of KDE ideas were implemented in Qt at one point or another. Also note that companies like Digia or ICS (and several others) are now way more involved in Qt than ever, and will be more once the open governance transition finishes.

  • Report of Qt's death is greatly exaggerated.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:30PM (#36301960)

    ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME!

  • Regardless of what the Qt developers do, the toolkit is very good and available. You can just use it to build your software and let the rest of the world jump in a lake. The worst that can happen is that Qt development will be slow and steady.

  • by byuu (1455609) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:34PM (#36301992)
    I hate to come across as advertising, but for those worried about the possibility of any specific API going away ...

    I've found that most small to mid-sized GUI applications only really need the basics: windows, menus, buttons, check/radio boxes, list/tree views, sliders, scollbars, combo boxes, and something to render graphics (Direct3D/OpenGL/raw pixels) onto. It won't get you Photoshop or Quark Xpress, but that's enough for most CLI frontends, emulators, text/hex editors, office tools, etc.

    I put all my eggs in the Qt basket and got burned by a lot of platform-specific bugs. So I took all the core features and wrote a unified wrapper around all of the major toolkit APIs: pure Win32, GTK+ and Qt. In this way, there are no 4-10MB run-time library dependencies, the code is much simpler, and I feel my applications are more portable: the wrapper is so small one could port it to eg Haiku, Cocoa, etc in roughly one weekend. I can also target any platform (Win32, Win64, Linux, OS X), and any toolkit available on each, with the exact same codebase. Eg both Gnome and KDE users gets 100% native apps.

    Doesn't have a snazzy public name, but internally I call it phoenix, and it's available here [byuu.org], if anyone is interested. There are, of course, obvious downsides: if you want a complex GUI, you would have to add the higher-order, platform-specific (floating docks, grid views, tab bars, sheets) controls yourself. And it also targets C++0x, which is great for lambda callbacks, but bad for portability at the moment.
    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:16PM (#36302390) Journal

      So I took all the core features and wrote a unified wrapper around all of the major toolkit APIs: pure Win32, GTK+ and Qt.

      It sounds like you reinvented wxWidgets?

      • Lots of people have actually done this at a personal level. It's fun to do, and gives you more control over what happens. Its not like wxWidgets is particularly beautiful, so why not if you have the time?
        • Oh yes, I know how "just for fun" works in this case. I wrote my own UI toolkit ages ago as well, though that was actually for (and in) my own programming language.

          Anyway, if you follow the thread where the original poster replied, he actually has a rational argument aside from just having fun - his wrapper is thin enough that the output is much less bloated than even wxWidgets.

          • I've used wxWidgets before, and it's ok, but awkward. It's based on MFC, which is archaic and difficult.

            I am interested though, what was your own language like?
            • I've used wxWidgets before, and it's ok, but awkward. It's based on MFC, which is archaic and difficult.

              It's not really based on MFC - it's a clean source base - but its design is definitely ... MFCish ... mostly due to the use of macro-driven message dispatch maps.

              I am interested though, what was your own language like

              A concise description would be "BASIC with classes".

              There used to be a project called Rapid-Q [phatcode.net] which was basically that - it was a bytecode interpreter written in Delphi that, effectively, exposed large parts of VCL to its interpreted code. It also attached the bytecode to the interpreter binary, so you ended up with fairly small (~300kb) programs,

              • Nice! The website doesn't look bad for 2000, either. Feels pretty good to have someone else pick up a project you started.
    • by master_p (608214)

      You nailed it with callbacks that allow using lambdas, but you failed at memory management (Phoenix expects to delete everything on exit) and on containers (why do you define your own?).

  • The other option (Score:2, Interesting)

    by greg1104 (461138)

    As opposed to GTK+, where the project is healthy, the toolkit project is changing rapidly, and GNOME's future is uncertain because there's a giant user backlash over the changes.

    • I'll fix it for you:

      "As opposed to GTK+, where the project is healthy, the toolkit project is changing rapidly, and GNOME's future is uncertain because the Gnome developers lost their goddam minds and shat out a turd called Gnome3."

      • by greg1104 (461138)

        That's not the whole story. Don't forget that Ubuntu has shat out a turd called Ubiquity, too.

        With GNOME 3.0, Ubiquity, and the uncertainty around QT/KDE, I haven't been this scared for my Linux desktop in years.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Yes; the despicable horror that is Unity was the only reason I even gave one hour to checking out Gnome3 (much against my better judgement). No more than that. That's an hour of my life I will never get back.

          I am disturbed about some trends recently in the linux kernel itself, but as much as the wanton destruction of the perfectly good Gnome2 desktop angers me, I don't really despair for the linux desktop. Xfce only requires a bit more polish to be a good alternative, and there is LXDE if you don't deman

  • Meanwhile..... (Score:5, Informative)

    by diegocg (1680514) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:38PM (#36302034)

    ...QT continues developing announcing cool features, like the QML scene graph [nokia.com] (post from today)

  • by volkerdi (9854) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:42PM (#36302068)

    The only truth here is that the article was written by a completely ignorant asshat.

  • If QT gets a wrapper so it can handle GTK apps, then its future would be more certain than ever. With the crap that is Gnome 3, I'd happily switch to KDE so long as all my apps work there. Of course you can install GTK along with KDE so they'll work, but not needing the whole of GTK would be nice. Or I suppose I can just find KDE apps, but what about GIMP and Inkscape on KDE?
    • by TD-Linux (1295697)
      GTK as a library is big, but not horribly big. If you aren't too tight on disk space or RAM, using a theme available for both (i.e. Oxygen) works well enough for me.
    • by jbolden (176878)

      A wrapper is going to be not much different that GTK. Everything is open source its not worth the effort to re-implement GTK and keep it current, it ain't gonna happen.

    • by bahstid (927038)
      Don't know if I'm missing your question here, but Inkscape and GIMP are fine on KDE - until you mentioned it, I've never actually thought of them as being anything different (or maybe never having been a gnome user than for more than a few hours, didn't notice their gnomishness). Have never bothered to check how much overhead they pull along with them...
  • When you overuse commas, it has the effect, of making your writing, read as though it were being read, by William Shatner.

  • There seems to be a lot of talk about whether KDE might (eventually) need to fork Qt, but this misses an important point - Qt is not just a "KDE widget toolkit". It's the best cross-platform UI (and many other things, actually) framework at the moment. If Nokia drops future development and KDE takes over, will they have desire and resources to maintain Windows and OS X ports? what about embedded?

    It would be a damn shame to see Qt relegated to KDE backend, with future development being restricted to X11 vers

    • by bcmm (768152)
      KDE apps are not just for use with the KDE workspace. There are many KDE project actively porting their applications to other environments, including MacOS and Windows.
      • Yes, but right now they can do so because they have a huge chunk of that porting effort done for them for "free" by people who develop Qt. I'm not so sure if all those projects would have manpower to maintain - much less further develop - the Qt/Windows and Qt/Mac ports on their own; at least without detrimental effect on their own release schedules.

  • As soon as Nokia's stock price drops another 8 percent, I'm buying a bunch to hold.

    As soon as the Nokia Windows phones start coming out, I'm going to be out of Nokia like a prom dress.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      WP7 when it was released it was already behind iOS and even Android.

      WP7 was released in November 2010, with a major update expected late 2011. When it was released it was considered by reviewers to be on par with older generations of iOS and Android, not even the then-current Android 2.2 and iOS 4.1. Since then I can find only minor updates, mostly bugfixes and security fixes.

      A month later Android released 2.3, since then it has released 3.0 and expects another major version before the end of this year.

      A

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        MS is falling more and more behind with WP7. Unless a miracle happens for WP8 (but then: where's the marketing hype?) they'll only fall behind more, and Nokia is falling with it.

        Of course you're right. That doesn't mean there isn't an opportunity for a little short term profit by a careful (?) investor.

  • Dont be Douches...

    LGPL the whole thing. free it to the world completely. If you want to make a difference do this.

    If you want to be jerks... kill it and keep it in a safe forever to rot away.

    Because you either can gain great credit and renown, or become that company that squirreled away something you though had value, but was made value-less by the OSS version that will be created within moments of you doing the jerk move.

    • They did that years ago. And it was GPLed before that. And there's an option to release it under other licenses if they drop it in their contracts with the KDE foundation (or somebody similar).

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:27PM (#36304236) Journal

    Here's why.
    Qt5 will have the maturity needed to accomplish the following:
    Whole client-side programs written in Javascript (QML) that use OpenCL/GL and web resources. (Better than Flash)
    LGPL (Better than Flash)
    Client and server apps (Better than Flash)
    One platform for Web, Phone and desktop (same as AIR)

    Qt went 4.8-rc-1 recently with all these features, but when Qt5 comes out it'll have the maturity it needs. SceneGraph went into mainline today.

    Awesome is coming.

  • Isn't the author here one of the hardcore "WE HATE KDE!"/"Choice is confusing!"/"Why can't Linux just be a version of Mac OSX that we don't have to pay for?" people on the "TuxRadar" podcast?

    That would explain the apparent overexcitement about the imagined doom of Qt. Premature Schadenfreud.

    (Try thinking about baseball next time, ...uh, or cricket, I guess.)

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