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Nokia Announces Qt Open Governance Model

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the software-wants-to-be-free dept.

KDE 39

chill writes "Over the past year the Qt Developers have been working to sort out how they can make development of Qt even more inclusive and open. After exploring various options, they are now almost ready to go live with the new solution. It's taken a little longer than expected, but they are now very close to moving hosting of Qt to a new domain: qt-project.org [domain not yet live when posted]. The domain will be owned by a non-profit foundation whose only purpose is to host the infrastructure for the Qt project. More details of the changes are available at the Qt Open Governance Model wiki."

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FinallY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400120)

I've been waiting almost 6 months for this!!

Lazy Consensus (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400198)

I love their adherence to lazy consensus. You see here everyone, it's very important to be lazy!

FTA:

Lazy consensus is a very important concept within the Project. It is this process that allows a large group of people to efficiently reach consensus, as someone with no objections to a proposal need not spend time stating their position, and others need not spend time reading such mails.

Re:Lazy Consensus (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400500)

I love their adherence to lazy consensus.

I agree

Re:Lazy Consensus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37401568)

TL;DR: <- Means I agree.
Note: This post IS, and these very words ARE redundant.

Re:Lazy Consensus (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#37403326)

He was joking around mostly... putting a lazy response to my comment about liking the lazy consensus is ironic.

One foot in? (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400468)

This is a pleasant surprise. I had understood that Nokia had become entirely dependent on Windows Phone and was setting itself up to be acquired as Microsoft's mobile unit, but then why would they need Qt when MFC/.NET is readily available?

It sounds like somebody decided that they need to keep their options open, which is smart:

At the end of June 2011, Marco Argenti, SVP, Nokia Developer Experience, confirmed that Nokia will âoemake Qt core to bringing applications to the next billion,â and he reassured developers that investments made in Qt today will live on in the future with Nokia. Adding the information about the 9M+ downloads per day on the Ovi Store, already today, provides a hint about the opportunity developers have with Nokia.

To mince the fine points with the submitter:

foundation whose only purpose is to host the infrastructure for the Qt project

There seems to be at least two things going on. The above statement is true:

I want to make it very clear that the foundation will not steer the project in any way. The foundation is in place only to cover the costs of hosting and run the infrastructure.

But this is also different:

All technical decisions, as well as decisions about the project direction, will be taken by the community of Contributors, Approvers and Maintainers. For example this means that people in Nokia working on Qt will start working with Qt as an upstream project. Everyone will be using the same infrastructure, including mailing lists and IRC ... but it may surprise you that that around 15% of the initial Maintainers do not work for Nokia. We also have quite a few Approvers from companies and the community. ...

The Qt governance, roadmap and releases will be driven openly by the Qt Project â" open to all the stakeholders willing to contribute. It will have an open governance model [nokia.com] based on equal access to all discussions and tools, an open contribution process and meritocratic assignment of roles. We want Qt to excel by all measurements as a transparent, merit-based and participative open source community project. We believe this is the key to speeding up development and increasing the adoption of Qt.

Yet, they recognize the elephant in the room and are open about it:

As a last point I wanted to talk about one thing that is fixed for the project and not going to go away. To contribute to Qt, you will have to sign a Contribution License Agreement with Nokia. We have put a lot of effort keeping the Qt codebase legally clear and clean, and this attention to detail will continue under the Qt Project. We have been over the last months reviewed the CLA extensively with many stakeholders and believe we have a solution that is as inclusive as possible for all companies and individuals that want to contribute to Qt. The CLA also enables the commercial ecosystem around Qt to continue to thrive and contribute to the project. Further, there are a number of legal obligations from Trolltech and Nokia that have to be taken into account.

This license [nokia.com] has a few problems any contributing entity is going to feel leery about. Just a few that jump out:

For the avoidance of doubt, Nokia has the right and no obligation whatsoever to utilize any Contribution and Nokia shall have the right, at its exclusive discretion, to include, suspend and/or exclude any Contribution from any release of Nokia Software Products.

I can see why Nokia wants to not imply they'll maintain a useless patchset forever, but they also have a potential strategic weapon against competitors here.

The seat, or legal place, of arbitration shall be Helsinki, Finland.

This is a good way to scare off potential small contributors. I'm not going to agree to perhaps need to travel to Finland so I can submit a fifty line bugfix, how 'bout you?

The license seems to have good intents, but GPLv3 or one of the other established and vetted licenses that covers patent grants would have been better. This license will make some people want to fork. But overall it looks like a good babystep for a corporation to take.

Re:One foot in? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400600)

Supposedly, the new licence agreement is going to be better than the one you linked to.

http://labs.qt.nokia.com/2011/09/12/qt-project/#comment-27802

Switch platforms without switching apps (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401814)

why would they need Qt when MFC/.NET is readily available?

To allow development of an application that runs on both Microsoft platforms and non-Microsoft platforms whose official developer tools don't include an implementation of CLR and Silverlight. If a single application can target both non-Microsoft platforms and Microsoft platforms, that'll let people switch to a Microsoft platform without having to give up applications. This is an advantage for Microsoft in a market where Microsoft is still like Shoeshine: an underdog. Now the core problem is that unmanaged platforms (such as iOS, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux) tend not to share a lot of programming languages with purely managed platforms (such as Windows Phone 7, Xbox Live Indie Games, and Android prior to the NDK), so porting an app from one to the other still involves an error-prone line-by-line rewrite of all the application logic, let alone the UI.

Re:One foot in? (1)

naranek (1727936) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401908)

This is a good way to scare off potential small contributors. I'm not going to agree to perhaps need to travel to Finland so I can submit a fifty line bugfix, how 'bout you?

It's about a 15 minute bus drive to Nokia HQ from where I live, so...

Re:One foot in? (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 3 years ago | (#37407884)

MFC is shit and .NET requires a VM. Qt is a much better choice when all you need is a barebones GUI application executable programmed quickly.

Euphemism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400522)

That's a very nice way of saying "Nokia abandons Qt".

Re:Euphemism (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401274)

I agree.

Nokia has reduced itself to being nothing more than a smartphone hardware manufacturer for Microsoft, but they still want to control, even if indirectly, Qt's development and contributions, even from volunteers. It doesn't matter where the code is hosted, it only matters WHO owns and controls the code. In other words, which license is used. That's why they've chosen the LGPL v2.1 By coding significant features or enhancements as proprietary binaries, it forces Qt to be LGPL in order to utilize those features or enhancements, thus Nokia can control the direction of development of Qt while still claiming it is "open". When explaining why LGPL should not be used [gnu.org] the GNU project states:

If we amass a collection of powerful GPL-covered libraries that have no parallel available to proprietary software, they will provide a range of useful modules to serve as building blocks in new free programs. This will be a significant advantage for further free software development, and some projects will decide to make software free in order to use these libraries. University projects can easily be influenced; nowadays, as companies begin to consider making software free, even some commercial projects can be influenced in this way.

Proprietary software developers, seeking to deny the free competition an important advantage, will try to convince authors not to contribute libraries to the GPL-covered collection. For example, they may appeal to the ego, promising “more users for this library” if we let them use the code in proprietary software products. Popularity is tempting, and it is easy for a library developer to rationalize the idea that boosting the popularity of that one library is what the community needs above all.

But we should not listen to these temptations, because we can achieve much more if we stand together. We free software developers should support one another. By releasing libraries that are limited to free software only, we can help each other's free software packages outdo the proprietary alternatives. The whole free software movement will have more popularity, because free software as a whole will stack up better against the competition.

This might be a time to say "Thanks, but no thanks". A time to take the last GPL version of the code and fork it away from Nokia's (and Microsoft's) control. Perhaps kde.org is a nice place to host the code because the most significant software created with Qt is the KDE desktop.

Re:Euphemism (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401486)

That would make sense if Nokia actually coded significant features or enhancements to Qt as proprietary binaries, which AFAIK is not the case.

Re:Euphemism (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401786)

IF that is true, that Nokia has not added any functionality, fixes, or enhancements as proprietary binary libraries, the there is nothing stopping KDE.org or any other FOSS project from forking the latest Qt 4.7.1 code, except that it was released as LGPL v2.1. So, KDE.org would have to revert to Qt 4.4, which was under the GPL, because Qt4.5 was released in January of 2009 under the LGPL

Re:Euphemism (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#37402194)

OK, so basically you have no fucking clue what's going on but like to post long, paranoid ramblings about Nokia infesting the LGPL Qt library with proprietary binary code while paying lip service to the FOSS community. It's called FUD, and you're a cunt.

Re:Euphemism (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 3 years ago | (#37402216)

Huh? Without violating the LGPL you can take an LGPL library, make some changes, and release the result under the GPL. This is explicity allowed by the license. In fact it is required if the code you add is GPL, you cannot release the result as LGPL.

Re:Euphemism (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 3 years ago | (#37404632)

Looking at our "never release the source" repository, I do see several packages with names libqt-* and qt*, so it seems like some stuff it proprietory. Some might be R&D packages only, not for distribution. But, by the looks of it, several seem to be plugins for well-known services. If you're desperately intereseted, you can find plenty more details on *.maemo.org. (In particular complaints about the closed nature of these kinds of libraries, one of which makes *no sense* to me, but what do I know, I'm not a legal bod, I'm just a code monkey.)

Of course, these things might not be "significant", I am also unable to judge that.

Re:Euphemism (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 3 years ago | (#37402208)

Nonsense. The RMS argument about libraries applies to Qt.

If Qt was GPL then it could not be used by non-GPL applications.

Now if Qt was the only toolkit in existence then this might do what RMS wants, which is force all software that needs a toolkit to be GPL.

However Qt is NOT the only toolkit in existence, and the desire to make non-GPL programs means there would be huge incentive to use something else.
This other thing would be learned by programmers and thus used even when a GPL Qt would have been acceptable. And the alternatives are much worse for Free Software, with licensing making GPL actually unusable for any of the code, and not having Linux versions.

Because the current LGPL Qt prevents this defection to another library that would be more harmful for Free Software, the LGPL on it is doing exactly what RMS wants and I think he is 100% in favor of it.

You might also note that GTK is LGPL and I think RMS has a lot more say in how that is being done.

*cough* symbian *cough* (1)

wtf (3259) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400574)

Isn't this what they tried to do with Symbian?

Let's hope they've learned some lessons and can apply them here. QT is one of the nicest C++ frameworks I've come across and it would be sad to see it's future mis-managed.

Re:*cough* symbian *cough* (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400974)

QT is one of the nicest C++ frameworks I've come across and it would be sad to see it's future mis-managed.

Seconded. The QT language itself is very mature, well-rounded, and includes things that C++ has sorely needed (decent string support, of all things, not to mention native threading...hell, even Java has built-in threading whereas plain C++ does not) The new QT Creator IDE is very nice as well. (the only drawback is that it's not in my distro's repositories so I have to manually install it) QT actually makes it fun to program in C++.

Re:*cough* symbian *cough* (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401022)

When I said "QT language", I meant "QT framework".

Re:*cough* symbian *cough* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37401164)

But given that QT code is written in a language that is mostly C++ but not quite, it actually fits.

I would be interested to see if there was any interest in abandoning MOC and adopting a C++ solution for slots/signals like libsigc++ or Boost.Signals 2.

Re:*cough* symbian *cough* (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 3 years ago | (#37402292)

I would like to see them drop all the STL and boost duplication and switch to standards as much as possible.

They don't have to drop MOC but it would be nice if they tried to figure out an equivalent that uses C++0x and macros.

The strings are not byte strings and therefore useless. This makes handling of UTF-8 and thus modern Unicode impossible because (like it or not) UTF-8 can contain invalid sequences and it is impossible to losslessly translate these to "wchar" or whatever crap they are using. It also makes things tremendously slow because any analysis of UTF-8 requires a malloc & copy (with many tests) before their string functions can be used. UTF-16 has no advantages over UTF-8, it is also variable-sized and can have invalid sequences (well it has a trivial advantage on Windows as many Windows api's want it, however I suspect the overhead of translation would be reduced by only translating at the moment the Windows call is done, rather than for every single string in the world! Also it would allow invalid sequences to throw errors at a much more sensible moment, I want an invalid filename to fail to open the file, not throw an error when I read it from the database!)

Re:*cough* symbian *cough* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37404430)

I agree with you in general; I would love to see Qt positioned as a component of the standard C++ world rather than a peer of it.

However, IIRC the transition from Qt3 to Qt4 was excessively painful due to too many changes that required significant changes to program source, and part of the messaging around Qt5 has been that those changes will not be required this time around.

Re:*cough* symbian *cough* (1)

CockMonster (886033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401396)

I was jsut about to post about this. Nokia commits to a lot of things and generally they fail to pan out. I think we'll be revisiting this story in a year or so.

Re:*cough* symbian *cough* (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37403216)

As I understand it, the leadership behind Qt is not the same as the leadership behind much of Nokia or even Symbian. They definitely have a better understanding of how to work with communities and do things in the open than Nokia does.

STL already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400980)

Let's hope that with this Qt drops their brain-dead decision to duplicate every STL component ever devised in favour of Qt's half-bake versions, let alone their absurd decision to not support std::string.

Re:STL already (1)

doti (966971) | more than 3 years ago | (#37402482)

At the time they started coding Qt, STL was still very immature, even embryonic. So it's was not that brain-dead a decision back then.

Of course now it's a major nuisance.
Other one being their signal/slot implementation, with the inconvenient moc precompiler.

Qt is already pretty good, but with STL, std::string and boost::signals, it would be perfect.

After what they did to symbian... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37401652)

I have one thing to say, and I'll say it quite regardless of any merits qt may or may not have: Fuck you, nokia.

Sad apathy. (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37401872)

The sad apathy and silence around this move, and the Qt project, shows how far Slashdot's reader base has fallen from being interested in FOSS and open development models.

It's all about being treated as second-rate by Google these days, white knighting for Apple, or reading shit articles posted by samzenpus/kdawson/timothy.

Re:Sad apathy. (2)

Jerry (6400) | more than 3 years ago | (#37402078)

...shows how far Slashdot's reader base has fallen from being interested in FOSS and open development models.

I've noticed that too. That and the tendency of comments to veer off into discussions unrelated to the article, only to degenerate into exchanges of insults. /. was reported in a story a week ago as being among the dying websites. It's easy to see why.

Re:Sad apathy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37402866)

I love to read things from /.. Perhaps I should start to write something here too?

Re:Sad apathy. (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#37404784)

I've noticed that too. That and the tendency of comments to veer off into discussions unrelated to the article, only to degenerate into exchanges of insults. /. was reported in a story a week ago as being among the dying websites. It's easy to see why.

Maybe because you've provided two of the most clueless comments on this article, taking it very much off track with a zany conspiracy theory? You're not exactly pulling the average up, you know. But I guess that counts like an insult.

Re:Sad apathy. (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 3 years ago | (#37404288)

I might be showing my age by saying that I've noticed that too.

Re:Sad apathy. (2)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#37404626)

I think a lot of people may have written off QT for dead. With Nokia becoming a glorified Microsoft lacky, most of the excitement that a Nokia product would have once generated has been replaced by resignation. For many QT fans and developers, the question is not a matter of if Nokia will shutter QT, but of when.

Re:Sad apathy. (1)

The Evil Brain (2031868) | more than 3 years ago | (#37405818)

I think a lot of people may have written off QT for dead. With Nokia becoming a glorified Microsoft lacky, most of the excitement that a Nokia product would have once generated has been replaced by resignation. For many QT fans and developers, the question is not a matter of if Nokia will shutter QT, but of when.

Except that Nokia insists that they have big plans for Qt. Apparently, they are moving it down to their lower-end featurephones which is kind of a big deal seeing that they sell a gazillion of them each year. They may be pushing Windows phone nowadays, but high-end smartphones are just one (rapidly shrinking) part of their overall business. The rumour is they are planning to launch a launch bunch of Qt enabled featurephones at NokiaWorld next month. There are millions of Africans, Indians and Chinese literally frothing at the mouth waiting for the next cheap nokia phone. If Nokia can come up with something good, they'll sell millions and it'll become much harder for devs to keep ignoring them. Don't count Nokia out yet.

Re:Sad apathy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408268)

I'm an american, I have no idea what you just said. Is that a new type of Google iphone?

It's a trap (1)

happyfeet2000 (1208074) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408666)

It's all a trap! What Nokia really wants is Open Source developers develop the new Nokia platform for free! Then they will come and pick the best. Now, how do you get developers in? Easy, taunt them with throwing Nokia in Microsoft's arms. Clever clever...
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