Posted Aug 23, 2002 3:03 UTC (Fri) by Peter
In reply to: Huh? KDE has had that for ages
Parent article: The GNOME Human Interface Guidlines
Flames from the gnomes about NIH are really not needed.
Let's talk about "Harmony".
OK, let's talk about Harmony. For those of you young 'uns, Harmony was
a project to reimplement the Qt graphics toolkit from scratch, using an
Open Source license (I think GPL, but it has been awhile). The TrollTech
Qt library was, at the time, not Open Source, and this caused major
problems for many people around the world, since it meant that KDE, which
has always been licensed under the GPL yet linked with the non-free Qt
library, was actually illegal to distribute. Accordingly, many who would
otherwise have loved to distribute KDE felt they could not do so without
mocking the GPL and its principles. (Violating the GPL because "the
software is basically free anyway" is not so different from violating the
Microsoft EULA because "warez are basically free anyway".)
Harmony was intended to replace Qt so that KDE could be legally
distributed. TrollTech refused to relicense Qt with a GPL-compatible
license (not that they had any obligation to do so!) and the KDE folks
refused to add a clause to the KDE license explicitly allowing it to be
linked with non-free libraries, or Qt in particular.
The Harmony project was never completed, mostly because TrollTech
eventually re-released Qt under the GPL (dual-licensed with their own
license terms) so the whole issue went away, leaving a lot of relieved
users and a faint sour taste in the mouth.
But before that happened, the Free Software Foundation helped found a
competing desktop environment based entirely on free software, so that KDE,
which was not even legal to distribute, would not be the only alternative
for people seeking a Pee Cee experience on Unix. It was and is called
GNOME, and the rest is more or less history in the making.
So tell me again, how were either Harmony or GNOME were NIH projects?
Both were founded to fill the need for a desktop based entirely on free
software. To ignore that point is revisionist. You may or may not believe
it was OK for the KDE team to release software whose license prohibited
its redistribution, but the competing projects were originally about
free software, not NIH.
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