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Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 20:21 UTC (Thu) by kripkenstein (guest, #43281)
In reply to: Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu by and
Parent article: Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

I always thought Gnome was started because Qt/Kde were not considered free enough
Yes, historically GTK was (at least in part) a response to licensing issues with Qt. Most (but not all) of those issues have meanwhile been resolved.
given the fact that Qt is GPL and you're can use basically any other FOSS license in conjunction with Qt as long as you keep providing the source, I don't get the point about licensing differences.
The problem is that you can't use all the FOSS licenses, you depend on Nokia agreeing to your using them. For example, last I heard the AGPL wasn't permissible (but perhaps this has changed?), and when the GPL4 comes out, there is no guarantee that Qt apps can be written using it. Should Nokia become less cooperative than Trolltech has historically been, this might be very problematic. It's hard to gauge how likely this danger is - probably not very much - but the risk is large enough to cause concern.

GNOME/GTK avoid this sort of problem entirely, by licensing the GNOME libraries under the LGPL.
I think a free desktop should be all about free software and shouldn't worry too much about how much proprietary developers have to pay for a development license.
I tend to agree with this, for the most part, but as I argued above the issue that concerns me is that Qt's licensing has potential risks for FOSS developers. If Nokia legally committed itself to allowing Qt apps to be written in any OSI or FSF-approved license, I would be happy, but that is not the case.
In my opinion gnome should come with a few Qt apps (also KDE should come with a few gtk apps, but that's a different story) if these applications blend sufficiently well into the 'alien' desktop environment...
Well, I'm in agreement - we should all collaborate as much as possible, when it makes sense. The issue is that (sadly) generally the apps don't blend in seamlessly. But perhaps this will improve in time.


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Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 5, 2008 22:48 UTC (Thu) by and (subscriber, #2883) [Link]

> The problem is that you can't use all the FOSS licenses, you depend on 
Nokia agreeing to your using them. For example, last I heard the AGPL 
wasn't permissible

Explicitly listing the AGPL is actually not necessary, since according to 

http://doc.trolltech.com/main-snapshot/license-gpl-except...

Qt is also licensed under GPLv3. In section 13 the GPLv3 states that "you 
have permission to link or combine any covered work with a work licensed 
under version 3 of the GNU Affero General Public License".

> Should Nokia become less cooperative than Trolltech has historically 
been, this might be very problematic.

this is true for any project which requires copyright assignments: 
OpenOffice and MySql come to mind. But they can't revoke the licensing of  
the current version including the GPL exception which means that they 
can't prevent forks. Also, there is still the QtFreeFoundation (or however 
it is was called again) which where is effectively controlled by the KDE 
community (KDE e.v ??) and has the right to release Qt under a BSD license 
if Trolltech "misbehaves". So, I really don't think there is any danger of 
losing the toolkit, not even for proprietary applications.

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 6, 2008 4:57 UTC (Fri) by kripkenstein (guest, #43281) [Link]


That's good to know about the AGPL, thanks for the information.
Should Nokia become less cooperative than Trolltech has historically been, this might be very problematic.
this is true for any project which requires copyright assignments: OpenOffice and MySql come to mind.
I don't think copyright assignments is the issue.

I'm not familiar with MySQL, but OpenOffice is LGPL, not GPL; furthermore, OpenOffice is an app, not a framework like Qt. For both of these reasons I see little or no cause for concern if Sun should change OpenOffice's license to some other FOSS license. That is, if I want to write a plugin for OpenOffice using the GPL4, I will have no problem.

A more relevant comparison is GTK, which is a framework like Qt. GTK being LGPL, I have no worries about writing GTK apps in my FOSS license of choice in the future.
But they can't revoke the licensing of the current version including the GPL exception which means that they can't prevent forks.
The problem is that no fork can add additional licenses, so if e.g. Nokia decides not to allow Qt apps to be written in GPL4, then no forking can help with that. We will be stuck in perpetuity with the last list of licenses Nokia has allowed us to use.
Also, there is still the QtFreeFoundation (or however it is was called again) which where is effectively controlled by the KDE community (KDE e.v ??) and has the right to release Qt under a BSD license if Trolltech "misbehaves".
This does not solve the problems I've mentioned. Nokia can continue to release Qt regularly while not allowing the GPL4, and Qt will not revert to a BSD license. "Misbehaves", as defined in that agreement, doesn't cover the problems that concern me.

(Also, it isn't Trolltech anymore, but Nokia ;) )

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 6, 2008 15:13 UTC (Fri) by and (subscriber, #2883) [Link]

> I'm not familiar with MySQL, but OpenOffice is LGPL, not GPL;       
furthermore, OpenOffice is an app, not a framework like Qt. For both of       
these reasons I see little or no cause for concern if Sun should change       
OpenOffice's license to some other FOSS license. That is, if I want to       
write a plugin for OpenOffice using the GPL4, I will have no problem.        
       
if you are really this much concerned about not being able to use       
not-yet-existing OSS licenses and about being able to write proprietary    
derivate works without a payment, you really should be using a BSD instead    
of the linux kernel: Even if there  was desire to switch to GPLv3, linux    
is still stuck to the GPL v2 until _every_ contributor agreed on    
relicensing or alternatively every single line of code from authors who    
haven't agreed is removed.     
     
on the other hand you will always be able to use/fork/remix all versions  
of Qt with (A)GPLv(2|3) code and link it to any code which uses one of the       
licenses mentioned in Qt's GPL exception. Also if you want to use your 
code with a newer license you can still dual-license it. 

Mark Shuttleworth on the future of Ubuntu

Posted Jun 6, 2008 18:24 UTC (Fri) by kripkenstein (guest, #43281) [Link]

Actually the Linux kernel is close enough to what I want: I can write userspace apps using any
license and run them on the Linux kernel. It's like the LGPL in that respect. That is, only if
I want to extend the kernel itself do I have license issues - which is the same situation with
GTK+, which is LGPL.

In other words, that the Linux kernel stays GPL2 doesn't matter to me, unless I want to extend
the kernel itself. Same as with GTK (which is also GPL2 last I checked, and again, it doesn't
matter unless I extend GTK itself).

This is the reason I prefer GTK and the Linux kernel's approach to licensing over Qt's (for
libraries/frameworks, at least. For normal apps, other licenses might be better).


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