Friday, June 13, 2008

Qt cannot be closed : Stop throwing the F.U.D.

Nokia Corporation's Dr Ari Jaaksi made a big misstep at the Handsets World conference in Berlin. According to some people it was possibly a misstep just large enough to require his immediate removal of employment from Nokia. This is what he had to say:
We want to educate open-source developers. There are certain business rules [developers] need to obey, such as DRM, IPR [intellectual property rights], SIM locks and subsidised business models.
Almost immediately after the reports went live on Dr. Ari's speeches a number of F.U.D. Throwers started declaring that the Qt tool kit was going to be taken closed sourced. Ergo there should be a massive stampede to GTK and Gnome, and the numerous Qt projects should just up and die. KDE4 is dead, and everybody is pleased with GTK.

Lets get back to reality for a second. The presumption that Qt would go closed source to begin with requires taking Dr. Ari's comments completely out of context, and attributing words and context that were not present. In other words, somebody with an axe to grind applied their own warped reality to Dr. Ari's speech. Now, Dr. Ari has issued a formal response, and it is on Blogger.

Before dealing with how I read the reports from Dr. Ari's speech I do need to put the kibosh on the idea that Qt can even go closed source. In fact, I can put the kibosh on that idea with just two's link, and one quote.

The first link is here : http://zerias.blogspot.com/2007/09/qt-and-gtk-impact.html

The second is here: http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/kdefreeqtfoundation.php

This is the quote from KDE's page:
To fulfil the purpose of the Foundation, an agreement between Trolltech and the Foundation was made. This gives the Foundation the right to release Qt under a BSD-style license in case Trolltech doesn't continue the development of the Qt Free Edition for any reason including, but not limited to, a buy-out of Trolltech, a merger or bankruptcy.
In other words, the possibility of a corporate entity buying out TrollTech and attempting to close up the source code was a possibility that was considered literally over a decade ago.

Okay, so if Dr. Ari did not suggest that Qt was being taken closed source, what did he say? Well, he said something Bruce Peren's has been saying. Many business's are still on legacy business models, and in the world of mobile phones, items like Digital Rights reMoval, Intellectual Property Rights, SIM locks, and subsidized business models are everyday occurrences. Dr. Ari has a point that Open Source developers do need to learn how to work with people stuck in proprietary models. That's one of the reasons why Mepis and Novell have become tops in their respective fields, the controllers have figured out how to work with existing infrastructure.

That doesn't mean that the open-source communities have to like certain agreements or practices. I, personally, loathe any attempts at Digital Rights reMoval. However, it was not until Amazon.com started selling music without the DRM there was little retail evidence to prove that bands and recording companies could be profitable with unlocked reasonably priced Music. Now that there is hard retail proof, Apple has been scrambling to cut deals authorizing DRM-free music tracks in order to keep Amazon.com out of the number #1 music supplier slot.

With the upcoming Android platform the cell phone market might be in a position to record similar proof that companies can still be profitable without things like SIM locks or DRM.

IPR though, is a different matter. The Open-Source communities are one of the strongest supporters of intellectual property rights there are. The most famous Open-Source License is the GNU Public License, or GPL. The GPL offers protections to the original author that some people view as draconian or viral. Nokia, and other handset makers, might be better served asking the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman on how to properly license and protect IPR. It would seem that history indicates that Mr. Stallman has a far better grasp on IPR than most large corporations.

2 comments:

Albert Astals Cid said...

It's Qt not QT

Saist said...

oops.. thanks, editing