So Nokia today have announced that they are to add the LGPL license to Qt. What does this mean for Qt and specifically Maemo? Well …
Open source code repositories
Qt will now be available in a publicly-accessible Git repository, meaning changes can easily be tracked and patches can be created more readily. For the first time developers can see exactly the direction Qt is taking and for any developer investing time and often money in their software and toolkit of choice, this is a big plus.
More commercial software
The switch to the LGPL means proprietary software can be created with the Qt toolkit. The commercial licensing that Qt previously had (you can distribute your software for free under the GPL but closed source projects require a license fee) meant that Qt hasn’t become as widespread as maybe it should of. I know of several projects that chose to use the less restrictive licensing of the GTK toolkit for this very reason. Lets hope the new license encourages more software, free or otherwise.
Often open source developers frown upon closed source projects but lets not forget the model that the iphone has. It has free and commercial software side by side. Often the commercial software is of a nominal fee, 99 cents or 59 pence here in the UK and I for one would gladly pay small amounts of money to see good software on my Maemo device.
Cross platform software
Qt is truly cross-platform, running on Windows, Mac, Linux and even Symbian. Developers that would usually target one platform can now use a toolkit that, with a tweak or two, can happily run on many. This can only open the flood gates for a slew new applications on the Maemo platform. Maybe this new software wasn’t originally targeted for Maemo, but when companies and individuals realize that they can offer their software to Maemo users with very little effort on their part, maybe we will see things that otherwise would never of worked on our tablets materialize.
Qt can now become a standard. There really is no excuse not to consider Qt when developing cross platform software. From the companies that need to make money with their software products to the individuals who do it for fun and everyone in between, all can use the same powerful, cross-platform toolkit.
Today, Nokia could of just changed the playing field for developers.