EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.29.08

A Reader Explains the Nokia/Trolltech Effect on KDE

Posted in Antitrust, Deals, GNU/Linux, KDE at 1:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Moments ago we found the following interesting bit from the BBC:

The EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes talks to Peter Day about her power and influence on takeovers and cartels … and the benefits to consumers.

In the above, mind the part about takeovers and recall yesterday's discussion which involved one of our readers. Another reader wrote in to share his excellent insights on this topic. He permitted us to share parts of the correspondence:


[BN:] I know you like KDE and I really don’t like that new marriage…

[...]

[Reader:] We’re still trying to work out what the Nokia acquisition means…

Yes we like KDE, but have never had any dealings with Trolltech…

They’ve always been a source of problems for KDE. Right back in the old days, it was the licencing terms around QT that caused the formation of GNOME and the GNOME-KDE wars. From my (entirely personal) perspective, this got sorted out by the GPLing of QT for Free Software projects.

Trolltech have always occupied that strange ambiguous place. I have never understood how a Free Software/Open Source company can view itself as a product company, and Trolltech illustrate the case very well. I’ve never viewed the guys there as evil however, just disinterested.

Nokia are quite a different bucket of worms. As you point out, the Nokia attitude to software patents sucks, and they have been responsible for a reasonable amount of evil. My gut feel is that the Trolltech acquisition is *bad news*.

I’m afraid that’s all I can give you at the moment, and it’s all in the area of subjective viewpoint and speculation – as I said, we are trying to figure it all out ourselves right now…

The only concrete thing I can give you which is worth looking into is the licencing issue. At the moment QT is effectively GPL… [someone] tells me that the talk by Trolltech caused a few people to scratch there heads and ask “what was *that* all about?”… It seems that Trolltech repeated several times that if they went bust, or were *acquired*, then QT would be moved to a *BSD* licence… We suspect that the speaker had knowledge of the upcoming deal, hence the reiteration that the licencing of QT was about to change.

What does it all mean? I don’t know yet. I have a bad feeling that it may well reopen the KDE-GNOME wars, and it doesn’t look too great to me if QT disappears down a BSD hole and into the death-grip of a serial proprietrist with a hard-on for software patents :(

At best we are looking at a GPL’d ‘OpenQT’ for based on the last available GPL code, and life continues as usual.

It’s a damn shame it’s happened though. And as you point out on BN, we are seeing the oligopolists picking off some of the vulnerable Free Software infants :(

In one sense, the vulnerability comes as soon as a Free Software company accepts VC cash. In Trolltechs case, they had taken it one step further on when they floated on the Norwegian stock exchange. From there, it was almost impossible for them to accept an offer like Nokia’s – they were answerable to their investors.

Finally, at it’s widest view, it raises the interesting question of whether a Free Software company can stay true to the principles of Free Software once it has taken VC money and/or external investors…

[...]

[BN:] As I repeatedly say, just ignoring a problem (e.g. Mono, Novell) won’t make it go away. Awareness is our pal.

[Reader:] …please be clear that musings are all they are at the moment. I don’t have any kind of insider knowledge here, we are trying to figure the deal out as we speak, and I am merely *speculating*…

[...]

Some more of our current thinking…

Glyn has an entirely positive take on the deal:
http://www.computerworlduk.com/toolbox/open-source/blogs/inde…

If Glyn is *correct*, and Nokia intend for the GPL to stay, then we are in a ‘net neutral’ position for the Free Software world. We then only have Nokia management incompetence and stupidity to fear…

Where we are seeing a strange ambiguity about this is in the semi-private statements from Trolltech to the KDE ‘insiders’ at the KDE4 launch a little while back (referred to in my last email). It is here in its entirety:
http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=28669672489934…

“You will see that he goes out of his way to point out that QT would end up BSD’d after an acquisition…”The really revealing stuff is 15 mins 30 seconds in to the presentation. Bear in mind that this is Trolletech’s CEO, and he flew off immediately after the speech (most likely back to the negotiations with Nokia – a €100m+ deal would be right at the top of his ‘todo’ list). You will see that he goes out of his way to point out that QT would end up BSD’d after an acquisition…

Our best be as to what the deal is all about is QTopia. Nokia will be aware of the platform’s potential and will probably have seen the Open Moko.
As a corporate, they would be paying a licence fee to Trolltech for its use. Some bean counter would have added up the figures and declared “it would be cheaper to buy them”, and so it came to pass…

In this scenario, the Free Software piece would be incidental, if not irrelevant, to Nokia. It is entirely possible they would be content to allow it to continue as a GPL project. As I say above, we then ‘only’ have the problem of incompetent Nokia management being applied to it – if they only care about the QTopia piece, they will not likely care much about the KDE relationship, or any of the other responsibilities Trolltech have taken on as part of their participation in the Free Software world…

I guess only time will tell…


We shall certainly write more about this development as things begin to come clearer.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    January 29, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Gravatar

    > It seems that Trolltech repeated several times that if they went bust, or were *acquired*, then QT would be moved to a *BSD* licence…

    That’s a complete false statement and it’s no surprise that this site reposts such rubbish. Why don’t you read the KDE Free Qt Foundation docs? It’s up in the Web:

    “In particular, should Trolltech ever discontinue making regular releases of the Qt Free Edition for any reason – including a buyout or merger of Trolltech or the liquidation of Trolltech – the Qt Free Edition will be released under the BSD license ”

    Quite a difference meaning.

  2. David Mohring (NZheretic) said,

    January 29, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Gravatar

    http://lwn.net/Articles/94945/

    KDE.News reports that Trolltech and the KDE Free Qt Foundation have signed an updated agreement. “The revised Agreement continues to honour the original purposes of the Foundation. In particular, should Trolltech ever discontinue making regular releases of the Qt Free Edition for any reason – including a buyout or merger of Trolltech or the liquidation of Trolltech – the Qt Free Edition will be released under the BSD license and optionally under one or more other Open Source Licenses designated by the Board of the Foundation.”

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 29, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Gravatar

    That a relief. The reader who worried about that will hopefully see this important update/correction.

  4. David Mohring (NZheretic) said,

    January 29, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Gravatar

    http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/kdefreeqt_announcement_20040723.php
    http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/kdefreeqtfoundation.php#updated_agreement

  5. Victor Soliz said,

    January 29, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Gravatar

    I think that’s not a great thing if QT goes to a BSD license like that deal says, losing the GPL on this will not be a great thing and shall allow some propietary garbage to come out of such an important thing as QT, I just hope Nokia don’t go into trying to break Trolltech’s deal and force the Free QT foundation to use a less protective license , cause it sounds like exactly what Microsoft would like to happen.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 29, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft loves BSD. Ask people who know about licences and they’ll tell you this. With BSD, it would be easier for Microsoft to crush some more competitors.

What Else is New


  1. Links 18/3/2019: Solus 4, Linux 5.1 RC1, Mesa 18.3.5, OSI Individual Member Election Won by Microsoft

    Links for the day



  2. Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

    Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network



  3. Director Iancu Generally Viewed as a Lapdog of Patent Trolls

    As Director of the Office, Mr. Iancu, a Trump appointee, not only fails to curb patent trolls; he actively defends them and he lowers barriers in order to better equip them with bogus patents that courts would reject (if the targets of extortion could afford a day in court)



  4. Links 17/3/2019: Google Console and IBM-Red Hat Merger Delay?

    Links for the day



  5. To Team UPC the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Has Become a Joke and the European Patent Office (EPO) Never Mentions It Anymore

    The EPO's frantic rally to the very bottom of patent quality may be celebrated by obedient media and patent law firms; to people who actually produce innovative things, however, this should be a worrisome trend and thankfully courts are getting in the way of this nefarious agenda; one of these courts is the FCC in Germany



  6. Links 16/3/2019: Knoppix Release and SUSE Independence

    Links for the day



  7. Stopping António Campinos and His Software Patents Agenda (Not Legal in Europe) Would Require Independent Courts

    Software patents continue to be granted (new tricks, loopholes and buzzwords) and judges who can put an end to that are being actively assaulted by those who aren't supposed to have any authority whatsoever over them (for decisions to be impartially delivered)



  8. The Linux Foundation Needs to Speak Out Against Microsoft's Ongoing (Continued) Patent Shakedown of OEMs That Ship Linux

    Zemlin actively thanks Microsoft while taking Microsoft money; he meanwhile ignores how Microsoft viciously attacks Linux using patents, revealing the degree to which his foundation, the “Linux Foundation” (not about Linux anymore, better described as Zemlin’s PAC), has been compromised



  9. Links 15/3/2019: Linux 5.0.2, Sublime Text 3.2

    Links for the day



  10. The EPO and the USPTO Are Granting Fake Patents on Software, Knowing That Courts Would Reject These

    Office management encourages applicants to send over patent applications that are laughable while depriving examiners the freedom and the time they need to reject these; it means that loads of bogus patents are being granted, enshrined as weapons that trolls can use to extort small companies outside the courtroom



  11. CommunityBridge is a Cynical Microsoft-Funded Effort to Show Zemlin Works for 'Community', Not Microsoft

    After disbanding community participation in the Board (but there are Microsoft staff on the Board now) the "Linux Foundation" (or Zemlin PAC) continues to take Microsoft money and polishes or launders that as "community"



  12. Links 14/3/2019: GNOME 3.32 and Mesa 19.0.0 Released

    Links for the day



  13. EPO 'Results' Are, As Usual, Not Measured Correctly

    The supranational monopoly, a monopoly-granting authority, is being used by António Campinos to grant an insane amount of monopolies whose merit is dubious and whose impact on Europe will be a net negative



  14. Good News Everyone! UPC Ready to Go... in 2015!

    Benoît Battistelli is no longer in Office and his fantasy (patent lawyers' fantasy) is as elusive as ever; Team UPC is trying to associate opposition to UPC with the far right (AfD) once again



  15. Links 13/3/2019: Plasma 5.15.3,Chrome 73 and Many LF Press Releases

    Links for the day



  16. In the Age of Trumpism EFF Needs to Repeatedly Remind Director Iancu That He is Not a Judge and He Cannot Ignore the Courts

    The nonchalance and carelessness seen in Iancu's decision to just cherry-pick decisions/outcomes (basically ignoring caselaw) concerns technologists, who rightly view him as a 'mole' of the litigation 'industry' (which he came from)



  17. Links 12/3/2019: Sway 1.0 Released, Debian Feuds Carry On

    Links for the day



  18. Microsoft is Complaining About Android and Chrome OS (GNU/Linux) Vendor Not Paying for Microsoft Patents (Updated)

    Microsoft, which nowadays does the patent shakedown against GNU/Linux by proxy, is still moaning about companies that don’t pay ‘protection’ money (grounds for antitrust action or racketeering investigation)



  19. Watchtroll Has Redefined "Trolls" to Mean Those Who Oppose Software Patents (and Oppose Trolls), Not Those Who Leverage These for Blackmail Alone

    The controversial change to 35 U.S.C. § 101 guidance is being opposed by the public (US citizens who oppose American software patents), so patent maximalists like Janal Kalis (“PatentBuddy”) and extremists like Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) want us to believe that the public is just “EFF” and cannot think for itself



  20. EPO's Latest 'Results' Show That António Campinos Has Already Given Up on Patent Quality and is Just Another Battistelli

    The patent-granting machine that the EPO has become reports granting growth of unrealistic scale (unless no proper examination is actually carried out)



  21. Links 11/3/2019: Linux 5.0.1, Audacity 2.3.1, GNU Coreutils 8.31

    Links for the day



  22. US Patent Law Currently Not Changing Much and Software Patents Are Still in Limbo

    Surveying the news, as we still meticulously do (even if we don't write about it), it seems clear that American courts hardly tolerate software patents and proponents of such patents are losing their voice (or morale)



  23. EPO Examiner: “I Have Been Against Software Patents and Eventually 3/4 of My Job is Examining Software Patent Applications.”

    Overworked examiners aren't being given the time, the tools and the freedom to reject patents, based on prior art, patent scope and so on; it is beginning to resemble a rubber-stamping operation, not an examining authority



  24. Europe Will Pay a High Price for Software Patents Advocacy by António Campinos in Europe's Patent-Granting Authority

    EPO President António Campinos — like Iancu at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) — is still promoting software patents in Europe even though such patents are clearly detrimental to Europe’s interests



  25. António Campinos -- Like His Father -- Lacks Support From Colleagues, Endorsed Only From the Top

    History lessons from Wikileaks



  26. Links 10/3/2019: GNU and GNOME Releases

    Links for the day



  27. Koch Brothers' Oil Money is Poisoning Academia and Distorting Scholarly Work/Research on Patents

    Meddling in patent law by the Kochs, the oil tycoons who can be seen everywhere Conservative think tanks are, shows no signs of abatement



  28. From Patents on Chewing Gum to Toothpaste Patents: How the EPO Came to Focus on Speed and Volume, Not Quality

    There’s still no proper quality control in place for European Patents — a severe problem which will only further exacerbate the legal uncertainty associated with all European Patents



  29. European Patent Office Press Releases (Two in Two Days) Are Disguised as 'News' and Tell the Opposite of the Truth

    The Office under the 'new' and 'improved' leadership of António Campinos seems to be repeating the mistakes of Battistelli by discrediting anything it says; its press releases, characteristically dubbed "news" for some reason, bear no resemblance to reality and are detached from facts EPO insiders have long known



  30. Links 9/3/2019: International Women’s Day, QtLottie

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts