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Nokia’s open source mobile stack gets Qt

Jul 6, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Nokia's announced that with the upcoming “Harmattan” version of its Linux-based distribution, it will switch from the Gnome/GTK+ application framework to Qt, enabling both the use of KDE desktops and cross-platform development for Maemo and Symbian. Meanwhile, Nokia has dismissed a rumor that it's developing an Android-based netbook.

By switching to Qt, developers can more easily write applications for both Maemo and Nokia's Symbian operating system, says a blog on the Maemo site. The switch will also expand Maemo to support the KDE desktop environment in addition to GTK+, the blog adds.

Nokia acquired Trolltech over a year ago and renamed it as an entity called Qt Software, based on its primary product, the cross-platform Qt framework. Qt (pronounced "cute") is the dominant open source C++ GUI toolkit, whereas GTK+, which has been adopted by Maemo, is the dominant C GUI toolkit.

With the Harmattan switch, which was announced by Nokia's development platform product manager Quim Gil on Saturday at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, Maemo developers will have a choice between both GTK+ and the rival KDE desktop that has long been adopted by Qt.

According to the Maemo blog, although Maemo Harmattan will base its application framework on Qt, it will maintain most of the "Fremantle" (Maemo 5.0) middleware based on Gnome technologies. Maemo will continue to be a Gnome contributor and provide support for GTK+ libraries, according to the group.

Harmattan: Maemo's move to telephony

The Maemo Harmattan release will follow the open source Maemo 5.0 "Fremantle" release, which went beta in late April. Whereas Maemo 5 supports the HSPA 3G data capabilities of Nokia's upcoming N900 Internet Tablet, Harmattan is expected to extend that support to offer voice telephony features based on the oFono project, in collaboration with Intel and its open source Moblin project.

The integration of Qt and Maemo has been speculated ever since Nokia's Trolltech acquisition and announcement of plans for an open source Symbian over a year ago. With the recent pact with Intel, it seems increasingly likely that Maemo and Linux will be used for Nokia's future high-end smartphones and tablets, while Symbian will cover the still-vast market for lower-end smartphones and feature phones.

Meanwhile, developers may be able to span the two frameworks with a single Qt API, which is also compatible with Windows, Mac, and other platforms. According to a story in ZDNet UK, Gil was quoted in his presentation as saying, "There is an interesting possibility of getting a common API based on Qt for Maemo and Symbian. If you're developing for a platform like Maemo, which doesn't bring you millions of users, with that work you can then do a Symbian port and then have a much wider reach on Symbian devices, using the common Qt API."

Nokia shoots down Android rumor

The ZDNet story also reported that Nokia has denied speculation that it was working on an Android netbook. The rather surprising Android claim, originating last week from Lazard Capital Markets analyst Daniel Amir, was picked up here last week, with some — but probably not sufficient — skepticism. As we noted at the time, the recent alliance between Intel and Nokia appears in large part to be inspired by a desire to keep Google from taking over the open source mobile embedded device market with Android.

Qt and its Creator rev'd

Qt Software recently announced updates to both Qt and the new Qt Creator Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Both releases are available as part of a new build of the Qt SDK, says Qt Software. Qt also updated its Qt Visual Studio Add-in and its Qt Eclipse Integration packages, says Qt Software.

Qt 4.5.2 includes bug-fixes and optimizations made since the release of Qt 4.5.1. Qt Creator 1.2, meanwhile, offers "a broad set of new features and improvements based on user feedback."


The Maemo blog on the QT switcheroo may be found here. David Meyer's ZDNet UK story on Maemo may be found here.

The latest Qt releases may be downloaded here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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