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Qt spins off as open source project

Oct 21, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Nokia is re-spinning its Qt project as an independent open source project, promising that cross-platform development framework code will be simultaneously available to Nokia and to the open source community. More details on the new project will emerge at the Qt Developer Days events, scheduled for Oct. 24-26 in Munich and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 in San Francisco.

The cross-platform Qt development framework — widely adopted in the embedded Linux community, including recent integrations into Ubuntu and Wind River Linux — is now an open source project. The Qt project went live Oct. 21 along with a new Qt community site called

The group still appears to be sponsored in part by Nokia, but is now governed independently, rather than being an integral business unit. Whereas the project was previously directed by Nokia, with varying degrees of transparency to the broader community of Qt developers, the project has now adopted an open source governance structure independent of Nokia.

Patches submitted to the project's Gerrit patch server can be reviewed by anyone with an account with the project's "Jira" bug-tracking tool, says the project. Changes will then be reviewed and commented on by all, and eventually accepted or rejected by specified approvers and maintainers. These individuals now include "some non Nokians," says the project, which encourages other independent Qt developers to apply for the positions.

All development "will happen in one central location, with access for everyone at the same time," with "no more separate code flow for 'Nokians vs. others', and no more time delays," says the project. In addition, discussions, decisions, and roadmapping "will all happen in the community, by the community, for the community."

Qt background

Qt has had the feel of an open source community project since Norway-based Trolltech launched the platform back in 1994. After Nokia's 2008 acquisition of Trolltech in 2008, it continued to be a developer-driven division with deep ties to the open source community.

The Qt division opened up even more to the open source community in 2009, when it announced an LGPL licensing option in addition to GPL. At the same time, it opened up its Qt source code repositories, and encouraged contributions to the codebase from both the desktop and embedded open source development communities.

Qt's open source role was strengthened when the framework was integrated, along with Intel's Moblin stack and Nokia's open source Maemo project, in the Linux Foundation's MeeGo Linux project back in early 2010.  Qt seemed to be on a roll, especially as Nokia was rumored to be moving all of its high-end Symbian phones to MeeGo.

In February 2011, however, Nokia announced a major partnership with Microsoft to instead transition most of its smartphones from Symbian to Windows Phone 7, making it clear that MeeGo was out and Qt was not coming along for the ride. Nokia released one — and only one — MeeGo device with the Nokia N9 phone (pictured).

Nokia's abandonment of MeeGo gradually unhinged the now solely Intel-sponsored project. MeeGo was already suffering from with increasing adoption of Android in the mobile and embedded markets it was targeting.

In late September, Intel and the Linux Foundation revealed that MeeGo was going to be phased out and reborn as a new Tizen open source project that would also be sponsored by Samsung. Although largely based on MeeGo, as well as the LiMo Foundation's mobile Linux middleware, Tizen jettisons Qt in favor of a new HTML5-based framework and cloud focus.

Around the same time as the Tizen announcement, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nokia was developing a new Linux-based "Meltemi" operating system to replace Symbian on its feature phones. According to the story, Meltemi is likely to incorporate Qt, although this was not confirmed, and Nokia had no comment.

Whether or not Nokia is including Qt in a Meltemi OS, it appears clear that Qt will not play a major role in Nokia's future. Melthemi is something of a stopgap project, and Nokia will focus more and more on Windows Phone, or so it would seem.

Stated Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, the Linux Foundation, "The Qt Project is a welcome development in the evolution of Qt. This move should allow for participation in the project from a broad set of developers based on the quality of their code. This is certainly a welcome change."

Qt Developer Days

The Qt project will reveal more information about the new open source governance policies at Qt Developer Days, a series of events that begins Oct. 24-26 in Munich, Germany, leading up to an event in San Francisco, running from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

The events will feature more than 50 tech sessions taken by Qt's own developers, as well as keynotes from Canonical and CNN. There will also be best practice "Qt in Use" sessions with companies including Cisco, AccuWeather, and Panasonic Avionics.

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