TheQtCompany and a silly decision waiting to be reverted

TheQtCompany has announced a series of changes in their Qt offering which sound a lot like some previously reverted changes, just worse.

I'm going to state my opinion as well, of course. There have been several messages with criticism both in the Qt developers' mailing list as well as in various blogs (including some hosted in Planet KDE), and among this loud, predictable chorus of complaints there are a few messages that, in my opinion, shine for clarity and insightfulness. One is the blog post from Boudewijn Rempt, one of the main developers of the highly successful Krita application. Then, speaking about the issue of Qt LTS releases, Giuseppe d'Angelo posed a few still unanswered questions in the mailing list. The most frightening reply of all is Nikolai Marchenko's message about TheQtCompany's presumed business model, to which I cannot really find any strong counter-arguments.

What is left to me to say? Well, the first thing I'd like to say is that, as a Qt contributor with a history of several upstream contributions many of which developed in my own free time, this sounds like a big middle finger pointed at me. Or like saying that my effort is not worth the access to a LTS or to a password-free download of binary releases. This is not really encouraging contributions from the community.

The main point, though, is that TheQtCompany is effectively making it hard for developers to start using it and to consider it as a true open source project. Especially other open source projects, like UBports (which is based on Qt LTS releases) are going to feel the pain. It's going to alienate Qt advocates, and at the end reducing the user base.

And the funny thing, and the point that in my opinion TheQtCompany has not pondered well enough, is that Qt is still open source, so this move is actually going to benefit their competitors: suppose that an imaginary company NOKLA (but it could be a very real company, one of those who make a business selling Qt consultancy) sets up open download repositories and offers even minimally maintained LTS branches at What will happen is that the name NOKLA will eventually be associated with "the place where you can download Qt", or "where you can find a well-maintained LTS for Qt", effectively boosting the NOKLA brand and implicitly enshrining them as the company to talk to in order to get your Qt-related business done.

I'm quite sure that TheQtCompany will end up reverting this decision, at least for the most part. My guess is that it's the fruit of the mind of some newly hired manager who understands very little of open source, business or marketing and who has been given a little too much decision power. Time will tell.


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