Subject: GPL & Qt (Re: LessTif, Gartner Group)
From: David Welton <>
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 09:52:44 -0700

On Fri, Jun 05, 1998 at 12:28:19PM -0400, Kragen wrote:

> GNOME, which is based on the LGPLed GTK+ toolkit instead of the
> free-for-GPL-use Qt toolkit, is slated to surpass KDE sometime in the

> next year.  It's usable now.  It's received a large grant of money from
> Debian, and currently has its headquarters at Red Hat Advanced
> Development Labs, where they hired the Enlightenment guy (among others)
> to work on it.  Screenshot:
> <URL:>.

We have been pondering about this on the Debian lists, but, being
composed mostly of programmers, I'm not sure we have quite the
experience that this list might in such matters.

To try and sum up, there are two points in favor of this 

For a nice summation of the first, I quote Charles Briscoe-Smith:

> I only have problems with the licence of qt-"free" enforcing the GPL
> on programs that use it, and I think that KDE people could
> *probably* sue other people distributing Qt linked KDE. Although I
> doubt that the latter would stand the court.

This is right, as I understand it.  The KDE situation is that the QT
licence (IIRC) allows you to distribute a program which uses QT if
that program is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL.  The GPL
says that others may only distribute that (QT-based) program if all
its components are included (except system components), and all are
licenced under the terms of the GPL.  Unless QT is a system component,
these are in conflict.  In theory, therefore, only the author of a
GPLed, QT-based program would be allowed to distribute it.

The argument runs that, if you distribute your own GPLed, QT-based
program, you are implicitly making an exception to the GPL to allow
your program to be linked with QT.  Thus, QT-based programs,
ostensibly GPLed, are actually only "nearly-GPLed".  This means that
bits of "really-GPLed" programs cannot be incorporated into QT-based
"nearly-GPLed" programs by anyone other than their author, because the
author is the only one who can introduce the necessary exception to
the licence to allow that.

Hope this helps people understand the issues...

Charles Briscoe-Smith                            

The second point is that:
 "The Qt toolkit is a product of Troll Tech AS. The Qt Free Edition is
limited to use with the X Window System"

It would seem to me that this too goes against the GPL in some way.

It was also mentioned by some that having a license that contradicts
itself may create problems.  What effect does this have legally?

I would be interested and appreciative to hear from someone who has
more knowledge in these matters

Thanks for your time,
David Welton                 

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