Presentation: The KDE Free Qt Foundation
The KDE Free Qt Foundation was established in 1998 to keep the Qt toolkit free for KDE and all other free software projects building graphical user interfaces on Linux. It was a unique and creative solution to address concerns that licenses alone were not enough to keep free software free. It has held through the more than two decades of sometimes turbulent times Qt and KDE have gone through together. This presentation will tell the story of how this worked.
The KDE Free Qt Foundation was established to give additional guarantees to the free software community which Qt's license didn't give. It resulted in an agreement between Trolltech, the owner of Qt, and KDE e.V., the non-profit organization representing the KDE community, which made sure that Qt would always be free software even if its owning company would change its course and stop releasing it under a free license.
The agreement was tested several times. Trolltech was bought by Nokia and Qt changed its owner several times afterwards, today being owned again by a company exclusively dedicated to Qt, The Qt Company. The agreement through the KDE Free Qt Foundation brought KDE to the negotiation table whenever license changes were decided. Balancing freedom, community, business, and corporate planning in a way beneficial to all involved parties was a challenge not easily addressed.
The question of open source business models and how companies relate to communities is still a source for much debate and different solutions are in place and explored in the industry. How did the KDE Free Qt Foundation succeed? How does it hold in comparison to what other projects chose? This presentation will answer these questions and tell the story of how the KDE Free Qt Foundation played its part in keeping Qt free.