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Nokia Sells Open Source Qt

The open source Qt framework is getting new commercial support.

Nokia announced this week that it is selling the Qt commercial licensing and services business to professional services vendor Digia. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Qt is the underlying open source framework behind the KDE Linux desktop and is also used as a cross-platform application development technology.

Nokia acquired Qt in 2008 for $150 million as part of the acquisition of Trolltech.

Qt is available under a dual-license model, providing both open source LGPL and commercial licensing options. Nokia isn't selling off the entire business, only the commercial side.

"We want to emphasize our long-term commitment to Qt," Nokia Vice President Sebastian Nyström said in a blog post. "Nokia will drive Qt developments in support of our business needs and our investments in community building, marketing and R&D will continue to benefit all members of the Qt community."

Nystrom noted that offering professional services for Qt was not a core business activity for Nokia, explaining that since 2009, Nokia has been growing its ecosystem of partners that could deliver Qt services. He added that Nokia and the Digia will partner on improving Qt and already have been working closely together.

Nokia's Qt commercial sell-off follows the company's controversial move to adopt Windows for its mobile platform instead of the open source MeeGo platform, which uses Qt.

Reaction to Nokia's Qt move has been tinged with some skepticism owing to the recent mobile moves.

"Well, didn't your CEO just dump Qt from the phone roadmap and reduce MeeGo to a single device?" a commenter using the alias "Jack" wrote on Nystrom's post. "In this context, your statement is superb newspeak for saying that you will basically do no more Qt development in the future."

Nokia spokesperson Aron Kozak commented that Nokia still owns the Qt copyright, but the company is also granting Digia the right to do the commercial licensing and support.

Nokia developer Jonas Rabbe also chimed in, noting that Nokia is not killing Qt.

"It has been the case since Nokia purchased Trolltech that the focus has been on Qt for mobile platforms, now we have a partner who is willing to give Qt the focus it needs on the desktop platforms as well," Rabbe commented.

Rabbe added that Digia will also be contributing to the open source version of Qt in addition to selling commercial licenses.

"The commercial licenses are a way for companies to use Qt, but with a company at the other end which will handle your support queries and work with you on issues, this is quite common for open source products," Rabbe commented. "You will therefore still be able to get your LGPL-licensed desktoppy Qt goodness on."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.