Qt Licensing Means Reading Big Walls of Text

QtLogoFrom a legal perspective, Qt is an interesting beast. There are two sets of licenses for application developers who wish to use Qt: a commercial license, or an open-source license. I’m sure this “dual-license” approach is intended to let people have the best of both worlds. In practice, it means people who try to do their legal due diligence will have to wade through a lot of legal language. It’s a very challenging barrier – most of the Qt Frequently Asked Questions page is devoted to licensing.

And that’s the condensed version. The legal Terms and Conditions section has multiple pages dedicated to different aspects of using Qt. As a non-lawyer, it’s very hard to not let my eyes gloss over the thick language. Even if we just focus on just the open-source side of the licensing, there is an array of licenses to worry about. There are the strong GPL , the more permissive BSD licenses, and the LGPL that attempts to strike a balance between them. I didn’t even know about LGPL until today. All of them are in play for various parts of Qt.

Fortunately, since my work so far is not for profit, and I intend to put everything up in public on Github, most of the terms of the open-source license should be easy to meet. I would definitely need to consult a lawyer before embarking on a commercial project, though.

With this basic due diligence complete, I went looking for the open-source edition of the Qt tools. They don’t exactly make it easy to find on the official Qt downloads page. It takes some persistence to navigate through the menu structures, looking for the de-emphasized texts and links, to find the download areas for the free open-source edition.

Before I found that compiled binaries repository, I found the information to build Qt5 and Qt Creator from source code. It seemed to be confused by the Qt (both 4 and 5) that appeared to already exist on my Ubuntu installation and I never got the home-built Qt5 up and running. After I stumbled across the binaries repository, I decided to come back to building Qt5 from source after I’ve gained a bit more experience with Linux build systems.

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