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Interview With Trolltech's CEO and CTO Eirik Eng 266

jlp2097 writes "There is a great and lengthy interview at the The Dot with Eirik Eng, CEO of Trolltech, and Matthias Ettrich, founder of the KDE project and CTO of Trolltech. They talk about the recent X(Free86) trouble, accessibility in QT, Trolltech's finances, Qtopia, the OS X Port and a GPL'd Windows QT - it's probably not going to happen. And, did you know that Qt is pronounced 'Cute' by its creators?"
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Interview With Trolltech's CEO and CTO Eirik Eng

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  • Bad HTML (Score:4, Informative)

    by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:35PM (#8839862)
    The second link is bad ... Looks like the author forgot the http:// or something.
  • Re:Cute (Score:2, Informative)

    by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:40PM (#8839913)
    I think your correct, Cutie is correct. I think the editor made a typo.
  • Re:Bad HTML (Score:4, Informative)

    by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@thomasleecop ... RGcom minus poet> on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:40PM (#8839915) Homepage
    Here ya go [].
  • by AshtangiMan ( 684031 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:49PM (#8839999)
    As some people mentioned on the dot, it has partly to do with finances, sales and Trolltech's business model. Another point is the fact that Windows is a closed source Operating System. There is no community for Free Software development under Windows. The situation is very different from Linux, as you know. On Windows development usually happens as shareware or commercial software and we don't see that community evolving into producing Free Software.
    This is a bit backwards. Right now if you use Visual Studio (and any windows library) you are suposudly prevented by the EULA from creating GPL'd code. So, in the windows world, if there were a good alternative that allowed for GPL code creation/distribution I think it would be used.
  • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:50PM (#8840006)
    worries lain to rest.

    PF: Somebody mentioned that the Canopy Group & SCO owns some parts of Trolltech.

    ME: Sorry, we don't have any influence on them.

    PF: Do they have any influence on you?

    ME: Not really. They have a 5.7% stake in Trolltech. Historically Canopy became an investor because we cooperated with Caldera. As you might know we made and delivered the graphic install, which was the first graphical install for Linux, for Caldera Linux. The Canopy Group as the main investor in Caldera was so impressed by the work we had done that they wanted to invest in Trolltech, to make sure that Trolltech could become a solid company that could continue to deliver software to the Linux community. It's pretty ironic to see what has happened historically after that of course. But they don't have any influence on Trolltech. Trolltech is employee-owned, 65% of the shares are owned by the employees and we control the business so they have a small stake in us and that is it.

    PF: You haven't talk about this complicated with SCO on Linux

    EE: The patent issue or the corporate issue?

    PF: The thing that SCO is asking and preparing to sue everybody about some code they pretend they own in Linux.

    EE: I can tell you that we do not support these actions from SCO. Trolltech in many ways is dependent on the success of Linux. We think Linux is a Good Thing. We support Linux in many ways. On the other hand everybody has the right to bring his case to court. In this case it is very strange that they have not pinpointed exactly where in the code there is a problem and we feel that if they really had a problem with this, they could have acted very differently in presenting this to the community. So again we do not support these actions.

    PF: You have any position on software patents? Especially since in the EU there is going to be a law to be passed soon.

    EE: Trolltech is against software patenting. We think it is a bad thing and we see with horror what is happening to the US software market because of the patent policy over there. From my limited understanding of the subject, US patent law isn't that bad, it's the actual application of that law by the US patent office which is the problem. We sincerely hope that we will not get a parallel situation in Europe and we think that would be a catastrophe to the software industry in Europe. We think that we are well protected by copyright laws and other laws. we think that software is a very different product from other types of commercial production products. And we think that it is very important for innovation that people can continue to share ideas and that companies are not allowed to patent things which are very obvious.

    I feel much relieved now...

  • by negacao ( 522115 ) * <> on Monday April 12, 2004 @02:57PM (#8840074)
    Perhaps we should correct this blatant, failed attempt at trolling.

    The code you write is YOURS. The EULA of the compiler and provided libraries doesn't even TRY to control your licensing scheme.

    In fact, the GPL isn't even mentioned in the EULA for MS Visual Studio 6.

    The only thing you're prevented from doing is giving away the provided libraries, header files, or source code that come with the compiler and tools.

    Don't get me wrong, MSFT sucks big floppy donkey dick, but FUD in either direction helps none of us.
  • by cjellibebi ( 645568 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:03PM (#8840119)
    >Right now if you use Visual Studio (and any windows library) you are suposudly prevented by the EULA from creating GPL'd code. So, in the windows world, if there were a good alternative that allowed for GPL code creation/distribution I think it would be used.

    GCC has been ported to Windows. If you just want a minimalistic setup, try MinGW (Minimalist GNU For Windows) []. This just installs things like GCC and 'make' and a few GCC-related tools. If you want GCC with an entire unix-like environment running under Windows where you can do builds that rely a lot on unix-tools, and build programs that assume a unix-environment, I suggest you install Cygwin [].

    As for the Windows libraries, I'm not sure if the EULA that applies to Visual studio that prevents you from writing GPL'd code also applies to using the Windows librasries with GCC-based compilers as well.

  • Qt on Windows (Score:4, Informative)

    by ndogg ( 158021 ) <the DOT rhorn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:09PM (#8840167) Homepage Journal
    > a GPL'd Windows QT - it's probably not going to happen.

    Well, sort of. At the very least, it won't be done with Trolltech's support [].
  • by Soul-Burn666 ( 574119 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:13PM (#8840193) Journal
    " just because of the lame excuse "well Windows isn't GPL""

    That's _NOT_ the reason they give. The reason they gave is that too many commercial companies used the GPL version of the library in their commercial software instead of using the pricy commercial version of the library, and they said it's impossible to go and sue all of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:15PM (#8840209)
    > Qt is preventing us from using their tools

    QT is not preventing you or others from using their tools. You only need to pay for the license.
  • by OglinTatas ( 710589 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:16PM (#8840220)
    Qt has a non-commercial windows license. It is basically the GPL with the added restriction that you cannot use it at your place of employment. That sounds reasonable. Hack stuff together as a hobby if you want, but if you need Qt at work, your employer should buy a license for it.
    I got a copy of Qt with the book "C++ Programming with Qt3" []
    It looks pretty slick. I won't use it at work but everything else is fair game.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:28PM (#8840368)
    The version of Windows I bought in the UK has a similar feature to the KmouseTool. I don't know about the Middle Eastern version but I assume it's the same.
  • by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:34PM (#8840430)
    No widespread use in Linux? Last I checked, KDE uses QT []. How many Linux distributions distribute KDE? Probably all the major ones.

    What real reasons are there for QT to change it's licensing for the Windows platform? The interview clearly states why they won't. Your logic makes no sense to me. Someone who embraces the predatory licensing of MS-Windows will be afraid of the licensing of non-Free QT? I doubt it. If someone doesn't like non-Free QT license, but will tolerate MS licensing, then they have some weird conflicting views.

    Your insight about the QT logo is a bit off the wall, if you ask me. read into it what you want, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2004 @03:39PM (#8840488)
    > If there is a hostile takeover you bet they are going to release a BSD version. In fact this is what the free qt foundation is about.


    There is nothing in the Free Qt Foundation Agreement [] that deals with Trolltech being bought.

    The "BSD" clauses in the agreement state:

    > The Foundation shall have a non-exclusive, irrevocable right to grant a license based on the BSD license (exibit 3) on the latest version of the Qt Free Edition, in the event of stoppage or discontinuation for more than 12 - twelve - months of the release of the Qt Free Edition under the Qt Free Edition license. The Foundation shall have the same right if the license is unilaterally terminated or changed.

    > Such right will also come into existance if no new edition of importance (major release) is launched within 12 - twelve - months, and the Foundation regards the said edition for stopped or discontinued.

    > Furthermore, whenever unanimously decided by the Board, the Foundation shall have the same non-exclusive, irrevocable right to grant a license based on the BSD license.

    As I said, nothing about the company being sold.

    So let's say that Microsoft pays $1 billion to buy Trolltech.

    The Trolltech representatives on the board, having decided that they want the $1 billion, are not going to vote againt themselves, so the third clause, which requires unanimous agreement, does not come into effect.

    And the first two clauses won't have an effect for 12 months, and even that can be avoided if Microsoft continues to release new versions of the Qt Free Edition. Even if those versions were to tie Qt to .Net, or were completely different than the non-Free edition of Qt, it wouldn't matter, as long as they were "of importance."

    Thus, Microsoft could end up with lock-in control of all proprietary Qt-based applications on Linux.

    And there is nothing we could do about it.

    The growing use of proprietary Qt for proprietary Linux applications (Kylix, Opera, etc.) is one of the greatest threats to the freedom of Linux. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft and Trolltech are already working together, with a Microsoft plan to lock-in Linux.
  • Re:Cute (Score:2, Informative)

    by zarr ( 724629 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @04:11PM (#8840776)
    I think you're wrong. Check out the KDE FAQ [].
  • by cos(0) ( 455098 ) <> on Monday April 12, 2004 @04:14PM (#8840815) Homepage
    I certainly hear lots of 'Ess-Queue-Ell' instead of Sequel for SQL.

    The correct pronunciation is Ess-Queue-Ell, according to this documentation entry []:

    The official way to pronounce MySQL is ``My Ess Que Ell'' (not ``my sequel''), but we don't mind if you pronounce it as ``my sequel'' or in some other localized way.
  • by Trestran ( 715384 ) on Monday April 12, 2004 @04:50PM (#8841250)
    Anybody could quite legitimately port that to Windows, (...)
    Sort of what the people at kde on cygwin [] are trying to do with their qt 3 win32 port []:

    • The native win32 port of the qt library is going to have the following features:
    • Complete gpl licensed replacement for win32 environments
    • based on the gpled qt/X11 sources means there is no licensing problems with any commercial trolltech license
    • supports mingw and cygwin host environment
    • supports cygwin mount table even under mingw environment - improves cygwin and mingw interoperability
    • base of a future native KDE port
  • by haavard_nord ( 749222 ) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:45AM (#8844755) Homepage
    Good questions that deserve to be answered. I'm co-founder, CEO and Chairman of Trolltech and should be able to give fairly accurate answers. (To avoid confusion, Eirik's title is President, not CEO as Fremy writes).

    What is Ralph J. Yarro of Canopy infamy doing on the Trolltech board of directors?

    Early 1999 Trolltech had helped Utah-based Caldera to create their award-winning graphical Linux installer. Around the same time we also started developing Qt/Embedded for the embedded Linux market. Lineo, another Utah company, was the king of embedded Linux at the time, and they needed a product like Qt/Embedded for Linux-based consumer devices.

    Canopy was a major VC and stakeholder in both Caldera and Lineo. Ralph Yarro, President and CEO of Canopy, recognized that Trolltech could help two of their porfolio companies succeed and decided to make an investment in Trolltech.

    I met Ralph Yarro in Utah in August 1999 and we agreed on an investment term-sheet (with very reasonable terms for Trolltech, by the way).

    Did we do the right thing? Definitely. Canopy was the first investor in Trolltech and their investment made it possible for us to grow the company and build new products. Canopy was later followed by Borland and a syndicate of three Norwegian VCs.

    As part of the investment agreement, each investor got a seat on the board: Ralph Yarro from Canopy, Dale Fuller from Borland and Ingar Ostby from Northzone. Ralph Yarro has been on our board since late 1999.

    Sorry, sitting on the board means "influence".

    Ralph Yarro has about zero influence over how we run the company. When you have a person on your board that might have a conflict of interest in certain areas you will make sure that this person does not participate in all discussions or get access to all company information.

    What is financial relationship between SCO/Canopy and Trolltech?

    The deal in 1999 also involved a stock swap with Caldera. As all of you know, Caldera became SCO a couple of years ago and changed their Linux agenda. Trolltech owned stock in SCO but we decided to sell them last year after the interview took place. But SCO still owns a tiny portion of Trolltech shares.

    Does Trolltech owe money to SCO/Canopy?


    Does Canopy have contractual rights to seats on the board?

    Yes, this is part of the investment contract we have with all our investors.

    Does SCO/Canopy have warrants or other agreements to take control of Trolltech later?

    No, are you nuts? We would be pretty stupid to sign an investment contract that would give a minor (or even major) shareholder the ability to take control of our company.

    Do I support Canopy's or SCO's actions? No way.


This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington