The Qt Company announced a year ago that it would restrict the releases of the LTS versions of the framework to commercial customers, a move that was interpreted by many as a step backwards in its evolution as Open Source technology.
The consequences of the company’s intentions are beginning to materialize in Qt 5.15, whose public branches of the Open Source version have been closed today except for WebEngine and the obsolete Qt Script, since both components use third-party dependencies published under LGPL .
If this is as it is being disclosed, those using the Open Source version of Qt 5.15 will not receive new patches, posing a security risk apart from the software bugs themselves. This hurts developers on two fronts: First, those who have been working on patches for the Open Source version will see that they no longer have access to the code. Second, Qt 6 promises to be a very important evolution, but even The Qt Company itself has recognized that it is not yet ready to replace the fifth major version of the framework.
For their part, commercial Qt clients will have access to private repositories that will contain the source code with which future maintenance versions of Qt 5.15 will be built. The first release of a maintenance version only for commercial customers will occur in February 2021.
Unsurprisingly, this move by The Qt Company has not liked many. Thiago Macieira, an Intel employee and longtime Qt contributor, has announced that he will no longer be involved in the development of the fifth major version and that he intends to close all bugs that are not playable in Qt 6.
The first LTS version of Qt 6 will be 6.2, which could see the light of day within a year. Between a Qt 5 that begins to be dying and the wait until the sixth major version begins to be really mature, many users of the Open Source version can end up in a difficult situation. Additionally, The Qt Company intends to restrict Qt 6.2 to business users in the same way as it has with version 5.15.
In order to save the situation, through the Qt error reporting mechanism it has been proposed that the Open Source variant of version 5.15 should be maintained by the community, without the direct intervention of The Qt Company. However, at the moment the company has not responded to this proposal, so there is already speculation about a bifurcation.
Finally, we recall that The Qt Company intends to restrict the presence of the Open Source versions of the framework as much as possible, to the extent of proposing that each new version of Qt be available only to commercial clients for one year.