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Trolltech interview discusses embedded Linux

Apr 16, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive has published a lengthy interview with Eirik Eng, president of Trolltech, and Matthias Ettrich, founder of the KDE project and director of software development at Trolltech. The interview discusses many topics of interest to embedded Linux developers, including Qt/Embedded, Qtopia, Sharp's Zaurus, and more.

According to the interview, Trolltech is starting to reach the financial break-even point, after two years of business investment. The 76-person company derives 20 percent of revenues from Qt/Embedded and Qtopia, and sells roughly half its licenses to US companies.

The interview addresses the OPIE project, which Eng says has developed several patches integrated with Qtopia. Trolltech has “good contacts” with OPIE, according to Eng, and works with the project to ensure binary compatibility. Eng does not see OPIE as a competitor, since the open source OPIE project does not offer a commercial license.

Asked if Qtopia will move to Qt 3 in the future, Eng says that Qt 2 offers the stability that embedded customers demand. Qtopia will likely move to Qt 3, he implies, but at a later time, and in a new release that will likely break backwards compatibility because of the memory overhead of supporting two libraries.

Asked why the Qtopia desktop is not available under a free license, Eng points to business requirements. He also notes that Qtopia's email reader is not completely free.

Eng says Sharp's Zaurus sells well “in some markets,” such as enterprise, according to the interview, but that he can't release Sharp's numbers. He expects Linux PDAs to have a big future, and Sharp to release subsequent, improved models.

Additional topics of discussion include:

  • Qt language bindings (C++ is best supported, according to Eng)
  • Trolltech's tardiness in GPL'ing Qt
  • Trolltech's business model and markets
  • plans to integrate Qt Designer with KDevelop
  • licensing problems delaying Qt support in Eclipse's SWT
  • comparisons and market overlaps between GTk+ and Qt
  • adoption of Qt in visual effects and electronic design automation (EDA) markets
  • the impossibility of building free Qt 3 software for Windows
  • QSA (Qt Script for Applications)
  • TeamBuilder
  • roadmaps for Qt 3.4 and Qt 4 (to feature better embedded support
  • support for Qt on HP Unix, AIX, and older versions of Windows
  • support for multiple release versions of Qt
  • a curses-based text backend for Qt
  • Qt's documentation tool and Doxygen
  • Trolltech's recent magazine ads
  • XFree86 technology and politics
  • The Canopy Group's (which owns SCO) 5.7 percent ownership in Trolltech
  • SCO litigation and threats

Read the complete interview for additional details: interview with Eirik Eng and Matthias Ettrich

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