License discussions are usually about as interesting as watching paint dry, but the news that Nokia is going to use GNU's Lesser General Public License (LGPL) for the upcoming release of Qt may be a big deal for KDE.
Nokia announced today that it would be releasing Qt (pronounced "cute," by the way) 4.5 in March 2009 with the LGPL.
The move to LGPL licensing will provide open source and commercial developers with more permissive licensing than GPL and so increase flexibility for developers. In addition, Qt source code repositories will be made publicly available and will encourage contributions from desktop and embedded developer communities. With these changes, developers will be able to actively drive the evolution of the Qt framework.
This is a really important move as Nokia looks to push Qt as a development platform for mobile devices, and also will help the KDE Project as it embraces non-free platforms like Mac OS X and Windows. Making KDE/Qt a development platform for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X could be very successful if they can convince ISVs to adopt it -- which wasn't as likely with the GPL.
Of course, if Trolltech (now owned by Nokia) had done that from the get-go, things might be much different in the desktop world. It's been a slow evolution from a non-free license, to the GPL, and now to the LGPL, while the GNOME folks have taken the LGPL strategy for quite some time.
Another minor note -- even though the LGPLv3 has been out for more than a year, Nokia is going with the older LGPLv2.1. Still not seeing a lot of love for the revised GPL/LGPL, though I'm not sure if this is largely due to inertia or specific qualms with the licenses.