Big news today is that Qt Long-term-supported (LTS) releases and the offline installer will become available to commercial licensees only.
Ignoring upcoming switch to Qt6 scenario for now, how bad is that for us?
Let's look at some numbers from our friends at repology.
At this point we have 2 Qt LTS going on, Qt 5.9 (5.9.9 since December) and Qt 5.12 (5.12.6 since November).
How many distros ship Qt 5.9.9? 0. (there's macports and slackbuilds but none of those seem to provide Plasma packages, so I'm ignoring them)
How many distros ship Qt 5.12.6? 5, Adélie Linux, Fedora 30, Mageia 7, OpenSuse Leap 15.2, PCLinux OS (ALT Linux and GNU Guix also do but they don't seem to ship Plasma). Those are some bigger names (I'd say specially Fedora and OpenSuse).
On the other hand Fedora 28 and 29 ship some 5.12.x version but have not updated to 5.12.6, Opensuse Leap 15.1 has a similar issue, it's stuck on 5.9.7 and did not update to 5.9.9 and so is Mageia 6 which is stuck on Qt 5.9.4
Ubuntu 19.04, 19.08 and 20.04 all ship some version of Qt 5.12 (LTS) but not the lastest version.
On the other a few of other "big" distros don't ship Qt LTS, Arch and Gentoo ship 5.14, our not-distro-distro Neon is on 5.13 and so is flatpak.
As I see it, the numbers say that while it's true that some distros are shipping the latest LTS release, it's not all of them by far, and it looks more like an opportunistic use, the LTS branch is followed for a while in the last release of the distro, but the previous ones get abandoned at some point, so the LTS doesn't really seem to be used to its fully potential.
What would happen if there was no Qt LTS?
Hard to say, but I think some of the "newer" distros would actually be shipping Qt 5.13 or 5.14, and in my book that's a good thing, moving users forward is always good.
The "already released" distros is different story, since they would obviously not be updating from Qt 5.9 to 5.14, but as we've seen it seems that most of the times they don't really follow the Qt LTS releases to its full extent either.
So all in all, I'm going to say not having Qt LTS releases is not that bad for KDE, we've lived for that for a long time (remember there has only been 4 Qt LTS, 4.8, 5.6, 5.9 and 5.12) so we'll do mostly fine.
But What about Qt 5.15 and Qt 6 you ask!
Yes, this may actually be a problem, if all goes to plan Qt 5.15 will be released in May and Qt 6.0 in November, that means we will likely get up to Qt 5.15.2 or 5.15.3 and then that's it, we're moving to Qt 6.0
Obviously KDE will have to move to Qt 6 at some point, but that's going to take a while (as example Plasma 5 was released when Qt was at 5.3) so for let's say that for a year or two we will still be using Qt 5.15 without any bugfix releases.
That can be OK if Qt 5.15 ends being a good release or a problem if it's a bit buggy. If it's buggy, well then we'll have to figure out what to do, and it'll probably involve some kind of fork somewhere, be it by KDE (qt already had that for a while in ancient history with qt-copy) or by some other trusted source, but let's hope it doesn't get to that, since it would mean that there's two set of people fixing bugs in Qt 5.15, The Qt Company engineers and the rest of the world, and doing the same work twice is not smart.
ALT Linux does ship KDE Plasma
Thank you for the article, very detailed and informative
Ok, my mistake for trusting repology, for some reason ALT is not listed at https://repology.org/project/plasma-desktop/badges
Debian ships 5.12.5 and cherry-picks security fixes.
So I would count them as well for a distribution using LTS.
I disagree, if it's not the same code as Qt LTS it's not using Qt LTS.
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