The Qt Company has closed the Qt 5.15 branch for public commits, thus starting the “commercial-only LTS phase” of the series. The transition was announced yesterday, and follows a policy which was introduced in January 2020 and restricts the long term support part of a release to paying customers only.
Existing branches will be kept visible to the public, but are closed for new commits with the exception of Qt WebEngine and the already deprecated Qt Script. The LTS phase will mainly be handled by employees of the Qt Company.
Interested external Qt module maintainers however are still supposed to get access to the commercial-only repos which will serve as a home for new patch releases after getting in touch with release manager Tarja Sundqvist or R&D lead Tuukka Turunen.
Commercial licensees are meant to receive instructions on how to access upcoming LTS updates next week, since there still seems a good bit of prep to do. Version 5.15.3, which will be the first release with restricted access, is planned to land in February.
More preparation, at least in the form of communication, would clearly have benefited this step as well, since first responses to the announcement showed externals puzzled about the chosen moment to close off development.
After all works on version 5.15.3 were in full swing when the news hit, leaving those who added fixes since 5.15.2 with no official version containing those. External approvers don’t seem to have been notified about entering the so-called strict phase of development as well, which led them to accept changes under the wrong assumptions, as KDE developer David Edmundson pointed out.
Some developers also took the opportunity to criticise the 6.0 release as not providing a valid alternative for those interested in using a stable release, since it is still missing important add-ons amongst other things. KDE is just one of the projects caught in a bit of a predicament now. The project’s bug tracker therefore quickly saw a request for the facilitation of community maintenance of Qt 5.15, asking for an official 5.15-free branch forked from “the last public 5.15 commit”.
Of course forks already came up last year, but since this seemed “not an ideal outcome” satisfying this request might be the best approach to not split the developer base further and provide a somewhat official place to develop regression fixes for externals and open source projects without the means to become a commercial licensee.