Well, I'm seeing this question in the close queue again. Now it has an edit that reads:

The program should be open source, not proprietary. Well at least people should be able to take a look at it.

but that almost goes backwards what he asked earlier:

If I would like to sell my program that is written with Qt and the PyQt4-python-binding, do I have to bother about buying the licenses (3000+300 € or so)?

Or is there a model where I could just pay them (the license owners) a part of my gains? I can't afford those licenses.

Before it was clear what he was asking... now, it isn't too clear...

Looking at the answers my TL;DR is:

Depends of the license, if the license says that you have to pay royalties to sell, then you pay in the way it says, if it doesn't then you don't, but either way look for legal consultant.

Looking at the revisions, not even Mods are clear if it's on-topic or not (just now I discovered that it was closed again -_-, and opened again by Oli). We can play catch all we want with the Close/Open votes, but it shouldn't be like that. Could we take a concise and defined stand for this kind of question. I will propose my solution below as an answer, please don't be afraid and propose yours too. Vote for what you think is more suitable to what AskUbuntu is.

  • Sorry for that confusing question. But honestly I think my first question is clear enough for an answer though it might be not the most Ubuntu-specific. The edit comes from users asking for more information, so I put the 2nd sentence in because it would add information for the license options. I am not a software engineer, just trying to bring my freetime project to the people. Thanks and pls don't blame me ;) Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 16:52

5 Answers 5


Leave it closed as off-topic. Because, it's just offtopic.

  • 1
    It is just off topic. He should contact the appropriate party/parties (Digia?).
    – RolandiXor
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 17:36

Could we take a concise and defined stand for this kind of question.

While I think there's no reason to have this question closed, I don't have an extremely strong opinion on the matter.

But I do have a strong opinion that this question is not a good precedent for anything. In other words, whether or not the question stays closed is fine, but we should definitely not take a stand about anything else, based on it. Especially after the edit ("Well at least people should be able to take a look at it") this question is kind of a mess.

Furthermore, consider my and Thomas W.'s comments, from before that edit:

@user2366975 I actually think this is a perfectly good question; I can't see any good reason to downvote it, though downvotes aren't usually a big deal. I'm more troubled by the idea that any license-related question is automatically requesting actual legal advice. In any case, you could improve this question by editing it to provide more details about your goals and about how you plan to license the software you intend to sell. Will your software be proprietary? Have you already written it to use PyQt? Are you considering alternatives?

— Eliah Kagan

@user2366975 I agree with Eliah, I downvoted your question because I don't believe there's sufficient information here to answer it. If you provide more information as an edit to your question, I will remove the downvote, but not until there's enough information to be at least somewhat answerable. As it stands there's not enough information and it's just a general "legal" question...

— Thomas W.

Thomas W. and I actually don't agree on some things about this question. For example, he thinks it should be closed and I think it should be open. What I think we may agree about is that the problems with the question are due to the way it was asked, not to the fundamental nature of what was asked.

The question's recent edit ("The program should be open source... at least people should be able to take a look...") attempts to clarify things but actually makes them murkier. It doesn't attempt to address most of the questions asked in comments, and it seems to confuse "open source" with "users can read the source code."

So, no, we should not take a stand for this "kind of question." This question is not a suitable example to work with to make any general policy about anything. That moderators seem unclear about whether or not the question is on-topic is further suggestive evidence that this question should not be the impetus for any stand on anything.

  • Now that I read your answer, I think I need someone to proofread my post, or at least read it for me aloud... check the edit. What I wanted to mean is define better what kind of question are definitely on topic, as the general policy. Of course those rules are meant to be modified upon discussion. But seems that only 3 people are likely to discuss this. :/
    – Braiam
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 19:21
  • 1
    @Braiam Yeah, I know that's what you mean. I believe the word "definitive" was a perfectly good and correct way to express that. I don't think there's anything wrong with your original wording. I just totally disagree with the idea that anything about that question is likely to be applicable, without serious problems or complexity, to any other question we get in the future. In other words, I don't think we should be making general policy with that question as an example. Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 19:23
  • I completely disagree here. This question has absolutely nothing what-so-ever to Ubuntu nor development that effects Ubuntu. It most certainly is something we can take a stand on!
    – Seth
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 20:48
  • 1
    @Seth Graphical programs written in Python and using common GUI toolkits are common when developing Ubuntu software. My understanding is that many questions on developing desktop apps using Python are kept open on Ask Ubuntu, even if they apply equally to some other OSes. You might want to post a meta-answer here about why you think this question is unrelated to development affecting Ubuntu. That's not a clear-cut issue, and if we're going to build a community consensus about it, it would be nice to have more robust examples of questions involving such development. Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 20:52

It's a fairly interesting topic (to me) and I'd like to see people weigh in. It's rather a shame to see somebody trying to answer it when half a dozen guys are just trying to close it. If the problem is it's just not Ubuntu enough, why can't we just fix that?

Development and Python and PyQt are all very much on-topic in the context of Ubuntu and somebody has asked a question about all of those on a site about Ubuntu. I don't think I'm warping reality to say the question and its answer could easily be about developing on Ubuntu.

So I did. Question still covers what the original one did, now just with added relevancy to Ubuntu.

  • Thanks for that, it is encouraging. I thought others would have interest in this topic though I didn't explain myself very good. Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 16:48

I strongly agree with both @Eliah Kagan and @Oli on this issue. Their points are quite relevant and should be taken into account before voting some of these "non-configuration" questions as off-topic.

Personally, I can't think of a better place to ask this type of question initially. If you can, then that too would probably be an appropriate answer. If we can point them in the right direction and send them on their way, it's a win for us both as more experienced Ubuntu users and as a helpful community.

Ask Ubuntu is, in my opinion, a "first line of defence" for guiding "newbies" using Ubuntu. Whether new questioneers are completely fresh users, programmers, or folks who are looking for guidance in customizing their installation(that is part of the beauty of using Ubuntu, no?), this site does play an important role in guiding folks into using Ubuntu resources whether it be tutorials, blogs, launchpad, or helping them make their way through the often confusing path to getting an application packaged.

The folks that hang around here specialize in that sort of relatively 'arcane' knowledge that makes this a great resource for folks.

This question, in particular, is interesting, to me, since it brings up issues of how an Ubuntu programmer can go about packaging a program and which issues that they might potentially face in making their application publicly available.

We may not have the absolute correct answer, but I thing we can certainly point them in the proper direction as a first point of contact with the Ubuntu ecosystem. Whether this means telling them to contact a lawyer, or to use a different library, we can definitely play an important part in getting a budding developer headed in the proper direction. Even if this means that the proper answer is to contact a lawyer, it can still be a correct and acceptable answer useful to future questioneers and should remain open.

I would hate to see this site reduced to duping continual questions about UEFI installs or black screens. ;-/ We have enough of those.

TL;DR: Leave the question open even if it means our answer is to tell the OP to talk with the devs or to a lawyer. It will be a good reference for people who will, most likely ask the same question in the future. I think that it does no harm to tell folks that we don't have the proper qualifications, here, but can show them where the folks are who can help them. That is both interesting and encouraging, to me.

My six and one 1/2 cents...


I say, lets lock the question as Jon Skeet facts one. The advantage of this is that we can close dupes of this one, and we still say that we don't accept this kind of questions.

  • We can close questions as duplicates of closed questions. This particular question has upvoted answers, so even if it stays closed we can dupe to it. Closed questions with upvoted answers are never automatically deleted by the system even if they aren't viewed for an extended time. Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 21:23

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