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Choosing between portability and innovation

Mar 11, 2011, 13:02 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Koen Vervloesem)

"Portability is a key concept in the open source ecosystem. Thanks to this killer feature, your author has migrated his desktop operating system during the last ten years from Mac OS X to Linux (various distributions) and eventually to FreeBSD, but throughout that process he could keep using most of the same applications. When you present a recent openSUSE or PC-BSD desktop system to a computer newbie, they won't notice much difference, apart from a different desktop theme, perhaps. The same applications (OpenOffice.org, Firefox, K3b, Dolphin, and so on) will be available. In many circumstances, it just doesn't matter whether your operating system is using a Linux or FreeBSD kernel, as long as it has drivers for your hardware (and that's the catch).

"This portability, however, is not always easy to achieve. Now that Linux is the most popular free Unix-like operating system, it shouldn't be a surprise that some projects have begun treating non-Linux operating systems as second-class citizens. This isn't out of contempt for the BSDs or OpenSolaris, it's just a matter of limited manpower: if almost all the users of the application have a Linux operating system and if all the core developers are using Linux themselves, it's difficult to keep supporting other operating systems."

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