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