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EETimes: Linux looks to avoid fragmentation

Nov 08, 2000, 22:46 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nicolas Mokhoff)

"With Linux gaining momentum in applications from wristwatches to supercomputers, its backers are redoubling efforts to expand the reach of the operating system and development environment while avoiding a re-enactment of the "Unix wars" on the Linux front. At the recent Embedded Linux conference and show in Westborough, Mass., some 45 vendors showed Linux-based offerings, and the Embedded Linux Consortium (ELC) stepped up its membership drive."

"The implications of a Unix-like "forking," or fragmenting, of Linux were brought home by chief technology officer Tim Bird of Lineo (Salt Lake City). In a keynote address at the conference, Bird asserted that the open-source developer community cannot fulfill all of the embedded market's needs, because the "network effects" that drive open-source development tend to be reduced in many areas of embedded technology. By that, Bird meant that developers of common interest tend to talk only among themselves, spawning isolated microcommunities of developers for specific, narrow tasks. That can fragment a development language and keep it from being standardized across applications."

"Although forks that needlessly diminish the network effects of community development are undesirable, forks that specialize Linux for markets it could not otherwise serve are beneficial (Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux, calls them "non-overlapping"). Such forks should be encouraged, not avoided, said Bird. The Lineo CTO will deliver the same message to a Comdex audience next week."

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