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LinuxPlanet: .comment: Taking Inventory

Mar 07, 2001, 14:42 (23 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)

"In a closed-source world, this can, and no doubt in the closed-source world will, result in hands-off upgrades whenever something new exists. The new binaries will just be there, downloaded and installed with no user intervention. (The potential problems here are staggering, but for our purposes right now we'll assume that it works perfectly.)"

"But in the open-source world, this is all fraught with peril, for several reasons."

"The first is that it additionally fragments the community. Distributions are not only cooking up auto-upgrade features, they're cooking up ones that are incompatible with everybody else's. Red Hat has one now; Debian has for some time; Caldera's working on one for whatever their next distribution ends up being, and so on."

"The second is that it compounds the problems created by the various incompatible binary packaging systems. There's no doubt that these range from clever to very clever, from .rpm to .deb. But they also don't speak to each other (though Debian's alien program does much to address this.)"

"The third is that they suggest that distributors want users to stay away from source code. This flies in the face of the things that caused the community to exist in the first place. Worse, it promises to divide the community in some ways that would produce long lasting and terrible results."

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