Cannot compare forks to ports
Posted Nov 9, 2004 13:27 UTC (Tue) by hackerb9
In reply to: NetBSD vs. Linux portability
Parent article: The state of BSD
The illustrious Rick Moen pointed me to the Linux User Group HOWTO which he maintains. It lists all of the current architectures and platforms that Linux currently runs on.
Comparing that list to the list of NetBSD ports it is now evident that Linux has been ported to more platforms than NetBSD.
One of the problem with this is that it is trying to compare the number of Linux forks to NetBSD ports. Any comparison should focus on either forks or ports.
A fork is a substantial change which is not folded back into the mainline code. For example, ELKS (Linux for the 8086/286) is not actually part of Linux, it is a fork. If a fork isn't constantly patched with the latest improvements from the mainline kernel, it quickly stagnates. Having a lot of forks isn't necessarily something to brag about.
A port on the other hand, is not a separate project. When IBM ported Linux to the S/390 they took the time to do it right and had their changes accepted into Linux. You use same source code to compile a Linux kernel for the S/390 as for the 80386. That's what I call a clean design!
Note that Rick Moen's list showing Linux's portability includes this disclaimer:
Note that some items listed were probably one-time forks, little or not at all maintained since creation.
I'd be interested to know how many of those platforms can actually run from the stock Linux kernel. Probably quite a few, but I doubt it's as many as from a stock NetBSD kernel (at least 40).
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