Applications and bundled libraries
Posted Mar 18, 2010 18:47 UTC (Thu) by vonbrand
In reply to: Applications and bundled libraries
Parent article: Applications and bundled libraries
First, developers are interested in developing, let them do that. Let others take over the packaging. lest you loose developers (ouch!).
Second, not all distributions are equal. They do have different aims: There are "enterprise" distributions, who are commited to UI/API/ABI stability at almost any cost; there are "end user distributions" commited to making the ordinary user's life as simple as possible; then there are the "technology showcase" ones, always shipping the latest&greatest; and "source code only" distributions which take pride in shipping (almost) unchanged upstream sources, mostly from the bleeding edge. Asking any developer to ship packages for each of those use cases means driving them to sheer madness.
Third, just shipping some "standard package" doesn't help a bit. Witness what became of LSB, which aimed at providing a common base for shipping binaries. The stuff they standardized on was too minimal and too soon outdated to be of any relevance.
Fourth, in FLOSS we have the option to fix the source, and package that. Most closed source applications are bought once, and users would scream if they had to pay again just because the operating system vendor decided to update some random library. And this works both ways, the applications are forced to aim at a low common denominator (or ship their own environment), while the vendor has to bend over backwards so as to minimize breakage (the story of the Microsoft "fix" for a bug in Simcity is just a case in point). And support the resulting mess for 10 or more years (take Windows XP, which refuses to die to this day, after two successor systems shipped) and even longer (there are "backward compatibility" layers in current Windows systems dating back who knows when).
Lastly, one of the strengths of Linux (and Unixy systems in general) is precisely their diversity. Your comment talks only of Linux distributions, and predicts there will only be one distribution in a short while. Sorry to disappoint you, this has been predicted often during the last 20 or so Linux years, and if anything is farther from reality now than ever before. And then you have to figure in other systems like Solaris, Apple's OSX, the swarm of BSDs, and even stuff like CygWin, not to mention closed and/or obsolescent systems, not to mention the sprouting of embedded systems due to ever growing capacities of "small" systems (my cellphone is way more of a computer than the first machine I programmed ever was...). Think of it as a sort of darwinian breeding ground for software: If it is able to survive in many of those environments, it is probably fit for human consumption. Sure enough, it is also our greatest curse...
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