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Re: [News] An argument for Linux variants

__/ [ BearItAll ] on Monday 07 August 2006 14:01 \__

> Roy Schestowitz wrote:
>> Linux Technology Leadership and the Forking Issue
>> An argument for Linux variants
>> ,----[ Quote (from Summary, page III) ]
>> | The concerns about commercial vendors selling products that "fork the
>> | Linux kernel" are not just overblown; analysis shows them to be a red
>> | herring. All significant Linux distributions are Linux variants, and
>> | none of them are or have become Linux forks. We have shown how even
>> | basic commercial support activities require an independently maintained
>> | copy (a "variant") of the Linux kernel. Those value-add components
>> | (features, internal "-ability" enhancements, and quality improvements)
>> | are frequently the critical factor in the purchasing decision and
>> | without those values a Linux-based product may not be feasible.
>> `----
>>                         http://opensource.sys-con.com/read/256603.htm
> It has to be said that varients do tend to stay with the main Linux base.
> Whether the varient is a cut down for embedding or a full desktop Linux
> with added tools, we don't really see any forking alternatives to main
> stream Linux.

True.  This can be said not only about the kernel, but  also
about  desktop  environments  and  particular  applications.
Often enough, distro assembler will only need to install and
customise (e.g. some themes and distro-specific front-ends),
get  the  latest patches or source (and compile  it)  before
packaging  the whole shebang. This must be the reason why so
many  cutting-edge  Linux  distributions are  maintained  by
small groups. They are merely a channel of distribution that
stands  on the shoulders of giants and caters for a niche or
the  preference  of a small group. Like Enlightenment?  Then
have  a go with ELive. Want everything but the kitchen sink?
SUSE  would probably do. XP-ish Clone? PCLinuxOS perhaps? It
has  become  easy  to build distributions  and  this  should
encourage  companies  to embrace Linux and create their  own
distribution,  much like an image. The underlying  component
are  the  same,  but  it's customised to the  needs  of  the
company  and  offers  competitive advantage.  I  wonder  how
pluggable  (e.g.  open to hooks) Linux is at its core.  This
could  open the door to extensions that fit nicely on top of
the  existing  kernel.  I  suppose the CGL  is  intended  to
standardise things for that reason.

> I would say that this is essential to the Linux camp, and also good
> commercial sense. No one wants to be stuck with a product that only a small
> team of developers can work with, if Fred the programmer leaves the company
> you want Tom, Dick or even Harry to be able to carry on with it. Much
> better to keep in touch with the main developer base.

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