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Re: Cross-distro binary compatibilty

On Thursday 07 July 2005 15:21, Bob Proulx wrote:
> David Wood wrote:
> > On Wed, 6 Jul 2005, Goswin von Brederlow wrote:
> > >If you don't do that you can also claim that SuSe isn't SuSe
> > >compatible as you can have exactly the same version/package skews
> > >within one distro.
> > You're right of course - even within a distro, binary compatibility isn't
> > really that great.
> Even the ones that pick rpm don't have a coherent policy document.
> This hampers compatibility considerably.

Certain distributions  (*cough* Redhat *cough*)  are renowned for patching 
their kernel and libraries almost beyond recognition.

As I've said before, binary compatibility is irrelevant.  In fact, from a 
security point of view, binary _in_compatibility -- to the point where 
binaries compiled on one box would not run on any other box -- might be 
desirable, then there could never be such a thing as a virus.  {Obviously 
some sort of compatibility mode would be required for initial bootstrapping 
of a system, but access could be restricted by means of something like a 
motherboard jumper, that could not be defeated by software alone.}  Source 
compatibility is all that really matters, and there are enough examples 
around to show that this is entirely achievable.  And I'm not just talking 
about compatibility across different versions of the same distro, or even 
different Linux distributions; but Linux, the BSDs, Solaris and legacy 
systems too.  {Of course, there are examples of badly-written software out 
there too.  It's interesting that the worst offenders -- Mozilla and 
OpenOffice -- actually started out as closed-source.}

The only reason why you would ever want to be able to run a binary not 
compiled by you is if you did not have the source code; and if you don't have 
the source code, it's probably because someone doesn't want you to have it.  
If somebody doesn't want you to have the source code, then there is probably 
something in it that they are ashamed to show you.

I won't run software written by cowards.  If there is no way to accomplish a 
task using purely Open Source tools, then I'll do it by hand -- or create a 
new tool and make it Open Source.


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