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Re: On cadence and collaboration

On Wed, Aug 05, 2009 at 09:30:33PM +0200, Julien BLACHE wrote:
> In the free software world, the diversity we have today, which is
> partly due to unaligned releases from the major vendors, is an asset.

Security-wise ? Let's admit that, I don't want to fight on that point,
even if I think it's not as simple.

But speaking from my experience as an employee of a software editor, I
can tell that the distribution diversity is a huge problem when it comes
to distributing our work. If your client use a Ubuntu LTS, a RHEL, a
SuSE or worst for some, some kind of home-brewed monster taken half from
a RHEL and custom packages (*sigh*) then you have as many builds to do,
regress-test and so on.  When you target Windows or Solaris or MacosX,
you usually officially support the last two releases, and that's it (and
please, it's the same for "Linux" distributions, for RH you "have" to
support RH4.x and RH5.x if you want to be relevant).

It yields a really costly entry point to target "Linux" as a platform,
and it's exactly why most Software Vendors target "RHEL" and not
"Linux". And that's part of the reason[1] why most of our customers are
using RHELs: software vendors only certify their stuff for RHEL, because
it's the established reference in the field, and that it costs too much
to certify you stuff for yet-another-distro.

OTOH, the diversity is also good for us, and there isn't two developers
with the same distribution: many Debian sid's, but also lennies, even a
gentoo IIRC, and it has proven a good thing to find awkward bugs in our
software. But if this diversity is good for the development phase (and
can easily achieved using "unstable"-like distributions), it sucks a lot
when it comes to distribution.

Bottom line, I think your vision of the problem is too black&white.

Of course, arguably we shouldn't care about proprietary software. But
let's face it, in the end, people will want to make their Oracle cluster
work, make their funky Telco hardware work with a proprietary stack and
so on.

[1] quality of the support is clearly the other biggest part

Intersec <http://www.intersec.com>
Pierre Habouzit <pierre.habouzit@intersec.com>
Tél : +33 (0)1 5570 3346
Mob : +33 (0)6 1636 8131
Fax : +33 (0)1 5570 3332
37 Rue Pierre Lhomme
92400 Courbevoie

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