[kwlug-disc] How Canonical makes money ...

Chris Frey cdfrey at foursquare.net
Sun May 16 00:25:56 EDT 2010

On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 11:05:01PM -0400, Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
> The funny/sad part is that these proprietary applications already support
> multiple platforms that are really different, e.g. Windows, Linux, FreeBSD,
> NetBSD, IBM AIX, HP/UX, ...etc., let alone different processor
> architectures, filesystems (or raw partitions), ...etc.

The pace of change in Linux is high.  I believe it is higher than for
any of the other examples you mention there.

And the change is not often documented like it is in the others.
Depending on the level you're working at, the documentation is the code,
and the compiler errors are your advanced warning when your driver doesn't
build with the latest kernel anymore.

Even for a simple project like Barry, which hooks into the udev system
to catch BlackBerries on startup, I've lost count of the number of times
I've had to tweak things on new distros.  It's not a huge burden, but
it's often enough that it itches, and infrequent enough that you forget
the details of the solution you had before.

Similarly, there are the new fads.  Hotplug is it!  udev is it!
ConsoleKit is it!  No, wait, HAL is it!  Wait, it's back to udev!
We're sure now!

These kinds of things happen at the kernel driver level, at the device
management level, and even the audio level.  (PulseAudio is it!)

If your application only uses stable APIs, like file I/O and the X
protocol, then all you have to worry about is where your startup
icons are stored in this version of Ubuntu.  But if you're doing anything
tricky, like kernel drivers and custom hardware, the little things add up.
But again, it's not a huge burden, but enough to make Linux seem
more unruly than the rest, IMHO.

Linux will not bend over backwards to help you avoid change.  In fact,
it will actively throw it in your face, on purpose.  (Just see the
numerous pleas on the kernel mailing list for stable driver APIs, and
the responses.)  This is so far from the Windows mindset that it is a
shock to vendors.

- Chris

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