Summary: The newspeak against GNU/Linux and other FOSS or FOSS-derived operating systems
Companies that are crazy about control wish to own everything from software down to hardware. Apple could not tolerate BSD code without closing it and Microsoft just couldn’t stand the idea of companies creating their own Windows shells — a subject of antitrust litigation almost two decades ago.
“Due to the old tricks of newspeak, propaganda, spin and FUD we have become accustomed to hearing words like ‘fragmentation’ wherever FOSS goes.”Linux, as a kernel with a lot of development activity, has become the Swiss army knife for many who wish to rapidly create operating systems. Android is probably the most ubiquitous among those, depending on the assessed criteria. GNU is the Swiss army knife further up in the software stack and Apache is extremely popular in page-serving devices. All of those are Free/Open Source software (FOSS).
The flexibility of this software is hard to compete with. Corporations and/or large communities surround those projects. Due to the old tricks of newspeak, propaganda, spin and FUD we have become accustomed to hearing words like ‘fragmentation’ wherever FOSS goes. Recently, a lot of this has been said about Android. The other day a notable Linux advocate, SJVN, addressed the Android “fragmentation” FUD by writing a tongue-in-cheek report about Windows:
The transition from XP to Vista, to Windows 7 and most recently, both iterations of the newest version of Windows, 8 and RT, as well as all patch iterations and dot versions in between, has left a scattered landscape of PCs in various states of OS upgrade version malaise. (Cough)
This has created problems for Windows developers when coding applications, and when they test against different versions of the OS and different target devices. (Oh my!)
The introduction of multiple versions of PCs, as well as Windows virtual machines and emulators running in Mac OS X and Linux, has further complicated this situation by creating additional “forks” of Windows, which have their own unique application issues that developers need to address. (The horror! The horror!)
This puts in perspective one aspect of the FUD’s shortcomings. Because Windows also supports nearly as much hardware as Linux does, the ‘fragmentation’ may relate to hardware too. Let’s face it. A power which is diversity — something that Apple actively discourages — should not be portrayed as a weakness. Linux and GNU are very compatible with UNIX owing to POSIX. GTK applications are quite compatible with applications that use Qt, and vice versa (narrowed down to two options just for the sake of concision). This took a while to achieve, but we are there now. Diversity is secured in the compatibility/standards sense, owing in part to compartmentalisation. People who chastise GNU/Linux over ‘fragmentation’ are either dishonest or have not kept up with GNU/Linux for nearly a decade. To say that GNU/Linux is ‘hard’ because it facilitates advanced features is also to overlook the progress made in the past half a decade in KDE and GNOME. But that’s a subject for another day… █