Instead of, why not...

Anthony Atkielski atkielski.anthony at
Sun Feb 13 08:40:50 GMT 2005

Chad Leigh -- Shire.Net LLC writes:

> ?????  What the heck does this mean?

It means that large organizations want to have a single official release
of the OS running on all servers, and they expect that release to come
formally from a specific official source.  Hacking changes into the code
and then installing that in production is not acceptable.  Often every
change to the OS must go through a test and rollout process that can
take months at some companies.  Emergency patches must be tested in
advance by the vendor, and the vendor must stand behind them.

> I would bet that most larger installations of Linux or FreeBSD or any
> other open source OS would be considered non-standard.

Yes.  That's why so many companies run Solaris instead.

> Heck, I bet YOUR installation of FreeBSD could be considered
> non-standard.

As the owner of the system, I define what is standard on my site, and I
consider FreeBSD 5.3 to be standard.  I don't make any modifications of
my own to the code, though.

> Your statement  make absolutely no sense.

It does to someone who has worked in this kind of environment for
several decades.  There are still companies running Windows 3.x because
it is so long and difficult to roll out anything new.

> If the fix that you decry is a reasonable fix, who says it can't be
> rolled back into an "official" release.

It can be, but until that is done, many organizations won't touch it.

There's another separate issue with source fixes.  It's a common
misconception that anyone with access to source can just dive into it
and fix any problem.  In practice, that is never the case.  Nobody has
all of any OS memorized, and no one person can dive into the code of any
OS and come up with fixes to every problem.  Even among official
developers, typically each developer knows only his own code extremely
well, and has only a vague idea of how the rest of the code works.
While it is true that you could theoretically fix anything in time with
access to source, in practice the time required is so long that it is
effectively impossible in many situations ... you _must_ enlist the help
of one or more developers familiar with the code segments that have to
be fixed.  And that in turn means that, in order to provide full
support, you must be able to compel the cooperation of developers.
Proprietary vendors can do this; open-source organizations cannot.


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