Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Jan 2007 11:25 UTC
Linux Ian Murdock blogs about the importance of backward compatibility. "Yes, it's hard, particularly in the Linux world, because there are thousands of developers building the components that make up the platform, and it just takes one to break compatibility and make our lives difficult. Even worse, the idea of keeping extraneous stuff around for the long term 'just' for the sake of compatibility is anathema to most engineers. Elegance of design is a much higher calling than the pedestrian task of making sure things don't break. Why is backward compatibility important?"
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I disagree
by robinh on Mon 15th Jan 2007 12:14 UTC
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The example on Ian's blog post of altering the memory allocater to support an old broken program is totally crazy. Imagine if the Linux kernel developers did something like this: there'd be uproar!

Backward compatibility is less of an issue for free software for 2 reasons: (1) It's free, so replacing the whole thing won't cost you anything other than time, and (2) Free software tends to implement open standards, so if any given program stops working, you'll probably be able to find a different program which implements the same standard.


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