Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Tue 11th Jan 2011 13:40 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Nowadays smartphones, tablets and desktop/laptop computers are all siblings. They use the same UI paradigms and follow the same idea of a programmable and flexible machine that's available to everyone. Only their hardware feature set and form factor differentiate them from each other. In this context, does it still make sense to consider them as separate devices as far as software development is concerned? Wouldn't it be a much better idea to consider them as multiple variations of the same concept, and release a unified software platform which spreads across all of them? This article aims at describing what has been done in this area already, and what's left to do.
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RE[4]: umm
by TemporalBeing on Tue 11th Jan 2011 22:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: umm"
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"Yes. Very yes. What is a smart phone if not a personal computer? If by "Linux" as distinct from "Android" you mean the traditional userland stack on top of Linux, then the answer is still yes.

By "Linux", I mean "operating systems using the Linux kernel", as opposed to the Android kernel, which is considered a fork since they decided to completely reinvent some parts of it and thus got their patches refused.

Android did not get their patches refused b/c they completely re-invented some parts, but rather b/c they did not (i) submit proper patches, (ii) ignored what the devs said, and (iii) chose a different path from the main-line kernel. They were invited to submit proper patches against the main-line kernel that were within the realms of what was going on with the kernel.

If the answer is still yes, can you show some numbers proving it ?

Again, look at KDE. They are targeting Desktop, Netbook, and phones all with the same code-base and widgets. Write a Plasmoid for KDE Desktop and it'll run on KDE Netbook too - likely without changes or even re-compile.

Can't do that with Mac, and certainly not Windows.

"I know what you mean is "Cross-device runtime UI portability", but you don't say it. If you want portability Linux is certainly worth mentioning since it is (arguably) the king of portability. If you mean "UI portability," interfaces that dynamically adapt to the current screen and input method, then even there some good work has lately been done.

What I was thinking about is a single distribution which can run on a variety of devices with only a recompilation with different flags or something similar in the way.

You mean like Gentoo? Which supports x86, x86-64, PPC, Sparc, and several other processors. Plus you have Desktop, Server, Hardened Server, and even Embedded targets. No other distribution matches Gentoo for range of devices. Nor does Windows or Mac.

As far as I know, iOS on the iPad is exactly that : you take iOS for iPhone, you change the hardcoded screen size somewhere, and you get the end result. Now, on Linux, I know of netbook-oriented distros and desktop/laptop-oriented distros, with each having a highly different UI (in fact both UIs are managed with different software), and that's about all. Well, there's Meego, sure, but the handset part is still far from being stable and release-ready, yet alone being a major player of the personal computing market, though I'd sure like to see this happen.

Again, look at what KDE is doing. At most you'll need a re-compile. But KDE, and Linux in general are far more varied than iOS in what is supported.

"Android certainly deserves mention, but you leave it as an afterthought following a thick paragraph about Windows, of all things, which is all rumor and maybes. And, a quibble: All Microsoft OSes do share a common kernel, easily as much as iOS and OS X do. Windows deserves far less mention here than does Meego, much less Android.

Again, Meego for anything but a desktop/laptop is not even out of the door yet. I was talking about major players. Android's paragraph is shorter because as far as I know they do less and are late. Though again, Google are relatively new on that OS market, so it's normal that they have less developer power and do less.

You don't even have to go to Meego. Gentoo Embedded is already out the door. For that matter so is OpenEmbedded ( - again, numerous devices and you just have to set up your environment to support the device you want.

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