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vdemuth 10-15-2004 02:39 AM

Cars, computers and backward compatibility
 
Just thought I'd have a rant, so please excuse me if this has been covered before.

So here I am, in need of some serious retail therapy, and a huge wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket. I set off to the nearest shopping centre, and there it is, the car of my dreams, sleek, shiny, more extras than you could shake a stick at.

Well, I part with my hard earned, and drive away with my new pride and joy.

Now everything goes really well with it, there I am, cruising with the top down, feeling like a king, but I feel there is something missing. After all, I've had it now for what feels like an eternity, (6 months really), and I would like just a litle bit more power, you know, from a to b just that few seconds faster, what to do, what to do? Panic almost sets in.

Anyway, off I go to my garage, and they replace my engine management chip. They tell me that I'm currently running version 2.4.2, and the new version, 2.6.x is way better.

Suitably satisfied, away I go, when horror of horrors, my radio suddenly stops working, my lights dim, and my previously faultless car is not as it should be.

Back to the garage then, they tell me that because of my new chip (remember, 2.6.x) that I now need a different way to control my radio and lights!

I ask why? after all, they haven't changed, they are, after all, still the same bits of hardware they always were, the mechanic tells me that the old way of control under my chip No. 2.4.2 is not the same as under 2.6.x. I ask why, but he doesn't really know, and mutters something under his breath about compile time options, gcc, interrupts and poor backward comptibility while walking off shaking his head, even worse, he shouted something about needing different petrol to make use of all the facilities in my new chip.

So to my point, what has happened to backward compatibility? Years ago, it was possible to go from DOS 2.x through to DOS 7 at least,or DRDOS 3.x to 7 without needing new modem drivers, graphic card drivers et al, yet now it seems that with every new release of Kernel in Linux, or updates to 'that other' OS then new software is needed to drive existing PREVIOUSLY working peripherals. Is it beyond the realms of possibility that the very clever people who write these programs can't deal with this issue.


My apologies for going on, just having more driver issues (again) with my NVIDIA card following a Kernel upgrade. I have, of course sorted out those problems, but have to question should I have needed to? And were cars built like computers, then every time a new model was announced, then we could end up with this sort of scenario, and would you really want to source new tyres, bulbs, fuel etc just because something changes?

r0b0 10-15-2004 05:00 AM

Well, you don't have to upgrade if you are happy with your current system. Nobody will ever force you to upgrade to 2.6 if 2.4 works for you and you are happy with it.

vdemuth 10-22-2004 12:23 PM

Well, of course you are right, but the point I am trying to make, if I may use the car analogy again, is surely if you have a machine, (car/PC/toaster/microwave etc), then surely when you have to change a broken headlight, replace worn out tyres etc, then you should not need to find a new type of fuel to power it.
Lets say, for instance, that your home audio system stopped playing CDs because of a fault, or worn out CD player. So, you take it to the repair shop, and they fit a new CD unit.
Only now you find that you need to change your electricity supplier, because your new CD needs electricity version No.2.6.x, and you only have version 2.4.x in your home. What do you do?
a) Live without your newly repaired CD
b) Change to electricity 2.6.x
c) Curse the CD maker AND electricity supplier for not making your new CD backwardly compatible with what has gone before, while still able to take advantage of the newer and better 2.6.x if you want to, with no effort on your part.

It's a good job that H2O is still H2O after all these years!


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