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All things being equal...

Posted 06-22-2009 at 12:17 PM by Shingoshi
Updated 06-22-2009 at 12:19 PM by Shingoshi

Ok. Now that I've introduced my historical background with computers, let's discuss the direction I think they're going to take into the future, based on what they've done in the past.

There is a fervent discussion of whether operating systems should be multilib or not. And I think the argument against being so should be settled once and for all, by the hardware itself. That the argument is the hardware.

AMD made a monumental decision with the introduction of their 64-bit systems, to ensure that they maintained backward compatibility with the existing 32-bit systems that were in place. Some might argue that it was strictly marketing, to take advantage of a misstep by Intel. And maybe it can be seen that way. But I think such an analysis is misguided.

First of all, Intel had released the Itanium processors as their 64-bit flagship. The Itanium was intended exclusively for large business applications. It was never intended to be a consumer product. AMD however took an unconventional step, and walked right past Intel in the process. AMD decided that there was indeed a 64-bit market for both consumers and small businesses as well. And since they were already using RISC processors, managing (maintaining) backward compatibility was less of an issue for them. The smaller instruction set of AMD processors meant they had less to deal with in managing BOTH 64-bit and 32-bit in a single system.

Now, let's discuss the motivation. Proprietary systems, whether they be software or hardware, have the NEED to obsolete preexisting technologies to create validity for the introduction of newer technologies. I think that if AMD hadn't made the choice it did, Intel would have been content to create a market driven to desire 64-bit processors, while forcing users to abandon the older 32-bit systems. And let's not forget the important motivation of PROFIT!!

We all know the marketing strategy of M$. It's no mistake that people use the dollar sign to identify that company. It is their primary focus in the development of products. But should open-source really be following the example of M$ to justify not being as inclusive as possible. When the hardware is capable of producing this feature, do we really have a justification for not producing the same. I don't think so.

But we shouldn't necessarily single that company out. Those companies which produce proprietary Unix systems are guilty of the same behavior. Because the bottom line is always profit. Proprietary institutions cannot exist by any other means, except to create the perception of need for technologies newly introduced while obsoleting the old. But open-source has inclusiveness at the core of it's existence. So why should it be any different in the philosophy of the software it produces?

Multilib systems from open-source should be the rule, not the exception. Multilib should be the unique identification that sets open-source apart from everyone and everything else. I would even suggest that it is unethical not to do so. Why? For the simple reason that ethics is not at the core of proprietary systems. Whether they be hardware or software. The question to ask is whether forced obsolescence is ethical? Again, I don't think so.

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