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Date:      Thu, 18 Oct 2001 22:50:35 -0400
From:      Sergey Babkin <babkin@bellatlantic.net>
To:        Ted Mittelstaedt <tedm@toybox.placo.com>
Cc:        Doug Hass <dhass@imagestream.com>, Leo Bicknell <bicknell@ufp.org>, Jim Bryant <kc5vdj@yahoo.com>, MurrayTaylor <taylorm@bytecraft.au.com>, freebsd-hackers@FreeBSD.ORG, freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.ORG
Subject:   Re: FYI
Message-ID:  <3BCF94FB.50F5D295@bellatlantic.net>
References:  <000001c1578a$f7962480$1401a8c0@tedm.placo.com>

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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:
> 
> >From: Doug Hass [mailto:dhass@imagestream.com]
> >The lack of flexibility in accepting various requirements illustrates the
> >difference between an OS WITH legs in the market and one WITHOUT legs.
> >
> >Much to my chagrin, FreeBSD continues to fall more and more into the
> >latter category.
> >
> 
> This is a gross simplification of a great many issues.  I fail to see why you
> feel that FreeBSD is threatening anyone's IP and I don't understand why you
> are reacting this way.  Any company is free to take the FreeBSD distribution
> and customize it the way they want and include any proprietary and binary code
> they
> want and hand out distributions as they see fit.  Imagestream could do this

Well, honestly, FreeBSD makes the life of the developers of third-party
binary-only drivers fairly difficult. The reason is that there
are a lot of API changes happening between the releases (take
Julian Elisher's recent problem for example). So the driver writers
are forced to at least recompile their drivers for each release.
Plus people are very active at ripping away the old APIs even
when there is no immediate need for that nor benefit from it (think 
of phk's removal of the LIST-something macros). So often not
a simple recompilation but a noticeable rewrite may be required
for a driver between different versions of FreeBSD. 

That actually is true not only for the drivers but for the usual
binaries too. For example, there seems to be no way to combine
COFF and ELF libraries into one executable. That made porting
of Lyx to 4.0 unfeasible, as the binary-only Xforms library it
used was at the time available in the COFF form only. And I haven't
found how to build even purely COFF binaries on an ELF-ized
system either.

ALl this is a significant pain for everyone porting their software
to FreeBSD and much stronger yet for those doing binary-only
distributions.

Maybe we should have an official policy of keeping the things
compatible and available for as long as possible even if they are
considered obsolete, unless carrying them on requires a major
effort.

-SB

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