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Linux Technology Leadership and the Forking Issue

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Linux is the fastest-growing embedded operating environment in the world today. It's quickly becoming the single largest operating system platform for embedded computing. As a result, many technology managers must come to grips with the complexity and the dynamics of Open Source software in general and Linux evolution in particular. Particular questions and concerns arise in the areas of compatibility, the role and nature of different versions of Linux (the "forking issue"), and the technology advancement process itself. The history of incompatible proprietary versions of Unix contributes significantly to these concerns. It's critical for the continued successful adoption of Linux that these concerns be assessed and understood. The nature of Linux as Open Source dramatically changes not just the specifics of these concerns, but relative to the history of Unix, changes even the nature of the concerns themselves.

The Nature of Linux Innovation

Linux is Open Source. What does this mean (in terms that are significant to compatibility and forking)? There are several critical facts:

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