Should I add this Repo?

Karl Auer kauer at
Sun Oct 26 14:40:54 UTC 2008

On Sun, 2008-10-26 at 14:46 +0100, Mario Vukelic wrote:
> On Mon, 2008-10-27 at 00:28 +1100, Karl Auer wrote:
> > Binary compatibility between two platforms means that the exact same
> > executable image (binary) will execute on both platforms.
> To quote Shuttleworth from the link I gave: "First, "binary
> compatibility" means different things to different people."

Yes. He then goes on to use the phrase in some very strange ways (and
often in quotation marks!) Perhaps over the years the term has been
misused so much that the original meaning has been lost. A good example
of this is "momentarily", which used to mean "very briefly", but now (in
American English) means "very soon".

Many good technical terms have been destroyed by deliberate marketing
obfuscation. A "megabyte" used to be 2^20 (1,048,576) bytes, but then
the hard disk marketers decided that their disks would look bigger if
they started calling 1,000,000 bytes a "megabyte". Maybe marketing has
been playing around with "binary compatibility" too.

So to give Shuttleworth the benefit of the doubt, maybe he is using
"binary compatibility" in this almost meaningless way because he feels
that's what his audience will best understand.

> To me, it means something different, namely that a Debian package is not
> guaranteed to work correctly, work at all, or even install on Ubuntu.

We are agreed on the dangers of using Debian (or Red hat, or SuSE, or
Centros, or...) packages on Ubuntu. All we are arguing about is whether
"binary compatibility" is the right term. I think the right term here is
just "compatibility".

Shrug. The main thing is that people don't go using Debian packages on
Ubuntu unless they are ready for surprises.

Just out of interest, what do you think the correct term is for the
situation where the same executable can be run on two different
platforms? Off-list if you like.

Regards, K.

"The question is", said Alice, "whether you  *can* make a word mean so
many different things."

"The question is", said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's

   - Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass", 1872
Karl Auer (kauer at                   +61-2-64957160 (h)                  +61-428-957160 (mob)

GPG fingerprint: DD23 0DF3 2260 3060 7FEC 5CA8 1AF6 D9E3 CFEE 6B28

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