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Infrastructure and Community and Adoption

Slashdot refers to a Fireside Chat with David Rusling and Linus Torvalds on YouTube with an interesting pull quote. It’s the infrastructure and compatibility that flavors a preference for chip architecture, not so much the RISC vs CISC or minutia of instruction set. It could be said that Windows provides a community for the x86 even though Microsoft has tried to expand its products to other architectures.

This has also been reason cited for going Python. It is often expressed as bricks (excuse me, that should be “batteries”) included and community. That, and the FOSS basis, means that a complete construction environment is available everywhere and there is a lot of help in solving problems.

That same phenomena shows up with the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. The ESP8266 community borrowed the Arduino IDE to leverage the community and infrastructure behind that system for its benefit. Newer SBC’s often try to do the same thing by using a Linux based software environment.

Much of this depends upon your focus. Linus is building kernel function and that means he is working with chip architecture. Arduino enthusiasts are working with sensing and control so they are more concerned with microcontroller issues. Raspberry Pi is confused as its original intent was education but many have picked it up for cheap computing. The ESP8266 is for the Internet of Things stuff. 

The Raspberry Pi also illustrates where infrastructure and community are important. I figured I could run VLC instead of LibreELEC to play movies in a standard Raspbian environment. Whoops. The Raspberry Pi hardware graphics acceleration isn’t open so the community has to go through loops and hurdles to use it in apps like VLC. There are HowTo’s out there about how to compile a version of VLC to include the proprietary access to the rPi hardware but, oh, my. There is progress around these rPi issues but it takes time. I’ve even seen some argument about the GPIO capabilities and specifications as the proper specification for these pins is weak. 

The infrastructure and community issues hit all sorts of things. It is why Samba or CIFS took off as a reverse engineered effort to support Windows networking on other platforms. It’s why gpsd changed over to JSON. It’s why USB has gained popularity despite the commercial ID branding issues. I still have a serial mouse around here somewhere and remember what it used to take to get a new video system up and running properly. Things have changed and are still changing but some of the critical stuff isn’t the problem it used to be. Infrastructure and Community make a difference.