Debian finally takes the plunge to offer multi architecture support with its to-be release Wheezy. This means that Debian users can now run the software of their choice, in a machine and version of their choice. This is a feature that is already supported by most open source distros and there is high expectation from what Wheezy can offer. However, since it is most likely to be released only by 2013, doubts of its relevance then are being raised.
Debian forays into MultiArch
Debian community had reason to cheer at the Debian annual conference last week. Called the DebCon 11, including multiarch support features was one amongst other goal-setting for the new release. The next Debian release, the Wheezy or the Debian 7 would include strong and well packaged Mutiarch support.
With the release date hovering in 2013, the expectation from Debian 7 to deliver multiarch support is truly high.
Why MultiArch Support
Debian by choosing to offer the multiple architecture approach is reiterating its position as a universal operating system. Typically, not all software runs effectively on all architectures. They will remain native to particular platforms and will be barely compatible with others. Most users grapple with certain software types lacking architectural support today. This is especially true of open source software users considering that more number of users are seeking open source options.
Proprietary software given their bridled view continues to remain non-supportive across particular architectures and hence there is lot of pressure on open source software. Even within open source, issues of OpenOffice being limited in its application due to lack of hardware support are plenty.
Equipped with the Multiarch support, Debian will deliver on its promise of being the universal operating software. This will thoroughly encourage cross building, bring better support for outdated 32-bit applications to run on the latest 64-bit installations. Further, it will have increased scope to support live migration from 32-bit to 64-bit system as well.
Debian’s MultiArch Support, a new fork
While there is a common opinion that commercial enterprises support innovative product features, Debian distros with its immense community support seeks to achieve this target by 2013. Debian, is by far one of the largest Linux distributions globally and its foray to offer universal compatibility will be highly recommended and endorsed by the community and commercial users as well.
Radical rethink to drive MultiArch support
The technology that will enable multiarch support is regarded as radical rethink. To deliver this multiple architectural support, a given file system hierarchy with its associated library, header paths will allow programs plus libraries of all hardware architectures to reside in parallel or simultaneously on the same system.
Therefore, effectively what is offered is support for multiple run-time architectures where the package system will deliver the required technicalities.
Prolonged development life cycle
The most evident disappointment with the MultiArch support for Debian 7, Wheezy is that it will be available only by the year 2013. The passing thought, however, is that by the time this capability is available for use, it could be technology-driftwood. It could even become irrelevant due to the extended life-cycles of software development and availability.