Q

Preserving app functions when porting to Linux

Unix-Linux expert Ken Milberg explains that you can't preserve much when porting apps with platform-specific functions.

If I have an app running on Unix that uses platform-specific features, what is the best way to preserve those functions when I port it to Linux?
The purpose of platform-specific features are usually to optimize the environment on the hardware that it runs on. I'm not aware of any tool that will allow you to preserve those kinds of functions when porting to Linux on another platform. The only way to get around this is by using hardware that supports Unix, Linux and certain functions on both platforms. IBM is an example of a company that does this. It provides for Advanced Power Virtualization features on both Unix (AIX) and Linux (RHEL4 & SLES9+) running on it's p5 servers. This is because IBM enhanced the kernel on both operating systems to provide for the common functionality, which also allows for the sharing of processors between separate Linux and Unix partitions.

It is generally considered good programming practice NOT to use platform-specific features when writing code, in order to limit the amount of problems when porting to different architectures. To further answer your question, I would need to know more specifics about the application that uses these platform-specific features. My guess is, that you won't be able to preserve much.

This was first published in September 2006

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