The Politics of Porting

The flagship application was headed for the rocks. One man seized the wheel and guided the ship to safety—but will he be keelhauled for acting without orders?
Postscript: Cats and Dogs

So why is it so difficult to convince some people in the face of such revealing benchmarks? The cost of the port was close to zero, the performance was superior to almost all the other ports and the resulting Linux Hub was rock solid.

It think the answer to that question hinges around the personality of the individuals concerned. There seems to be two types of people involved in this debate, and although each may be amenable to argument, their instinct leaves them predisposed to favour particular forms of software solutions.

One group prefers a clear and rigid hierarchy. They want to know who they are answerable to and who is answerable to them. They want one organisation providing one solution and would like to dispense with the alternatives. They respect the dominant player, whoever it is. They feel at ease with conformity and would prefer it if you would conform too.

On the other hand, the second group values freedom of choice. They tend not to take anything for granted, want to see under the bonnet when considering a product and always are ready to look at alternatives. They certainly don't want to be told what to do but are amenable to argument and debate.

These two groups might be characterised as dogs and cats. The dogs listen to their masters' voice and defend their own territory and that of their master. They know their place and yours and would prefer to keep it that way.

The second group are cats. They don't recognise a master, never mind his voice. There are no limits to their territory, and they range widely. They are curious and seek out new pastures and are at ease with the unfamiliar.

Next time you are having problems introducing Linux into the workplace, the resistance you encounter might have nothing to do with the strengths and weaknesses of the software under discussion. It simply might be that you are a cool cat trying to persuade an old dog to learn new tricks.

Stephen C. Forster has worked in the IT industry for nine years, mostly as a UNIX/Linux administrator, though he writes code and administers Oracle databases when he must. In another life, he also has been in the army and shot news footage of the war in Afghanistan. He can be reached at


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