Friday, December 30, 2011

Linux package dependencies show predator/prey relationship

Computer people often talk about a "software ecosystem" on various computer platforms, but it's rare to see someone take the terminology seriously. Evolutionary biologists Miguel A. Fortuna, Juan A. Bonachela, and Simon A. Levin of Princeton University have used the tools of ecosystem analysis to look at the evolution of Debian releases, examining things like package dependencies and software incompatibility.

"Overall, the key feature of the modularity the team identified seems to be that the decreasing number of conflicts across modules means that more of the software available for the operating system can install, since it's rare that a conflict will completely block an entire module from installing and running. The authors suggest that we might learn something about biology by studying software, but they don't actually provide examples of how this might work; at this stage, then, it's not an especially compelling argument. "

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