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I'm curious about what allows Linux to be so much more versatile than other OSes. According to the newbies section on, Linux can:

run on notebook computers, desktop computers, workstations, mainframes, supercomputers, handheld devices (including some cell phones), game machines, industrial robots and even a wristwatch!

I have certainly never seen Windows running on a wristwatch. Could someone enlighten me on the difference?

Newbies page here

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closed as not constructive by Karan, studiohack May 21 '13 at 1:49

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The "scalability" of the OS itself, combined with the accessible nature of open source software. It is easy to start with just the Linux kernel built with only a small subset of its drivers and then add software around it until it fits the niche required; doing this with Windows or OS X is much more work, and even then the appropriate licensing will leave the project stillborn.

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could you please elaborate on the "much more work" [in Windows] part? That is, if you weren't referring to the licensing hassles there. – Wilson Canda May 20 '13 at 23:26
@atLANtis: Precisely, that was just the comment I was about to make. Instead of talking about the open source aspect, it would be interesting to know why Linux is (supposedly) more scalable. Is this just a supposition based on the fact that Windows etc. haven't been ported as much (due to purely business considerations)? Or is there a technical reason behind it? What I'd like to ideally see is architectural comparisons of how modular each OS is, as well as other properties that might lead one to conclude that one particular OS is more easily ported/scaled compared to the others. – Karan May 20 '13 at 23:31
@atLANtis: OTOH, possibly such a question might be too broad and a discussion of such depth might be ill-suited to this site. – Karan May 20 '13 at 23:35
@Karan: Thanks for phrasing that for me. I was struggling to describe the real essence of my question. – Wilson Canda May 20 '13 at 23:37
@Karan: very possibly so. I'll try to satisfy my curiosity by searching the web further; if you have any suggestions, they are more than welcome! – Wilson Canda May 20 '13 at 23:39

I suppose that it being free and open source helps a lot with this.

The absence of any commercial or legal restriction and the access to the source code of any part of the system (including the kernel, that "talks" directly to the hardware) makes it possible for anyone interested [and with the required technical abilities] to adapt it to any hardware that can run an operating system.

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That's not intrinsically a property of the OS itself, but of the ecosystem. If MS wanted I'm sure they could port Windows to other architectures, as they did with ARM. BTW, Windows Embedded already runs on a host of devices. – Karan May 20 '13 at 22:40
Exactly, if they wanted. With an open source model, it is sufficient that anyone capable want to do it. It seems to me that the great proliferation and diversity of the ecosystem is caused by a mix of technical and accessibility reasons. – Sekhemty May 20 '13 at 22:51
Meh, enough technically-capable people have to want it in either case for it to happen (although for MS, Apple etc. profit would be paramount), so I still don't think that's anything specifically tied to Linux. FOSS might make it more likely to happen, but that's a function of the community more than anything else. – Karan May 20 '13 at 23:04
Yes of course, I wasn't meaning that a single person could undertake it with ease. But the openness of the source code makes it more likely to spread. Anyway, maybe we are saying the same thing with a different emphasys :) – Sekhemty May 20 '13 at 23:20

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