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1.4 Target Platforms

Gnulib supports a number of platforms that we call the “reasonable portability targets”. This class consists of widespread operating systems, for three years after their last availability, or — for proprietary operating systems — as long as the vendor provides commercial support for it. Already existing Gnulib code for older operating systems is usually left in place for longer than these three years. So it comes that programs that use Gnulib run pretty well also on these older operating systems.

Some operating systems are not very widespread, but are Free Software and are actively developed. Such platforms are also supported by Gnulib, if that OS's developers community keeps in touch with the Gnulib developers, by providing bug reports, analyses, or patches. For such platforms, Gnulib supports only the versions of the last year or the last few months, depending on the maturity of said OS project, the number of its users, and how often these users upgrade.

Niche operating systems are generally unsupported by Gnulib, unless some of their developers or users contribute support to Gnulib.

The degree of support Gnulib guarantees for a platform depends on the amount of testing it gets from volunteers. Platforms on which Gnulib is frequently tested are the best supported. Then come platforms with occasional testing, then platforms which are rarely tested. Usually, we fix bugs when they are reported. Except that some rarely tested platforms are also low priority; bug fixes for these platforms can take longer.

As of 2011, the list of supported platforms is the following:

Gnulib supports these operating systems only in an unvirtualized environment. When you run an OS inside a virtual machine, you have to be aware that the virtual machine can bring in bugs of its own. For example, floating-point operations on Solaris can behave slightly differently in QEMU than on real hardware. And Haiku's bash program misbehaves in VirtualBox 3, whereas it behaves fine in VirtualBox 4.

Similarly, running native Windows binaries on GNU/Linux under WINE is rarely tested and low priority: WINE has a set of behaviours and bugs that is slightly different from native Windows.

The following platforms are not supported by Gnulib. The cost of supporting them would exceed the benefit because they are rarely used, or poorly documented, or have been supplanted by other platforms, or diverge too much from POSIX, or some combination of these and other factors. Please don't bother sending us patches for them.