Linux Standard Base is the perfect retort

A single Linux specification doesn't mean the end of individuality. In fact, it is just what the open-source industry needs to answer Microsoft's propaganda

The Linux Standard Base project is set to get a boost from a number of vendors today, when they’re expected to announce support for the LSB 2.0 specification, which was released at the end of September. Intel, HP, Dell and IBM are all expected to announce that they will join the Free Standards Group, the promoter of the LSB project, as well as the distribution vendors themselves. The point of all this is to better position Linux against Windows and Microsoft for running applications.

The Wall Street Journal has described the move as creating a "single version" of Linux, but the Journal has the wrong end of the stick. This description of LSB could be interpreted as meaning that whoever or wherever you get your Linux from, you'll be getting exactly the same software configured in the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than Microsoft's one-size-fits-all approach to operating systems, LSB still allows distribution vendors to add their own value, and to target different sections of the market with different products.

The LSB standard is about binary compatibility and nothing else. It doesn't even say that the underlying operating system needs to be Linux. What it does say is that an application written to the LSB, and built for a given processor family, will run on any compliant platform using that processor type. If you have such a platform, you can run any such application, or so the theory goes.

True, we've heard this all before. But where LSB is different from other write-once-run-anywhere schemes is that it doesn't try to make programs run on any platform anywhere, just on the right platform. Microsoft has fought back against Linux by claiming that it is fragmented, that you cannot be sure what you are getting, and that there is a compatibility minefield to walk through. LSB, now it has significant industry backing, is the perfect retort.


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