Microsoft debases Linux standards

Microsoft debases Linux standards

Summary: Linux vendors have rejected Microsoft's claim that commercial pressures mean they will struggle to cooperate

Nick McGrath, head of platform strategy at Microsoft, said on Friday that there is a risk that Linux will end up fragmented like the Unix operating system -- a charge that Linux vendors have robustly denied.

Various Linux vendors including Red Hat, Novell SuSE and Mandrakesoft support Linux Standards Base, a software blueprint that seeks to standardise some aspects of Linux to make it easier for software vendors to create programs that run on various different versions of the open source operating system.

McGrath said it will be difficult to persuade vendors to keep and maintain this standard.

"It [LSB] will be a big challenge for the Linux community -- commercial advantage is what most organisations are looking for," said McGrath. "Think about what happened in the Unix world and the number of derivatives of Unix that now exist."

In response Gael Duval, the co-founder of the France-based Linux distributor Mandrakesoft, pointed out that the latest enterprise distributions from Red Hat, SuSE and Mandrakesoft all support Linux Standards Base, showing that the vendors are working together well.

Mandrakesoft is also collaborating with Linux players Conectiva, Turbolinux and Progeny to create a reference implementation based on the LSB 2.0 standard, which will make it easier for software and hardware vendors to certify to LSB.

Paul Salazar, Red Hat's director of marketing, said that LSB had Red Hat's full backing. "We've been supporting it for years," said Salazar. "If we were to go away from it the danger is that we would find ourselves isolated. We recognise the long term benefit of staying with the standard."

Microsoft's McGrath also claimed that Linux does not match up to Windows in terms of interoperability within the platform. "There is better interoperability within Windows than any other platform," said McGrath.

Salazar responded that Red Hat encourages software vendors to certify for the Red Hat platform, in an attempt to improve interoperability. "There are 1,000 applications that have been certified," said Salazar.

Mandrakesoft's Duval agreed that interoperability tends to be higher within a closed, proprietary system such as Windows, but said that Linux is interoperable with other systems, which is an advantage for companies that have a mixed infrastructure. He said Samba is a good example of this interoperability as it allows Windows files and printers to be shared by Linux systems.

"Interoperability is always at the max within a closed system ruled by proprietary standards," said Duval. "Mac OS is an excellent example too. But the current IT world is open and heterogeneous."

"Linux and open source software have chosen to rely on public standards... that means that Linux is extremely interoperable with other systems, including proprietary operating systems. Linux even supports Mac and Windows file systems and network protocols. Think of Samba -- many companies use a Samba server running on the top of a Linux system to serve applications and printing services with the Microsoft SMB protocol, rather than using a Microsoft server."

ZDNet UK Comment: This is a sea change in Microsoft policy. Until now Linux has been bad because it's non-commercial, almost un-American in its cooperative nature. Now we see that competition is bad, because it encourages people to differentiate products. No cooperation, no competition? It's almost as if the company is saying that the only safe software is that imposed by dictat. Surely not.

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Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • Microsoft is the best second hand car sales company in the world. They can sell rusty '83 Corvettes as multi-purpose chopper/tractor/truck/tank/whatever for Porche prices and make you feel good about it as well. Year in, year out.

    And that's pretty much all what it boils down to.
  • Isn't this article's title an opinion? I remember when this site featured 'journalism'. How quaint.
  • Microsoft Windows is very flawed and dangerously insecure. Every competent and highly skilled IT professional knows that. Unfortunately, there are 2 types of IT professionals:
    1) The real professional who is skilled in multiple platforms like Linux, Windows & Unix and
    2) The Mickey Mouse who only knows Windows because he does not have the IQ or motivation to learn real computing. Sadly, there is a lot of them out there saturating the industry and costing lots of money for those who hire them.
    If every IT professional was a real Professional, every computer would have been running on Linux today.
  • in response to anonymous of Canada, i'm sure you know of the in-joke about MCSE certified Microsofties:

    mcse = "must call somebody experienced"

    you are 100 per cent, dead right in your observation of 2 "types" of I.T. professionals. same deal over here in the UK.
  • You forgot to mention Macs in that statement :)
  • I agree with your comments that a true IT professional has to have a wide base of knowledge on multiple platforms. However the idea that linux would be on every comuter is flawed.
    User land is different world from that of the administrator. Windows is easier to use (at the moment)and for users that is all they should have to worry about, ease of use.
    Windows is insecure for two reasons
    1)its easy to use. Insecurity by avaliblity
    2)its open by default. unix os are closed by default. (therefore unix os' are easier to turn into trusted os')