Chinese lab to promote Linux standards

The first to be established outside the U.S., the certification facility aims to ensure local Linux distributions and applications comply with the Linux Standards Base.

A new Linux certification lab has been set up in China to ensure local Linux distributions observe common industry standards.

"Local certification authorities are needed since they translate the materials into the local language and can work better with local software providers."
--Amanda McPherson
Free Standards Group

According to U.S-based Free Standards Group (FSG), a non-profit organization which administers the Linux Standards Base (LSB), the new lab is the first of such centers outside the United States and will be maintained by the FSG and China Electronics Standardization Institute (CESI).

Established to thwart the deviation of Linux-based systems, the LSB develops and promote a set of binary common standards that enhance interoperability between Linux machines.

Amanda McPherson, marketing director of the FSG, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview that the Chinese government had approached the group about opening a lab in the country.

"They wanted to adopt our standard as the national standard for China, and be able to test and certify against it," she explained. "Local certification authorities are needed since they translate the materials into the local language and can work better with local software providers."

Authorization for the use and certification of the LSB standard by the Chinese government, is an important step for maintaining a unified Linux standard throughout the world, McPherson said. This will also open up a huge market for Linux distributions such as those from Red Hat and Novell, as well as hardware vendors such as Intel. More importantly, the center will extend the use of Linux by eliminating fragmentation, she said.

One of the biggest challenges in the growth of Linux is disintegration, which causes software written for one Linux distribution not to work in another. The aim of the LSB is to develop and promote a set of binary standards that will enable software applications to run on any conforming Linux operating system, according to the FSG.

There are currently dozens of Linux distributions in China. Some of the major distributions include Sun Wah Linux, Red Flag Linux, CS2C Linux, Red Hat and Novell Suse--all of which are LSB compliant, said Jim Zemlin, FSG's executive director. "The use of Linux in China would have been greatly hindered had a non-standardized version of the operating system taken hold there," he said.

Last October, bigwigs in the software industry such as Adobe Systems, IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, RealNetworks and Red Hat, had pledged their support for the LSB desktop standard which standardizes key components of Linux desktop software including libraries, application runtime and install time. According to McPherson, the LSB desktop standard--to be launched later this year--will be part of the certification services available at the new Chinese lab.

Han Jun, deputy director of China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII) science and technology department, said in a statement: "Technology and standards are key to the Chinese IT industry.

"A well-supported, international standard for Linux is a necessary foundation of Linux's continued success," he said. "By participating in the LSB, MII expects that the Chinese IT industry will improve competitive advantage through technology innovation and international collaboration, and will expand global market opportunities."

The Chinese government is often regarded as a key supporter of Linux, where government agencies using Linux include the National Ministry of Science, the Ministry of Statistics and the National Labor Unit. Local government bodies that have deployed Linux include the municipal government of the Chinese capital, Beijing, which is using 2,000 Linux desktops.

The Chinese government also plans to put more than 140,000 Linux PCs in primary and secondary schools across the Jiangsu province--thought to be the largest Linux desktop rollout in Asia.