Linux standard gets powerful support

Twenty companies including IBM, HP and Intel are backing a project which the Free Standards group says will do better than past projects such as POSIX and OSF/1
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor
The Free Standards Group (FSG), an organisation which promotes open-source standards, announced on Monday that 20 vendors of Linux-based hardware, software and services will back Linux Standard Base 2.0 (LSB).

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Free Standards Group, said this is good news for end users as open-source software applications will now run on any Linux distribution that complies with the standards.

"This is huge news for Linux users. They can now be sure that applications will work on any Linux distro -- from Red Flag in China, to Conectiva in Brazil, Red Hat in US and SuSE in Europe," Zemlin told ZDNet UK.

According to FSG, this is a positive development for the Linux hardware and software manufacturers as they will no longer have to test their products against each major Linux distribution. This should strengthen Linux's competitiveness against Microsoft.

Zemlin said that Covalent, a company that develops enterprise versions of Apache, will save a lot of money as it will only need to port applications once.

"Covalent will save thousands of dollars by being able to produce LSB-compliant applications that work on all distros," said Zemlin

LSB is the latest in a series of attempts to standardise the Unix platform and related systems.

Some of these standards attempted to standardise the programming interface of the source code, such as Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) and the Single UNIX Specification (SUS).

"There is no doubt that Linux owes much of its success to the existence of the POSIX standards," said Zemlin. But Zemlin added that the POSIX standard did not provide compatibility at the binary level, so software vendors had high support costs.

The Linux Standard Base has the advantage that it specifies the minimum necessary to assure true application portability, the binary interfaces. And -- unlike some other proposed standards such as OSF/1-- software companies can choose any implementation of Linux as long as they provide the necessary binary interfaces, according to Zemlin.

In the next few months Zemlin expects to see more members of the Linux community backing LSB. He also expects to see application vendors starting to certify LSB-compliance and end-users demanding compliancy.

"Today's announcement is only the beginning," said Zemlin.

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