Linux standards tool adds app testing

The Linux Foundation has included an app-checker tool in the Linux Standard Base public test version, aiming to address an acknowledged shortcoming

The Linux Foundation has included an application-checker tool in the public beta version of the Linux Standard Base 4.0.

The software is designed to reduce development costs by ensuring applications can run on any Linux Standard Base (LSB) certified distribution, according to the foundation.

"This LSB 4.0 release is aimed at the practical needs of developers, both those looking for a standard platform and those who just want some practical advice on portability," said Jeff Licquia, senior engineer and technical lead for LSB 4.0 at the Linux Foundation, in a statement.

The release also includes a shell script checker designed to catch compatibility problems in scripts, and a new software-development kit that can be used to write applications for the current LSB version, 3.2, or older versions.

For cryptography, the new LSB includes the Mozilla Foundation's Network Security Services (NSS) and Netscape Portable Runtime (NSPR), which the foundation said are more backwards compatible than the OpenSSL library previously used.

The sample implementation of Linux code in the release is now based on rPath Conary technology instead of Linux from Scratch, and includes utilities to make it easier to use, the foundation said.

The LSB is a project, backed by several Linux distributions, designed to standardise the internal structure of Linux-based operating systems, and is based on standards such as Posix and the Single Unix Specification.

The project's goal is to allow software developers to create applications that will run on any compliant system, even in binary form. Historically, measures such as recompiling have been needed to move an application from one Linux distribution to another. The LSB certifies standard libraries, commands and utilities and the layout of the file-system hierarchy, among other things, and offers compliance certification.

The beta specification, test suite and developer tools are available on the Linux Foundation's website. The full release of the LSB 4.0 is scheduled to arrive by the end of the year.

While the LSB has been praised for helping keep Linux from fragmenting into incompatible implementations, the compliance test suites have been the target of various criticisms, such as that they are buggy and incomplete.

Developer Ulrich Drepper, who has called attention to the lack of application testing, has also argued that bugs turned up by the test suite are often the result of problems in the test suite and not in the code tested.

"It's safe to say 90 [plus] percent of the reported bugs are actually problems in the test suite," he said in a blog post from 2005.

The LSB 4.0 beta was released last Tuesday.