Increasing use of Ubuntu and other Linux distributions globally puts additional pressure -- and costs -- on independent software developers.
The Linux Foundation hopes that its fourth stab at a solution, the Linux Standards Base 4.0, will make it much easier and less expensive for ISVs to write a Linux application once that runs on all Linux distributions. "ISVs today only support two distributions and that is a hard reality," said Linux kernel developer Ted Ts'o.
LSB 4.0, which is a software development kit and toolset, will allow ISVs to support multiple distributions from a single build engine. The SDK is expected to be released into beta testing in September, and released in final form by the end of the year, said Linux kernel developer and Linux Foundation fellow Ted Ts'o.
To date, the Linux Foundation's approach has been to certify applications that comply with the LSB, but it has proved cumbersome for application developers, he said.
"What ISVs told us was not earth shattering. They said [for customers] it's not about certification but simply the ability of the sales person to show [customers] that they can make their product work on Mandriva and it will just work," Ts'o said. "So we're retooling our tools to make it easier. It will significantly reduce their costs of supporting multiple distributions, where, even if they don't certify, in most cases, the [applications] will run everywhere."
Taking somewhat of a stab at Java, Ts'o said the Linux Foundation aims to ensure that the toolset and testing suite is ready before ISVs go out and sign support agreements with customers. "This is the legacy of Java -- that people are scared of supporting random Java applications or Java VMs, and making support agreements without testing first. They've been burned many times before."
LSB certification would imply a support agreement, but using the toolset to test would not, he noted. The Linux Foundation will also continue to certify applications, he added.
But he acknowledged that the "write once, run everywhere" promise is difficult for all platforms, especially Linux. "It's true for Java and it will be true for Linux. It's a business issue," he said, noting that the LSB tool isn't even done yet. "We're still building it so it's vaporware."