Standards Base Unites Linux World

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-01-31

NEW YORK – The Free Standards Group has released two Linux standards platforms that it believes will allow true interoperability between the multitude of Linux distributions and also facilitate better internationalization capabilities.

In a press conference here at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo on Thursday, the FSG released the Linux Standards Base 1.1, which provides a full set of standards that will allow Linux distributions and developers of Linux applications to work together seamlessly, and Li18nux, an internationalization guide for platform and application developers.

"Linux distributions are mixed and matched around the world, and each distribution releases its own version and variations at different times, meaning developers and ISVs have to support all of these," said Scot McNeil, executive director of the Free Standards Group, which promotes the use of open-source technology.

The LSB is also not just a written specification, but a test suite, a sample implementation and a build environment that allows the promotion of open-source methodology and that would help grow the Linux market, he said.

David Patrick, CEO of Ximian Inc., which considers itself an ISV, welcomed the announcement. Ximian has attempted to support all of the various distributions, which meant it had to allocate resources to port its software to each one.

"This is the best thing that has ever happened as we will now be able to take our engineers off supporting these multiple distributions and have them working on including innovative features for new products," Patrick said.

John Hall, president of Linux International, an association that promotes the use of Linux, said the LSB is important for customers who want investment protection. "They spend hefty dollars on their applications, and the ability to buy applications written to a standard is a protection of that investment and will result in the development of faster, better and more innovative Linux systems," he said.

Dan Fry, the head of IBMs Linux Technology Center, agreed, saying this was just one more reason why Linux is ready for the enterprise. A standards base allows ISVs to protect their investment and would drive Linux adoption even faster.

Representatives from other major vendors also embraced the news. Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera International Inc., agreed that the Standards Base would broaden the reach of Linux and allow developers to write code once that would be able to run everywhere.

Judy Chavis, director of Compaq Computer Corp.s Linux program office, said this would help the company, which supports all major Linux distribution. "Developing a set of standards that we can test against is very important," she said.

Paul Cornier, executive vice president of engineering at Linux vendor Red Hat Inc., said the company is a strong supporter of standards and that this move would be good for the entire industry. "We intend to have an LSB-compliant Linux operating system out in less than a year," he said.

The Free Standards Groups McNeil said the certification program will be launched in the next six months for both the Linux distributions and the applications that ran on top of them.

Responding to the questions about the continued need for individual product certification, the vendors said this would continue but would not be as onerous as it currently is. The individual distributions would also differentiate themselves through different functionality and the end-to-end support that came with the integration of the various bits, they added.

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