Free Standards Group Releases LSB 3.0

Novell, Red Hat and Debian alliance announce that they will certify operating systems to comply with new version of Linux Standard Base.

On Monday, the Free Standards Group released the latest version of the Linux Standard Base, Version 3.0, and announced that Red Hat Inc., Novell Inc., the Debian Common Core Alliance and Asianux are all certifying their latest operating systems versions to it.

The LSB 3.0 is a set of standards designed to ensure compatibility among Linux distributions and the applications that run on them. It is expressly designed to prevent the kind of application incompatibilities that have bedeviled the different distributions of the Unix operating system.

Without a commonly adopted standard, the Free Standards Group recognized that Linux could fork into incompatible versions. This, in turn, would make it costly for ISVs (independent software vendors) to port their applications to the operating system.

With the widespread adoption of LSB 3.0, ISVs and end users should benefit as it becomes easier and less costly for software vendors to target Linux. Adopters include the nine members of the Debian Common Core Alliance, Novell, Red Hat, and Asianux, which is an alliance of Chinas Red Flag Linux, Japans Miracle Linux and Koreas Haansoft distribution vendors.

Indeed, "the DCC Alliance was formed because enterprise clients were demanding a single Debian Linux standard, and the LSB is crucial to our success," said Ian Murdock, Debian founder and leader of the DCC Alliance, in a statement.

"Strong standards ultimately benefit our customers as we continue to grow a strong application and tools ecosystem for Red Hat Enterprise Linux," added Deb Woods, Red Hats vice president of product management.

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Linux distributors were not the only ones to praise the LSB.

"The effective standardization of Linux implementations is essential for the growth of the market and for organizations to obtain maximum value from their technology investments," said Sam Greenblatt, senior vice president and senior technical adviser at Computer Associates International Inc. in a statement.

"Microsoft can compete against any single Linux vendor, but they cant compete a global Linux ecosystem with universal interoperability," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Free Standards Group.

"Microsoft can always complete against Red Flag in China," continued Zemlin, "but they cant compete against Red Flag, Sun Wah Linux, Red Hat and Novell in China."

In addition, "because of distribution competition Linux will continue to be less expensive and have better quality than Microsoft," said Zemlin.

"The strength of LSB 3.0 as well as the support by all major distributions will prove, once and for all, that Linux will not go the way of Unix. Perhaps Microsoft will have to find something else to pick on?" added Amanda McPherson, marketing director for the Free Standards Group.

The new LSB covers both POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) standards; APIs (application program interfaces); ABI (application binary interfaces); and command shell programs. Besides including universal Linux standards, it also covers architecture-specific standards for the IA32, IA64, PPC32, PPC64, S390, S390X, and X86_64 families.

Thus, an LSB-compliant application should run on any LSB 3.0-compatible operating system on the same architecture. For example, a IA32 RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) LSB program should run without any problems on a IA32 system running Novell SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server).

In addition, though, that same LSB 3.0 IA32 RHEL application should be easy to port to a S390 mainframe running SLES.

The Free Standards Group also announced today that CA has joined the organization and supports the LSB.

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