Version 2.0 of Linux Standard Base specs now available
More than 20 Linux vendors will use the new specs for their products
Computerworld - The latest Linux Standard Base specifications have been released, allowing open-source vendors and developers to maintain easy portability and compatibility among software applications for Linux.
In an announcement Tuesday, the nonprofit Free Standards Group (FSG), which works to develop and promote open-source software standards, said it had launched its Linux Standard Base (LSB) 2.0 specifications to provide the latest baseline for open-source developers.
Jim Zemlin, executive director and president of the San Francisco-based FSG, said new features in the specifications will make it easier for developers to build or port enterprise applications for Linux, which could boost corporate use of the operating system.
A major addition to the specifications is the introduction of a new application binary interface for the C++ programming language that FSG said will improve code interoperability.
The C++ interface is important, Zemlin said, because it's the most widely used programming language. "It just took time to evolve," he said. "It opens the opportunities for thousands of applications to be ported and run on Linux. More applications on Linux [for users] is the benefit."
LSB support has also been added for new hardware architectures, including the IBM PowerPC 64, S390 and S390X platforms, and as well as the 64-bit Opteron chip from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Intel Corp. 32- and 64-bit architectures are also supported.
By using LSB as part of their applications, vendors can provide interoperability with application software written to the standard, the FSG said. By sticking with the standards and not causing fragmentation among the various Linux distributions and independent software vendors, the continuing adoption of Linux by corporate users can be strengthened, according to the organization.
More than 20 vendors, including AMD, Conectiva SA, Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel, MandrakeSoft SA, Novell Inc.'s SUSE Linux AG unit and Red Hat Inc. have pledged support for the new standards.
"This really puts some teeth into that marketing message of openness in operating platforms like Linux," Zemlin said.
Vendors will be certifying their products under LSB 2.0 during the next six months, he said.
By using applications that comply with the LSB 2.0 standards, Zemlin said, users won't be locked into relying on a single vendor since the software will be built upon LSB standards used by all participating vendors. "Five years from now, 10 years from now, people are going to look back at this as a historical turning point for operating systems," he said. "The total cost of ownership for Linux just got a whole lot better. Linux as a platform just got a lot stronger."
Al Gillen, an analyst at market researchcompany IDC in Framingham, Mass., said the LSB 2.0 standards are good for Linux but will probably benefit smaller vendors more than dominant Linux vendors such as Red Hat and Novell SUSE. That's because the major application vendors have already moved to adapt their products to run on the dominant Red Hat and SUSE operating systems.
"It's the niche vendors who will probably get more out of this," Gillen said.
Read more about Linux and Unix in Computerworld's Linux and Unix Topic Center.
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