ISVs Rally Around Linux Standards Base

High-tech heavy hitters such as IBM, Novell and Oracle are among those showing support for the Linux Standard Base (LSB), a set of standards designed to improve compatibility between Linux distributions.

The Free Standards Group (FSG) yesterday announced a long list of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) pledging support for the standard and added more than a dozen new members to its roster. Analysts said the news marks a big win for the Linux community.

Crucial Turning Point

Stacey Quandt, senior business analyst and open source practice leader at the Robert Francis Group, said the announcement is crucial to the ongoing success of Linux because it simplifies the development and porting of applications by ISVs.

“This is a strong message of support for Linux that will make a tremendous impact,” Quandt told LinuxInsider. “Just being LSB-compliant doesn’t necessarily attract ISVs. But this announcement demonstrates that ISVs are beginning to target LSB-compliant distributions.”

LSB Benefits

The Linux Standard Base specification contains a base set of APIs, libraries and interoperability standards. It also includes test suites, development environments, sample implementations and developer documentation.

“Access to code isn’t enough,” said FSG executive director Jim Zemlin. “The combination of open source and open standards provides a true solution for end users.”

By supporting the LSB and LSB-compliant distributions, the group estimates that application vendors can save millions of dollars by utilizing a clear set of standards in their development efforts. Distribution vendor support also ensures Linux will not fork and will continue to be the fastest growing operating system in the industry, according to FSG.

Avoiding Fragmentation

“When people talk about Linux fragmentation they think about what happened during the Unix wars when ISVs enabled extensions to support applications,” Quandt said. “People were buying Unix operating systems because of the applications they supported and the functionality. LSB targets application portability to avoid fragmentation.”

BakBone Software, Levanta, Lymeware, UGS, Veritas and others are on the LSB bandwagon in hopes of funneling their input to the Linux distribution industry.

Last year the announcement of LSB 2.0 generated pledges of support from all major Linux distribution and systems vendors including AMD, Conectiva, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Mandrakesoft, Miracle Linux, Novell’s SuSE Linux, Progeny, Red Flag, Red Hat, Sun Wah Linux, Thizlinux, and Turbolinux.

“These forward-thinking ISVs have realized their support for the Linux Standard Base will reduce their development and testing costs and provide more choice to their end users,” Zemlin said.

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