Linux Foundation Updates Standard Base, Unveils New Test Kit

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, announced Monday an update of the Linux Standard Base (LSB) with LSB 3.1 and the release of a new testing toolkit.

“We are continuing to develop the Linux Standard Base to cover more components to make a compatible platform for all distributions,” Dan Kohn, COO and interim CTO for the Linux Foundation, told LinuxInsider. “This release is a maintenance update or upfix.”

The update to LSB 3.1 introduces new automated testing toolkits for distributions and application vendors, linking development more closely to certification. The result will be reduced development costs and tighter integration between upstream developers, distributions, applications and the LSB standard.

The Linux Foundation originally planned to release the automated test kit this summer. However, developers completed the menu integration more quickly than anticipated, said Kohn.

Simplifies Use

This continued enhancement of standards, testing and tools for the Linux platform will make it easier and less costly for application developers to support the Linux operating system.

“All the moving parts are coming together to give the Linux ecosystem its first testing framework that will coordinate development of upstream code to standards and downstream implementations,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation.

“In order for a standard to be effective, it needs to have a powerful and usable testing infrastructure. Our testing framework will deliver that functionality and allow the Linux ecosystem to collaborate and test code while it’s being developed, improving quality and allowing ISVs (independent software vendors) to reduce their costs and get their feedback into the Linux ecosystem more effectively,” he added.

The Linux Foundation has had a set of tests that developers already use to gain program certifications with the Linux Standard Base, explained Kohn. The current release fixes the bugs and puts a wrapper around the individual testing tools.

“The testing tools require a high level of expertise. They are pretty challenging,” he said.

Now program developers can download a single file that contains all of the testing tools in one place. The testing tools are integrated into one menu. Programmers can now run all tests without having to use a command line.

Quality Control

The LSB delivers interoperability between applications and the Linux operating system, allowing application developers to target multiple version of Linux with only one software package. This allows Linux to compete effectively against proprietary, monolithic platforms.

The LSB has marshaled the various Linux distribution vendors to certify to its standards, including Red Hat, Novell, Debian, Ubuntu, Xandros, Mandriva and more, according to the Linux Foundation.

In previous releases of the LSB, the testing framework required significant hands-on coordination and interpretation. The results of the tests for both distribution vendors and application developers were often difficult to interpret, said Linux Foundation officials.

They realized last year that in order for Linux to continue to grow and overtake proprietary software, they had to invest both in the testing harness to check software against existing standards and in the tools needed for software providers to make use of that testing framework.

The new testing toolkit allows programmers to watch all testing results as they are written to the log. These results will help developers to complete the certification process more efficiently, Kohn said.

“This text framework cost the Linux Foundation millions of dollars. But we are releasing it for free under the GPU license to benefit all developers,” offered Kohn.

Availability Details

The Linux Standard Base 3.1 is available here. The new testing kits are also available online.

The ISV organization is also distributing the Linux Foundation test kit. The ISV makes and sells software products that run on one or more computer hardware or operating system platforms.

ISV testing tools, including the LSB Application test kit, a lightweight download that contains just the LSB validation tools needed for ISVs to check whether or not their application is LSB compliant, are also available.

Significant Development

Linux is developed in a highly decentralized manner. In order to be attractive to the ISV community, Linux must provide the same long-term compatibility guarantees and comprehensive compatibility testing as proprietary platforms such as Microsoft Windows, according to the Linux Foundation.

The LSB Test Framework enables cross-distribution interoperability for applications targeted at LSB 3.0 and higher and will provide backward compatibility so that these applications will continue to run correctly on distributions compatible with future versions of the LSB.

The LSB Distribution Test Kit (DTK) introduces a Web-based front-end testing process that represents the first results of The Linux Foundation’s partnership with the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Future enhancements to the tool will include automated feedback mechanisms and interpretation assistance.

“A platform is only as strong as the applications that support it,” said Ian Murdock, LSB chair. “That’s why making the LSB stronger through testing and tools is so vitally important. ISVs need an easy way to build portable Linux applications and address the global market. The LSB and this first result of the LSB Testing Framework is a strong enabling step.”

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