Linux standardization efforts move ahead

A standards effort is Linux's answer to avoiding some of the fragmentation that split Unix into several incompatible versions.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
The effort to standardize the way Linux works has moved several steps closer to reality in the last two weeks.

The effort, through Linux Standard Base (LSB) and several other projects, is Linux's answer to avoiding some of the fragmentation that split Unix--the operating system upon which Linux is modeled--into several incompatible versions. That fragmentation is one of the reasons Microsoft was able to make such progress with its more unified Windows products.

Some Linux companies, such as Caldera Systems and Turbolinux, believe standardization will make it easier for Linux companies to cooperate more on basic technology and compete on higher-level features.

On Monday, developers released version 1.1 of the Linux Development Platform Specification, said Scott McNeal of the Free Standards Group. That specification is intended to make it easier to write programs that work on several different versions of Linux, such as those from Red Hat, Caldera and others.

In addition, on Wednesday the consortium released for public review version 2.2 of its Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, which governs the location of key files used by Linux and Unix.

With involvement from IBM, Intel, Oracle, Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE and others, the LSB itself has moved a step closer to the planned release of its version 1.0 specification by the end of the year, McNeil said. The group released version 0.6 last week.

George Kraft has been elected chairman of the LSB's technical committee, McNeil said.