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Free Standards Group Seeks to Enhance Portability Through Linux Development Platform Specification

Oct 11, 2000, 16:58 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Thor Olavsrud)

By Thor Olavsrud, InternetNews.com

Organizations interested in the development of Linux received a much needed boost Wednesday when the Free Standards Group released the first version of the Linux Development Platform Specification (LDPS). The LDPS is supported by 23 organizations, including leading Linux vendors like Red Hat Inc., TurboLinux, SuSE Linux AG and Caldera Systems, and hardware vendors like VA Linux Systems, IBM Corp and Sun Microsystems.

The LDPS is intended to address fragmentation, an issue which has dogged UNIX for years and threatens to make versions of Linux released by different vendors incompatible with each other. That could bring the adoption of Linux to a grinding halt, as corporations -- frustrated by technical incompatibilities between Linux applications and various distributions of the Linux OS -- might turn to other solutions.

Many believe that same sort of frustration drove many companies years ago to turn away from UNIX (server makers initially offered proprietary versions of UNIX to lock-in hardware buyers) and adopt Microsoft's Windows NT operating system.

By establishing the LDPS, the Free Standards Group is hoping to ensure that programs developed on a conforming platform will be portable to all generally available Linux distributions as of Oct. 7. However, the group noted that the LDPS is not intended to be a standard which tells distributors what to do. Instead, it is intended as a recommendation to third-party developers about how to create binaries that are the most likely to be portable.

"Standards allowing interoperability and portability are of crucial importance for Linux," said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of system software research for IDC. "Survey after survey indicate that IT management will feel comfortable adopting Linux only when they feel confident that applications based upon one distribution of Linux will be easily transportable to other Linux platforms."

According to the LDPS, a conforming development platform must contain the following packages:

  • Linux kernel 2.2.x
  • glibc 2.1.x
  • XFree86 3.3.x
  • ncurses 4.2 or 5
  • GCC version egcs-2.91 or GCC 2.95.x
  • binutils 2.9.x.y.
According to the Free Standards Group, examples of distributions that meet the LDPS include Caldera OpenLinux 2.4, Conectiva Linux 5.1, Linux-Mandrake 7.0, Red Hat Linux 6.2, SuSE Linux 6.4, TurboLinux 6.0, Debian GNU/Linux 2.2, and Corel Linux OS Second Edition. The group noted that this is not a comprehensive listing of distributions that meet the specification.

"The LDPS is but the first of many planned specifications that are aimed to help both Open Source developers and companies to port applications to Linux," said Dan Quinlan, president of the Free Standards Group. "Having a single development reference to work from will greatly simplify the process of building Linux-based applications."

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