Linux Foundation makes open source more attractive with Linux Standard Base updates


The Linux Foundation updated its Linux Standard Base (LSB) server specification Monday to include new automated testing toolkits to make it easier to develop applications for different distributions of the open-source operating system.

The move is part of the nonprofit industry consortium’s main avowed mission to make the Linux operating system an attractive alternative to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows.

Debuting in 2001, LSB is a set of interface standards created by the Free Standards Group (FSG), a nonprofit Linux consortium, designed to improve compatibility between Linux distributions so a developer can write an application for Linux and have it run on any distribution that’s LSB-compliant. Most leading Linux distributions do comply with the LSB standard. These include Red Hat, Novell Inc.’s Suse, Debian, Ubuntu, Mandriva and Xandros.

The FSG merged with the other leading Linux industry consortium, the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), earlier this year to create the Linux Foundation. The organization has around 70 members including IT vendors, universities and end users. Its board of directors, announced last month, includes the founder of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, Mark Shuttleworth.

Along with the update to LSB 3.1, the Linux Foundation is also releasing a new testing toolkit — the LSB Distribution Testkit, which the organization describes as the first automated open-source testing tool for the Linux platform.

“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,” Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said in a prepared statement. For any standard to be really effective, it requires a very strong and easy-to-use testing infrastructure, he added.

The LSB Distribution Testkit is the first fruit of a multimillion dollar project to develop a new LSB testing framework and features a Web-based front-end testing process. FSG announced the project back in November, which is being undertaken jointly with the Institute for Systems Programming of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The new framework aims at tightening the links between compatibility tests and code development.

The Linux Foundation is also making a lightweight download available, the LSB Application Testkit, for independent software vendors that just want to access the LSB validation tools needed to let them know whether their application is LSB-compliant.

LSB 3.1 and the new testing kits are available for download from the Linux Foundation’s Web site.

Last week, the Linux Foundation announced it had three new members — consumer, communications and storage chip vendor Marvell Technology Group Ltd., mobile phone company Nokia Corp. and virtualization technology provider for embedded systems VirtualLogix Inc. The new members reflect the wider use of Linux in a variety of devices, the organization said.


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