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LSB 3.2 Brings Standardization Closer

Standards are important for Linux, especially when they define the base operating components both Linux distributions and software vendors can develop against.

The goal of the Linux Standards Base (LSB) has long been to be the base that helps to prevent Linux fragmentation and promote inter-Linux vendor interoperability.

The LSB defines a core set of APIs and libraries so ISVs can develop and port applications that will work on LSB-certified Linux distributions.

The latest version of LSB extends the mission with updated features bringing the standard in-line with what vendors now need in a Linux distribution.

"I think the most important things in this release are the Perl and Python inclusions," Amanda McPherson, marketing director at The Linux Foundation, told InternetNews.com.

"Linux is the key platform for Web 2.0 development, which often includes Perl and Python applications."

LSB 3.2 also includes improved printing driver interfaces and printer driver support, which McPherson noted are important for printing suppliers, distros, and most important, users.

Major inclusions in the 3.2 release are the Freedesktop.org standards that provide for a Linux desktop environment, including menus and icon themes.

[cob:Related_Articles]With the new LSB release, McPherson commented that the LSB is getting closer to the ideal of a single package for all distros.

"Even for ISVs, where we don't include every library they need, our standardization means that the differences between distros are extremely small, which reduces the ISV's effort," McPherson commented. "But with 3.1 and particularly 3.2, we are now a comprehensive enough standard that a single cross-distro package is feasible for a number of ISVs."

While the LSB aims to overcome barriers to Linux adoption by providing a standard core, some issues still need to be addressed. On the positive side McPherson noted that distros seem more willing than ever to collaborate with each other and make things easier for software vendors.

"Applications today are very complex, and that means a lot of different libraries that the LSB has to keep up with," McPherson said. "Packaging also remains a problem we need to do a better job on. It's all a process: The good news is the distros have the will to work together and grow the collective pie bigger for everyone."

The future of LSB is all about the continuing evolution of the libraries it includes as well as the tests that help to ensure compliance with the standard.

McPherson noted that The Linux Foundation is making a multimillion dollar investment in tools and test cases with the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"This will result in better quality up and down the Linux platform," McPherson said.