Linux Aims For ISO Status

Aiming to propel Linux to the status of an official international standard, the Free Standards Group (FSG) Thursday is set to announce it has folded support for C++ and Fortran into its Linux code base.

That combination of operating system and language technology, dubbed the Linux Standard Base (LSB) 2.0, is expected to garner International Standards Organization (ISO) approval around mid-2005, according to the FSG.

“We’re submitting LSB 2.0 for public review (to the open-source community) and when that comes back, we’ll submit it for ISO certification so it will be an international standard,” Scott McNeil, executive director of the FSG, told

The open-source review should be completed late this year. LSB 2.0 will then take about six months to wend its way through the ISO process.

The ISO is a non-governmental, international standards body based in Geneva that builds consensus with members in 148 countries to decide on a common framework for any new system. National-level standards bodies, like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), participate and work with ISO to create standards. Companies strive for ISO certification to show they maintain the highest quality standards in their organization.

ISO approval would give Linux an official imprimatur not currently enjoyed by the more pervasive Windows operating system . “Government and large corporations often require ISO certification of their products,” said McNeil. “This would make Linux a much safer bet.”

ISO would also formalize what’s rapidly becoming a de facto standard within the open-source world. All the major commercial Linux vendors, McNeil said, support the current LSB, release 1.3. That list includes Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, and TurboLinux, among others.

The initial LSB incarnation appeared in early 2002. “We got immediate adoption from the Linux distributions,” McNeil told “We then went out to the (independent software vendors) and said, ‘What is missing?’ and they told us they wanted C++ and Fortran.”

The C++ and Fortran support added into FSB 2.0 specifically includes application binary interfaces (ABIs) and software libraries for each respective language. The ABIs serve as object code interfaces that manage the interaction between user or application code written in C++ code and the server-based software.

The libraries are essential subroutines, which can be accessed by developers as a quick way for their applications to perform canned calculations, enabling programmers to keep their apps shorter.

FSG’s news follows on the heels of a press release issued Tuesday by the group, touting its designation by ISO as an organization qualified to submit specs for certification. That’s obviously a prerequisite for FSG to go ahead with its plan to put LSB 2.0 forward before the group.

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