9 October 2002 Four new distributions of Linux have been certified compliant with Linux Standards Base (LSB) specifications. The LSB is a standards group bidding to tighten compatibility between various Linux operating system releases.
Red Hat, SuSE and MandrakeSoft, the three main suppliers of Linux, as well as SCO Group, formerly known as Caldera, have each released new distributions that have been certified by the LSB.
The purpose of the LSB is to prevent vendors from introducing a damaging level of incompatibilities between various distributions. Such ‘code forking’ undermined the adoption of Unix during the 1980s and 1990s and helped Microsoft when it released its Windows NT server operating system in 1993.
The LSB was set-up in July 2001 and is run by the Free Standards Group, which develops “common behavioural specifications, tools and APIs [application programming interfaces], making development across Linux distributions easier”. Unix standards body The Open Group runs the certification programme.
However, the LSB needs to introduce still tighter standardisation so that Linux software designed to work with one operating system can work on another without users having to rewrite the software themselves.
The UnitedLinux initiative announced early in the Summer ought to drive standardisation still further, but both MandrakeSoft and Red Hat have snubbed invitations to join.