Aberdeen InSight: Linux Gets A Boost From Standards

To successfully qualify as an LSB-compliant Linux distribution, a distribution must supply the
15 libraries that define the ABIs, adhere to the FHS, successfully run a set of test applications, etc. For the
Linux build environment, the LSB-specified ABIs and header definitions are checked to determine if an LSB-compliant
application can be built. (LSB 1.1 provides a sample build environment from which to create an LSB-compliant application).

How to (and Who Will) Do the Certification?

Certification will involve at least Linux distributors, systems vendors with middleware for Linux,
and ISVs. The FSG will not likely become involved in the actual LSB-compliant testing and auditing efforts, but
this strategy could change over time. However, it will become involved in “licensing” third-party compliance testers
-to ensure the quality of LSB compliance testing. LSB platinum members – large companies like IBM and HP – can
complete compliance testing and stick the LSB-compliant logo on their products, indicating that they have been
certified. However, other companies could be required to use independent third-party companies to obtain the logo.

Linux distributors, such as Red Hat, SuSE, etc., are responsible for certifying their distributions
on the various hardware architectures – such as IA-32, Itanium, and RISC – that they support. Systems vendors like
HP, IBM, Compaq, Dell, etc., will “trust” that Linux distributors have certified these distributions on the architectures
that they (the distributors) support. IBM, for example, will not need to repeat the SuSE Linux certification process
when it ships (or supports) SuSE Linux on IBM servers.

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Who’s Afraid of Linux?

There are two levels of certification. First-level certification involves, for example, an ISV
like Oracle running the LSB-compliant application test suites against one of its applications on two LSB-compliant
Linux distributions, registering the results with the LSB, and then proclaiming that the application is LSB-compliant.

Second-level certification involves hiring a third-party testing company to rerun the tests for
an application on several other Linux distributions of choice. The testing results are registered, the provider
signs an agreement to comply, and the FSG brands the product on behalf of the LSB.

Vendors who develop middleware or other Linux-based software could do self-compliance or third-party
testing. The result is an LSB-compliant middleware product that is guaranteed to work on many LSB-compliant distributions.

Aberdeen Conclusions: The LSB has the support of many of the distributors and suppliers who develop Linux-based solutions.
Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) has already announced that it will not deploy non-LSB 1.1 software after the
end of 2002. According to our research, any Linux distributor or Linux-based software supplier that wants to do
enterprise business will have to produce LSB 1.1-compliant products.

LSB 1.1 and Li18nux 1.0 are good starts by the FSG to produce standard interfaces for the development
of software for Linux. Standards make the long-term deployment of Linux in the enterprise more attractive and less
costly for suppliers and users.

Bill Claybrook is Research Director, Linux and Open Source Software, for Aberdeen Group, an IT market analysis and positioning services firm based in Boston.