Linux Foundation gives major boost to developers

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

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The Linux Foundation has updated its Linux Standard Base (LSB) server specification 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 non-profit industry consortium's mission to make the Linux operating system an attractive alternative to Microsoft's Windows.

Launched in 2001, LSB is a set of interface standards created by the Free Standards Group (FSG), a non-profit Linux consortium, designed to improve compatibility between Linux distributions.

The aim is to let a developer write an application for Linux and have it run on any distribution that's LSB-compliant. Most leading Linux distributions, including Red Hat, Novell's Suse, Debian, Ubuntu, Mandriva and Xandros comply with the LSB standard.

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 organisation 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 organisation 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. 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.

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

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