Linux Standard gets upgrade

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"Linux weighs in"

Looking to avoid the costly fragmentation that stifled the Unix market, members of the Free Standards Group have announced a new version of a critical Linux standard that many of its proponents hope will cement the future for the open-source operating system.

Linux Standard Base 2.0 includes a new application binary interface for C++, the most popular programming language in the world, as well as support for both 32-bit and 64-bit chip architectures.

Members of the group are developers and users of Lunix, including major companies such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intel Corp., IBM Corp., Hewlett Packard Co., Novell Inc.'s SUSE Linux, Red Hat Inc., Red Flag Software Co. Ltd. and Turbolinux Inc.

"Independent software vendors and developers need clear-cut standards," said Karen Bennet, vice president of applications and tools development at Red Hat. "This will result in an increase in applications for the Red Hat Enterprise platform and Linux as a whole."

The Linux community's cohesiveness has been called into question recently, drumming up visions of what happened to Unix when a similarly promising start for that operating system slowed as companies developed competing, incompatible versions. Unix fragmented in the 1980s and '90s, and Microsoft Corp. Windows flourished as desktop PC users turned to standardized solutions.

Supporters of the Linux Standard Base hope that won't happen to Linux. The C++ ABI is considered particularly important since application developers will now be assured of a basic level of compatability for their products as long as different versions of Linux adhere to the base specifications.

Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of system software research at IDC, said the standard announcement keeps Linux on track to meet predictions of it achieving mainstream status in global markets by the end of 2005.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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