The Linux Foundation is updating the Linux Standards Base (LSB) and making
it easier for Linux vendors and application developers to ensure compliance.
The goal of the LSB has long been to define a core set of APIs and
libraries so ISVs can develop and port applications that will work on
LSB-certified Linux distributions. LSB compliance is also seen as a way
to fight fragmentation in Linux.
The new LSB update, LSB 3.1 Update 1, is considered by
the Linux Foundation to be a minor update to version 3.1, which was released
“The bigger news is the release of the tools and the certifications,” Dan
Kohn, COO of the Linux Foundation, told
internetnews.com. “It’s called Update 1 because it’s backwards and
upwards compatible. We’re just fixing some bugs, so the real news is the
tools and the certifications.”
Kohn noted that many Linux distros have already certified to LSB version 3.1,
and they don’t have to certify to update.
The new testing toolkit released by the Linux Foundation is intended to make
it easier than ever to actually test distros and apps for LSB compliance.
The new LSB Distribution Testkit (LSB DTK) is similar to the existing LSB
Test Framework from a standards-compliance point of view in that both test
for compliance to the LSB.
DTK does, however, offer a few advantages. “The LSB DTK helps distro vendors check their compliance, and the full test
framework can be used by others, not just distros, to test their code
against the LSB,” Kohn explained.
“DTK is for distros and package maintainers. It’s a test harness that wraps up several disparate test suites into an easy-to-use system.”
The general idea with LSB DTK according to the Linux Foundation is to link
upstream projects and their code to the LSB and downstream providers. Kohn
noted that if an upstream project tests their code to the LSB using the Test
Framework, it allows them to pick up on bugs before they release their code
to the distros. Sometimes when upstream projects update their code, bugs
“The Linux Test Framework we have developed will pick up those bugs before
they get picked up by the distros,” Kohn said. “This helps the distros and
the upstream maintainers, but really helps users of Linux since bugs should
be fixed much more quickly. The idea is that by testing closer to
development, better code results.”
The way that the LSB’s Test Framework works is that it notices when
something is not in the standard. Kohn gave an example of a distribution
vendor like Ubuntu that would run the DTK to ensure that the libraries and
interfaces specified in the LSB are included in their distribution.
“This is crucial since ISVs targeting the LSB need to have these libraries
and interfaces in the distros in order to make sure their application will
run across all LSB-certified versions,” Kohn said.
Since Linux and its applications are always moving targets, Kohn noted that
The Linux Foundation is working on the LSB Database Navigator, which is
currently in beta release.
The Database Navigator will enable The Linux Foundation to track linkages
between packages, distros, apps, and LSB versions over time.