Linux Standard Base boosts developer features

By Paul Krill, InfoWorld |  Open Source, Laptops Linux Printers

A beta version of Linux Standard Base (LSB) 4.0 released this week adds developer features to technology intended to reconcile differences between Linux distributions, the Linux Foundation said.

Version 4.0 offers application and shell script-checkers and a multiversion software development kit, the foundation said.

The full release of LSB 4.0 is set for this fall.

"This LSB 4.0 release is aimed at the practical needs of developers, both those looking for a standard platform and those who just want some practical advice on portability," said Jeff Licquia, senior engineer and technical lead for LSB 4.0 at the Linux Foundation, in a statement released by the foundation.

The multiversion software development kit lets developers build applications to previous LSB specifications without changing SDKs, the foundation said. By reducing differences between Linux distributions, the LSB reduces costs of porting applications to different distributions, the foundation said. After-market support costs and test expenses are reduced as well.

With the LSB, ISVs can address a global market for applications, the foundation said. New tools help make it easier to ensure applications are LSB-compliant. Portability is tested by a revised Linux Application Checker.  The checker draws on a testing framework developed by the Russian Academy of Sciences and the foundation to examine binary files of an application to determine how it will run on LSB-certified distributions.

A shell script-checker in LSB 4.0 catches potential cross-shell problems in scripts so that a script on one distribution can safely run on another. The SDK in the beta release can build applications to LSB 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, or 4.0 specifications. The SDK will be decoupled from the release of new specifications.

LSB 4.0 includes Mozilla Network Security Services (NSS) and Netscape Portable Runtime (NSPR) for cryptography. The combination offers Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) capability.

While popular, the OpenSSL library has raised a concern that poses a problem for standardization, according to the foundation. As it has been developed, it has not maintained full backward compatibility with earlier versions. NSS and NSPR have maintained backward compatibility with earlier versions and thus are a better fit for the LSB, the foundation said.

The sample implementation of Linux code featured in version 4.0 has been redesigned and is now based on rPath Conary technology instead of Linux from Scratch, the foundation said. The implementation will ship with utilities to make it easier to use.

The LSB 4.0 beta specification, test suite, and developer tools are available on the foundation Web site.

The foundation also said this week that its free and open source software (FOSS) governance workgroup, called FOSSBazaar, has nearly doubled in membership since being launched in January. New members include Ars, Aperta, Black Duck, BT, Krugle, Palamida, and nextB, bringing the total number of members to 15. The initiative was founded by the foundation along with vendors such as Google, HP, and Novell. 

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