Before there was Linux, before there was open source, there was (and still is) an operating system called Unix that was robust, stable and widely admired. It was also available under license to anyone that wanted to use it, because it had been developed not by a computer company, but by personnel at AT&T's Bell Labs, which for a time was not very aware of its status as the incubator of a vital OS.
Mighty was the rise of that OS, and regrettably, so was the waning of its influence. Happily, Unix was supplanted not only by Windows NT, but also by Linux, the open source offshoot of Unix. But today, LInux is at risk of suffering a similar fate to that suffered by Unix. That risk is the danger of splintering into multiple distributions, each of which is sufficiently dissimilar to the others that applications must be ported to each distribution - resulting in the "capture," or locking in, of end-users on "sub brands" of Linux.
The bad news is that the rapid proliferation of Linux distributions makes this a real possibility. The good news is that it doesn't have to, because a layer of standards called the Linux Standard Base (LSB) has already been created, through an organization called the Free Standards Group (FSG), that allows ISVs to build to a single standard, and know that their applications will run across all compliant distributions. And happily, all of the major distributions have agreed to comply with LSB 3.1, the most recent release.
Consortiuminfo.org recently interviewed FSG Executive Director Jim Zemlin and Debian Linux creator and LSB Working Group chairman Ian Murdock. Some of the most interesting details, though, relate to how this open standards process interacts with, and serves, the open standards process that creates Linux itself.
News source: Consortiuminfo.org Interview
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