Any views or opinions expressed here are my own, and not that of my employer or any project I am a member of.
InternetNews ran a story last Thursday (picked up via LWN) asking whether LSB 4 will standardize Linux? In it, they interview Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, and the article expresses the feeling that if only the distributions would adopt it, the world would be a better place.
To those that know me, I may sound like a skipping CD, but I just don’t see anything in LSB 4 that will change the current situation because they have not addressed the fundamental problem with the LSB.
The failure of the LSB to actually engage with the distributions it’s attempting to standardise.
This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the LSB attempted to document existing practice in the form of standards, while acting as a forum for development of new practices which could be trialled before standardisation. Much as the IETF does, now.
Instead, the LSB sees itself as a development group that decides on future direction itself and dictates that to the distributions. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s pretty much the way that the W3C works. But to work successfully, you must represent everybody that you expect to follow the standard.
To this day, the LSB still feels like an RPM-only club. The core specification specifically requires RPM, and in fact much of the other system-related pieces are based on the layout and design of RedHat and its derivatives.
That is, except for those bits that the LSB invented all by itself, such as the Init Scripts section.
While much of the LSB can be hacked into a different distribution through compatibility layers and tools, such as alien, what ISV or other vendor wants to provide a support contract against a distribution that has such kludges?
The whole point of the LSB is that ISVs and other vendors feel confident being able to simply target their software or platform to the standard, and safe to honour support contracts on any deployment to an LSB-certified operating system.
If the distributions themselves don’t directly implement the LSB specification, there will never be the confidence to deploy against it directly and we’ll remain in a world where vendors directly target the distributions.
And until the LSB invites all of the distributions to the table to fundamentally redraft the specification to provide a common base that they are all happy to implement directly, they’ll still conform through hacks, kludges and compatibility layers.