“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. 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 has already been created, through an organization called the Free Standards Group, 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.”
Squaring the Open Source/Open Standards Circle
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2006-05-30 5:32 pmslate
I guess my take on this is a bit different. As you go down further down the stack in a Linux distro it seems to get more standard, which makes sense, since it’s pretty ridiculous for every desktop to have the same applications.
But the problem is that middle layer, in between the applications and the GNU utilities and the kernel. You’ve got different package managers and no universal installers. There’s nothing like COM or DCOP/Kparts that is universal. Having two different desktops and two different toolkits has compounded the problem. Having many distros has compounded the problem.
I think it would be great if say Debian was the metadistro, there was one distro based off of this metadistro that was kind of like the standards bearer, and few spinoffs for a little value-added, and then whatever-floats-your-boat for the hardcore geeks. But what having this standards distro would mean is that all the other distros would have something to target for baseline compatibility.
I’ve been using Linux at work and sometimes at home for almost 9 years now, and frankly I don’t see linux ever breaking out of hobbyist status and the spot corporate deployment here and there until things change.
“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. The bad news is that the rapid proliferation of Linux distributions makes this a real possibility.”
Similar to the last sunday eve editorial, this seems to have come from a timewarp.
If there’s no standards at the base how can you expect standards for the rest of the system?
It’s like hygiene, if you practice hygiene at a personal level, then chances are your house and surroundings are hygienic.
2006-05-30 4:44 pmsmitty
You do realize that the desktops are meant to run on more than just the Linux kernel, right? Standards in the kernel should have no bearing on anything in the desktops.
To quote and modify “Pirates Of The Caribbean”
The LSB “is more what you’d call guidelines
than actual rules.”
2006-05-30 5:26 pmTom Janowitz
>”To quote and modify “Pirates Of The Caribbean” ”
You mean to ‘paraphrase’ ? Just f#%$@^g with you man
2006-05-30 5:44 pmNixerX
Exactly…..my code is overly wordy as well..go figure
Still, LSB serves IMHO a very good purpose.
Also, the LSB roadmap is clearly moving towards the desktop – lets just hope the outcome is something real and visible in practice…
Sheesh, is there only one way to build a distro? Just because the big three or eight or however many get fully funded do it one way does that make it best or right?
S’like saying, “We’ve stuffed our head up our asses in SysV fashion for so long it must be made the law of the land and the mandatory position to occupy while linux distro building.”
Dumbest rant ever. Thank goodness all the little distros where the linux evolutionary process is actually taking place couldn’t care less.
have problems with diversity, why?
because everything can be compiled by anyone to work on its platform. What are the showstoppers for people using 64-bit systems these days? Closed source problems: no flash, no shockwave, no wmv no …
Open source could also bring innovation because people wouldn’t depend on hardware platforms, new procesors could easily be adopted which could bring a revolution on top of the evolution.
Standards are the reason simple things like your menus are identical across seperate window managers such as KDE and Gnome (the XDG menu spec). They are the reason that QT and GTK apps can both use the same clipboard (clipboard-spec). The same can be said for autostarting (a very new spec) and how applications should handle file:// uri’s for drag and drop purposes. These are all highlevel standards at http://www.freedesktop.org.
The Linux Standards Base is a lower level standard designed so that ISVs (independent software vendors) write code once and it will “ideally” run on all of the LSB compliant distributions.
Without standards like from fd.o, the LSB, FHS (file heirarchy standard), Linux would be in a horrible state. Each distro has it’s own agenda, but also benefits from work in other distros. This is largely in part due to standards.
Take a look at how entrenched in the world java is as an “enterprise” development framework. As a language, java is ok, but something like the J2EE Specification is awesome. Write your application to this standard, and it will work with any other piece of software that also complies with little to no work.
Do people ever read things before writing their own? It could spare us the boredom of hearing the same story time and time and time and time again. Maybe OSN is running out of good stories and you have to shove out whatever’s available.
The story about Linux splintering has been out there as long as there are distributions, and there has never been any reason to pay any attention to it at all. Nowadays Linux is more homogeneous than ever, with very few commonplace distributions and, well, hundreds, of minor ones, which do no harm and might even give the world something new and worthwhile.
Please, find something interesting to tell the next time.
OK, I should’ve payed more attention before diving in. It is thhe intro that is noise. The LSB is a nice thing to have, and does in fact show that there indeed are centripetal forces stopping Linux from really fragmenting.
“Linux is at risk of suffering a similar fate to that suffered by Unix.
Tell me how many distros are enterprise ready?
I don’t necessarily mean the OS itself.What about service and support 24h 7days a week for a reasonable (garanteed)lenght of time.If you see it this way,linux isn’t so splintered at all.
For the rest it’s all about freedom of choice and identity.
When it comes to GNU/Linux, there is always the strong argument of how standard oriented this operating system is and how nice it is to have heterogonous systems and software while standards provide working collaberation and communication, sharing of data, user experience (POSIX) and so on.
Problem is, this is mostly true for old systems and software. When it comes to the desktop, window managers and so on, everyone is looking for his own way to get something done and different solutions don’t comply to each other. For example, it’s impossible to get access to (ie read) the background image of the desktop in a simple manner. Instead, many different problems arise and some self-made standards give false assumptions which just don’t work. Look at how tricky aterm works to get the background image…
There are many things you can do with simple(old) data objects, but when it comes to newer, more complex representations of data, no alike standards exists and problems arise. This has to change, regulations have to stay up to date with modern innovations (also which free software just indeed has a lack of!).