PROJECT PROPOSAL AND CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: THE LINUX STANDARD BASE (LSB) project (V1.5) The Linux(R) Operating System's rapid adoption by millions of computer users everywhere is direct recognition of the quality of the software and success of the freely distributable software development model. In order to ensure that large software application programs, from binary-only tools sold by the largest software companies, to freely distributable desktop environments built cooperatively over the net, run smoothly on as many Linux-based computers as possible - the Linux Standard Base (LSB) Project is an attempt to define the common core of components that can be expected to be found in any "Linux" system. The signers of this proposal are most of the leading commercial Linux distributions, board members of Linux International, and key personnel like Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. We propose a set of goals and the organization for this project, and invite all other Linux distributions to join us in planning the project and carrying it out. The "base system" is the set of programs, libraries and files that are essential to every Linux system. These objects and their related file formats play a supporting role for every application. Examples of this include (but are probably not limited to) the C library, the format and placement of system files, and other necessary interfaces. Linux distributions traditionally do not distinguish themselves on these interfaces, they distinguish themselves in other categories, such as the applications on their system, quality and ease of installation, and quality and ease of systems administration as well as support for users. Linux distributions should maintain the base system collectively, as the kernel is maintained, rather than individually. The Linux Standard Base project will provide a vendor-neutral standard, backed by source code, upon which to build Linux distributions, much as the Linux kernel project provides a single kernel that is shared by all distributions. This standard base will be distributed as a reference platform from which Linux distributions may be derived and which application producers may use for testing, but it will _never_ be targeted to be an end-user solution in itself, as that is the role of the Linux distributions that incorporate the standard. The application of the standard will be that any program that runs successfully on the reference platform can be expected to run on all Linux systems. If they don't, the distribution creator must either fix a problem with their own distribution, or convince us that there's a bug in the sample distribution which violates the standards. This is not intended to prohibit distributions from making their own extensions to the base system, or even to use different source code from what is supplied in the reference platform - it's only meant to provide a common set of features that will be known to exist on every Linux system which ISVs can depend on. Participation in the base standard will assure the distributions of compatibility with each other for the set of applications that depend only on the files and libraries in the reference platform. As time passes, the standard will expand to include most of the files and libraries upon which a commercial application might depend. The Linux Standard Base System will be 100% compliant with the Open Source Definition. This assures all distributions that they can derive from it without concern over licensing problems for themselves or their users. Development will be carried out in the public, with anonymous access to the CVS archive and the developer mailing lists. The core group will be a mix of high-quality developers from the Linux community and the staff of commercial distributions, with an organization similar to the tremendously successful Linux kernel development team. Attention will be paid to standards such as POSIX and the FHS (the successor to the Linux Filesystem Standard). However, the project goes far beyond the utility of these standards, because rather than produce only paper documents, it will provide a complete implementation of the standard, ready to be integrated into Linux distributions or used as a reference platform for application developers. This will provide the Linux distributions with improved time-to-market, lower cost, and much less duplication of effort than a paper standard which is defined to fully take into account side effects, undocumented issues, etc. We propose Bruce Perens as the project leader. He has the experience of having run Debian for several years, during which he did extensive work on Debian's base system. He is a board member of Linux International, president of Software in the Public Interest, and a member of the 86open steering committee. He is the principal author of the "Open Source Definition" and its predecessor, the "Debian Free Software Guidelines". He has been a Unix systems programmer since 1981, and is currently employed by Pixar Animation Studios, makers of "Toy Story". The Linux Standard Base System will implement some of the goals of the 86open project, which proposes to establish an interoperability standard for all Unix-like operating systems. We, the undersigned, endorse this proposal, and ask that other distributions and ISVs also join us to help further define this proposal and then to help implement it: Linus Torvalds, Creator of Linux
Jon A. Hall, Executive Director, Linux International
Bruce Perens, Director Linux International, proposed Project Leader
Ransom H. Love, Director Linux International, General Manager,OpenLinux Division, Caldera, Inc.
Roland Dyroff, Director Linux International, S.u.S.E. Linux
Mark Bolzern, Director Linux International, President Linux Mall and WorkGroup Solutions, Inc.
Phil Hughes, Director Linux International, Publisher, Linux Journal
Larry Augustin, Director Linux International, President VA Research
Kit Cosper, Director Linux International, President Linux Hardware Solutions, Inc.
Garry M. Paxinos, Director Linux International, Vice President Metro Link Incoporated.
Cliff Miller, Director Linux International, President, Pacific HiTech (TurboLinux)
Ted Cook, Director Linux International, President, Enhanced Software Technologies.
Tom Lang, Director Linux International, President, H & L Software
Eric S. Raymond, open-source evangelist and author of "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"
Sam Ockman, President, Penguin Computing, Chairman, LINC: the International Linux Conference and Exposition
Non-Linux Supporters: Jordan Hubbard, FreeBSD project.