Last week, Conectiva, Mandrakesoft, Progeny and Turbolinux
the creation of the
Linux Core Consortium (LCC), a project to create a common implementation of
the Linux Standard Base (LSB) 2.0. According to the group's press release,
the LCC plans to create this implementation by the first quarter of
2005. In addition to the four member companies, several organizations
issued public statements of support, including Red Hat, Novell, Sun, HP,
Computer Associates, the Free Standards Group and Open Source Development
To get a little more information than was contained in the press release,
we talked with Progeny's Ian Murdock, and touched base with Mandrakesoft's
Gaël Duval and Novell's Bruce Lowry about the LCC.
According to Murdock, the key message is that the LCC is "first and
foremost about making the LSB stronger." He noted that the LSB is
useful, but "implementation standards are always more powerful than
paper standards." He was quick to point out that there were several
differences between the LCC and the failed UnitedLinux effort:
Unlike UnitedLinux, which was a separate company set up to manage a
collaborative process...it's a loosely defined collaboration where partners
have equal representation and devote roughly equivalent resources [to the
The LCC also isn't burdened with SCO as a member, which is a strong bonus
in and of itself.
Murdock also said that the LCC is an important goal for Progeny as
well. "We can address both our Debian and RPM customers with that
common core, which is obviously why we're interested in extending to RPM as
well." He also said it was "a shame" that so much
attention is focused on the difference between RPM and Debian packages, and
that he'd like to see Debian directly involved in the LCC.
We asked what it would take for another company to join the
organization. Murdock indicated that the members were eager to have other
companies join the LCC, and that they've invited Red Hat and Novell, but
they haven't completely sorted out requirements. We asked Duval if there
would be a monetary requirement for other organizations. He said no, at
least at this time.
For now there is no monetary requirement, only an agreement to sign, but
this could change, for instance to avoid company who join just to get free
advertising while providing nothing in return. It's clear that we need only
motivated members in the LCC.
Both Murdock and Duval made it clear that the LCC would also welcome
non-profit organizations like Debian, and they were also looking at a way
to allow participation from individual developers. Murdock said that the
LCC would have "more to say in the coming weeks."
It's not going to be the case where we do all the work ourselves and drop
it in the lap of the open source community and say "here you go." We have a
strong desire to involve the open source community, but it's too early to
say exactly what form that will take.
...we're trying to compliment existing efforts in the Linux Standards
Base. The right way to go about that is to be open and inclusive, the end
result will be nothing short of a Linux implementation standard built by
the community and industry. If that's the result, then the result will be a
Linux that is not owned by a single Linux company and that will be good for
Of course, the LCC would have a stronger position if the two biggest
players in the industry were involved. While Red Hat and Novell have made
polite noises about the LCC, they haven't committed to it. We asked Lowry
whether Novell's public statement of support would translate into more
concrete action with regards to the LCC. According to Lowry:
We've offered moral support to the LCC for what they're working
toward, which is adoption of the LSB and standardization in the space to
encourage Linux application development. We're not commenting at this
point on whether we might ultimately join. It's something we'll keep an
We also requested comment from Red Hat regarding its intentions towards the
LCC, but have not received a reply in time for this article. Murdock said
he can think of reasons why Red Hat and Novell might not choose to
I can think of some reasons why they might not want to do that [make the
LSB stronger], namely that behind the words, that Linux standards are
important, at the end of the day they're trying to build their own
proprietary position which largely revolves around the ISV certifications
that they have...I suppose that any hesitance on their part represents a
sort of mismatch between what they're saying and what they're doing.
Many in the open source community were disappointed that the UnitedLinux
consortium did not release a working product to the community. Instead,
UnitedLinux was only available as source through the original vendors,
rather than a working product anyone could download. Murdock said that the
LCC would make available an installable version of the distribution that
would be useful for developers, though he added it "won't be
interesting to use on its own."
As Murdock noted, an implementation of the LSB 2.0 standard would be much
more useful and powerful than the standard on paper. We're eager to see the
LCC's first release, and hope this goes a long way towards increasing
interoperability between Linux distributions and providing a unified
platform for software vendors and open source developers to write to.
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