LSB -- Can It Help Network Managers Cope with Linux?

An emerging standard called Linux Standard Base (LSB) is getting lots of play lately as a boon to software developers. If all goes as planned, though, network managers could start benefiting, too, possibly as early as the end of this year.

By Jacqueline Emigh | Posted Feb 12, 2002
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An emerging standard called Linux Standard Base (LSB) is getting lots of play lately as a boon to software developers. If all goes as planned, though, network managers could start benefiting, too, possibly as early as the end of this year.

Linux continues to draw criticism for its interoperability, scalability, and usability issues. Still, however, growing numbers of large organizations are working with Linux, including Amazon.com, eTrade, and the University of Wisconsin, to name a few.

Way back in the year 2000, Linux held a 27-percent market share of new licenses for software operating environments, versus 41 percent for Microsoft Windows NT/2000; 17 percent for Novell NetWare; and 13.5 percent for "combined Unix," according to IDC.

"It's reasonable to assume that many network managers are now dealing with Linux, especially those who are already dealing with Unix," says Al Gillen, IDC's research director for system software. Even if your company isn't using Linux yet, it might be soon.

The Buzz
So what's the LSB buzz about? Linux software vendors, OEMs and ISVs are promoting LSB as a way of gaining a unified platform for the many different branded collections, or "distributions," of Linux.

At the end of last month, the Free Standards Group, author of the specs, released the first major rev of the standard, LSB 1.1. Top execs for four of the leading Linux vendors -- Caldera, Red Hat, Turbolinux, and SuSE -- said they will ship products complying with LSB 1.1 by the end of 2002.

Other big LSB backers include IBM, Sun, Oracle, Dell and Compaq. Also contributing are groups such as the The Debian Project; MandrakeSoft; Linux for PowerPC; Linuxcare; VA Linux; The Open Group; Software in the Public Interest, and The USENIX Association.

"Right now, Linux is a component of an infrastructure. It's typically used on a Web server or a print/file server, for example. Companies who are looking at deploying Linux as an application server -- for ERP or CRM, for instance -- are those that will be most interested in LSB," says IDC's Gillen.

Members of the standards group freely admit that LSB is geared mainly to making more commercial software applications available on Linux servers.

"Every ISV I've talked to has known the pain and suffering of trying to port applications to multiple distributions of Linux," says John Terpstra, a Linux evangelist at Caldera.

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