LSB -- Can It Help Network Managers Cope with Linux? - Page 2

 By Jacqueline Emigh
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Benefits for Networkers
Linux vendors also see pluses for network managers, though, and so do some administrators. Tony Hammond, a systems administrator at the University of Wisconsin, thinks standardization would help solve problems like those he now faces in porting Cluster In A Box from a Red Hat distribution to Linux from Scratch; a project that provides the necessary steps to build your own custom Linux system.

"The idea (behind LSB) is that if everything is in a standard place, applications will be portable from one distribution to the next," concurs Nathan Walp, a Virginia-based systems administrator and developer. Walp has worked with Windows and Solaris as well as the Red Hat, Debian, SuSE, and Slackware distributions of Linux.

"LSB will be good for administrators because everyone has their own personal taste. People will be able to use whatever distribution of Linux they want, while still being able to (easily) run applications," Walp predicts.

As others see it, LSB will make it easier for network managers to avail themselves of open source code and Linux's relatively low cost of ownership.

"With Linux becoming more standardized, network managers can choose Linux over other operating environments, without feeling like they're being locked into a single distributor," maintains Marjo Murcato, senior director of solutions at Turbolinux.

Specifically, LSB will help network managers most by specifying common locations for software libraries, observers say. LSB also specifies shared system commands and a files systems hierarchy. FHS (Filesystem Hierarchy Standard) is used for arranging libraries, commands, and files.

"Otherwise, with the variety of Linux platforms out there, network managers would have to spend a lot of time writing scripts. In Linux, the location of files can differ from distribution to distribution," says Peter Beckman, VP of engineering at Turbolinux.

Although corporate developers produce custom Linux applications, network managers end up doing most of the tweaking needed for running Linux apps on LANs and WANs, Beckman says. In some smaller implementations, though, Linux developers can still end up pulling double duty as systems administrators.

Currently, Linux applications are certified to specific Linux distributions. If administrators try to run an app on a different distribution, -- or across multiple distributions used by various departments -- they might need to write scripts for file maintenance, security features, or the configuration files used in changing user passwords, for example.

This article was originally published on Feb 12, 2002
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