A group of software companies has announced the formation of the Linux Standards Association (LSA) in an attempt to guide the development of the freeware operating system.
But its arrival was not universely welcomed. Devotees of the Unix based operating system hit online forums with messages disputing the need for such an organisation and the credentials of the founder members. They fear too much regulation and IT industry involvement will kill the open character of Linux development.
However, the LSA said on its Web site, "The time has come for the Linux community to examine the product it produces."
Initially released in 1991, Linux has grown into an Internet software phenomenon with millions of users - the official estimate is between six and 10 million.
Linux has also recently been adopted by some mainstream suppliers such as Netscape, gaining increased attention from the software community as an alternative to Microsoft Windows.
"The time has come for the community to accept and adhere to a minimum standard for what constitutes the Linux operating system," the LSA said.
"Failure to create, define and promote such a brand standard will result in the commercial support for Linux falling to the side as ISVs and IHVs realise that the costs of participating will exceed the benefit of sales," it continued.
However, in recent months the freely distributed, open source Linux has been gaining strength and support in corporate circles because of software developers such as Oracle, Informix and Netscape Communications, which have pledged to develop software for Linux.
And Red Hat Software and its competitor, Caldera, are two big names in commercial Linux. Both developers provide Internet server software, SQL databases and both come with trial software CDs to test out commercial Linux applications. Neither company was availabe to comment on the arrival of the LSA.
According to the LSA, the freedom of Linux' developers has led to varied and powerful software but has also made it difficult for vendors to sell and support it.
A test suite will be developed and released, which can be used to certify their product against the ratified standards. A minimal version of the Linux operating system will also be assembled and provided for ISVs and IHVs to use as a test platform for their products.
In support of the defined standard, the LSA said it will produce, market and support service and trademarks that indicate conformance to the developed standard. These marks will be available by licence to everyone demonstrating conformance with the standard.
The LSA includes charter members Innovative Logic and NC Laboratories, which are not well known as leaders in the Linux community.
"I suspect that the LSA is going to be maybe a player, but not necessarily THE player," said Linus Torvalds, the developer of the operating system.
Some initial response to the LSA was less passive than Torvalds'. On a Web site frequented by Linux developers, one user commented: "This is a huge scam. It's not the direction Linux should be going."
And another simply said: "Don't let a good OS go bad."
Another added: "The world famous kernel hackers from yonder way that brought you many great GUI utilities for OS/2 and NT have now brought the not-needed SLA to dominate all popular distribution of Linux."
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