The Free Standards Group (FSG) has revealed details of its Linux Standard Base (LSB) 2.0, a specification aimed at preventing Linux fragmentation.
Linux distributions that comply with the LSB will be interoperable with application software written to the standard.
The FSG described this as crucial for the ongoing success of the operating system, because it simplifies the development and porting of applications.
The organisation claimed that the standard is supported by the majority of the Linux community including AMD, Conectiva, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Mandrakesoft, Miracle Linux, Novell's SuSE Linux and Red Hat.
This support is significant, according to the FSG, because it promises to keep Linux from "forking and going the way of proprietary systems in the past".
Adoption of the LSB will increase the number of applications written for it, because of the reduced costs for software vendors writing to the Linux standard.
"Most importantly, support for the LSB standard ensures that Linux will not fork and will continue to be the fastest growing operating system in the industry," the FSG said.
"Application vendors will save millions of dollars by basing their applications on a clear set of standards."
Jon 'Maddog' Hall, executive director of Linux International, said in a statement: "The way of assuring that every distribution has all the applications it needs to be successful is through specifying and applying a cross-distribution, cross-application, neutrally-determined standard.
"The LSB provides that specification. Without this, we are no better than the proprietary Unix systems of old."
LSB Version 2.0 updates some of the basic specifications and implementations underlying LSB, such as adding support for Single Unix Specification 3.0.
The FSG explained that a significant new feature in LSB 2.0 is the introduction of a new application binary interface for C++ to improve code interoperability.
As most applications are currently written in C++, support for it in the LSB gives thousands of software vendors the ability to port their applications to Linux in a cost-effective manner, the FSG said.
LSB support has also been added for new hardware architectures including the IBM PowerPC 64, S390 and S390X platforms, and AMD's 64-bit Opteron chip. Intel 32-bit and 64-bit architectures are also supported.
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