An industry association known as the Free Standards Group (FSG) has been set up to revitalise the push for standards in the Linux market.
The group aims to establish core functionality within the operating system so that applications will run on any version of the platform, and to ensure that the software supports several international languages.
FSG is a combination of two bodies: the Linux Standard Base and the Linux Internationalisation Initiative. It has already received funding pledges and support from a number of Linux players. Details of the funding will be released later this month. Companies backing FSG include Caldera, Corel, IBM, SAP, SCO, SuSE, Sun Microsystems and Red Hat.
Daniel Quinlan, FSG's chairman, said the formation of the group was critical to ensure the operating system doesn't fragment further.
Dirk Hohndel, chief technology officer at SuSE, said: "Clear-cut standards will be the basis to get broader support from independent software vendors, as well as customers for the Linux platform.
"The combination of well-defined standards and choice of vendors gives an obvious signal against any monopolistic tendencies in the industry."
Meanwhile, industry analysts are saying the operating system has evolved beyond its loyal following of volunteer programmers into a mature platform for mainstream corporate environments worldwide. It supports a wide variety of platforms including Intel, Sparc and PowerPC.
Linux's ability to give customers the power to use their existing technologies, its Open Source and licence-free nature and lighter footprint have all contributed to its meteoric rise, analysts said.
A large number of free software applications exist for Linux, giving VARs everything they need to offer other solutions around the operating system such as Web servers, email and news servers, ISDN routers, and simple file and application servers.
Linux is also being extended into the desktop market, as development firms continue to port their existing products onto the operating system.
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