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What does the Free Standards Group do?

The Free Standards Group was formed in 1998 to promote open source software through standards. The Free Standards Group has two primary working groups, focusing respectively on:

  • The Linux Standard Base (LSB): a binary standard for interoperability between applications and the Linux platform
  • OpenI18N: a standard that creates a foundation for language globalization of compliant distributions and applications

Today, the FSG concentrates its efforts in the following areas:

  • Developing and improving existing standards
  • Developing and implementing testing and certification programs in support of its standards
  • Conducing outreach and education campaigns to encourage ISVs to target the Linux platform, providing technical support and resources
  • Enforcing the LSB brand with compliant distributions and applications

What are recent accomplishments of the LSB?

Through the efforts of the FSG, the Linux Standard Base has achieved great strides in the past year, including the following key accomplishments:

  • LSB 3.0 launched resolving key issues -- such as C++ -- between major distribution vendors, resulting in the announced intention by all major Linux distribution vendors to certify on LSB 3.0
  • For the first time, major ISVs such as Veritas, Oracle, MySQL, BakBone and others have either joined the FSG or given their public support of the standard
  • New memberships have increased by 70 percent over the last year, including the addition of over a dozen ISV members where there was previously no ISV participation at all
  • Funding has increased by 40 percent
  • The Chinese Government has signed an agreement to use the LSB as the base of its emerging national standard for Linux, and to become a certification authority
  • The FSG has experienced dramatically increased visibility and awareness of the standard through new marketing efforts, including features in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today, eWeek and the Associated Press
  • A book, Building Applications with the Linux Standard Base, was published in 2004
  • The LSB has passed the first vote for ISO approval as an international standard; the vote will conclude in October 2005

What is the LSB?

The Linux Standard Base is a core standard for the Linux operating system that encourages interoperability between applications and the platform. It includes a written binary interface specification, a set of test suites for both distributions and applications writing to the standard, and a sample implementation for testing purposes.

What is OpenI18N?

The OpenI18N Standard (formerly Li18nux) is the internationalization standard for application developers writing for Linux and other platforms. The OpenI18N Workgroup has led the development of an open framework for internationalization and localization, including a written specification and test suite.

How do I get involved with the Free Standards Group?

  • Become a Member of the Free Standards Group
  • Write to the Standard
  • Demand the Standard from your Distribution partners
  • Participate in a workgroup or give feedback on existing documentation and tools
  • Join the online community and get feedback during your development process

To find out how your organization can benefit from the Free Standards Group, contact:

info@freestandards.org 
General contact for Free Standards Group
membership@freestandards.org 
For membership questions or comments

Why does the LSB matter?

An operating system is only as strong as the applications that run on top of it. While Linux presents unique challenges to ISVs (including multiple distribution targets), it also affords them a tremendous market opportunity. The Linux Standard Base (LSB) was created to eliminate much of the heavy lifting required by ISVs targeting the Linux platform today. For ISVs, LSB is a means to reduce the cost and complexities of supporting Linux.

The vision of a standardized Linux balances the needs of the competitive distribution ecosystem with the requirements of end users and independent software vendors for interoperability. The Free Standards Group and the Linux Standard Base were created to enable ISVs to cost effectively target the Linux platform, reducing their porting, support and testing costs while achieving a global market for their applications.

Where can I download the most current LSB specification?

At the LSB web site.

How do I get my software product LSB Certified?

You can find out more in our certification section: Get Certified.

I don't want to certify. Are there other benefits to using the LSB?

Yes. Even if you don't go through the formal certification process, you can still reduce the moving targets in your Linux deployment. The LSB increases common elements across distributions by up to 40 percent. This will:

  • Reduce the number of deployment targets
  • Streamline and reduce QA
  • Lower support costs
  • Deliver more international coverage
  • Offer more choice to end users

Why is the Linux Standard Base essential to the success of Linux?

The LSB helps software vendors target the Linux platform in a cost effective, low risk manner. It also helps ISVs funnel their input to the Linux distribution industry, creating a more stable and robust process for both Linux distributors and Linux ISVs. This is crucial for the on-going success for Linux as it simplifies the development and porting of applications by ISVs. By supporting the LSB and LSB-compliant distributions, application vendors can save millions of dollars by utilizing a clear set of standards in their development efforts. Distribution vendor support also ensures Linux will not fork and will continue to be the fastest growing operating system in the industry.

What is the difference between the LSB and the Free Standards Group?

The LSB is a Free Standards Group workgroup.

Is the Free Standards Group related to the Open Source Development Lab?

The two organizations are not directly affiliated. OSDL is a member of the free standards group and participates closely in the development of our standard along with our other members.

I am a distribution vendor, how to I certify my distribution and participate in the development of the specification?

Distribution involvement is the key enabler of the standards managed by the Free Standards Group. You can find out how to certify here.

For distribution and software vendors, open standards:

  • Lower cost of software development as a base set of commonality exists
  • Lower cost of supporting end users
  • Ensure a wide variety of applications will be available for their platform or distribution.

How do I know if an application is certified LSB compliant?

You can check the registry of certified applications here.

What are the future plans of the Free Standards Group?

Besides maintaining and enriching the existing standards in the workgroups, the Free Standards Group has currently created the following modules for concentrated work in the future:

  • Desktop
  • Identity Management
  • Systems Management

Where does the Free Standards Group get its financial backing?

We are supported from our member organizations. We are always looking for new members so please consider supporting our cause.

Are FSG standards recognized by other organizations?

Yes, OSDL embeds FSG standards in their workgroups. ISO has also recently recognized the LSB.

Where is the Free Standards Group located?

We are headquartered in San Francisco, CA. Contact info can be found here.

Are there different membership levels for participating in the Free Standards Group?

Yes. There are there classes of membership. Membership rights and commitments are described in detail in the Bylaws. Financial commitments vary, according to the type and level of membership.

  • 'Individual Membership'. Open to any person who is interested in supporting free and open source software.
  • 'Nonprofit'. Open to any registered nonprofit organization that is supporting free software and open source software. This class of membership is also open to educational institutions.
  • 'Corporate'. Open to any commercial entity engaged in the production, manufacturing, support, development, or sale of products supporting free and open source software.

You can find out more by emailing membership@freestandards.org.

Why should I become a member of the Free Standards group?

Members enjoy many benefits including:

  • The ability to run and/or to vote for members of the Board of Directors
  • First-hand knowledge of the latest developments for each of the Free Standards Group's projects

In addition, as a member you can enjoy the prestige and satisfaction that comes with being able to say that you or your organization is directly contributing the creation and advancement of Linux standards.

Should IT end users be involved in the Free Standards Group?

Yes. End users can impact the standard and have their say heard by the Linux community. We are currently encouraging end users to sign up as members and join the workgroups.

How do I contact the FSG?

Contact info can be found here.


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