[lsb-discuss] Thoughts on LSB ISO standard

Wichmann, Mats D mats.d.wichmann at intel.com
Wed Jul 25 16:07:28 UTC 2012

I wanted to updated on a number of the topics that have been raised
in the recent calls on this topic. For the last few years, since the
departure from the project of Nick Stoughton, I have served as the
editor of the LSB specification (and I was present at the Singapore
meeting in which the LSB submission to ISO was finalized). As
noted in the call I am finding it hard to continue that role and will
probably have to transition it to another editor.

LSB 3.1 "core" was agreed as an ISO standard, ISO/IEC 23360.1:2006
essentially seven years ago (it was actually 3.1, not 3.0 as some have
indicated).  At the same time LSB was in the process of adding a
very large section of functionality which ended up known as "LSB desktop".
Since that work was brand new and was taking place as the LSB ISO
effort was in progress, it does make sense that part was not included
in that submission, but several national bodies to ISO indicated that they
felt it was important to continue to evolve the standard and bring these
elements in as well.  Unfortunately, this evolution never happened.

Logistically, the sponsor of the LSB project, the Linux Foundation, became
an ISO PAS submitter to facilitate the process.  It is my understanding
that this status on behalf of LF has been allowed to lapse.  LF as a
not for profit foundation was well positioned to sponsor the work, but
the sponsors of LF itself have apparently lost interest in supporting
the work of LSB as an ISO standard.  This is an outsider's viewpoint, I
cannot presume to speak for Linux Foundation, but I believe it to be accurate.

There was some considerable work to make LSB core able to be
produced as a standard that minimally fit ISO requirements, which
was largely done by a contractor retained for that purpose (Nick).  That work
has not been lost, however we were also led to understand that we
were kind of given a pass in not completely conforming to the ISO
conventions as a first-time PAS submission, but that a future revision
would require additional work to more fully conform, so it may be that
the existing facilities to generate a specification for consumption by
ISO would not be sufficient - we would need advice on that issue. We
have tried to maintain the policy of a "common standard" - to not intentionally
diverge the standards wording between ISO and non-ISO. Issues that
specifically related to the "ISO portion" of LSB continue to have flags
in the LSB issue tracking system.

There have been three significant revisions of LSB since the ISO submission.
Those have been LSB 3.2, 4.0 and 4.1.  These revisions have maintained
the document structure that was in place when LSB 3.1 went into ISO
with very little change.  There has been one technical addition to core,
we could discuss that separately - in theory updating the "ISO LSB"
to LSB 4.1 level would not be a complicated process.

However, there are two pending issues to keep in mind:

- LSB has often been criticised for not covering enough of Linux "common"
functionality; since LSB-core is a subset of full LSB, that question should
be even larger for whether LSB-core is actually useful as an ISO standard.
At the same time, there has also been the very real debate about whether
an LSB specification which includes "desktop" elements is an appropriate
requirement for server-oriented installations of LSB.

- Some fairly substantial rearrangement of the LSB specfication is proposed
(and in fact, agreed) for LSB 5.0, which is in development now and
anticipated for the earlier part of 2013.  The comments about the unbroken
line from LSB 3.1 -> LSB 4.1 will no longer apply for LSB 5.0.

-- mats

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