[lsb-discuss] Thoughts on LSB ISO standard

Keld Simonsen keld at keldix.com
Sun Jul 29 11:41:55 UTC 2012

Based on Ted's writings below, it seems like the normal PAS route is not the
way to go. It seems to complicated and expensive and dangerous. My best 
judgement is that The Linux Foundation, given the choice to do this, would
refuse to do it. But probably we should investigate what their opinion is,
that would only be prudent.

OTOH, the situation is different now. We do have an ISO standard, and
from the point of view of SC22 we do have to maintain that standard. 

There is some positve attitude from the LSB group to help with
this process, as long as it does not draw too many resources.
We are saying that we would like to investigate how we can do it,
which means that we do not give a firm promise to do it.
We have some resources in LSB, namely Carlos and Keld, that has
promised to do some work on it, and a few other LSB people promising to help 
a little (they already did:-). 

We are striving to make the formal process very lightweight, with the
LSB group in focus of the work. Some people like arrangements like the POSIX
Austin Group, and an arangement like that is amongst the possibilities
to be investigated. I would like the process to not demand more resources
than what is allready available in the LSB group.

Best regards

On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 06:15:52PM -0400, Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 08:15:52PM +0200, Keld Simonsen wrote:
> > On Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 06:45:04PM -0400, Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> > > So I can't speak for the Linux Foundation, but I was CTO (on loan from
> > > IBM) during the time period when we made the decision to let the PAS
> > > status lapse.
> > 
> > Excuse me, I am not fully familiar with the lingo here. So you were Chief
> > Technical Officer from the Linux Foundation on the ISO LSB project?
> > And then what would that mean?
> I wasn't just working on LSB; I had to keep on top of all technical
> activities at the Linux Foundation (i.e., at the time, Moblin, Maemo,
> the various conferences run by the LF).  But yes, at the time I was
> driving the LSB, and one of the things that meant is that I had to
> work with the various corporate sponsors of the LF to see if they were
> willing to pay for all of the costs associated with the renewing the
> PAS process.
> Previous to that, I was one of the representatives on the US National
> Body, so I was one of the people who went to the INCITS meeting (which
> meant that we had to have multiple corporate representatives paying
> $$$ to the INCITS body) to formulate the US National Position which
> was then used when we voted at the ISO/IEC JTC1 Linux Rapporteur
> Group.
> The various corporations involved also made sure they had engineers
> representented on the various other countries National Bodies, since
> voting happened by country.  So essentially when the LSB got the ISO
> stamp of approval, it required a lot of behind the scenes work by
> multiple countries, which was not unlike what Microsoft did when it
> ramrodded OOXML through ISO, although admittedly on a much smaller
> scale and there were multiple multinational corporations involved, not
> just a single one (Microsoft).
> A big focus at the time of all of this back room maneuvering was to
> make sure that if anyone else tried to start up Linux standardization
> efforts, it would get redirected through to the LRG, and then to the
> LSB.  This way we wouldn't have to worry about someone else deciding
> they wanted to start a competing standards effort, or at least, could
> have a chance of redirecting to the LSB work group should someone try.
> One of the worries I have about waking up ISO is that it may cause
> some other people to decide that they want to spend time creating
> other Linux-related standards, and ISO is such a heavyweight, hard to
> manage process, where things are done by individual countries voting
> (fortunately we were a relatively small ISO group that moved under the
> radar; I have friends who were involved with the M, aka MUMPS,
> standards effort, and they had representatives from the US State
> Department involved while formulating the US National Position.....
> which might cause you to suspect that sometimes it's a lot more about
> politics at the international level than merely about technical
> matters....)
> > > On the "costs" side of the equation, just simply getting the document
> > > into the right shape so that it met all of the ISO requirements would
> > > have required a lot of editorial work.  The people who have the skills
> > > to do that editorial work were at the time, fairly few and far
> > > between, and they all wanted to paid significant sums of money per
> > > hour to do that work.  (Hey, they were consultants with a relatively
> > > rare skill set; I don't begrudge that, but it was still a cost.)
> > 
> > that is understood.
> So who is going to do all of this work?  Or who is going to pay to do
> all of this reformatting and adding references as required by ISO?
> And would that volunteer effort be better spent making the LSB better,
> as opposed to making things acceptible for ISO's policies and procedures?
> > > In addition, merely engaging with ISO would have taken a lot of time,
> > > going to various ANSI/INCITS meetings beforehand, and needing to play
> > > politics with (for example) the Sun representative, who had no love of
> > > Linux, and who was distressed that Linux wasn't fully compliant with
> > > POSIX.  There were other all sorts of other silly things; such as
> > > strategizing at the ISO level to have the meetings in the Far East, to
> > > prevent certain known troublemakers from being able to attend (because
> > > they might derail the proceedings) because the travel expenses would
> > > be too expensive for them --- but that also meant that those of us who
> > > had to actually *attend* the ISO meeting had to pay $$$ to travel long
> > > distnaces to far off lands (and if you were employed in by company
> > > with niggardly travel policies, you either suffered in economy class
> > > or upgraded to business class on your own nickle).
> > 
> > So you would favour a scheme that would not introduce this overhead on
> > travelling and meetings?
> Ultimately the fundamental Flaw about ISO is that voting is done at
> national level.  Which means you need to organize representatives at
> multiple national bodies, and to become a member of an accredited
> national body also costs money.  (At the time, IBM paid for me, and
> they also paid for Akio who was on the Japan national body; the Linux
> Foundation paid for Nick who represented the UK national body; and
> there were others.)
> This is the sort of thing which is much more easily handled by
> multinational corporations.  If we wake up ISO, and someone
> mischievous (like, say, Microsoft, or even Oracle) has the resources
> to pack various national bodies, we may not be able to control the
> voting, and God only knows what might come out of such a process.
> (BTW, I think this is part of the whole business model of ISO
> consultants; they try to hit up corporations and point out the huge
> risks if the standards goes the wrong way, and for a mere $200/hours,
> they could help make sure the right thing happens.... and then they
> get to travel to exotic locations on corporate expense accounts.)
> > 
> > Yes, we can risk that. But then, if we have a POSIX Austin Group
> > like organisation, having all experts in one group would counteract
> > such a tendency. It has not happened in the Austin Group yet, and
> > they have been functioning for more than 10 years. And the Austin
> > group was formed because we have had similar troubles as you report
> > for the LSB at ISO work.  So there already were people and politics and
> > other sharks in the water for the POSIX ship. We got away with those
> > troubles by more adequate organisation.
> Even so, that only worked because companies were willing to pay for
> the Austin Group's representatives.  I was on the Usenix board when it
> decided that they could no longer afford to pay for a certain Austin
> Group representative, and then when that person showed up to try to
> hit up the Linux Foundation, Jim Zemlin, who is the executive
> directory of the Linux Foundation asked me whether or not the LF
> should fund this person (and at the time the LF was undergoing
> significant financial pressures, and we ultimately said no).
> The bottom line is that even an Austin Group style effort takes money
> and resources, and it's hard to fund that on a pure volunteer basis.
> > I would like an ISO standard that is exactly the same as the LSB standard,
> > and I think I see ways to do this. The ways I foresee have been played
> > out a handful of times before with good results (IMHO).
> But what does an ISO standard get us that wouldn't be achieved if we
> instead channelled that resources to produce a better, more
> comrprehensive LSB standard?  Certainly after the OOXML fiasco, the
> ISO stamp means a lot less than it ever did.  Do you really think it
> would influence ISV's into adopting the LSB who wouldn't otherwise?
> Personally, I find that hard to believe.
> Regards,
> 					- Ted
> P.S.  A significant issue is that there is a strong argument to be
> made that since ISO has already standardized POSIX, it shouldn't be
> trying to promulgate a second standard which is not in harmony with
> POSIX.  We had to swat down an effort by the Sun engineer (in part by
> making sure we had enough corporate votes by having engineers to
> attend the INCITS meeting, which costs time and travel and INCITS
> membership fees) to force the LSB standard as promulgated by ISO to be
> changed so that it didn't conflict with an already standardized Posix
> specification.
> Granted, Sun and Solaris is a dead letter at this point, but who knows
> from what other national body might arise someone who decides that it
> would be proper for ISO to "add value"?  And do we really want to
> spend all sorts of energy making sure we have representatives on all
> of the right national bodies, and doing all of the vote counting so
> things go the way we want?  Remember, in the ISO world, Trinidad has
> as much voting power as all of the United States!

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