[lsb-discuss] Don't blame LSB and standards, please: was: Re: Fedora Plasma Product, feedback please

Dallman, John john.dallman at siemens.com
Wed Apr 2 13:39:35 UTC 2014

Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 03:27:22PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:

> > At least, as a distribution developer, my impression has always been
> > that LSB is primarily aimed at providing a standardized platform that
> > third-party commercial application developers can target and be
> > relatively assured of being able to run on any Linux distribution.
> > For the most part, the actual workings of the native packages of the
> > distribution were out of scope, provided that the interfaces were
> > available to third-party software of that sort after installing the
> > lsb package.

> That's pretty much the understanding most of us who started working on
> the LSB lo these many years ago had.  It was *not* about unification
> across distributions, mainly because we understood very early on that
> was a fool's errand.

As someone who uses Linux to develop commercial code on, and LSB as a means
of being able to support many distributions with one binary, that's what
I understood when I took up using LSB nine years ago. It has done this job
very effectively so far, and our answer when asked 'do you support FooLinux?'
is simply '"run lsb_release -a" and e-mail us the response', and if that says
LSB 3.1 or later, then we'll support it.

I have the advantage that my product is a mathematical modelling library,
with no user interface, just an API. That makes it very easy to produce with
LSB compliance.

If LSB didn't exist, we'd only support one or two distributions, because the
overhead of QA on more would not be commercially viable. While I'm much less
savvy on Linux politics than most people here, the continued existence of so
*many* Linux distributions does seem to indicate that there isn't a great
demand for Linux unification. Unification would be *really useful* for
commercial application vendors, because for many of them the fragmentation
of the market promises lots of overhead in customer support, far more than
they'll make in sales.

> When (several years ago) we managed to convince Red Hat and SuSE to ship
> the same stdc++ library (because the upstream developers screwed up and
> accidentally introduced an unintentional ABI incompatibility), we counted
> that as a major success.  And it happened only because was one distribution
> was much more willing to be flexible and to work with us than the other.

Thanks for that: it saved us a load of trouble.

John Dallman
Siemens Industry Software Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales.
Registered number: 3476850.
Registered office: Faraday House, Sir William Siemens Square, Frimley, Surrey, GU16 8QD.

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