Four Linux Vendors Band Together

The Linux Core Consortium, announced Wednesday, plans to develop a runtime environment and software development kit that would standardize programming of software to the interfaces of the Linux kernel. The LCC's founding members are Linux distributors Conectiva S.A., Mandrakesoft S.A. and Turbolinux Inc., and Linux services provider Progeny.

The LCC software layer would ensure that applications built for certified Linux distributions would be compatibly programmed for the Linux Standard Base 2.0 interfaces defined by the Free Standards Group.

A business application built today targets Linux distributions supported by the independent software vendor. While the software may work on other distributions, the ISV may not provide support for those products, Ian Murdock, chairman and chief strategist for Progeny, said.

A Linux distribution is the operating system's kernel, plus the open-source software a vendor will add on top. As a result, distributions differ considerably.

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Rather than a software maker supporting just a couple of distributions, the LCC project looks to expand that support to any certified distributor, which would potentially give customers more flexibility in choosing and swapping vendors.

"We increase the choices that customers have in which distributor they use without sacrificing compatibility," Murdock said.

The LCC plans to release its technology and reference implementation in the first quarter of next year. The software will be incorporated in the founders' following product lines: Conectiva Enterprise Server, Mandrakesoft Corporate Server, Progeny Componentized Linux and Turbolinux Enterprise Server.

The group plans to eventually expand its work to encompass Linux standards developed by the Open Source Development Labs.

Organizations that have announced support for LCC include Computer Associates International Inc., Free Standards Group, Hewlett-Packard Co., Novell Inc., the OSDL, Red Hat Inc., the leading Linux distributor; and Sun Microsystems Inc. Despite the support, it's unclear how active the organizations will be in the effort.

Despite its inclusion as a supporter, Red Hat has not decided whether it would dedicate development resources to the LCC effort, or whether the group's technology would be integrated into Red Hat products.

"Our participation in the press release was mainly around our support of LSB," Day said.

Two of the founding members of the LCC were members of UnitedLinux, a consortium of second-tier Linux vendors that sought to pool resources around a single distribution to better compete against market leader Red Hat. The group, which included SuSE, the SCO Group, Turbolinux and Conectiva, is no longer active.

Missing from the LCC announcement is tech giant IBM, which has invested more than a $1 billion in research and products related to Linux. IBM did not respond to a request for comment.