Standards and Conversations, Part 2

Picking up where we left off last time

The LSB spec invents things without consulting distros. Like the whole init scripts thing. But that’s not as bad as depending on RPM or requiring a specific layout.

What can be very frustrating is that we do reach out to all the major distros, and a number of the less major ones.  But we don’t talk to every single person on every single distro; we can’t.  We also try to follow best practices for an open project: open version control, open IRC, open mailing lists.

Part of the problem may be that we also talk to independent software developers, and sometimes, distro people aren’t prepared to hear what developers are saying.  So, it looks like we’re pushing things on them, like predictable directory layouts, hooks for working with the user environment, different options for software installation, and the like.

We used to just listen to distros and do what they wanted.  Part of the reason there’s still a lingering perception that “the LSB failed” is that software developers saw us as irrelevant.  And they were right: we were irrelevant, because we only listened to the distros.  So now we listen to both sides, and try to get them to talk to each other, and act as a go-between when they don’t seem able to.

I had an eye-opening experience in Berlin in 2006.  We talked to packaging people, and talked about the need for cooperation between package managers and third-party installer tools. A lot of people thought that was a bad idea.  So we got them together with some major ISVs in Berlin, and told them to figure it out.  And they did figure something out, and surprise!  Communication between package managers and third-party installers became a good thing, at least if done right.

And we don’t have a problem with the “done right” part, either.  We made a few attempts at proposals for the communication system above, and someone has created an independent implementation.  Some of those proposals came under sharp criticism.  And we’re cool with that; happy, in fact, that it got attention.

So if you want to find out what’s going on with us, and what terrible things we’re going to make you do in the future, check out our project plan, sign up for our mailing list, or just come by our IRC channel (, #lsb) and ask some questions.  We try to be friendly and helpful.

One thought on “Standards and Conversations, Part 2

  1. Hey, Jeff,

    I have used a variety of Linux distros in my web development and hosting work, and the differences can be puzzling (such as the difference between Sys V and Debian init). So, even if there is some pain in getting people and ideas together, it’s ultimately a good thing to have a shared standard. Thanks for what you’re doing.

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