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Debian and POSIX

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                      DEBIAN AND POSIX

Many Linux distribution creators have published statements about their
committment to the POSIX standard recently. The POSIX standard is a
method of assuring source-code-level compatibility across a number of
different software platforms. It specifies the software interface of a
Unix-like operating system. A program using the standard facilities
should compile properly and run the same way on any system that
complies with the standard.

Linux was already close to POSIX before anyone started working on
actual compliance with the standard. In the past year or so it has
gotten much closer to POSIX, as some Linux distribution creators have
been running POSIX compliance tests and have been feeding the bugs they
find back to the authors. We thank them for this effort.

Until recently it was prohibitively expensive for the Debian GNU/Linux
project to participate in the POSIX effort, because there was a high
fee for copies of the standard, the compliance test software, and
certification by a POSIX lab. Now, the U.S. Government National
Institute of Standards and Technology has released a free version of
their Federal Information Processing Standard 151-2 compliance test
software, which tests for compliance with a superset of POSIX. They
decided to make that software free so that more people would implement
POSIX, and we applaud that decision. We got right to work on Debian's
POSIX compliance. We currently plan to provide the capability for
end-user verification - you can run the POSIX test suite on your own
system if you like.

There will be several POSIX-compliant Linux distributions available under
the GPL. Debian GNU/Linux is the only one that's made by a non-profit
organization rather than a for-profit concern. Our team of 110 volunteer
developers have built a system that's equal to or better than any Linux
distribution you can find.

As always, we invite all organizations, for-profit and non-profit, to
derive their systems and software from Debian GNU/Linux and to
participate in the Debian development effort. In this way, you can
acquire a POSIX-compliant base upon which you can add value.
You don't need our permission to distribute and sell Debian, you need
only comply with the software licenses of the programs it contains.
This offer is even open to the developers of other Linux distributions.

    Many Thanks

    Bruce Perens
    Debian Project Leader

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