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Beginning Linux Programming, 4th Edition by Richard Stones, Neil Matthew

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Chapter 18

Standards for Linux

Linux started as just a kernel. Unfortunately, a kernel on its own is not very useful; programs are needed for logging in, managing files, compiling new programs, and so forth. To make a useful system, tools were added from the GNU project. These were clones of familiar programs available on the UNIX and UNIX-like systems around at the time. Making Linux look and feel like UNIX set the first standards for Linux, providing a familiar environment for C programmers.

Different UNIX (and later Linux) vendors added proprietary extensions to the commands and utilities they made available, and the layout of the file systems they used varied slightly. It became difficult to create applications that would work on more than one system. Even worse, a programmer could not even rely on system facilities being provided in the same way or configuration files being maintained in the same place.

It was clear that some standardization was needed to prevent the UNIX systems from fragmenting, and some excellent UNIX standardization work is now in place.

Over time not only have these standards moved forward, but Linux itself has been enhanced at an impressive speed by the community, often supported by commercial organizations like Red Hat and Canonical, and even non-Linux vendors such as IBM. As Linux has progressed, it, along with the gcc compiler collection, has not only tracked the relevant standards rather well, but has also defined new standards as existing standards ...

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