A Proposal From the Open Group
Dr. Petr Janecek <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Director of
Standards Development at The Open Group,presents a proposal for closer
collaboration with The Open Group.
This article is based on a draft proposal for coordination of
standardization activities between the IEEE Portable Applications
Standards Committee (PASC) and The Open Group (TOG). The proposal will
be discussed by the members of the ad hoc committee established last
October by IEEE PASC Sponsor Executive Committee (SEC) and
subsequently, if appropriate, by the SEC itself. At this stage, it is
merely a proposal for discussion, but views are welcome!
This proposal aims at eliminating duplication of industry
standardization efforts in the area of open operating systems and
eventually eliminating the need for a single supplier to provide
different products complying with two very close but not (yet)
identical industry standards, POSIX and UNIX.
The interest in standardization of open operating systems has peaked
and is rapidly tailing off, with the industry moving its
standardization resources into new areas, in particular, the Global
All standards organizations have been feeling a falling interest,
meeting attendance, and membership.
The open operating system standards established through the activities
of IEEE PASC, in particular the POSIX.1 and POSIX.2 groups of
standards, are stable, and there is little industry interest in
anything more than their maintenance (i.e., error removal and
interpretations). Some niche markets are still interested in profiling
and further development of special features of POSIX (e.g., POSIX for
embedded systems), but vendors serving the general market do not wish
to have to implement such new features as part of their basic operating
systems offering. POSIX has become mature.
The UNIX operating system, the trademark to which is owned by The Open
Group (UNIX and the "X" device are registered trademarks in the US and
other countries) has become a de facto standard reflecting industry's
choices in practical implementation of POSIX "core" standards. The UNIX
definition recognizes the POSIX standards as over-riding ones but is
tighter, so that a UNIX-compliant system automatically complies with
the POSIX standards while the opposite is not true.
The two standards, POSIX and UNIX, use different style and format, but
are maintained by essentially the same limited group of the best of
industry experts and are implemented by the same vendors. There is
little reason to have the same group of people participating in two
different forums carrying out what is essentially the same task.
The time has come to optimize and merge relevant standardization
activities of the two bodies, IEEE PASC and TOG, while making sure that
no constituency feels disenfranchised.
Industry`s financial support makes it possible for The Open Group to
provide professional standardization support services, including
full-time managers and editors, as well as Web-based and other
publications. Such facilities off-load volunteers from the
administrative and routine work and secure a high speed of development.
Industry support also makes possible additional services building on
the results of the standardization effort: development of test suites
and management of testing services, branding of compliant systems, and
professional marketing services. It is therefore felt that TOG could
provide a good professional home for future POSIX as well as UNIX
Options for collaboration between IEEE PASC and TOG depend on the
degree of overlap of the current activities, the two organizations'
plans for future work, and IEEE's interest in new services. The Open
Group can offer IEEE and PASC the following:
Maintenance services for approved standards (.1 and .2 families)
Home for ongoing 1003.1/.2 projects
Home for projects in specialized areas
Testing services Branding services
for Approved Standards
The following completed standards are in maintenance mode (i.e., error
correction and interpretations) and suitable to be handled via an
email-based maintenance structure of expert review groups provided by
TOG, not requiring physical meetings:
POSIX.1 System Interface
POSIX.1g Protocol Independent Interfaces (Sockets and XTI)
POSIX.1i Fixes to .1b (Realtime)
POSIX.2 Shell & Tools
POSIX.2a User Portability Extensions
POSIX.5 Ada binding to POSIX.1
POSIX.9 FORTRAN binding to POSIX.1
The mechanism could be implemented by opening up the membership of TOG
base group to interested PASC members as belonging to the existing
category of "invited experts."
Home for Ongoing 1003.1/.2 Projects
The following core standards are still under development and could be
handled via broadened participation in the Base Working Group of TOG:
POSIX.1a System Interface Extensions
POSIX.1n Fixes to 1003.1/1b/.1i/.1c
POSIX.2b Additional Utilities
POSIX.18 POSIX Profile
The same mechanism as above, namely opening up the membership of TOG
base group to interested PASC members as belonging to the existing
category of "invited experts," can be applied here.
Home for Projects in Specialized Areas
The following are some of the 1003 standards under development that
cover specialized areas of interest to large and important customers.
Although TOG currently has no similar activities, it could handle them
through establishing new TOG working groups with open participation.
The funding would have to come from the participants paying a meeting
attendance fee of the same kind they today pay to PASC.
POSIX.1d and POSIX.1j Additional Realtime Extensions
POSIX.1h Fault Tolerance
POSIX.21 Realtime Distributed Systems Communications (LIS)
The Open Group has the first complete POSIX Conformance Test Suite
in the industry for the whole of POSIX.11996 and
Further, The Open Group recently introduced Validation Services for
FIPS 1512 (POSIX) in response to the termination of NIST
validation services. TOG's service is based on NIST procedures and
NIST's PCTS test suite.
The Open Group's UNIX Brand provides to customers a legally binding
guarantee of a branded product's compliance with the UNIX definition
now as well as in the future. A vendor can obtain as part of the UNIX
Brand a certificate that includes the FIPS certification. Branding of
POSIX-compliant systems would be possible.
The Open Group makes its specifications publicly and freely available
on its Web site. In addition, CD-ROM and electronic and paper
publications are provided. The Open Access mechanism currently under
development makes access and marking-up of documents over the Web easy
and suitable for review by groups of experts.
Several issues still need to be worked out. In particular, the
decision-making process in TOG is based on organization representation,
while that in PASC balloting groups is based on individual
participation. One possibility to solve this might be that TOG would
consider the current PASC members interested in continuing their
activities within TOG to be a group with the right to institutional
representation (i.e., voting rights) to the Base Working Group. This is
exactly akin to the existing system, ISV and customer
councils. The members of our Customer, Software Vendor, and System
Councils vote in ballot reviews through elected representatives who are
charged with representing the respective council's consensus. My idea
is that the POSIX members would become another "council" with one
guaranteed vote. Of course, companies that are already voting members
do not go through this process.
The other area that requires further thought and resolution is
intellectual property rights. All existing material is copyright of the
IEEE and is not currently freely available. How do we deal with the
issue of TOG modifying this material? How does it get published? I
believe these are not insurmountable hurdles.