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edited by Nicholas M. Stoughton

USENIX Standards Liaison

The following Reports are published in this column:

  • The Open Group and IEEE to Develop Joint
  • Revision to POSIX and UNIX Standards

    Our Standards Report Editor, Nick Stoughton, welcomes dialogue between this column and you, the readers. Please send your comments to <>.

    The Open Group and IEEE to Develop Joint Revision to POSIX and UNIX Standards

    Collaborative Effort to Yield Version 3 of the Single UNIX Specification (press release)

    MENLO PARK, Calif. (16 July, 1999) — The Open Group, a leading consortium dedicated to enterprise integration, and The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Inc., announced today an agreement for joint development of a common revision to the existing Portable Operation System Interface (POSIX) and UNIX specifications.

    Under this agreement, The Open Group and IEEE will share joint copyright of the resulting work. The work will replace the existing IEEE Std 1003.1, 1996 version; IEEE Standard for POSIX — Part 1: System Application: Program Interface (API) [C Language]; and IEEE Std 1003.2, 1992 version, IEEE Standard for POSIX — Part 2: Shell and Utilities; and The Open Group Base specifications for the Single UNIX Specification. It is expected that the joint work will also be put forward for adoption by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

    This unique collaboration, informally known as the Austin Common Revision Standards Group, combines the formal standards process with the industry specifications for the UNIX system. The resulting document set will replace the existing POSIX.1 and POSIX.2 and become the core of Version 3 of the Single UNIX Specification.

    "This (agreement) offers significant benefits to the industry and to end users. The IEEE POSIX specifications and the UNIX specification are significant foundations for today's IT systems. By combining the two, the industry is assured of this solid foundation continuing, preserving the high value of investments associated with software systems," stated Judith Gorman, Managing Director of IEEE Standards.

    "The aim for the revision project is to write once, adopt everywhere," said Andrew Josey, Chair of the Austin Group. "Participation in the project presently includes over 120 individuals from over 50 companies, including representatives from the commercial system vendors, the Open Source community, government and academia."

    The joint revision of standards is anticipated to be finalized in the first quarter of 2001. The first draft specifications are now available from The Open Group Web site at <>. Detailed information about the project is found at <http:/>.

    The Austin Common Revision Standards Group has received widespread industry support for its efforts.

    "Compaq has always been a leading advocate of industry standards, is playing an active role in the Austin Common Revision Standards Group effort, and is committed to ensuring that Compaq Tru64 UNIX remains open standards-compliant," said Tim Yeaton, Vice President and General Manager, UNIX Software Division, Compaq Computer Corporation. "Participation in this initiative underscores our commitment to open standardsß and helping our customers maintain their investment in existing applications. This effort is going to substantially increase the pace at which corporate customers adopt UNIX as the IT platform for enterprise applications," Yeaton added.

    "Development of these key industry standards continues to provide the necessary freedom of choice in selection of systems from competing suppliers both today and, more importantly, tomorrow," said Denis Brown, Vice President, General Manager, Litton PRC and Chair of the Governing Board of The Open Group.

    "The Linux Standard Base is pleased to be contributing to the Austin Group. POSIX is an important factor behind the success of Linux, and the Austin Group update is needed to underpin the future of Linux and other POSIX operating systems," said Dan Quinlan, Linux Standard Base.

    "Canada has been and continues to be a strong supporter of this work through our participation via the Standards Council of Canada in ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG15. We look forward to the publication of this important work in the very near future," said Doug Langlotz, the Standards Council of Canada.

    "Softway Systems has long supported the ongoing work of the IEEE POSIX standards, and their adoption by The Open Group into the Single UNIX Specifica-tion," said Jason Zions, Chief Scientist, Softway Systems and Chair of the IEEE POSIX Working Group for System Services. "These documents form the basis for the INTERIX environment on Windows NT and Windows 2000. We look forward to continuing our participation to ensure a common programming environment exists between Windows NT and all Linux and UNIX systems."

    "Lack of true source-level portability is one of the highest hidden costs in software development, and this agreement is a substantial step towards reducing that cost. Producing a single, coherent, reference work for application developers that will be implemented not just on traditional UNIX platforms but on numerous others, including Linux and Windows NT, is something our 8,000 members have long demanded," said Nick Stoughton, Standards Representative at USENIX Association.

    The Open Group has been the custodian of the specification for the UNIX system and the trademark since 1993. The effort that led to this transfer was the catalyst for all vendors to make their systems conform to this single definition, a goal that had been elusive in previous harmonization efforts. Today all the major vendors support the Single UNIX Specification and have registered product. For information on registered products see <>.


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    Last changed: 30 Nov. 1999 mc
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