Group Debuts Latest Linux Global Spec

In a move to encourage the worldwide adoption of the open-source model, the Linux Internationalization Initiative, also known as Li18nux, Wednesday announced the availability of the latest software specification designed to increase the functionality of commercial Unix systems in the global market.

Formed in August of 1999, Li18nux consists of Linux and open source-related contributors who develop software and applications for Linux and other open-source projects, focusing on portability with an international bent.

The group's Wednesday release of the Li18nux2000 globalization specification is its latest move toward making Linux available under various national and local requirements. By conforming to the specification, application programmers can take advantage of Unicode-based multilingual functions across Linux distributions and Unix systems, the group claims.

By using two bytes instead of one for each written character, the Unicode standard can handle over 65,000 character combinations and is able to support most of the world's languages.

Li18nux and the Linux Standard Base project came together earlier this year to form the Free Standards Group (FSG) -- a nonprofit company directed toward aiding application development guidelines and to drawing outside capital to Linux developers. Support for FSG has received support from the likes of Red Hat Inc., SuSE Linux AG, IBM Corp. [See "Linux Companies Pick up Steam," May 12.]The major Linux distributors remain active in developing globalized Linux distributions that conform with the Li18nux2000 specification, a representative of Li18nux said in a statement. A global Linux distribution capable of supporting multiple languages simultaneously might be available before the end of the fourth quarter this year, he added.

Software designed to make Linux easier to use internationally seems to have its merits. At January's LinuxWorld Asia in Hong Kong, Jon "Maddog" Hall -- a longtime Linux guru -- said that the Chinese government is standardizing on Linux across all government ministries. Hall noted that using open-source Linux means that government intelligence and military divisions can avoid contact with a proprietary manufacturer's programs and thereby inherent security risks.

[See "China Backs Linux, Says OS Pioneer Hall," Jan 13.]The Li18nux2000 specification can be found at http://www.li18nux.net/.

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