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Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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3.3 How source code compatible is Debian with other Unix systems?

For most applications Linux source code is compatible with other Unix systems. It supports almost everything that is available in System V Unix systems and the free and commercial BSD-derived systems. However in the Unix business such claim has nearly no value because there is no way to prove it. In the software development area complete compatibility is required instead of compatibility in "about most" cases. So years ago the need for standards arose, and nowadays POSIX.1 (IEEE Standard 1003.1-1990) is one of the major standards for source code compatibility in Unix-like operating systems.

Linux is intended to adhere to POSIX.1, but the POSIX standards cost real money and the POSIX.1 (and FIPS 151-2) certification is quite expensive; this made it more difficult for the Linux developers to work on complete POSIX conformance. The certification costs make it unlikely that Debian will get an official conformance certification even if it completely passed the validation suite. (The validation suite is now freely available, so it is expected that more people will work on POSIX.1 issues.)

Unifix GmbH (Braunschweig, Germany) developed a Linux system that has been certified to conform to FIPS 151-2 (a superset of POSIX.1). This technology was available in Unifix' own distribution called Unifix Linux 2.0 and in Lasermoon's Linux-FT.


Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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