2012-05-02: This is currently a historical document. Please see the mailing list  for our current discussions on the state of the charter.
The Linux Standard Base (LSB) is a Linux Foundation (LF) project to develop, through consensus, a set of standards that will increase compatibility among Linux distributions and enable conforming products to work with any compliant system -- in other words, to provide a single target for vendors building products for the Linux platform. In addition, the LSB helps coordinate efforts to recruit vendors to develop compliant products.
The LSB is the primary standardization effort of the LF and serves as an "umbrella" for LF workgroups  that produce standards in more specialized areas of the Linux platform space (e.g., accessibility, internationalization, printing, compiler toolchain, etc.).1
The LSB and its subsidiary workgroups are aligned around a single roadmap , and each workgroup delivers a set of specifications and software deliverables which support the deployment of those specifications, such as conformance tests, development tools, and (where appropriate) sample or reference implementations.
Each specification and associated software deliverables is known as an LSB module. LSB modules are produced in a common format designed to integrate with each other and can be either required or optional. Required modules are those modules that meet the LSB acceptance criteria. Optional modules are those modules that do not yet meet the LSB acceptance criteria and represent additional features in development or under consideration for inclusion in a future version of the LSB standard.
1 Note that some LF workgroups do not produce standards, but rather produce code that is submitted upstream to the Linux kernel or other packages and/or documentation. This charter only applies to workgroups that produce standards, otherwise known as LSB workgroups.
All LSB workgroups are expected to produce standards that will eventually be broadly adopted and available in all major Linux distributions. Any activity which is not on track for broad adoption is explicitly out of scope for an LSB workgroup. The scope of all LSB workgroups is additionally restricted to existing practice where applicable, with any exception requiring chair signoff. The only criteria for inclusion of a technology in the LSB is what we call best practice. In practical terms, this means that the technology is shipping in all major Linux distributions; has an ABI that is deemed stable over the long term; and has sufficient demand for inclusion among the key stakeholders.
From time to time, the LSB will do a numbered release according to the LSB roadmap. At the time of each release, "the LSB" will simply be the collection of all required modules integrated into a single document called the LSB specification .
The LSB specification will be accompanied by product testkits  that allow vendors to test their products for compliance to that version. Around the testkits, the LF will offer one or more certifications for vendors that wish to formally indicate that their products are compliant. There will be a single testkit for each certification (e.g, an LSB Distribution Testkit for LSB Certified Distributions, an LSB Application Testkit for LSB Certified Applications, etc.)
The LSB workgroup will also publish the optional modules as add-ons to the LSB specification. Optional modules are made available to facilitate a broader public review of upcoming additions to the LSB. They also allow vendors to go above and beyond the LSB in a way that promotes convergence with future versions of the LSB and to "vote with their feet" to help define which modules emerge as best practices and, thus, are eligible for inclusion in those future versions.
Leadership and Governance
Note: For the purposes of this section, general terms are used so that this charter may be more easily shared between the LSB and its workgroups.
The Workgroup is led by an elected Chair and governed by a Steering Committee designed to be representative of the broader interests of the Workgroup.
The Workgroup operates on an IETF-like "rough consensus" model. "Rough consensus" is determined by the Chair; decisions by the Chair which Contributors feel do not reflect rough consensus may be appealed first to the Steering Committee and, if necessary, to the LSB steering committee. (For workgroups in which the LSB steering committee is the governing body, decisions may be appealed to the LF board.)
Workgroup business is conducted in an open forum (typically a wiki, mailing lists, conference calls, and periodic face to face meetings). There is no restriction on membership. Decisions must be clearly documented in that open forum along with any outstanding issues (if any), which may be used as the basis for further discussion.
A Contributor is any individual that is actively involved in the Workgroup. Because "actively involved" is largely a subjective determination, the Chair will maintain a list of individuals considered to be Contributors. Any individual may petition the Chair to be included on the Contributors list and, in the event of dispute, may appeal as above.
The Chair is the overall project leader and is elected by the Contributors, subject to approval by the LSB steering committee and the LF board. The Chair's term of office is two years; there is no limit on the number of terms. The Chair may be removed through a majority vote of no confidence by either the Steering Committee, the LSB steering committee, or the LF board. In the event the Chair position becomes vacant, an election will be conducted within ninety days. During the vacancy period, the Steering Committee will appoint an acting Chair.
The Steering Committee is comprised of representatives of key Workgroup stakeholders; in the case of the LSB, these stakeholders include distribution vendors, ISVs, OEMs, upstream developers, and the chairs of the LSB and workgroups that operate under the LSB charter. Steering Committee members are appointed by the Chair and may serve indefinitely so long as they remain actively involved in the Workgroup and are conducting business in the Workgroup's best interest. Steering Committee members may be removed through a majority vote of no confidence by either the Steering Committee, the LSB steering committee, or the LF board.
The Chair election is administered by an ad hoc Election Committee of Contributors, which will be appointed for this single purpose by the Steering Committee when the Chair's term of office expires or the Chair position otherwise becomes vacant. The Election Committee is responsible for selecting one or more candidates for Chair at least 30 days in advance of the Chair's term of office expiring, or within 10 days of the Chair position otherwise becoming vacant. Election Committee members may not be candidates in the Chair election. The Election Committee conducts the election via electronic ballot, using suitable means to assure only eligible voters cast a ballot, only one vote per voter is tabulated, and the votes are secret. The voting period is one week. The Election Committee tabulates the votes and presents the result to the Steering Committee, who ratifies the result and declares a winner.
The LSB chair may choose to form and disband workgroups as needed to fulfill the mission of the LSB charter. New workgroups are considered to be in an "incubator" stage while they are being formed, and will be promoted to full workgroup status once the LSB steering committee deems them to be standards track. To reach this stage, a workgroup must have adopted this charter and have acceptable governance structures, have the participation of the key individuals needed to develop a standard that is broadly adopted, and be actively making progress toward developing that broadly adopted standard.
Workgroups operate with a reasonable degree of independence and make their own choices about details of the workgroup. However, each workgroup must have a chair, whose primary role is to coordinate with the LSB chair to ensure consistency with the objectives of the overall LSB project and that deliverables align with the overall project roadmap; each workgroup must remain active, producing deliverables according to that roadmap; and each workgroup must ratify the LSB charter according to its own governance structures. In return, the workgroup chair will have a seat on the LSB steering committee once it has left the "incubator" stage.
In the event a workgroup does not wish to have its own governance structures, the workgroup is encouraged to use the governance structures described in the LSB charter. The workgroup may or may not have its own steering committee; in the event it does not, it may use the LSB steering committee to fulfill the functions described in this charter (e.g., election governance, dispute resolution, etc.). To "bootstrap" a new workgroup, the workgroup founders should select a chair by rough consensus; or, in the event rough consensus cannot be reached, the LSB chair should appoint a chair for the workgroup.
Note that, while the LF is a Linux organization, LSB workgroups may work on standards that have broader applicability than just Linux. Even within the LSB context, this is considered in scope and encouraged, as the more cross-platform LSB modules are, the less Linux-specific work an ISV has to do to target the Linux platform, the more cost effective it will be to do a Linux port, and the more likely it is that that Linux port will be done.
February 7, 2007: Approved by LSB Steering Committee