The Free Standards Group (FSG), the organisation behind the Linux Standard Base, this week launched what it hopes will become an open source answer to the Microsoft Developer Network, giving programmers a single resource for building and testing LSB-compliant applications.

The LSB is a set of standards designed to make any compliant application compatible with any other, and is supported by the major Linux distributors. FSG members include IBM, Intel, Novell, Red Hat, Red Flag and others.

The LSB Developer Network, or LDN, launched in beta form on Tuesday at developer.freestandards.org, with a library of Linux content from O'Reilly and the Pearson Technology Group to get things started. The site will feature software tools, standards, forums and FSG content, according to the non-profit company.

"Microsoft has done a great job with the Microsoft Developer Network; we aim to do the same for the Linux Standard Base using the 'bottom-up' community-based development model," said FSG chief technology officer (and Debian founder) Ian Murdock, in a statement. "In order for Linux to be a truly competitive platform, there must be a central information source for developers building portable Linux applications." HP said the site marks "a significant achievement in Linux's maturation as a key application development platform."

The site will include a link bookmarker tool complementing those on del.icio.us and other sites; a directory of tutorials and other resources; content from Linux Magazine and other sources; software development kits; LSB roadmap tools; certification services; and support from the LSB community on development questions.

The FSG already offers other kinds of support for standards-based Linux development, including the LSB itself, an application directory and certification tests and services.