The Linux File System Standard

The Linux File System Standard, abbreviated FSSTND, is important to more than gurus. In this artile, Garrett explains how it has worked behind the scenes to make life easier for all Linux users.
What's next?

There are, of course, still unresolved issues which the FSSTND group is still going to have to face. One of the upcoming ones is going the be the organization of architecture-independent scripts and data files (/usr/share). Up until now, Linux has only been widely available on i386 and compatible machines, so the need for standardization of such files was non-existent. The rapid progress being made by the ports to other architectures (MC680x0, Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC) suggests that this issue will soon need to be dealt with. Another issue that is under some discussion is the creation of an /opt directory as in SVR4. The goal for such a directory would be to provide a location for large commercial or third party packages to install themselves without worrying about the requirements made by FSSTND for the other directory hierarchies.

By now your appetite should be whetted and you may want to read the actual FSSTND document yourself. Information about how to participate in the continuing development of the FSSTND is contained in the FSSTND itself. The participants would appreciate it if you carefully read the complete document before you join in. That way you'll be better prepared to contribute in a valuable way to the development of the standard.

The FSSTND provides the Linux community with an excellent reference document and has proven to be an important factor in the maturation of Linux. As Linux continues to evolve, so will the FSSTND. We are grateful to Linus Torvalds, H. J. Lu, the Free Software Foundation, and many others who have helped make Linux available. The FSSTND team has helped to standardize Linux, making it useful to a wider audience.

I would like to thank Daniel Quinlan for his many valuable corrections and suggestions for improvement to this article.

You can obtain the FSSTD document via FTP from in /pub/linux/docs/linux-standards/fsstnd/. There is also an excellent FAQ (answers to Frequently Asked Questions) about the FSSTND, which is maintained by Ian McCloghrie, in the same directory.

Garrett D'Amore is a senior in computer science at San Diego State University, where he works with Linux and SunOS in the development of TCP/IP-based client-server applications using C++. He will be graduating in December, so he invites inquiries from interested employers. You can find him via e-mail at or via the WWW at