The Linux Standard Base (LSB) defines a system interface for compiled applications and a minimal environment for support of installation scripts. Its purpose is to enable a uniform industry standard environment for high-volume applications conforming to the LSB.

The LSB defines a binary interface for application programs that are compiled and packaged for LSB-conforming implementations on many different hardware architectures. Since a binary specification must include information specific to the computer processor architecture for which it is intended, it is not possible for a single document to specify the interface for all possible LSB-conforming implementations. Therefore, the LSB is a family of specifications, rather than a single one.

The LSB is composed of two basic parts: A common specification ("generic LSB" or "gLSB") describing those parts of the interface that remain constant across all implementations of the LSB, and an architecture-specific specification ("archLSB") describing the parts of the interface that vary by processor architecture. Together, the generic LSB and the architecture-specific supplement for a single hardware architecture provide a complete interface specification for compiled application programs on systems that share a common hardware architecture.

This document is the generic LSB. It must be used in conjunction with an architecture-specific supplement. Whenever a section of this specification must be supplemented by architecture-specific information, this document includes a reference to the architecture supplement. Architecture supplements may also contain additional information that is not referenced here.

This document should be used in conjunction with the documents it references. This document enumerates the system components it includes, but descriptions of those components may be included entirely or partly in this document, partly in other documents, or entirely in other reference documents. For example, the section that describes system service routines includes a list of the system routines supported in this interface, formal declarations of the data structures they use that are visible to applications, and a pointer to the underlying referenced specification for information about the syntax and semantics of each call. Only those routines not described in standards referenced by this document, or extensions to those standards, are described in the detail. Information referenced in this way is as much a part of this document as is the information explicitly included here.