Standards Update, U.S. TAG to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG15

jsh at jsh at
Wed Aug 1 02:47:04 AEST 1990

From:  <jsh at>

           An Update on UNIX*-Related Standards Activities

                              July, 1990

                 USENIX Standards Watchdog Committee

                   Jeffrey S. Haemer, Report Editor


Susanne Smith <sws at> reports on the June 1 meeting in
Denver, Colorado:

1.  Overview

Before you ask, ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG15 is ISO POSIX.  The U.S. TAG is
the United States Technical Advisory Group, which formulates the U.S.
position on WG15 issues and chooses the U.S. delegation to WG15

The TAG usually meets in conjunction with the IEEE POSIX meetings.
The June 1 meeting was a special meeting, held to complete the many
unfinished tasks left from Snowbird and ready the instructions to the
U.S. delegation before the June 11 WG15 meeting.

2.  Two vacant positions

Terry Dowling, vice-chair and security rapporteur, resigned after the
New Orleans meeting in January.  Currently there are no candidates for
the vice-chair position.  Donn Terry has been assuming the
responsibilities in the interim.

A rapporteur group is a group of technical experts that discusses
specialized aspects of a particular standards effort.  The specialized
aspects usually have a broader scope than an individual standard and
require coordination of effort between standards bodies.  WG15 has
three: internationalization, security, and conformance.  The TAG
currently has rapporteurs for internationalization (Donn Terry) and
conformance (Roger Martin).  John Hill and Al Weaver said that they
would be able to cover the June 11 security meetings in Paris.


  * UNIXTM is a Registered Trademark of UNIX System Laboratories in
    the United States and other countries.

July, 1990 Standards Update         U.S. TAG to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG15

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3.  Some important decisions from Snowbird

3.1  Profile groups get help

SC22 asked WG15 to develop a plan to help groups writing profiles.  (A
profile is an application-area-specific set of pointers to standards.
For example, P1003.10 is developing a supercomputing profile.) Wearing
his WG15-convener hat, Jim Isaak drafted and submitted a ``POSIX
Harmonization Proposal'' --  a plan that gives profile groups a way to
observe WG15 meetings and participate when their proposals are being
considered.  The plan lists the responsibilities of both the
``harmonization liaison'' and WG15.  The TAG approved the plan with
comments, including changing ``harmonization'' to ``coordination.''
[Editor: I think ``harmonization'' is ugly, but it does parallel the
``MUSIC'' acronym that's gaining ground in the UNIX, er, ``Open
Systems'' arena.]

3.2  Speeding international approval

SC22 has asked all working groups doing development work in national
bodies (for example, WG15 and IEEE P1003) to find a way to synchronize
their national and international efforts.  Such synchronization will
help eliminate delays between national-body approval and ISO approval;
it will also insure that both national and international bodies use
the same text and speed achieving a broad consensus by circulating
them in both bodies simultaneously.

Donn Terry, TAG chair, and Jim Isaak (him again?) shouldered the
burden of developing the plan and submitted it at Snowbird.  The meat
of the proposal is the following synchronization process:

   - SC22 review and comment

   - IEEE balloting; document ready for broad comment

   - U.S. recommends CD registration be requested by WG15.  (CD,
     Committee Document, is now used instead of DP Draft Proposal.)

   - CD comments fed to IEEE balloting; IEEE recommendations fed to CD

   - IEEE final approval delayed until updated draft is suitable for
     DIS registration

   - DIS and ANSI approval run in parallel; substantive feedback from
     DIS ballot creates an IEEE PAR

Final authority to approve or reject the plan rests with SC22 and the
IEEE Computer Society Standards Activities Board, but the TAG voted
``No with binding comments,'' objecting to a few details.  If the
problems listed below are fixed, the vote will automatically change to

July, 1990 Standards Update         U.S. TAG to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG15

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   + Under the plan, TCOS/SEC documents, such as standards drafts and
     administrative status reports, would all be sent to WG15 and SC22
     to encourage feedback before balloting.  The plan would force
     TCOS working groups to use the JTC1 format for draft documents.
     Currently POSIX documents use a unique TCOS format, so the TAG
     objected to this requirement but added the comment that the
     format should be one approved by the ITTF (Information Technology
     Task Force, formerly, the ``Central Secretariat'').

   + The TAG also objected to the requirement that TCOS meet outside
     of the U.S. mainland every 12 to 18 months to encourage
     international participation.  It did not object to meeting
     outside the U.S., but thought the requirement did not belong in
     the plan.

4.  Decisions made in this meeting

4.1  Formatting nits still block ISO UNIX

The 9945-1 document (the ISO version of 1003.1) still has problems.
WG15 recommended registering it as an International Standard (IS), but
is now stuck in a loop: ISO demands a format change, the IEEE makes
the change, then ISO finds a new formatting problem.  The TAG thinks
this loop has gone on long enough, and recommended that WG15 form an
ad hoc committee to determine what ISO will accept.

4.2  P1003.1 updates go international

WG15 is balloting to make 9945-1.2 (which corresponds to 1003.1a,
draft 5) a Draft International Standard (DIS). The TAG approved the
U.S. position with comments.  What's that mean?

Voting within WG15 is done by member country.  To arrive at the U.S.'s
position on a WG15 ballot, the TAG members draft a position then vote
on it, one vote per corporation.  (POSIX participation, in contrast,
is by individuals.) The final ballot resolution is presented to WG15
as the U.S. position, Sometimes a voice vote suffices, but DISs, NPs
(New Proposal, formerly New Work Item), or CDs (Committee Document,
formerly Draft Proposal), require a letter ballot.

The initial letter-ballot vote was nine yesses, two noes (with
comments), three abstentions; the two negative ballots were from Sun
and AT&T.  We considered three options for AT&T's comments:

  1.  do nothing and write a response to AT&T explaining why,

  2.  pass the comments on to WG15, or

July, 1990 Standards Update         U.S. TAG to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG15

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  3.  pass the comments on to the 1003.1 working group, who could
      better judge their technical merits,

and chose the third.  In contrast, we incorporated Sun's comment into
our position.  Though someone suggested that AT&T might not be getting
fair treatment, Sun's comment (which simply noted that a change made
in chapter eight was not reflected in chapter two) was only a response
to the TAG ballot, while the AT&T comments, were more far-reaching
responses to 9945-1.2 itself and demanded a different forum.
Nevertheless, the group asked the ad hoc committee reforming TAG
procedures to reconsider the ballot resolution process.

4.3  How can you be two places at once (when you're ... )?

In light of the amount of time TAG meetings keep members from
attending working groups, we decided to meet Sundays before and
Thursdays and Fridays during the POSIX meetings.  This new schedule
will start with the Seattle meeting in October. The idea is to
complete as much as possible on Sunday and have Thursday and Friday
available if necessary. We agreed that the TAG should allocate this
much time to avoid one-day meetings like this one.  The SEC meeting
schedule may force this to change; several TAG members are TCOS
officers, committee chairs, or Institutional Representatives, all of
which are automatically SEC members.

4.4  Last, least

Both P1237 and X3T5.5 are working on remote procedure calls (RPC).
X3T5.5 is specifying the data stream encoding and P1237 is working on
the Application Programming Interface (API).  The TAG recommended that
the API work be brought to the ISO level under the WG15 umbrella.

July, 1990 Standards Update         U.S. TAG to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC22 WG15

Volume-Number: Volume 20, Number 151

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