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Some Days You Get the Bear...

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...and some days the bear gets you.

Last week, I got wind of some issues regarding Samba's relationship with Microsoft, and drew some conclusions about the overall meaning of those issues. Unfortunately, it seems, my conclusions were wrong.

Although my speculation that Microsoft had not put forth a good faith effort based on its apparent reluctance to attend this month's SambaXP conference in Germany wasn't completely off the mark--based on the information I had. But, like some well-intentioned interventions, things were not quite as they seemed.

It is true, for instance, that Microsoft's Director of Platform Technology Strategy Sam Ramji made some remarks about Jeremy Allison's legal and political stance at MTS07—and it was very easy to read “If Jeremy [Allison] would just shut up, I could help him” as an attack. But in a broader, more accurate context, Ramji's remarks can also be read as frustration at not being able to do what he perceives as his job.

I gleaned all of this from an e-mail conversation I had with Ramji over this past weekend. (He invited me to talk on the phone, but I declined for lack of time.) I also gathered a lot of information from Jeremy Allison, who also e-mailed me about my last blog entry. Sam seemed more irked by the blog than Jeremy, though the Samba developer still took it seriously. Both of them confirmed something which my sources had not known: that Microsoft and the Samba Project have been talking to each other, trying to work things out.

In a nutshell, both Sam and Jeremy chided me for throwing fuel on the fire and potentially damaging a budding relationship. If that was indeed the result of my actions, then I certainly offer my apologies, for that was not my intent. My intent was pointing out a possible stalled relationship between the two sides, when apparently there was no stall at all.

From our discussions, I can tell you that there is indeed some effort by Microsoft to help Samba work better, though confidentiality prevents me from going into detail right now.

So, things aren't quite as bad as they seemed, which is always good. I think misunderstandings like this are going to be inevitable, because there is still a lot of distrust about and within Microsoft. It is easy for Linux advocates to point out all the various public statements and memos made by Microsoft executives about killing Linux and let that color our perceptions of the company as a whole.

And while I still firmly believe that people at the very top of Microsoft still have a ways to go before they truly accept Linux and its community, there is a real chance here for some of us in the community to reach out and take the hand offered by some of the Microsoft employees that really do think that interoperability is the way to go. Because the way we, as a community, slap those hands away all of the time is just going to breed mistrust about us.

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