This has been an amusing story for this week. In a nutshell,
Microsoft got busted for a GPL violation. The developer who
discovered this, Stephen Hemminger of Vyatta, chose to handle it
"Rather than creating noise, my goal was to resolve the
problem, so I turned to Greg Kroah-Hartman. Since Novell has a
(too) close association with Microsoft, my expectation was that
Greg could prod the right people to get the issue
It took over two years, but finally MS came into compliance and
then released the source code with much fanfare and
self-congratulations. It is a driver to enhance Linux guest
performance on their Hyper-V virtualizer. There is a lot of good
news in this story, but not of the kind that Microsoft wants us to
First of all, even though it took too long the matter was
settled without ligitation or loud headlines. Contrast this with
Microsoft vs. TomTom or Redmond's continual patent saber-rattling
and bleating about protecting their precious eye pee, and by gosh
everyone better pay up. What is the penalty for violating the GPL?
You don't get to use the code anymore. How do you fix this? Come
into compliance. That's it. Simple. Too simple, apparently, for
gigantic globalcorps who need two years to fix a small bit of
"Now, on one hand this is no different from any other
company that I have worked with through the driver project. We are
averaging about 2 new companies a month right now, working with
them to get their code cleaned up and merged into the Linux kernel
tree. Stuff like this happens all the time with new
companies...But, on the other hand, this is Microsoft, so it is a
Once again Microsoft, the sworn and bitter enemy of Linux, FOSS,
and especially the GPL, has been forced to dance to FOSS's tune.
Naturally long-time Linux geeks are wondering which hand holds the
knife? What's the catch? I don't believe there is one. Obviously
they want people to purchase Windows Server licenses and use it as
a virtualization host for Linux and other operating systems, and
not to use VMWare. VMWare presents a special threat because it is a
bare-metal hypervisor and doesn't need a host operating system at
Naturally folks who know better die laughing at the idea of
running good operating systems on top of Windows.
They can't even limit this to Novell SUSE Linux because it is
GPL, and so any Linux distributor can tweak it to suit.
For admins who are not experienced with Linux, it's a great way to
get acquainted with it on a familiar platform. For shops looking to
migrate away from Redmondware, it's one more tool in their
migration toolkit. For Microsoft customers who need real
interoperability it's a win; it's one less bit of lock-in, one more
chink in the vast top-to-bottom Microsoft-only software stack.
Microsoft wins if they can see past their giant lock-in edifice
and look to the future, because openness benefits everyone. Even
hardcore lock-in monopolists who think that squeezing tighter is
the only way to win, and winning means owning everything. They're
wrong on both counts, and perhaps the lessons of FOSS will slowly
permeate even the halls of Redmond.
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