EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

07.24.09

Microsoft’s Goodwill is to Obey the Law

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Law, Microsoft at 6:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s Linux code is from Microsoft, for Microsoft, which fights Linux

Love tag

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government official

Summary: Microsoft’s Linux module was made GPL-licensed only because the law required it after accusations of GPL violation

THIS will hopefully be the last post about an issue that we previously covered in:

A blog post that we linked to the other day revealed that Microsoft merely did what it had to do. It was a legal obligation, not a moral obligation. The pro-Microsoft folks wrote about it by citing the blog with the original claim.

As revealed by Stephen Hemminger – a principal engineer with open-source network vendor Vyatta – a network driver in Microsoft’s Hyper-V used open-source components licensed under the GPL and statically linked to binary parts. The GPL does not permit the mixing of closed and open-source elements.

This is further confirmed in Mary Jo Foley’s blog and there is wider coverage of this in Slashdot and OSNews, which chose the headline “Microsoft’s Linux Kernel Code Drop Result of GPL Violation”

To put things in the right order, also consider the headline from IDG: “Engineer: Microsoft Violated GPL Before Linux Code Release”

So, in hindsight, it was not Microsoft’s intention to release the module as Free software. Microsoft screwed up. Linus Torvalds responds to this too, but in his assessment he makes the mistake of comparing Microsoft’s patches to IBM’s. IBM is not the company which is attacking Linux; Microsoft is very unique in that regard. Why would Torvalds refuse to see that Microsoft writes code to advance the competitor/s of GNU/Linux, which is what makes Microsoft’s code different from code of Intel or IBM? Matthew Aslett says that “we should all be very grateful for Linus Torvalds.” We probably all are (I sure am), but this does not imply that there should be no disagreements at times. As Aslett noted:

Glyn Moody reminds us that there has always been a divide between purists and pragmatists, and that actually there is value in that divide in that debate helps expose weaknesses and refine arguments.

We wrote about this a couple of hours ago.

The Microsoft-faithful (and Microsoft investor) Synder daemonises those who warned about Microsoft’s code, so it’s clear that these folks are trying to bury something. Specifically, he writes:

In case you missed it, Microsoft has released 20,000 lines of Hyper-V device driver code to the Linux kernel community. The news prompted a number of commentators, including InfoWorld’s own Randall Kennedy, to go full-bore ballistic. You’d think the black helicopters were about to swoop down on Linuxland.

The other day we noticed the same type of denial in Beta News, which is typically biased in Microsoft’s favour. They are very specifically targeting critics of the big patch. It has always been self serving and it would be foolish to expect otherwise. Here is another interesting take on the subject.

Now ask yourself this question: would Microsoft have released their virtualization drivers as Open Source if they could have been included in the kernel as binary drivers? Probably not! (especially if as some suggest Microsoft had little choice)

The bottom line is that Microsoft did nothing out of altruism (companies are not like humans with compassion and ubuntu), so to claim this was a change of heart is to totally miss the point and to tactlessly embrace Microsoft’s PR.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

11 Comments

  1. zatoichi said,

    July 24, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft’s Linux module was made GPL-licensed only because the law required it after accusations of GPL violation

    Hold your horses there, Roy! Whoa, Nellie!

    That’s an overstatement. No one has the slightest idea that the law requires anything at all here, and it would take a court trial to determine that. I know it’s very tempting (and probably kneejerk behavior at this point) to paint Microsoft as a lawbreaker at every opportunity, but t’ain’t so, McGee.

    It may be safely reasoned that the GPL v2 license appertaining to portions of the composite drivers that Microsoft previously distributed required it.

    It can be said with a degree of certainty that accepted open source community practices required it.

    The headline seems to be asserting that Microsoft was in danger of breaking some specific and identifiable law here. I don’t believe that’s true.

    zatoichi Reply:

    Sorry, but it seems sometime that every time I look up, I see something new… I’ll try to save time for everyone by pre-commentating this one, using [square brackets]. Try to keep in mind that you mightn’t get to read the facts here otherwise, it might help.

    Microsoft was not “accused of GPL violations”, at least not as I read the story, although that’s been reported some places that don’t fact-check too carefully when there’s a headline at stake, like,say, here.

    What I understood was that Stephen Hemminger, found some sort of problem in drivers that were already a sort of a problem, being of a binary blobbish nature. He brought it to the attention of Greg, who had a chat with Microsoft about it. No accusation.

    And somewhat late-breaking news supports that sequence of events: Microsoft says that GPL violations were not the reason it released the drivers at all but because it was the right thing to do!

    Sam Ramji said, the decision to release was “not based on any perceived obligations tied to the GPLv2″, and that the GPLv2 was “the preferred license required by the Linux community for their broad acceptance and engagement”. (I’ve met Sam, and Bill Hilf, a few times, at conferences.) [Call me a shill now.]

    [SFX: Cue ]

    Vyatta Vice President Dave Roberts states that neither it, or principal engineer Stephen Hemminger, have accused Microsoft of GPL violations, as reported elsewhere. {like, say here, Roy} In a blog posting, Roberts says “news stories have started to circulate that have bordered on putting words into the mouths of both Vyatta and its employees”

    So, not necessarily a violation, at least not according to the folks who were supposed to have found this violation. ["It's a conspiracy!"]

    Roberts says “Stephen merely called the situation to Microsoft’s attention” and that Microsoft have made the right decision to open source the Hyper-V drivers. Hemminger says “once Microsoft was aware of it, they were eager to resolve” the problem

    So, there was a “problem” or an “issue”, but it apparently was not clearly a violation; and Hemminger didn’t “accuse” anybody of anything, he merely called the situation to their attention, and they were “eager to resolve” it, this according to Hemminger himself.

    [SFX: Cue ]

    [Accusations of someone having been "bought off"]

    [Speculation that Vyatta is "not really a free software company"]

    [Speculation regarding possible threats on the part of large corporations to people's lives and well-being]

    [Attempts to probe Hemminger's and Roberts' past backgrounds]

    [Random conspiracy theories]

    ["Troll! Troll!"]

    Thank you for your kind attention.

  2. Nemesis said,

    July 24, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Gravatar

    “The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

    –Government official

    Who was this “unnamed source” Roy, saying a “government official” may sound nice but does that mean you had a chat to the postman this morning. I know it makes you sound more correct and factural but just stating “government official” with no source or ability to confirm or deny what you are stating to be fact or fiction.

    As for and the GPL’d code, MS is a fairly large company, it has the resources to re-write any drivers it felt may be in any form of violation, also you honestly believe the FSF would risk a test of the GPL in a court of law against a group with pockets way deeper than the FSF’s arms ?

    I dont think so, the GPL has not been properly tested in court, the FSF tend to try to scare people into compliance with copyright law.

    I know here MS can do no good, but it must be hard for you to put a negative spin and FUD on anything MS, Novell or anyone else you dont like does.

    It’s a damn shame you cant /kick MS /kick Novell like you love to do to anyone that does not toe the Roy mantra.

    bixler Reply:

    “The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”
    –Government official

    Who was this “unnamed source”

    This came from the Washington Post on Tuesday, December 8, 1998 during the US DoJ v. Microsoft anti-trust case:

    Gates Escalates PR War Outside Court
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/longterm/microsoft/stories/1998/gatesa120898.htm

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    And the law dealt with in this case is copyright law (GPL).

  3. zatoichi said,

    July 24, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Gravatar

    That’s a whole lotta laws, Roy. Pick one.

  4. NotZed said,

    July 24, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, they could’ve gone a more permissive license, like 2 clause BSD or the like. I guess they see the protections offered by the GPL as worthwhile after-all … since they explicitly chose it.

    This might seem a bit of a far-out comment, but Linux is starting to become a quasi-proprietary kernel since they locked the GPL at an obsolete version of the license. Example, all the drivers are inaccessible to any projects using a more advanced license, and commercial vendors often lock their privates away in binary blobs too.

    And it’s the drivers which define the platform … after-all, apart from all the drivers a kernel isn’t a terribly large amount of code.

    zatoichi Reply:

    This is striking me as just another backseat driver demand that Linus do things your way on his project. I see problems with GPL v3; Linus sees problems with GPL v3; lots of people see problems with GPL v3.

    Maybe there are some problems with GPL v3, and the people pushing it the loudest have a vested interest in propagandizing a license they don’t actually understand?

    I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone who thinks they’ve got a good grasp on the implications of GPL v3, and sect. 6 in particular, on government-regulated and certified mobile devices, such as cell phones, etc. You need to be able to discuss cell phone-related legislation, carrier requirements, and government certification regimes intelligently, for starts.

    I predict a vast silence, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised.

    The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet.

    —Damon Runyon

    Nemesis Reply:

    exactly, ive read of alot of developers and managers specifically veto’ing GPLv3 code, whereas V2 is acceptable.

    many big groups like apache, MIT, BSD apple, google and so on have very little respect for the GPL and prefer to emply less restrictive licenses.

    and yes, probity, certification, QA, “neck to strangle” and the very fact that GPLv3 came about as a knee jerk reaction to a new technology.

    People dont want to live in fear of RMS and becoming the focus of his next campain.

    No one wants to be the next Tivo, or the next target in stallmans cross hairs prompting him to draft a new and more restrictive license to preserve his version of “freedom”.

    A freedom by the way that only benifits a very very small minority of the FOSS community. As basically no one hacks FOSS/Linux code. a very very small percentage of the total commuity. sadly.

    This means for most people the GPL holds little or no value.

    zatoichi Reply:

    …a knee jerk reaction to a new technology…

    Actually there’s a saying among lawyers: “Hard cases make bad law”.

    The corollary to this is that writing a license because you’re aggravated with a specific device is probably not a great idea. The “Tivoization” stuff in the GPL is probably the biggest problem in there.

    Of course, folks here likely don’t know anything about that. They think Microsoft violated the GPL v2…

  5. zatoichi said,

    July 26, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, are you planning on correcting this story, since Vyatta, Stephen Hemminger’s employer, asserts that you’re all wet about this, that there was no violation?

What Else is New


  1. Links 16/9/2019: GNU Linux-libre 5.3, GNU World Order 13×38, Vista 10 Breaks Itself Again

    Links for the day



  2. Links 16/9/2019: Qt Quick on Vulkan, Metal, and Direct3D; BlackWeb 1.2 Reviewed

    Links for the day



  3. Richard Stallman's Controversial Views Are Nothing New and They Distract From Bill Gates' Vastly Worse Role

    It's easier to attack Richard Stallman (RMS) using politics (than using his views on software) and media focus on Stallman's personal views on sexuality bears some resemblance to the push against Linus Torvalds, which leans largely on the false perception that he is sexist, rude and intolerant



  4. Links 16/9/2019: Linux 5.3, EasyOS Releases, Media Backlash Against RMS

    Links for the day



  5. Openwashing Report on Open Networking Foundation (ONF): When Open Source Means Collaboration Among Giant Spying Companies

    Massive telecommunications oligopolies (telecoms) are being described as ethical and responsible by means of openwashing; they even have their own front groups for that obscene mischaracterisation and ONF is one of those



  6. 'Open Source' You Cannot Run Without Renting or 'Licensing' Windows From Microsoft

    When so-called ‘open source’ programs strictly require Vista 10 (or similar) to run, how open are they really and does that not redefine the nature of Open Source while betraying everything Free/libre software stands for?



  7. All About Control: Microsoft is Not Open Source But an Open Source Censor/Spy and GitHub/LinkedIn/Skype Are Its Proprietary Censorship/Surveillance Tools

    All the big companies which Microsoft bought in recent years are proprietary software and all of the company’s big products remain proprietary software; all that “Open Source” is to Microsoft is “something to control and censor“



  8. The Sad State of GNU/Linux News Sites

    The ‘media coup’ of corporate giants (that claim to be 'friends') means that history of GNU/Linux is being distorted and lied about; it also explains prevalent lies such as "Microsoft loves Linux" and denial of GNU/Free software



  9. EPO President Along With Bristows, Managing IP and Other Team UPC Boosters Are Lobbying for Software Patents in Clear and Direct Violation of the EPC

    A calm interpretation of the latest wave of lobbying from litigation professionals, i.e. people who profit when there are lots of patent disputes and even expensive lawsuits which may be totally frivolous (for example, based upon fake patents that aren't EPC-compliant)



  10. Links 15/9/2019: Radeon ROCm 2.7.2, KDE Frameworks 5.62.0, PineTime and Bison 3.4.2

    Links for the day



  11. Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) Have Become the 'Norm' in Europe

    Normalisation of invalid patents (granted by the EPO in defiance of the EPC) is a serious problem, but patent law firms continue to exploit that while this whole 'patent bubble' lasts (apparently the number of applications will continue to decrease because the perceived value of European Patents diminishes)



  12. Patent Maximalists, Orbiting the European Patent Office, Work to 'Globalise' a System of Monopolies on Everything

    Monopolies on just about everything are being granted in defiance of the EPC and there are those looking to make this violation ‘unitary’, even worldwide if not just EU-wide



  13. Unitary Patent (UPC) Promotion by Team Battistelli 'Metastasising' in Private Law Firms

    The EPO's Albert Keyack (Team Battistelli) is now in Team UPC as Vice President of Kilburn & Strode LLP; he already fills the media with lies about the UPC, as one can expect



  14. Microsoft Targets GNU/Linux Advocates With Phony Charm Offensives and Fake 'Love'

    The ways Microsoft depresses GNU/Linux advocacy and discourages enthusiasm for Software Freedom is not hard to see; it's worth considering and understanding some of these tactics (mostly assimilation-centric and love-themed), which can otherwise go unnoticed



  15. Proprietary Software Giants Tell Open Source 'Communities' That Proprietary Software Giants Are 'Friends'

    The openwashing services of the so-called 'Linux' Foundation are working; companies that are inherently against Open Source are being called "Open" and some people are willing to swallow this bait (so-called 'compromise' which is actually surrender to proprietary software regimes)



  16. Microsoft Pays the Linux Foundation for Academy Software Foundation, Which the Linux Foundation is Outsourcing to Microsoft

    Microsoft has just bought some more seats and more control over Free/Open Source software; all it had to do was shell out some 'slush funds'



  17. Links 14/9/2019: SUSE CaaS Platform, Huawei Laptops With GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  18. Links 13/9/2019: Catfish 1.4.10, GNOME Firmware 3.34.0 Release

    Links for the day



  19. Links 12/9/2019: GNU/Linux at Huawei, GNOME 3.34 Released

    Links for the day



  20. Links 12/9/2019: Manjaro 18.1 and KaOS 2019.09 Releases

    Links for the day



  21. EPO: Give Us Low-Quality Patent Applications, Patent Trolls Have Use for Those

    What good is the EPC when the EPO feels free to ignore it and nobody holds the EPO accountable for it? At the moment we're living in a post-EPC Europe where the only thing that counts is co-called 'products' (i.e. quantity, not quality).



  22. Coverage for Sponsors: What the Linux Foundation Does is Indistinguishable From Marketing Agencies' Functions

    The marketing agency that controls the name "Linux" is hardly showing any interest in technology or in journalism; it's just buying media coverage for sponsors and this is what it boils down to for the most part (at great expense)



  23. Watch Out, Linus Torvalds: Microsoft Bought Tons of Git Repositories and Now It Goes After Linux

    Microsoft reminds us how E.E.E. tactics work; Microsoft is just hijacking its competition and misleading the market (claiming the competition to be its own, having "extended" it Microsoft's way with proprietary code)



  24. Links 11/9/2019: Acer in LVFS, RawTherapee 5.7 and Qt 5.12.5 Released

    Links for the day



  25. Linux Foundation Inc. Buys Press About Itself and Media Coverage for Sponsors

    Sponsoring so-called ‘news’ sites is bad enough; it is even worse when such media then covers you and your sponsors, such as Snyk (a Linux Foundation sponsor/member, fancier word for client)



  26. Links 11/9/2019: Django 3.0 Alpha, Sunsetting Python 2

    Links for the day



  27. Web Site Called Linux.com Still Exists Only or Mostly to Promote Anti-Linux Firms and Openwashing

    As the Linux Foundation transitions into the Public Relations (PR) industry/domain we should accept if not expect Linux.com to become an extension of PR business models; the old Linux.com is long gone (all staff fired)



  28. Links 10/9/2019: Krita 4.2.6, Ubuntu 19.10 to Boot Faster

    Links for the day



  29. What the Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin Really Thinks of Desktop/Laptop GNU/Linux

    Interesting words from Ken Starks resonate well with what we nowadays see in the so-called 'Linux' Foundation, whose dedication to Linux is like that of a circus to a monkeys' sideshow



  30. Links 10/9/2019: Kate Planning and GnuCash 3.7

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts