Summary: How and why Microsoft is ‘embracing’ Samba
n 10 October 2011,” writes The H, “a Microsoft developer contributed a GPL licensed patch to the Samba project. The patch, which was part of a proof of concept for extended protection for NTLM and presented by Stephen A. Zarko of Microsoft’s Open Source Technology Center, has now been noted as the passing of a milestone by Chris Hertel of the Samba team. Samba provides tools and servers which enable interoperability with Windows’ SMB and CIFS networking on Linux and Unix based systems.”
The reactions to this move were mixed. Proponents of the monopolist (who advertise with Microsoft) make it look wonderful (identical headline from SJVN), but members of Techrights are a lot more cautious.
“I’m not sure what the real role of the Microsoft team working with Samba is,” noted one person, “but the developers should not lose sight of the whole picture that is Microsoft. Just because one small department is helpful for one group, for right now does not mean that the greater threat has diminished or gone away. In some ways it the threat is greater because it gets the Samba team and others to let their guard down.
“It’s not unlike a vendor buying them a meal or beer for them, or providing swag. It’s not done for their benefit.
“This is a little more advanced than simply buying someone off with swag or free beer, but it’s the same principle. One rogue department doesn’t set policy for the whole beast.”
Microsoft also gave code to Mono (MS-PL-licensed). At the same time Microsoft asserted that it can sue over it.
“It’s working,” noted one of us. “One problem with Allison’s statement is that he is blind to how Microsoft makes its money. It does not make it’s money from Windows and Office, that’s just a tiny fraction of the money. The big money comes from the monopoly rents on both products.
“Microsoft was trying to leverage that monopoly to get into the server room when Samba took on M$ and defeated it in court. Microsoft is still going to protect its core money-makers, the two monopolies even if Samba does now get thrown a bone.”
Microsoft has already got its former employees from Likewise paying Microsoft for patents on Samba-like functionality (with Samba code). This is not good.
Sam Varghese points out that “Samba is one of the free software projects that has moved in toto to the GPL version 3.” Muktware’s take is that: “As Linux is gaining popularity Microsoft seems to have increased its contribution to ensure their products will work well with Linux. The recent patch submission to the Linux kernel was an indicator.”
What do readers think? █