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Microsoft's Goodwill is to Obey the Law

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

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"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.

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