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Microsoft GNU is Not Unix

Microsoft Releases Linux Device Drivers As GPL 362

Posted by timothy
from the could-easily-be-world's-largest-open-source-distributor dept.
mjasay writes "Microsoft used to call the GPL 'anti-American.' Now, as Microsoft releases Hyper-V Linux Integration Components (LinuxIC) under the GPL (version 2), apparently Microsoft calls the GPL 'ally.' Of course, there was little chance the device drivers would be accepted into the Linux kernel base unless open source, but the news suggests a shift for Microsoft. It also reflects Microsoft's continued interest in undermining its virtualization competition through low prices, and may suggests concern that it must open up if it wants to fend off insurgent virtualization strategies from Red Hat (KVM), Novell (XEN), and others in the open-source camp. Microsoft said the move demonstrates its interest in using open source in three key areas: 1) Make its software development processes more efficient, 2) product evangelism, and 3) using open source to reduce marketing and sales costs or to try out new features that highlight parts of the platform customers haven't seen before."
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Microsoft Releases Linux Device Drivers As GPL

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  • Hell called (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:12PM (#28758179)
    Send sweaters
  • 4) ???
    5) Profit!
  • by mr_death (106532) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:22PM (#28758383)

    Perhaps Microsoft's lawyers found a weakness in the GPL, or they want to litigate the FSF into the ground.

    "Beware of G[r]eeks bearing gifts".

  • by javacowboy (222023) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:23PM (#28758389)

    I guess a few years Microsoft finally got the memo that they can't protect sales of Windows by attempting to force lock-in to their entire Windows ecosystem. They realized that many of their customers mix technologies together. Examples are Java/JBoss on Windows server, Windows desktops and Linux servers (Samba), working with Mozilla developers to port Firefox to Vista, and iPhones connecting to Exchange servers (licensing ActiveSync to Apple).

    By taking these actions, Microsoft ensures the continued relevance of the Windows platform instead of potentially dooming it to a proprietary ghetto.

    The flip side of this focus is that Microsoft will still push Windows to OEMs to fend off other platforms. An example is their actions in the netbook space among which was to essentially give away XP. So for at least some things, Microsoft is still up to their old tricks.

    • I guess a few years Microsoft finally got the memo that they can't protect sales of Windows by attempting to force lock-in to their entire Windows ecosystem. They realized that many of their customers mix technologies together. Examples are Java/JBoss on Windows server, Windows desktops and Linux servers (Samba), working with Mozilla developers to port Firefox to Vista, and iPhones connecting to Exchange servers (licensing ActiveSync to Apple).

      I think that may be a generous interpretation.

      Microsoft isn't in

  • by Osvaldo Doederlein (34220) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:23PM (#28758395) Homepage

    Some drivers to make Linux work better inside MS's Windows Server Hyper-V virtualization platform? How altruistic...

    I'll be more impressed when MS, for example, helps with the SAMBA project. Or at least, doesn't actively screw up with such interop projects from the FOSS community. No GPL code required, just give people decent, up-to-date, open specs; and no patents bullshit.

    Or at very least, when MS stops enforcing such patents (see TomTom / FAT32, or again SMB in MS/Novell "agreement").

  • by mindbrane (1548037) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:25PM (#28758425) Journal
    I honestly don't know how I got here. I just woke up and here I am in your universe, AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE TO MY OWN HOME UNIVERSE. IT'S TRUE! You can't imagine how glad I am to be here. I'm definitely not going back. Things are bad where I come from.
  • Serious discussion on this aside for a second, who else is anxious to see people's reactions (visually or even just message board posts) the first time they see a driver in their favorite distro that says something to the effect of "Publisher: Microsoft"?

  • by mewsenews (251487) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:32PM (#28758567) Homepage

    I think Microsoft gets upset if any other company talks to the BIOS besides them. Here's a page from VMWare [vmware.com] that compares their own product to Microsoft's Hyper-V. Hyper-V only debuted as a beta a year ago and they're already compromising company policy to release Linux kernel level code.

    Wikipedia page for Hyper-V [wikipedia.org]

    • VMware will always win on Macs though. I know a lot of people who have bought Fusion so they don't have to dual boot in order to use XP. MS hasn't made any quality software on Macs, let alone replaced any product with decent marketshare.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      i think most people are missing the point...

      the move on microsofts part is to help its partners (citrix and xenserver) product line and provide easier means for transfer of vms between the two. both of which have a goal of crushing vmware.

      once vmware is toppled, and microsoft has full interopratability with citrix/xenserver, microsoft can then transition to knock citrix/xenserver out of the market and become the virtual machine leader...

      this is just an intermediate step needed to further this goal

    • by Stu101 (1031686) on Monday July 20, 2009 @03:28PM (#28760453) Homepage

      This is so timely. I spent the last 3 days fighting VMWare. Microsoft don't need to try and kill VMWare. VMware is doing an excellent job of that by itself. We are a small gov branch that spend a measly $40,000 a year with VMWare and then we realised that why shouldn't we get educational discounts from VMWare. We get top level discounts from MS,Novell,Oracle etc.

      VMWare, nope sorry. No can do. After 3 days of getting to the right person the answer was no, because your courses you teach aren't long enough. FFS!

      So I mentioned that we had a top line educational select agreement with MS, and Hyper V is free! They really didn't give a toss. Give it a year and they will be so hurting. It's a pity because the software is top notch but there is no "getting the business" aspect of it. Once Hyper V is matured, they are done!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        What about all the advances that VMWare makes while Hyper-V is catching up to what they already have?

        They may compete with VMWare, but they aren't just going to blow them out of the water.

        Worst case VMWare turns its price into roughly the same as the licensing cost for the same sort of Hyper-V setup.

        So okay, you'll go with MS because of your discount. I won't. I don't get those discounts. Also, I've seen what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. I will NEVER be an 'MS' shop, or a 'Linux' sh

  • They are using GPL as a ploy to gain more fanbois, and sadly it may have worked if they were not generally hated by those that aren't already fanboy status.
    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      Unless of course, Microsoft wants to get it into the kernel source, like described in the summary, and then it needs to be GPLv2.

  • This reminds me of Microsoft's 'commitment' to other document standards.

    The likelihood it will ever be sufficiently maintained by Microsoft is 1%. So, they can say "Works with Linux!" when it might work for one version at one point in time of SLES.

    • I haven't read TFA, but my impression from other posters who have is that this driver enables users to run vm's of linux on Windows host boxes, using Microsoft's vm software. In other words, the better this driver works, the happier Microsoft is going to be.

  • of muscling into the industry only to release a flop product, and blame it on linux...while your virtualization of the same type works just fine
  • Remember DHCP? MS came with that as an extension of bootp and with an RFC too. Surely a fortunate bug somewhere -that never was fixed- causing WfW not to comply, resulting in MS DHCP servers.

    Remember NetBIOS over TCP? Where a clear algorithm was defined to map NetBIOS names to DNS. Not too unfortunately, in WfW the algorithm wasn't implemented causing incompatibilities between OS/2 and WfW, and making a transition from NetBIOS over NetBEUI a bigger pain than it should have been.

    There must be more rece
    • by nxtw (866177)

      Remember DHCP? MS came with that as an extension of bootp and with an RFC too. Surely a fortunate bug somewhere -that never was fixed- causing WfW not to comply, resulting in MS DHCP servers.

      Remember NetBIOS over TCP? Where a clear algorithm was defined to map NetBIOS names to DNS. Not too unfortunately, in WfW the algorithm wasn't implemented causing incompatibilities between OS/2 and WfW, and making a transition from NetBIOS over NetBEUI a bigger pain than it should have been.

      There must be more recent exa

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      There must be more recent examples which I don't know about.

      That's a shame, since your examples are ancient and petty. Making a transition from NetBIOS a bigger pain? That's seriously the best you have?

      Hell, you don't even make it clear Microsoft did anything wrong on the second example... ok so there was "a clear algorithm" defined, but was it a standard? Had Microsoft ever signed off on it, or even see it for that matter? Was it not implemented out of spite, or was it a simple bug?

      Reading your post, I alm

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:07PM (#28759177) Homepage

    Big deal. Such drivers are trivial.

    Virtualizing physical I/O devices on PC-like architectures requires code in the hypervisor to emulate the device. The driver in the operating system does stores into "device registers" as if talking the real device. Each such store or load causes a trap to the hypervisor, which has a device emulator watching the register changes and pretending to be the real peripheral. When the right registers have been loaded with the right values, and the final register store is made that would start the I/O operation, the device emulator then figures out what the OS wanted to do, and makes a call to the hypervisor's I/O system to do it.

    In many cases, the device driver in the OS is doing all the optimization for the device controller of a real disk, doing angular optimization and head movement minimization. Since the real device underneath may be completely different, most of this is wasted work, and may reduce performance instead of increasing it.

    So it's common to have dummy device drivers for virtual machines that just pass the OS's request through to the hypervisor, without trying to manage a real device. Such drivers don't do much, and are usually trivial, although Microsoft will probably try to complicate them somehow.

    This isn't a new idea; it first appeared in IBM's VM for the System/370, where such calls were passed through using the DIAGNOSE instruction (an opcode used for hardware diagnostics only, and thus never used in ordinary programs and available as a spare opcode.)

    One of the hypervisor vendors calls this "paravirtualization".

  • Microsoft seems to have set a precedent for itself for being late in the game and then overpowering competition ... except for this time. Do you remember when Bill Gates made the pronouncement that no one would adopt TCP/IP as the networking standard? When everyone did, Microsoft hastily added Winsock to its Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. Do you remember how Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer made the pronouncement that open source would never take on and never cause any serious competition? Whoops, again, the
  • Running those drivers would be about as smart as running Dr. Dos on windows....What do you mean it crashed?

  • The plan: (Score:3, Funny)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:33PM (#28759671)

    1. Collect the most patent/copyright protected parts that you can get your hands on.
    2. Weave them into device driver code in a way that makes it impossible to notice the source of the code, unless you are the one who might sue (=yourself).
    3. Release them as GPL and let it grow into Linux.
    4. ...
    5. Sue Linux to death! (=Profit)
    </humor>

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      And then Linus says 'Here is the GPL'd patch to rebuild your kernel without the MS drivers so you don't get sued to death'.

      This sort of thing is one of GPL's strongest strengths, since everyone can get the source, they can remove the offending code, make new binaries and tell MS to piss the fuck off.

      I don't think a judge would let someone actually get sued and pay out if they immediately made an effort to remove the offending code sense MS has put them out there for us to use its implied that its okay to us

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