I read a very interesting article on Linux-Mag.com today. The gist of it is that Microsoft (as happily announced in a press release) has submitted 20,000 lines of code for inclusion into the kernel. Specifically, the code is comprised of a number of drivers that will enable Linux to run better under Microsoft Hyper-V.

Yes, that’s right, Microsoft released code under GPLv2 and is asking for it to be put in Linux. They released it under the license that they call “cancer”. And the entire purpose is, essentially, saying “we want your project to run well as a guest under our hypervisor.

The Linux Mag article did touch on some recent news, such as Microsoft’s lawsuit against TomTom (settled in late March) claiming that the Linux kernel infringes their VFAT patents and the 2004 EU antitrust case (PDF).

A number of things are immediately apparent to me:

  • The only reason for this is so Linux will virtualize well under Windows/Hyper-V.
  • Microsoft doesn’t seem to be making any similar effort to allow Windows to virtualize well under Xen (and it seems to me that many more people would want Windows on a reliable Linux host than the other way around).
  • Microsoft reached a settlement with TomTom, but never did anything to indemnify the Linux community at large.
  • This is not a Microsoft endorsement (or even recognition) of the GPL.
  • Microsoft made threats about Linux violating “over 228” of its patents in 2007.

There’s a post on Greg Kroah-Hartman’s blog (he’s the kernel maintainer who will - or will not - eventually be in charge of the inclusion of the code). It should be noted that this all started due to a guy who I really admire, Stephen Hemminger, the principal engineer at Vyatta (whose router product I absolutely love, and their mock advertisements are just as wonderful). Steve has a post on his blog giving the background.

So what do I think should be done? Include the code. But first… (I know Microsoft doing all of this at once would be a dream, but maybe one or two of them would be nice)

  1. If they haven’t already done so, Microsoft should publicly recognize the GPL and all of its terms as being a legally binding license.
  2. Prior to having any Microsoft code included in the Linux kernel, Microsoft publicly states that the Linux kernel, as of the time they submitted their code, does not infringe on any Microsoft intellectual property.
  3. It would be nice of Microsoft would agree to some level of cooperation with the Linux community.
  4. Microsoft pledges to allow, support, and actively develop for Windows as a guest under Xen and KVM.


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