Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Jul 2009 22:51 UTC
Microsoft Microsoft's GPL code drop is still gripping the headlines on tech websites on the internet, and at OSNews, we're always happy to comply. So, do we have news? Yes, we do: yesterday, we reported that the code drop was brought on by a GPL violation. Stephen Hemminger first detailed the story, and Greg Kroah-Hartman confirmed it. Now, we have Microsoft squarely denying this is the case.
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by drstorm on Fri 24th Jul 2009 23:11 UTC
Member since:

Only time will tell.

I believe MS released the code for their own benefit (not because they were forced to), and they will contribute to Linux again the next time they see an opportunity for profit in doing so.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Time
by molnarcs on Sat 25th Jul 2009 09:59 UTC in reply to "Time"
molnarcs Member since:

Only time will tell.

I can tell you right now that their claim is bogus, and until we see a major change in their senior management, we shouldn't get our hopes up. Basically, you can sum up their statement like this: no, we didn't, we are nice guys. There isn't any attempt of disprove earlier claims, it's just a denial. Which is not surprising given the facts that they did violate the GPL by mixing (statically linking) closed code with GPL code.

Fact: Code was found in violation of the GPL by Stephen Hemminger - the main engineer at the open-source networking vendor Vyatta.

Fact: He approached Greg Kroah-Hartman, who agreed that there is a problem and worked behind the scenes to rectify the situation.

Fact: MONTHS later Microsoft ended its copyright violation by finally releasing the code and complying with the GPL.

The typical MS spin is the whole rhetoric they put around what is basically complying with the law (after some months of persuasion).

Adding to the insult is this last paragraph from their statement:

"We arrived at the decision to release the drivers to the community under the GPLv2 through this process. Both Greg K-H and Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation have reiterated that this is the same process that other companies follow when deciding how to release new device drivers to the Linux community."

Nice spin - neither exactly true nor a lie. Yes, this is the "normal" process for typical copyright violators, but NOT for those who genuinely wish to contribute code to the linux kernel or the FSF in general. It is the "normal" process as far as this has always been the policy of the FSF once they learn about copyright violations - engage in negotiations, clarify the issues, try to resolve them behind the scenes before taking it to the public (unless the public finds out first about the violation) and finally taking legal action. And it "normally" works exactly like it did with Microsoft, copyright violators comply before too much damage is done or before they risk testing the GPL in courts. Except in this case, Microsoft put a nice spin on the whole story ("Today, in a break from the ordinary, Microsoft..." yada yada). Ironically, in some regards, it is a break from the ordinary - it takes usually much much longer to get Microsoft behave.

Reply Score: 16

Double Standards
by ralish on Sat 25th Jul 2009 20:23 UTC in reply to "Time"
ralish Member since:

I believe MS released the code for their own benefit (not because they were forced to), and they will contribute to Linux again the next time they see an opportunity for profit in doing so.

Well, yes, thanks for pointing out the bleeding obvious. Of course they released it for their own benefit, but what puzzles me, is why people are applying this only to Microsoft. Look at the top contributors to the Linux kernel in source contributions (features/bug fixes/etc...), your Red Hats, IBMs, Suses; do you really think they are making contributions out of the pure goodness of their hearts for naught but altruistic reasons? Of course not, they make contributions because their business makes money selling Linux products, and it's in their best interest to ensure that the Linux kernel continues to be a fantastic kernel, because if it isn't, their bottom line is affected. The nature of OSS is that others can benefit from this, for free, an enormous positive unique to OSS projects like Linux.

Hell, even Linus in a recent interview on the MS GPL code pointed out, bluntly, that much of the motivation of open source code is selfishness (even if many like to paint the ideology in a purely altruistic light). You have a problem with some code? Excellent, you have the ability to fix it for your benefit. And that's what Microsoft is doing, contributing to the Linux kernel to benefit their hypervisor, just as IBM contributes to support their POWER platform, just as Intel contributes to support their chipsets, just as Red Hat contributes to enhance their server offerings.

Please don't take this as an endorsement of merging the code into the kernel either by the way, all I'm pointing out is the hypocrisy of this argument that MS did this for reasons that aren't altruistic. Yes, true, but the same goes for all the corporate contributors to the kernel, and if you look at the statistical rundown of contributions, last I saw that was at least half of all contributions, maybe more.

EDIT: This should have been attached to, but it's 6am, and I'm very tired. My apologies for this stupidity.

Edited 2009-07-25 20:25 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Time
by middleware on Mon 27th Jul 2009 14:58 UTC in reply to "Time"
middleware Member since:

I agree they released the code for their own good. But this time the good is NOT to make more money by opening the code than to close it. Rather, the good is to eliminate the risk in law suit by opening the code rather than to incur the risk by close the code in violation to GPL.

Reply Score: 1

Member since:

If it was brought up to their attention by someone ("the situation", as GKH has called it) and so they released the code, then I think it really was a violation... even if no one involved wants to call it that way.

The thing is that it's not just a violation... but a violation from a company that prides itself of saying that we GNU/Linux users are in debt to them and their shareholders for patent infrigments... and then these guys come and use GPL just like that.

So much for "GPL creeps into code". I bet the code didn't get ther by itself... it was "crept" by their own developers, I'd think.

Reply Score: 8

gfolkert Member since:

On the Linux Elitists mailing list... Greg K-H is very nonchalant about it.

You could always ask Rick Moen his opinion about it. I'm sure he'll belittle you handily, he doesn't discriminate he treats everyone the same way.

Reply Score: 0

middleware Member since:

Seems someone in Microsoft really want to get his/her job done more quickly than it is possible by writing it from scratch. Seems open source is a more attractive model not only in business of companies but also in individual competition.

Reply Score: 1

Pure PR spin
by Lo_Phat on Sat 25th Jul 2009 00:21 UTC
Member since:

nothing to see here, move along

Reply Score: 6

by reflect on Sat 25th Jul 2009 00:41 UTC
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They spit on the GPL for 15 years or so, but now it's "what others use, seemed like a good pick, so we used that"? Kind of like eenie-meenie-moe, I pick the GPL over other licenses?

Bluah. That's what I say about their story. I don't dislike that they release drivers, but please don't make it out as some "oh.. it seemed like others did this.. so.. we kind of just followed suit"-decision.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Cute
by PlatformAgnostic on Sat 25th Jul 2009 01:54 UTC in reply to "Cute"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:

It's pretty easy to explain... if you want drivers in the linux kernel, the normal thing to do is license it as gplv2. Why use a different license?

Reply Score: 4

MS Linux
by OSGuy on Sat 25th Jul 2009 05:40 UTC
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Don't you worry ;) Soon MS might become very patriotic about Linux ;) Waving Linux flags, "We love Linux" stickers in their offices and the real Microsoft Linux will be born ;)

Edited 2009-07-25 05:41 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: MS Linux
by lord_rob on Sat 25th Jul 2009 09:53 UTC in reply to "MS Linux"
lord_rob Member since:

Come on. It's been ages since it exists

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: MS Linux
by OSGuy on Sat 25th Jul 2009 11:02 UTC in reply to "RE: MS Linux"
OSGuy Member since:

Yes I know about that one ;) Quite funny but it's very old now and it needs updating.

Reply Score: 2