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Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:06 PM EDT

Microsoft has donated some drivers to Linux. It's to their advantage to do so. This isn't code to make Linux better in some way that benefits everyone. Ina Fried has it right:
But lest anyone think Microsoft suffered a massive head trauma over the weekend, the code it is releasing isn't really about helping Linux compete better with Microsoft. The drivers are really geared at making Windows a better host for Linux.

"The Linux device drivers we are releasing are designed so Linux can run in enlightened mode, giving it the same optimized synthetic devices as a Windows virtual machine running on top of Hyper-V," Tom Hanrahan, director of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center, said in a statement. "Without this driver code, Linux can run on top of Windows, but without the same high performance levels."

Microsoft wants Linux to run on Windows, in short. So remember what comes after the 'Embrace' part.

In case you had any doubt about the true motive, please note that the Microsoft announcement offers a link to video of Microsoft's Tom Hanrahan discussing the move with Sam Ramji. But to view it, you have to have or install Microsoft's proprietary Silverlight. There is no Microsoft Silverlight for Linux. They provide a transcript, though, of an interview with them, and here's why they are doing this, according to Ramji:

We are hearing more and more customers and open source partners telling us they see some of their best value when they deploy new open source software solutions on top of existing Microsoft platforms.
So this is about not losing customers to Linux. And ultimately to replace it, if they can. That's the 'Extinguish' part.

Here's the press release, for historians:


REDMOND, Wash., July 20, 2009 — Today, in a break from the ordinary, Microsoft released 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community. The code, which includes three Linux device drivers, has been submitted to the Linux kernel community for inclusion in the Linux tree. The drivers will be available to the Linux community and customers alike, and will enhance the performance of the Linux operating system when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.

Sam Ramji is responsible for developing sustainable partnerships with open source communities as part of his role as senior director of Platform Strategy in Microsoft’s Server and Tools organization. This includes overseeing the operation of Microsoft’s Open Source Technology Center (OSTC), which serves as a landing point for open source communities and companies interested in working with Microsoft, as well as a resource for Microsoft product groups interested in open source technology. Tom Hanrahan, who also plays a critical role in Microsoft’s day-to-day open source interoperability efforts, is the director of the OSTC. His team played a key role in the development of the drivers, and will manage their ongoing enhancement.

PressPass spoke with Ramji and Hanrahan to find out more about today’s announcement.

PressPass: Microsoft has gone to great lengths to engage the open source community. How does today’s news play into Microsoft’s overall open source strategy?

Ramji: We are seeing Microsoft communities and open source communities grow together, which is ultimately of benefit to our customers. The Linux community, for example, has built a platform used by many customers. So our strategy is to enhance interoperability between the Windows platform and many open source technologies, which includes Linux, to provide the choices our customers are asking for.

A central part of our strategy is the work done in the OSTC, which we opened about three years ago. The OSTC has a deep technical expertise in Linux, UNIX and open source technologies, along with strong social connections into open source communities. We have learned a great deal from the various community leaders about how to effectively work together, and are eager to continue the dialogue.

Our work in this area is all about providing more flexibility and choice, and requests from our customers and partners were really the impetus behind those efforts. We are hearing more and more customers and open source partners telling us they see some of their best value when they deploy new open source software solutions on top of existing Microsoft platforms. Today’s release would have been unheard of from Microsoft a few years ago, but it’s a prime example that customer demand is a powerful catalyst for change.

PressPass: So what exactly are you releasing today?

Hanrahan: Today we’re releasing Linux device driver code to the Linux kernel community. This is a significant milestone because it’s the first time we’ve released code directly to the Linux community. Additionally significant is that we are releasing the code under the GPLv2 license, which is the Linux community’s preferred license.

Our initial goal in developing the code was to enable Linux to run as a virtual machine on top of Hyper-V, Microsoft’s hypervisor and implementation of virtualization.

The Linux device drivers we are releasing are designed so Linux can run in enlightened mode, giving it the same optimized synthetic devices as a Windows virtual machine running on top of Hyper-V. Without this driver code, Linux can run on top of Windows, but without the same high performance levels. We worked very closely with the Hyper-V team at Microsoft to make that happen.

PressPass: How will customers benefit from the Linux device drivers?

Hanrahan: Many customers are looking into how virtualization can reduce the cost of deploying and managing their IT infrastructure through server consolidation and more efficient use of server resources.

Customers have told us that they would like to standardize on one virtualization platform, and the Linux device drivers will help customers who are running Linux to consolidate their Linux and Windows servers on a single virtualization platform, thereby reducing the complexity of their infrastructure.

Consequently, they’ll have more choices in how to develop and deploy solutions, while still managing their entire data center from a single management console.

PressPass: What motivated Microsoft to do this?

Ramji: The current economic climate has a lot of companies consolidating their hardware and software assets, deferring new software and hardware purchases, and reducing their travel and training expenses — doing everything they can to cut controllable costs to the bone and get the most out of what they’ve got so they can hang onto their skilled staff.

Many companies are turning to Microsoft more frequently to help them succeed in a heterogeneous technology world because we understand that reducing complexity is a key factor to reducing cost. We are seeing interoperability as a lever for business growth.

So there’s mutual benefit for customers, for Microsoft, and for commercial and community distributions of Linux, to enhance the performance of Linux as a guest operating system where Windows Server is the host.

PressPass: What are some other examples of Microsoft’s work with open source?

Ramji: Many people are surprised when they hear how much open source community and development work is happening across Microsoft. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that we’re focused on getting the work done, and engaging with communities on a one-to-one basis, rather than promoting it. We currently participate and collaborate on a number of open source projects through contributions of technical support and code.

Examples can be found in the work we have done with the PHP Community, which has involved contributing to the PHP Engine, optimizing PHP 5.3 to perform strongly on Windows, and working to improve the performance of numerous PHP applications on Windows. Then there is the ongoing participation in various Apache Software Foundation projects, such as Hadoop, Stonehenge and QPID. In addition to this, we worked to improve interoperability with Axis2 and provided support to the Firefox community to optimize Firefox for Vista and Windows Media Player.

Examples like these can be found scattered across the company, so there will continue to be many more on the horizon.

PressPass: What’s Microsoft’s road map for working with open source communities three to five years down the road?

Ramji: We’re focused on building sustainable business strategies for open source at Microsoft.

Stemming from that we see open source playing into three key areas, one of which is the use of “inbound” open source and the open source development model to make our software development processes more efficient. Good examples of this include what we did recently with jQuery in Visual Studio 2008, the implementation of OpenPegasus connectors and adaptors into System Center Operations Manager, and work that the Microsoft High Performance Computing team did with the Argonne National Lab (ANL) to source its MPICH2 implementation, which is a portable implementation of the Message Passing Interface (MPI) used in cluster computing and super computers.

Another area is product evangelism — engaging people to adopt our technologies. For the past 34 years Microsoft has had an open-edge strategy where we provide open application programming interfaces and software development kits. Open source is the next level in our effort to create broad platform adoption. An example of that is the AJAX Control Toolkit. Our efforts in interoperability are also part of Microsoft’s product evangelism process, such as giving Windows functionality more visibility through PHP applications.

The third area is 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. The open source educational tools recently released for Microsoft Office are a great example. Specifically, the add-ins for mathematical and chemical notation are enabling teachers and students to see that they can use Office for a range of new things they weren’t aware of. In addition to using LaTeX, a powerful but complex documentation preparation system, to lay out mathematical problems, teachers are seeing the new value they can get out of Microsoft Word.

As open source is adopted on a range of platforms, understanding, engaging and supporting open source development will continue to be fundamental to enabling more customer choice.


Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace' | 137 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:24 PM EDT
The terms in which they speak of their Open Source involvement is always
framed in the context of helping those applications run on Windows. That does
nothing to help Open Source, it does everything to help Windows 'use' Open
Source and may do much in the way of binding those applications to Windows,
perhaps forking the apps where the Windows Enhancments are not compatible with
the GPL.

Rules to live by;
Rule #1: Don't deal with Microsoft
Rule #2: See Rule #1

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:29 PM EDT
If needed, to assist PJ.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:33 PM EDT
Please remember to make clickies where possible, and don't put any on-topic stuff in this thread, or you may be shot flogged flamed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspick discussions here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:34 PM EDT
Please indicate which Groklaw newspick item you are referring to in the title of
your post.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"...we are releasing the code under the GPLv2 license..."
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:41 PM EDT
Yes, I can see why. They greatly fear GPLv3. The more "GPLv2 only" code in the kernel, the more difficult it becomes to eventually move it to "GPLv3 or later".

Subverting the kernel by deepening the lock-in to GPLv3 may mean much more to them than merely assisting virtualisation.

It would be a very good idea if the kernel developers, and every distro which supplies their own customised kernel, were to refuse to accept this code.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linux on top of windows ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:43 PM EDT
Isn't that the wrong way round ? You are supposed to run the more stable OS as
the base, and then run less stable OS instances on top of that. This is
particularly useful where you might have some legacy applications which run on
said less stable OS, prior to porting them to the more stable OS.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why am I not surprised?
Authored by: rsmith on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:43 PM EDT
This is purely Microsoft trying to stave off obsolescence in the server space.

My gut feeling would be that it would be more stable to run windows on top of
Linux than the other way around...

Which made me think up the following jokes:

Q: How do you crash Linux?
A: Run it on top of Windows!


Virtualization on windows: the only way to give Linux a BSOD!


Intellectual Property is an oxymoron.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patches location - If you want to review them
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:46 PM EDT

The files that are named 'staging-hv-*' are the ones.


You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:47 PM EDT
The video plays for me (Ubuntu + Novell Moonlight 1.9.6).

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • No Thanks! - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 03:03 PM EDT
  • Sorry - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 22 2009 @ 12:12 PM EDT
Makes sense
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 02:51 PM EDT
If I wanted to run Linux in a virtual machine, I would run the host OS that
would support it best. Now you can use Windows as a host too, if you really
want to that is. :

[ Reply to This | # ]

20,000 Lines of Microsoft Code...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 03:15 PM EDT
what does it do? Open a dialog box?



[ Reply to This | # ]

What comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: Ed L. on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 03:17 PM EDT
... is generally "Extend", as in "Microsoft will eventually extend its hyper-v drivers and interface in a Linux/GPL/patent incompatible way that will give Microsoft some sort of competitive advantage, and/or allow Microsoft to eventually extinguish the interface altogether under a future version of Windows."

Or under a future service-pack of current Windows.

We shall what we shall see.

One thing we shall see is whether the KVM folks can leverage Microsoft's work to allow Window's to run efficiently "under" (not the right term r.e. KVM) Linux. Then we would have something (or a pair of somethings) genuinely useful. And sure, Microsoft could always break it with a service pack, but one doesn't need to install every service pack, particularly if running behind a firewall on a virtual machine.

At the risk of being labeled "troll", I'm going to suggest perhaps the glass is actually half tenth full, and wait to see how this develops. In particular how it develops with respect to Mono/.NET :)

Once they have you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers - Slothrup's Third Proverb

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: luvr on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 03:23 PM EDT
Well, yes, I do remember what comes after "Embrace, ..."

I also remember what comes after "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, ..."

[ Reply to This | # ]

should the Open Source community boycott Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 03:33 PM EDT
Without trying to sound like a zealot, I wonder: Should the open source
community boycott Microsoft? Would the better course of action over the long
run be to simply shun them and let the market decide what happens? What would
happen to Microsoft if we just said "We don't want your code"? I
seriously have a problem with Microsoft's actions here. I have always been of
the opinion that Linux, while having flaws, will should stand or fall based on
its own merits. I don't want Microsoft holding it back. I also don't want
Microsoft profiting from a projects that they used to despise. But would
shunning them doom us in the long run?

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Silverlight for Linux" / Moonlight
Authored by: ak on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 03:39 PM EDT
PJ wrote:
There is no Microsoft Silverlight for Linux.
That is not entirely correct. There is Moonlight:
Moonlight is an open source implementation of Silverlight (, primarily for Linux and other Unix/X11 based operating systems. In September of 2007, Microsoft and Novell announced a technical collaboration that includes access to Microsoft's test suites for Silverlight and the distribution of a Media Pack for Linux users that will contain licensed media codecs for video and audio.
Moonlight obviously has similar problems as Mono.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Will anyone use this?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 03:54 PM EDT
I can't believe any Linux distro will actually include this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Embrace tactics? Yes, but still a small victory for the FOSS movement!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 04:05 PM EDT
Although only GPL2 and with very obvious background (promoting their broken try
of an OS as a hosting alternative to Linux/FreeBSD), it is a small retreat for

Their first line of defense was obviously broken (trying to kill Linux as they
did it with their other competitors (Netscape, OS/2 et al). So now they have to
pretend they play the game.

This is a victory for us, the FOSS community. A small victory, but a victory. Of
course, they will still scratch and bite until they are fully done (converted or
out of business), but today, we are a step closer to that.

Thank you, FOSS community.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 04:25 PM EDT
There are two aspects:

1) MS is trying to get control of the hypervisor market which is not surprising
at all.

2) MS releases code under a license which they considered to be anti-American
and evil. That's indeed a surprise.

It's hard to tell what that all means. Giving up a long time cultivated FUD
argument must have been blessed by the top management levels at least, but that
makes one wonder what they really expect from this move. I do not believe for a
split second that MS is changing its opinion.



[ Reply to This | # ]

All of which begs the question
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 04:48 PM EDT
Why taint Linux with M$ code, simply to "improve" performance under
Hyper V?

Linux has no performance hit running other hypervisors on other OSes. That it
seems to have problems with M$ HyperV would seem to be a problem with Hyper V,
not with Linux.

Why doesn't M$ just fix Hyper V? They can still release their fix under the GPL
if it means so much to them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Maybe just a PR move...
Authored by: Eeyore on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 05:43 PM EDT
So, who can tell me what the PR headlines would look like if the Linux kernel
folks declined Microsoft's "gracious" offer?

"Today, the open source community rejected Microsoft's offer to provide

[ Reply to This | # ]

not released as GPL entirely by choice
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 05:50 PM EDT
The background to this is even more entertaining than PJ has described -
Microsoft didn't plan to release this as GPL code at all, originally. They were
discovered to have released some binary drivers which contained other GPL code
from the kernel, and were therefore 'helped to become compliant'.

It's definitely a marked change though and any net increase in GPL code is a win
for freedom, so I'm delighted.

On a side note, would they be able to claim patent infringement against anyone
regarding the kernel now that they've contributed to it themselves? That would
be an awkward position to argue for.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Monopoly donates code to Linux: The Embrace of a Python
Authored by: fudnutz on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 06:53 PM EDT
Posted as reply.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is this really a terrible threat?
Authored by: karl on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 07:32 PM EDT
I don't see the devil here. Obviously Microsoft is acting in their self-interest. Everyone does. You don't like it, don't use it.

Why would I want to run virtualized Linux under Windows, anyway? It costs more that way. And if someone did want to, they're still running Linux, and they could easily migrate that Linux to native or to a different virtualization product.

It's very difficult to see how Microsoft could stop me from rolling up a big tar archive, or rsyncing, or whatever, to move a virtualized Linux environment off of their virtualization environment.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 20 2009 @ 08:44 PM EDT
Timeo Danaos et GPL ferentes

[ Reply to This | # ]

Been there, seen that..
Authored by: cerebus on Tuesday, July 21 2009 @ 06:22 AM EDT
Why did M$ do this?

Let's recall (I do) the spurious warnings when we ran Windoze 3 on DR DOS..
(might be incompatible - you might experience problems!)

Let's recall (I do) the problems we had getting our non M$ 32 bit programs to
work on Win95... (they're bad programmers!)

Now let's envisage a scenario...

M$ need to bleed dry or buy out competion in the virtualisation area. When
that's done, they can pretty much dictate what will run virtualised.

One big item that is run virtualised is Linux. If they can convince business
that Linux will run just as well under a Windoze host, and after all, you have
all these Windoze boxes with this FREE virtualisation functionality ALREADY
tossed in, why bother paying for something else?

Bleed dry, buy out, then presto! no hosts available that run Linux (after the
obligitory changes that 'break' things - oops! They're bad programmers!)

Been there, seen that. I wouldn't let those drivers near the kernal in a dead

Whether it's this, PR, GPLv2, or just plain getting caught with their pant's
down, it's a no-loser for M$.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 21 2009 @ 06:52 AM EDT
The linked article seems clear: the Microsoft Linux Integration Components project (LIC) has been shipping linux drivers that combine GPL source with a binary blob. This is simply not allowed. At that point it seems to me that they must either:
  • stop the LIC project immediately, and notify all downstream redistributors (such as Vyatta?) that they must stop shipping it, or
  • must fix their GPL compliance issues.
I'm rather surprised that the LIC project (which as far as I can see is part of the Microsoft "Open Source Technology Center" group) would be so ignorant about the GPL. They should have seen immediately that they would not be able to do this (or get away with it). See: the LIC project page

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft donates code to Linux: Remember, folks, what comes after 'Embrace'
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 23 2009 @ 12:38 AM EDT
You have to remember that Microsoft is a very big company, and not all of its
employees are evil. Some of their divisions even act out of enlightened self
interest. The SQL Server team released JDBC drivers for Java application
servers because they want SQL Server to be the database even if the app server
isn't IIS / .Net.

The Windows Server team released device drivers for Hyper-V because they want to
be the underlying virtualization host on servers. Part of that requires the
realization that it's a heterogeneous world, they need to support running Linux
as a guest OS on their hypervisor, and the Linux community isn't likely to write
one for them (like they would for companies they actually like).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft donates code to Linux - to settle gpl violation noticed by vyatta
Authored by: micheas on Thursday, July 23 2009 @ 08:00 PM EDT ode_Drop_Result_of_GPL_Violation For more details but the short story.

Vyatta engineer notices gpl violation, sends email to engineer at novell that contacts microsoft, microsoft fixes violation and has press release that omits the detail of being busted for a gpl violation.

Slimy but no grand conspiracy, just microsoft being good at PR and Marketing and so so at everything else.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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