Microsoft submits code to Linux, and Linus talks OSS Hypocrisy


On July 20th, Microsoft announced and submitted 20K lines of code to the Linux source machine. Here’s a quote in PressPass from Tom Hanrahan, Director, Open Source Technology Center (OSTC):

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.

Now, Another Side of The Story

I ran across this article, Linus: "Microsoft Hatred Is a Disease" and later from Linux Magazine, “Microsoft Patches Linux; Linus Responds”, and I found a theme very interesting. As a Microsoft evangelist, I routinely get to hear about where we mess up. And, I was aware of the different reactions of the public about our latest Linux activity. I appreciate the authors of both pieces allowing us to see opinions from Linus Torvalds, especially about some of the Linux crowd reacting negatively to this. See more, but a couple quotes stand out on the :

I'm a big believer in "technology over politics". I don't care who it comes from, as long as there are solid reasons for the code, and as long as we don't have to worry about licensing etc issues.

I may make jokes about Microsoft at times, but at the same time, I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease. I believe in open development, and that very much involves not just making the source open, but also not shutting other people and companies out.

There are 'extremists' in the free software world, but that's one major reason why I don't call what I do 'free software' any more. I don't want to be associated with the people for whom it's about exclusion and hatred."


And later, Linus says in response to if Microsoft is doing this selfishly:

I agree that it's driven by selfish reasons, but that's how all open source code gets written! We all "scratch our own itches". It's why I started Linux, it's why I started git, and it's why I am still involved. It's the reason for everybody to end up in open source, to some degree.

So complaining about the fact that Microsoft picked a selfish area to work on is just silly. Of course they picked an area that helps them. That's the point of open source - the ability to make the code better for your particular needs, whoever the 'your' in question happens to be.

Does anybody complain when hardware companies write drivers for the hardware they produce? No. That would be crazy. Does anybody complain when IBM funds all the POWER development, and works on enterprise features because they sell into the enterprise? No. That would be insane.

So the people who complain about Microsoft writing drivers for their own virtualization model should take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are being so hypocritical.


Wow, interesting points. Thanks Linus for pointing this out.

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