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Re: Microsoft's Linux Kernel Code Drop Result of GPL Violation

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Microsoft's Linux Kernel Code Drop Result of GPL Violation
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2009 16:46:32 +0200

Alexander Terekhov wrote:
> Hyman Rosen wrote:
> >
> > <>
> > <>
> ------
> Microsoft and Vyatta rebutt reports of GPL violation
> Reports that Microsoft had to release the Hyper-V Linux Integration
> Components (LinuxIC) under the GPLv2 because they had violated the GPL
> have been rebutted by Microsoft and Vyatta. Vyatta had been referenced
> by reports as the source of the accusation.
> Microsoft's Sam Ramji has stated that Microsoft's decision to release
> the Hyper-V LinuxIC drivers under a GPLv2 licence was "not based on any
> perceived obligations tied to the GPLv2". Ramji says that instead it was
> because Microsoft determined that it was "beneficial" to them release
> under the GPLv2 because it was "the preferred license required by the
> Linux community for their broad acceptance and engagement".
> Vyatta Vice President Dave Roberts states that neither it, or principal
> engineer Stephen Hemminger, have accused Microsoft of GPL violations, as
> reported elsewhere. In a blog posting, Roberts says "news stories have
> started to circulate that have bordered on putting words into the mouths
> of both Vyatta and its employees". Stephen Hemminger had reported that
> when investigating the Hyper-V network drivers, part of LinuxIC, he
> found a licensing issue; according to a report Hemminger found that
> Microsoft's closed source code used a number of interfaces marked
> EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL, which marks an interface as only usable by code which
> has a GPL compatible interface.
> Hemminger then contacted Greg Kroah-Hartman, who leads the Linux Driver
> Project and works at Novell, to see if the issue could be resolved with
> Microsoft, given Novell's "(too) close association with Microsoft".
> Roberts says "Stephen merely called the situation to Microsoft's
> attention" and that Microsoft have made the right decision to open
> source the Hyper-V drivers. Hemminger says "once Microsoft was aware of
> it, they were eager to resolve" the problem, which he discovered in
> March 2009.
> ------
> So it boils down to moronic "accusations" regarding EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL...
> no infringement or breach whatsoever.

Here's more:,1

Microsoft's Sam Ramji posted today:

Microsoft's decision was not based on any perceived obligations tied to
the GPLv2 license. For business reasons and for customers, we determined
it was beneficial to release the drivers to the kernel community under
the GPLv2 license through a process that involved working closely with
Greg Kroah-Hartman, who helped us understand the community norms and
licensing options surrounding the drivers.

If I'm reading the statement correctly, Microsoft disputes that the
decision to release LIC under the GPLv2 was based on any obligations
resulting from the use of GPLv2 components within the original LIC code
available prior to July 20.  Sam does state that Greg K-H helped
Microsoft understand the "community norms and licensing options." 
Hence, the decision to release LIC under the GPLv2 was simply a business
decision.  It is possible that the business decision was influenced by
what customers and "the community" would think if the questions about
the LIC compliance with the GPLv2 came to light.

Having said that, I can't understand what value Micrsoft would see in
keeping this code under a non-Linux-friendly license.  By ensuring that
this code makes it into the Linux kernel, Microsoft is making it much
easier for customers to deploy Linux on Microsoft Windows 2008.  I go
back to my "this was a business decision" view.


(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can 
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards 
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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