Microsoft contributes to the Linux kernel


Some would say this has been a long time in coming, but others are probably looking around to see if they can spot Babe the pig taking off: Microsoft has announced it is submitting 20,000 lines of source code to the Linux kernel under the GPL2 licence.

Even Microsoft seems to be aware how strange this situation is, describing the move as "a break from the ordinary". The code essentially provides device drivers for Linux that help it detect when it is running on Microsoft's proprietary Hyper-V virtualisation system so that performance is improved.

Sam Ramji, the senior director of Platform Strategy in Microsoft’s Server and Tools division, said the code was there to "enhance interoperabilty" between Windows and Linux, "to provide the choices our customers are asking for." Tom Hanrahan, the direction of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center (it has one of them?) was more specific: "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."

Posting to the Linux Kernel mailing list, long-term kernel hacker Greg Kroah-Hartman said "It's taken a long road to get here... there is still a lot of work to do in getting this into "proper" mergable state, and moving it out of the staging directory".

A few years ago, Microsoft was describing the GPL as cancerous, so this seems like a major U-turn for the software behemoth. Sure, the ultimate goal is there to make Linux play ball better with Windows, but it's hardly like Microsoft was obliged to make Linux run faster on Windows. Is this, along with Microsoft's promise not to sue over Mono, the first of many steps towards Microsoft joining the Free Software community, or do you think it could end up being part of a Microsoft's old embrace-extend-extinguish tactics?

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Your comments

does this mean

does this mean that windows 7 is just a linux kernel with a lot of extra themes


Doesn't this mean Windows will run faster on Linux based OS virtualization systems?

Microsoft should be forced to release better silverlight and windows media player software for Linux. Formats that don't work as well on free software should be banned.


Although it seems like a good step, and we should certainly encourage such behavior... I cannot help but wonder - what is it that caused Microsoft to have such a change of heart?!

Oh-so-common move

Come on, guys, is it such a big deal that Microsoft throws away some code? Last time I check, BP even invests in green power, and Bush talked about integrity and such. Of course, no one is excited about those.

Get over it: this is but a confusion to GNU/Linux. Let's see, driver to run on Hyper V. Meditate a bit. Excuse me, why the heck do we need that kind of code? We can run GNU/Linux at Dom0 for Xen, and harvest extreme performance. Apparently to use our friend's generous gift, we have to pay a hefty price for their broken OS and expensive hardware that can carry both that OS and GNU/Linux on top. Of course, the slow performance is because of GNU/Linux, so easy explanation there.

Get over it, will ya?

Read between the lines!

This does not surprise me. Virtualisation, according to some articles, is the new magic pill to fix the world's ills. Okay, so I'm not a fan of virtualisation for virtualisation sake - think it is being over used. But it is a useful tool in the toolbox.

By submitting this code Microsoft has allowed Linux, when the guest OS on a Windows box, to run as fast as Windows can as a guest on a Linux box. This just creates a level playing field (performance wise) between Windows and Linux in the host OS market. Before this Windows in the underdog. If you need to run a a number of Linux and Windows virtual machine and one the same box then with out this code Linux is your best choice as the host OS. In other words - one less Windows license you'll need.

So, as I said earlier, this doesn't surprise me at all. This makes commercial sense.

Billy's (ugh, now Balmer's... can't get used to it ) evil plan

Hmm... I wonder what sort of an evil scheme this is... They are probably are going to place some undetected backdoor into the Linux kernel... Next thing you know: BAM! Win 7 is on your machine instead of your latest Ubuntu <animal name here> X.04/X.10...

Live and Let Die

So "Mr. Big" Kananga is giving out free heroin in the form of code I see...

They wouldn't do this if it wasn't beneficial.

This is actually beneficial to both MS and the Linux community: MS makes sure that people can run their proprietary services reliably and fast, and users can be convinced a bit easier to use Linux inside MS's proprietary service (because it'll work well). Pretty nice, but I doubt MS would ever submit any other kind of patch to the Linux kernel. :)

Wait for it.......

...waiting for the first serving of papers by M$'s legal team as soon as this code is released in a distro...

What the f...?

Kernel? Microsuck is now poisoning the *kernel* and there is still people out there who don't see what M$ is trying to do?

Thankfully, we still have Linus and some other kernel maintainers who are less naïve than many. Hopefully, they will be able to put a stop to the contamination. Unfortunately, they won't liver forever - M$ will outlive them and proceed with the "poisoning" tactics.

Call me crazy, but the only way to stop this is to break up M$. Or break its legs - and neck. Governments should step in and choke that hydra - all of its heads simultaneously. Now, do I see that happening? Of course not. See what happened with AT&T and the Baby Bells in the US: AT&T is now back together as the strongest communication monopoly in the world, with the help of Bush and his "business-friendly" so-called administration. Oh, boy, so much to learn from that one!

Anyway, I can just hope I am mistaken and miracles do happen. Maybe Zeus could, after all, throw a lightning bolt on Microsoft's executives, managers, lawyers, employees, fanboys and mobsters, and make the world a better place.

Now, I'm going to sleep. Who knows, when I wake up the nightmare may end...

Yes, its for their own interests... So what?

I don't understand why people are so upset about this? Microsoft decided to benefit its customers by giving them the flexibility to run either Microsoft or Linux virtualized environments on top of their own platform, without cost of performance. I applaud Microsoft, for it shows that they're willing to evolve in order to survive, it validates Linux as a platform that is widely used, and makes life easier for Windows customers that choose their platform over the others (Newsflash: Some people prefer Windows to Linux, just a thought).

Sure, it serves to Microsoft's own interests, but is that really such a bad thing? Every commercial company on the planet is out for its own interests. This time, Microsoft also helps to benefit the Open Source community. I say its a win/win!

@ Yuusharo

"I say its a win/win!"

Obviously! Windows/windows! M$ wins - including the hearts and minds of gullible people...

People *want* to be deceived, oh my...

Let's see...MSFT wants Linux

Let's see...MSFT wants Linux to run faster on Windows. WHY? That's the first question. And their solution is to change Linux, a codebase they fear and hate, rather than changing the codebase they own and control. And nobody thinks this is suspicious? Time to reread Sun Tsu.

Big flippin deal

So finally M$ decides to contribute to the Open Source community after years of copying from it, and google (maps and earth for example), and mozilla (why are IE 7 and above such bad firefox imitations?) - Big Flippin Deal!

"Without this driver code, Linux can run on top of Windows, but without the same high performance levels." - why the hell would someone run Linux on top of Windows. They can keep their code.

A poison chalice indeed

I'm fairly sure that anything Microparp do is for their interest rather than anybody elses, it is another piece of viral software that contaminates the whole.
If one needs to run Linux run it natively, sure you can run a virtual system but use xen or VirtualBox or VMware, oh! and screw Bill and his minions

is it my idea?

seems the only ones happy about the news is Microsoft and Greg Kroah-Hartman!!! Novell was the best investment of microsoft in years!!

Just think for a moment...

...why are Microsoft doing this? It wouldn't be in their personal interest to do this, it will have come as a 'request' from one of their big enterprise accounts.

To all the angst-ridden Microsoft haters, yeah - they're Microsoft, get over it. They'll be our friends when it suits them and then walk away and slander us. It's rude, disrespectful and obnoxious, however some people seem to feel it's acceptable when done in the name of business. The best you can do is rise above it and ignore that kind of behaviour.

The Microsoft code is open for inspection, it's not a binary blob - people who are far cleverer than me can inspect it and work out if it's detrimental to the kernel and decide whether to accept it or not. You may find it strange to comprehend but there are probably people inside Microsoft who are just as passionate about coding and getting stuff done as we are - and they'll be eager to show that can write half-decent code.

Of course I might be wrong and it might be buggy trojan-ridden code which installs Windows ME on anything it's run on, but I doubt it.

Love, Light and Peace, Crispibits

Re: "What the f...?"

Of course, you, and everybody else, are free to fork the kernel now. I believe GPLv2 allows you to do that.

Problem solved.

Re: Re: "What the f...?"

@ Heeb:

Linux has many, may positives. However, it has a huge negative, which is fragmentation. Dozens of distributions and dozens of forks of forks of forks of forks... Forking works against Linux. Forking the kernel would do an awful lot of damage, so it is not an answer.

Actually, forking the kernel plays right into Microsuck's trick. The ancient Romans already knew the tactics of "divide et impera".


Paper Bag Please

Ok, can someone get me a paper bag I think I'm going to be sick. Letting Microsoft's FAT (not the file system), Dirty code near the Linux kernel is sick and wrong, who ever came up with that idea should be shot, they are obviously sleeping with Gates. Microsoft contributing to Linux... that just makes me wanna throw up.

Microsoft's bedfellows

@ iraklis:

"seems the only ones happy about the news is Microsoft and Greg Kroah-Hartman!!! Novell was the best investment of microsoft in years!!"

Oh, yeah, I agree - wholeheartedly! And let's not forget that Novell also shelters the Mono guys...!

I wonder if they've

I wonder if they've configered the kernel to execute this at startup,

if (Operating system) != Windows:
Format Hard Disk,
Install Windows,

Good thing their code will

Good thing their code will be released under the GPL, so you can see exactly what it does! Have fun!

No reason to get upset

AFAIK anybody can contribute to the kernel. Of course M$ contribute because they feel they have something to gain from it, nothing wrong with that. The kernel people don't have to include it in the kernel if it's not good enough.
Mono on the other hand is a big problem continuing the great Redmond tradition of semicompatibility to standards.

I guess it's good

I think this makes Windows users easier to switch to Linux as migrants don't have to worry about interoperabilty. Sometimes, it's not that bad to look at the brighter side of Microsoft.

This is for the businesses

Many businesses are after this kind of interoperability. Microsoft knows it has to share the server market now. I still wouldn't trust them when it comes to the desktop market though.

Microsoft the pig

I agree with a lot of the others, why do we need this? it is just a way for Microsoft to pollute the kernel, I never thought I would see the day Microsoft would slither into Linux.

Professional Sasquatch Removal President

You linux zealots are kuuhhhraaazzzy!! Do you not think if Microsoft wanted to they could have the biggest baddest distribution on the planet. You think RedHat has market share. If MS wanted to they could create MS Linux and crush RedHat inside of a few months.

Why are so many of you still uber focused on Microsoft as the bad guy? Don't think I don't understand what linux is all about either. I'm typing this on an arch linux build now. I'm rooting for kvm to conquer Xen. I work with this stuff all the time. I just want to know why you guys need this as a cause? Grow up and quit associating yourselves with some kind of movement of which you think you know so much about. I bet no one here even knows how to program in C.

MS Linux? Not.

@ BigFoot Hunter:

MS *cannot* "have" a Linux distribution ("MS Linux", if you will), simply because they would be throwing in the towel and be bound by the GPL (or other free-software, open-source licences). First, they'd be endorsing Linux and admitting their products lost the battle (quality, affordability, whatever). Second, everything they'd put in their distribution would be open for others to use and improve on - which is frontally against their ethics and their business model.

Those who defend Linux as a cause, or as a movement, see things in a different perspective - and you don't seem to grok ("grasp") it, or you don't want to admit it. Anyway, there is still time for *you* to grow up and wean yourself from Microsoft.

Wish you can see the light soon.


@ BigFoot Hunter

So you say you are on ArchLinux (assuming you understand everything about it) and you don't understand why Linux is going to win the battle against Micro$oft?

Have you even looked at how resource intensive every single M$ product is? You can run Ubuntu with no problem (with WINE if you like your Win-doze compatibility) on 512 Mb and have no problem at all!!! While in order for Vista to work you need to have at least 1 Gb of ram in order for the machine to boot up effectively. The only reason that I run anything that is not Linux is so that I don't have to memorize every problem that a client runs into on the Win-doze machine. They are riddled with problems that even an experienced network admin can't always solve instantly.


lines of code

I just hope that the code that Microsoft has donated isn't left-over viruses from their servers!

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