back to article Microsoft opened Linux-driver code after 'violating' GPL

Microsoft was in violation of the GPL (General Public License) on the Hyper-V code it released to open source this week. After Redmond covered itself in glory by opening up the code, it now looks like it may have acted simply to head off any potentially embarrassing legal dispute over violation of the GPL. The rest was theater …

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Funny..

All the comments in the original story saying that microsoft doesn't do anything if it isn't to benefit itself are instantly validated,

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Grenade

Who cares...

Mixing freely availabe code and closed code was always happening and will always happening. Stop the whining about it.

The GPL and all its derivates (LGPL) are a joke and should be abandoned and replaced with something better: BSD-License or Apache...

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Paris Hilton

The GPL is complex

I mean, really, it is. That's why there are so many arguments about it.

And most developers, believe it or not, aren't lawyers. I mean, we can generally understand a complex and ambiguous documents like specifications, a license is quite critical in how it's used.

The spirit of the GPL, and its purpose, were pretty straightforward and in my view honourable. But beware - it's more than it looks. Large companies can use it to harrass small ones. Small ones can use it to harrass large ones. If you end up in a legal argument involving the GPL then because of its complexity you're going to have a big big legal bill on your hands. Think about what this means, and the nervousness of many companies considering the use of GPL software.

Ultimately though I'm happy to 'get with' the GPL because if you use GPL software you may as well, but I'm uncomfortable with its borglike assimilation of anything it touches.

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WTF?

I wonder

how much other open source code there is in windows?

Because windows in closed source of course we may never know!

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Pint

BUSTED!

Great stuff, I already knew that they were faking it for other reasons, but this seams quite plausible.

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Gates Horns

We don't know why Microsoft positioned the news as something it was not...

Yes we do.

Business as usual for MS

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Anonymous Coward

Does this mean that...

... Hyper-V is now a cancer?

Does Steve Balmer know about this?

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Didn't some people at Redmond actually lose thier jobs over this one?

I understand there were some sackings.

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Thumb Up

Microsoft have implicitly accepted that the GPL is enforceable.

The most significant event here is the precedent they have set. Doesn't matter how they want to spin it; the fact that Microsoft, even with all the lawyers they have, didn't think they could get away with violating the GPL is a very positive development. If they ever in future try to walk over the GPL, they will be in an impossible legal position when they have clearly accepted that they are bound by it in this instance.

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@The GPL is complex

Facepalm at the lawyerese darktalk. While it is still to be tested in court, I don't see anything particularly complex about it. It even comes with friendly FAQs.

"The spirit of the GPL, and its purpose, were pretty straightforward and in my view honourable. But beware - it's more than it looks. Large companies can use it to harrass small ones. Small ones can use it to harrass large ones"

Ok, when exactly has anything like this ever happened?

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Just like a British MP

Caught with their hand in the till, they say "I broke no rules, but I'll give it all back anyway."

Personally I avoid anything that is licensed under GPL - too legally dangerous to us, unless you happen to be volunteering on an open source project of course.

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re: losing their job

I can quite imagine someone losing their job

while developers aren't lawyers, it's pretty common knowledge that you can't include GPL code in a closed-source app. some MS developer probably took shortcuts and used it, and didn't even bother to raise a query with the (formidably large) support staff. A while down the line, someone notices the infringement, quietly points it out to MS, and they have to release the whole thing as GPL (trying to spin it in the process)

that's my hypothesis, anyway

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Happy

Perhaps

Could this mean that the 235 IP violations are Microsoft's violations of OSS code instead?

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Pint

Yet another f-up ?

If the noises turn out to be true , it's yet another f-up where they loose more

credibility . Whatever they do , they cant seem to get one thing right lately.

Errr .. did they ever get anything right anyways ?

Ric

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Flame

@hans-peter

Who cares?

Well, people who develop GPL code. This story is *exactly* what the GPL is designed for. Under BSD or Apache there would be no need for MS to release anything as FOSS and we would not now have these things. The original developers wanted to make their code available to use for anyone who would reciprocate by opening their derivative code. Don't like it? Find another solution.

Tell me again how BSD licensing is so much better? How it allows anyone like MS to take the code and distribute it as their own without opening up the derivative works? How is that good?

And don't give me the usual De Raadt Bullshit. People who write GPL code know what they're getting into a license it that way deliberately.

@Complicated

It's not complicated. You link to GPL code or derive stuff from GPL code, your stuff is covered by the GPL. LGPL allows linking.

Don't like it? Don't use it, those are the conditions for using GPL software, they are there because people writing it don't want you to be able to use their stuff without opening yours.

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Boffin

Interesting Times (Ex: losing their job)

frymaster> "

while developers aren't lawyers, it's pretty common knowledge that you can't include GPL code in a closed-source app. some MS developer probably took shortcuts and used it, and didn't even bother to raise a query with the (formidably large) support staff. A while down the line, someone notices the infringement, quietly points it out to MS, and they have to release the whole thing as GPL (trying to spin it in the process)

"

My (layman's) reading of the GPL is that there's no problem with mixing open and closed code *until* the point you want to distribute, and thereby seek to make a profit (financial/kudos/combination thereof) out of what you've made - the rationale being that you might have to do this to keep hardware in operation after a support contract has run out, or a company has gone bust.

The F/L/OSS community will have to be careful that this code can't be dispersed further in its current form, and Microsoft aren't revealing any surprising behind-the-scenes activity here - although there may be an argument that if they have this on a server somewhere and go on to sell services with it underneath, then they aren't distributing any code as per the terms of the license in so doing.

Cue revitalised arguments about moving the kernel to GPLv3...

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Bod

GPL. The freetards licence

"I want everything for free", so let's have a licence that ensures anyone who uses it has to give away the whole lot for free with the same restrictions too, or otherwise not use it at all.

BSD, Apache, MIT licences, etc, to me carry the true spirit of open source. Free to use code to do the hell what you like with, just with attribution, and so what if it's used in closed source commercial code. Open source shouldn't be about restrictions, and that is exactly what GPL is about.

As a developer I'd even prefer to pay for code/components rather than go for GPL due to the legal complexity, especially if I'd have to convince company lawyers that it's okay to use it.

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@GPL.

Opensource is about sharing and getting some benefit back in turn

Microsoft use the BSD TCP stack - doesn't seem to have benefited BSD very much.

The GPL is like me borrowing your car, but in return I promise to give you a lift whenever you need it. BSD is like me borrowing your car and selling it.

And as to the programmers aren't lawyers - see how well that works with Microsoft,

I didn't know I needed a client licence as well as a server licence and a licence for the desktop and he cytrix session and Exchange and the SQLserver instance. I just bought the computer - I'm not a lawyer.

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@Hans-Peter Lackner

"The GPL and all its derivates (LGPL) are a joke and should be abandoned and replaced with something better: BSD-License or Apache..."

There is this odd kind of assumption that there are these hackers, sitting around with too much time on their hands, and if only the pesky GPL didn't exist they would put exactly the same amount of time into contributing under a completely different license.

Microsoft favours the BSD license, and I've noticed a torrent of quality BSD-licensed software coming from them.... not!

Very few major contributors question the licenses used by others. They understand what it means to sacrifice a week-end or two (not all open-source work is fun!), so they're not going to be the ones who preach. This is why you rarely get people on Free/Net-BSD mailing lists slagging off the GPL, it's mainly the armchair critics who contribute next to nothing that have such a strong view, or the people working on closed source stuff, who (quite naturally) want something for nothing. Note: I'm not saying you are one of these people, since I have no idea of what involvement you have or don't have in OS, however this is what I've observed in others.

You have to ask yourself what persuades a guy like Michael Xaard to reverse-engineer hundreds of webcams so they work with Linux, with no profit to himself. Ask yourself whether the same motivation will be forthcoming if his only choice is to release under BSD. I think the answer is 'no', and that's what this boils down to - I want stuff to work, and the restriction that it's hard for me to make money out of it is totally irrelevant. It's also hard to make money out of air, and that's all I'd have if it wasn't for people like Mr Xaard.

As an occasional GPL contributor I have a message for the anti-GPL zealots:

- Get off your backsides (or possibly onto them) and start re-coding the work that's been done in GPL. I'm sure the Net/Free/Open BSD crowd could do with some help - their operating systems suck big-time in terms of driver support.

- Stop telling me what to do in my own time. It's my own life and I'll release under a license of my choosing. Unless you're going to do me a favour, come round and clean my house for free or something, you don't get a say in how I spend my free time. Get over it.

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Anonymous Coward

@Bod

""I want everything for free", so let's have a licence that ensures anyone who uses it has to give away the whole lot for free with the same restrictions too, or otherwise not use it at all."

This is a completely bollocks statement, so bollocks it beggars belief.

If I may put you aright, somewhat?

""I want everything for free""

-This is fine, anyone who releases their work under the GPL is perfectly happy for you to have it for free, hence the releasing under the GPL bit.

"licence that ensures anyone who uses it has to give away the whole lot for free"

-two separate things here, all based around the definition of "uses".

(1) If you just use the code yourself (or modify it for your own use) then you have no obligations to share. It would be decent of you if you did, but you are not forced to.

(2) However, if you use GPL covered code in your own released product then you have to share the code - that seems perfectly fine to me - it is not like anyone is trying to trick or trap you into giving up your code.

"with the same restrictions"

-Obviously, otherwise it would be unworkable. "You must give it away for free but anyone you give it to can do what they want with it" would just be absurd.

"or otherwise not use it at all"

-which is the basis for every license out there. If you do not wish to abide by the license terms then do not use the product / code. It is not that difficult, really.

BSD type licenses to me carry the true spirit of "fuck you" - someone else does the work and gives you the product for free. You take their hard work, modify it slightly, charge people to use your version and not even have the decency to give the original developer anything back for their hard work.

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Flame

Re: GPL. The freetards licence

"BSD, Apache, MIT licences, etc, to me carry the true spirit of open source."

You're entitled to believe that if you wish. The GPL carries the spirit of Free Software.

"Free to use code to do the hell what you like with, just with attribution, and so what if it's used in closed source commercial code. Open source shouldn't be about restrictions, and that is exactly what GPL is about."

The GPL is all and only about giving the end-users the same rights that everyone else receiving the code gets. You use terms like "freetard" and yet describe your vision for "open source" as precisely what most people regard as "freetard" behaviour: getting stuff for free and doing what you want with it as if you owned it in the first place.

There's a significant news event in all this: despite erroneous claims that the GPL has never been tested in court (news to Skype, I would imagine), Microsoft didn't even try to challenge the GPL and backed down straight away. And this was over code that they knew would be violating the GPL, far removed from the juvenile mindset of Lackner: "Mixing freely availabe code and closed code was always happening" - a "freetard" speaks, indeed. I hope his employer isn't reading.

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@Biff

"...Ask yourself whether the same motivation will be forthcoming if his only choice is to release under BSD. I think the answer is 'no'..."

What total bollox. Are you really saying that less good stuff is released under BSD _because_ it's BSD?

What about OpenSSL? Incidentally, the last time I looked, he OpenSSL project has never NEVER received a single monetary contribution from any of the Linux distributions. Not one. Read into that what you will.

Or the other OpenBSD projects like CARP or pf - yet another one that the Linux people are very happy to take but totally unwilling to financially contribute back to.

What about Apache (not BSD, of course, but certainly not GPL either). I mean, NOBODY uses Apache do they?

Oh, and the GPL people also have a habit of taking BSD code, modifying it, releasing the changes under GPL and therefore preventing the changes being put back into the original BSD code! All very friendly and helpful - NOT.

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Linux

insert GPL fud

"The spirit of the GPL, and its purpose, were pretty straightforward and in my view honourable. But beware - it's more than it looks. Large companies can use it to harrass small ones. Small ones can use it to harrass large ones", David Coveney

The 'spirit' of the GPL is hardly the issue as the terms have been explicidly laid down in the actual text of the license. What large/small companies harrass other small/large companies. Please point out where actual harrass took place rather than the requirement that the terms of the GPL be adhered to. GPL 3 was specifically designed to prevent anyone coming after you for patent royalties ..

http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html

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Flame

If GPLers are 'freetards', then...

BSDists are certainly egotards. They don't give a f* about the end users of their code, and are perfectly ok with them being ripped off by companies whose sole contribution to the world is dumbed down integration of that code into an opaque container of (generally speaking) eye-candy.

Their only interest is the egotrip to be cited among authors of the original code, to shove their personal, selfish, brightness into the face of everyone. Except that nobody cares about it, and I would be hard pressed to cite *one* BSD developer, except De Raadt, of course, while I know at least 20 persons by name who contributed high quality GPL code.

GPL is perfectly free : if you don't like it, don't use it. Good luck and godspeed to you. If you *need* a GPLed part to finish your job to the point you can't do without, then, you're not as bright as you think you are.

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Anonymous Coward

When?

When are people going to wise up and realize that Microsoft does nothing except lie and steal? That's all they've ever done and it is all they know how to do. They were even caught red-handed faking evidence in a court of law - which proves that they don't care about the law. The newest Windows operating systems are probably full of GPL code but no one will ever know it because it's closed source. Look at what they're doing now, they're signing up companies (Novell was the first) in bogus agreements over patents that Linux is supposedly violating but Microsoft refuses to stipulate which patents or any other information - it's one of their ways of attempting to kill off Linux.

Do yourself a favor.. use Linux and remove anything related to Microsoft and they're patents. Otherwise you're just playing on borrowed time.

J. L. Weiss

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@AC 15:23

"What total bollox. Are you really saying that less good stuff is released under BSD _because_ it's BSD?"

Cool.. make up something I never said, and then call it bollox. Easy to do isn't it?

"What about OpenSSL? Incidentally, the last time I looked, he OpenSSL project has never NEVER received a single monetary contribution from any of the Linux distributions. Not one. Read into that what you will."

And none of the Linux contributors (with the exception of a small minority who work for the companies concerned) have received anything either. And your point is?

"Or the other OpenBSD projects like CARP or pf - yet another one that the Linux people are very happy to take but totally unwilling to financially contribute back to."

And BSD folk (not to mention thousands of companies around the world) are very happy to use gcc. Again, I'm looking for your point here....

"What about Apache (not BSD, of course, but certainly not GPL either). I mean, NOBODY uses Apache do they?"

Yes, people use Apache, I use Apache, and it's excellent, but it doesn't invalidate my assertion that we would not have the wealth of open-source software currently available to us if the GPL didn't exist. More likely we would be awash with shareware/binary drivers with people spending most of their time waiting for version XXX of driver YYY so they can use kernel ZZZ. Even worse than with Windows - at least there are a finite number of versions of Windows, and the binary compatibility is 'reasonable'. Yeah, before you say it, I know the official BSD interfaces don't churn nearly as much as the Linux ones, but anyone can roll their own incompatible version and keep it closed source...

"Oh, and the GPL people also have a habit of taking BSD code, modifying it, releasing the changes under GPL and therefore preventing the changes being put back into the original BSD code! All very friendly and helpful - NOT."

Shit happens when you author under a license that allows shit to happen (and sometimes even when you don't, but that's called copyright infringement). That's hardly the fault of the GPL community, any more that it's the fault of Apple for keeping some/all their kernel changes to themselves. In any case, if GPL developers happen to be breaking copyright law, then that is not the fault of the GPL.

Amazing how people think there is some big competition between Linux and BSD, on the basis of one or two emails to the odd mailing list. This is perpetuated by people like Steve Balmer with their Good vs Bad/Caps vs Commies type attitude to it all. To me this is just a bunch of guys working on stuff which they are enthusiastic about. Unlike in their jobs they have the opportunity to do things their way. I have contributed stuff under a mixture of licenses, sometimes GPL, sometimes not. If I want to totally give something away I tend to just not give it a license and declare it public domain, which has fewer restrictions than BSD. That means people can even say they wrote it if they get off on that.

But... I *still* just don't understand the people slagging off GPL. If you have such a problem with it, why don't you just work on improving *BSD to the point where Linux is irrelevant? What? No time this w/e? Busy with the kids? Fine! Then how about you just shut the f*** up and let other people get on with it.

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Unhappy

Bla bla bla, microsoft are still evil, pictures at 11

...we're "partnered" with some of their patent trolls at work, and I'm trying to get in the habit of counting my fingers after shaking hands. Fuckers.

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Troll

@Hans-Peter Lackner

"The GPL and all its derivates (LGPL) are a joke and should be abandoned and replaced with something better: BSD-License or Apache.."

Despicable parasitic freetards would surely love that. They could then just get my code, close it in some product, and sell it back to me. Lovely.

How much of the tons of money Apple is making off OS X (and derivatives) is going to the FreeBSD et al. people? Any? (seriously, I don't know, but suspect 0 is close to the value) Very nice of them to give the big corporations their work -- I sure did not gain anything from that. Did they at least get a thank you note, since it seems to be all people who used "attribution-only" licenses want in life? Were they a bit nicer, they would release as public domain, since they love absolute freedom so much. They're taking away my freedom of stealing their code and claiming I did it all myself, the bastards! I've heard they are getting patches or something, at least, but not sure. Better than nothing at any rate.

Re: GPL complexity

Well, there might be a few cases where things are indeed difficult to judge, with all the linking and stuff. But anyone who has bothered reading the GPL, or even just the FAQs and all kinds of other texts on the issue (which are not complicated), and STILL does not know that you can't incorporate GPL code into a *closed* product that is released (as MS and others did) must be severely mentally retarded. Are there many such people developing software? Another possibility is that such people are dishonest -- are there many of those developing for companies then? The poor companies have no money for hiring legal advice, either?

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FAIL

Oxymorons

"Business ethics"

Write it down, read it, study it, say it aloud and don't act surprised when it happens. Microsoft is a large multinational corporation and they're all cut from the same mold.

Why is this ever a surprise?

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Linux

Embrace??

<<Microsoft presented its embrace of the GPL as something it had done to help customers...>>

First word of the EEE concept. Embrace, enhance, extinguish.

Luvafuc*kingduck, no-one sees the threat?? Where's RMS when we need him most?

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Thumb Up

IANAL

but even I can understand the GPL. Even before I read the GPL FAQ.

I assumed that, as MS is a business company that deals with software (rather than the other way round) they'd understand it too. Time to change the law firm to a company that will advise you rather than tell you what you want to hear guys.

Even Skype, D-Link, Cisco, Supermicro, Verizon, Extreme Networks, Xterasys, Buffalo, Micronet, Aopen, Gigabyte, Asus, Securepoint, Edimax, TomTom etc. appear to understand it, although it took the courts to tell one or two to understand it. Strangely many seemed to have thought that the lawyers letters would stop if they ignored them.

If you write code, license it how you want. Nobody has the right to criticise you. If someone wants to use they play by your rules.

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Re: Embrace??

If if comes to step 3, well…let's just say that if they try that, I expect that their code will be dropped more quickly than a hot potato.

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FAIL

grave mistake in story

"As revealed by Stephen Hemminger [...] a network driver in Microsoft's Hyper-V used open-source components licensed under the GPL and statically linked to binary parts."

The drivers in question are drivers for Linux that make Linux run better under Hyper-V. They are not part of Hyper-V. Your article makes it sound like the Hyper-V product itself violated the GPL. In that case, Hyper-V would have to be licensed under the GPL, which is clearly not the case. Read Hemminger's post again, you'll see that he was not saying that either.

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Linux

SOS

SOS different day.

Microsoft is in it for themselves. They will crap in our Open Source nest every chance they get.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Andus McCoatover...

you sure are right about that. I'm not really sure why BSD / GPL are being fought over when Microsoft's triple E program is steadily being advanced.

I think, hope, that most OSS developers take great pride and care in the projects they develop and work to avoid licensing conflicts.

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The non-complexity of the GPL, the complexity of trying to cheat

The GPL isn't complex.

The frequent arguments over it come from the attitude "how can I use this and pass it off as my own code?", followed by "but what if I do this...". Often followed by "... but what if I really want to?"

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FAIL

What's with the headline?

The headline reads "after 'violating' GPL". The single-quotes are usually used to indicate there's an interpretation that is questionable or disputed.

But from the article: "a network driver in Microsoft's Hyper-V used open-source components licensed under the GPL and statically linked to binary parts. The GPL does not permit the mixing of closed and open-source elements."

That's pretty much open and shut, guys. The quotes around "violating" here seem to suggest you're not taking the GPL license seriously. Love it or hate it, it's a genuine license, and it's been upheld at every court challenge. So let's lose the quotes.

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