Hypervisor fight good for customers, good for FOSS

There have been many changes in the market and technology since Citrix acquired XenSource and a major stewardship stake in the Xen open source hypervisor four years ago. Red Hat’s 2008 Qumranet acquisition and subsequent push behind the Linux-integrated Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor has added to the disruption. One thing, though, remains the same: the intense competition among these open source hypervisors in the enterprise market.

Read the entire article at LinuxInsider.

Community Linux love from Microsoft

One of big stories out of the Open Source Business Conference this week was Microsoft’s announced support for the CentOS community Linux distribution, a free clone of RHEL that nonetheless enjoys significant enterprise and cloud computing use, as we’ve covered extensively, including a special report that is currently being updated, in part, with a new survey.

This is not the first time MS has displayed love for unpaid, community Linux, given its 2009 contribution of GPL-licensed code to the Linux kernel. This was significant in that it was contribution and participation by Microsoft in the Linux kernel, beyond one of its partner’s Linux distributions, such as the case of Novell and SUSE Linux and more recently, Red Hat and its RHEL for mutual, customer-demanded virtualization support (451 subscribers) between Microsoft and Red Hat.

It seems Microsoft understands that unlike pirated Windows, which it considers a loss, the use of free, unpaid Linux — particularly by large enterprise, government and other organizations — is a big opportunity for it.

True, use of community Linux is typically driven by cost savings and the capability of sizable organizations to self-manage their Linux servers, often involving no payment. However, our research indicates there is often is still a need for higher level support and, more commonly, the ‘insurance factor’ of having a commercial vendor behind your infrastructure software so you, or your boss or board, have someone to call or blame if things go wrong. Microsoft is capable of supporting CentOS in both cases of technical support and being the insurance for an organization. It will be interesting to see the kind of reaction and traction the company gets from customers, presumably Windows shops, running CentOS.

It was only a couple of years ago we were writing about the death, and ongoing life of CentOS.

Today, it continues to be one of the most fascinating open source software projects in that it has no formal commercial backer, not even a foundation, but yet benefits from a solid, dedicated development team that continues to push the OS forward. We, along with Microsoft, continue to hear about use of CentOS increasingly in cloud computing, where it can be used, often free of charge, to add, subtract, scale and scrap as needed. It is, like other Linux distributions, also popular among hosting and other service providers, who again are primarily building public, private and hybrid cloud environments and ecosystems.

This is why again it is very interesting to see Microsoft supporting CentOS with HyperV and Windows. It’s not the first vendor to do so, as server giant HP has supported CentOS, Debian and other community distros to some extent in its server and support offerings. Microsoft’s CentOS support is certainly another example of how the landscape and market for various Linux distributions and operating systems in general is currently undergoing disruption.

451 CAOS Links 2011.05.17

The Future of Open Source. de Icaza launches Xamarin. Funding for Datameer. And more.

# North Bridge Venture Partners announced the results of its annual Future of Open Source Survey, conducted in partnership with The 451 Group.

# Miguel de Icaza announced the launch of Xamarin, a new company focused on Mono-based products.

# Datameer raised $9.25m for its Hadoop-based analytics from Kleiner Perkins and Redpoint Ventures.

# Microsoft announced support for CentOS on Windows Server2008 R2 Hyper-V as part of a new focus on community Linux.

# Protecode released Developer Assistant for real-time open source license management.

# OpenLogic released some new research into the use of the various open source licenses by developers and enterprises.

# Mark Webbink is the new editor of Groklaw.

# SAP and Red Hat improved support services for users running SAP applications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

# C12G Labs announced the availability of OpenNebulaPro 2.2.

# The Open Source Integration Initiative was launched to develop a modular ‘stack’ solution for open source business software.

# Icinga released version 1.4 of its open source monitoring software.

# EnterpriseDB’s Postgres Plus Advanced Server is now available on HP-UX.

451 CAOS Links 2010.10.08

Patents! Patents! Patents! Canonical’s perfect 10. And more.

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“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Google responded to Oracle’s claims that its Android OS infringes copyrights and patents related to Java.

# Matt Asay evaluated the various patent claims against Android and its related devices.

# Microsoft licensed smartphone patents from ACCESS Co and a subsidiary of Acacia Research.

# Glyn Moody assessed what Microsoft’s patent claim against Motorola says about Microsoft.

# Canonical announced that Ubuntu 10.10 Server Edition andUbuntu 10.10 Desktop and Netbook Editions will be available for download on 10/10/10.

# Puppet Labs acquired The Marionette Collective.

# Acquia added support for memcached to its Acquia Hosting platform.

# Royal Pingdom provided an overview of the mobile Linux landscape.

# Opengear expanded its remote management of Avaya VoIP systems.

# MuleSoft announced the availability of Tcat Server 6 R4.

# ActiveState announced the availability of Komodo IDE 6.

# Rivet Logic launched the Confluence Alfresco Integration rivet which integrates Atlassian Confluence with Alfresco.

# What is the future of MapReduce and Hadoop in the light of Google’s Percolator and Caffeine?

# Lucid Imagination announced LucidWorks Enterprise built on Solr/Lucene.

# Twitter described its new Lucene-based search architecture.

# newScale, rPath and Eucalyptus named their private cloud coalition The NRE Alliance.

# Andy Updegrove reflected on the ways in which open source is stronger post-SCO than it was pre-SCO.

# Joe Harris provided an overview of the open source BI/DW landscape and offers suggestions for covert adoption.

# Roberto Galoppini published his notes from the OWF Open Source Analyst Summit.

# Evident Software’s ClearStone 4.5 now covers Apache Cassandra and Memcached.

# Mercury released OpenSAL, an open source scientific Algorithm Library for vector math acceleration.

# What does the sale of Ohloh.net mean for the future of Geeknet?

# Autonomic Resources added Continuent and EnterpriseDB to its GSA schedule roster.

# The VAR Guy’s sources said Microsoft Hyper-V will likely gain some integrations with OpenStack.

# OTRS launched an OnDemand version of its open source help desk and IT service management software.

# Digital Reasoning and Riptano partnered on Cassandra-based analytics.

# Outercurve added a fifth project to its ASP.NET Open Source Gallery.

# GoAhead Software shipped the general release of OpenSAFfire 6.0.

# Citrix updated XenServer with new storage optimization technology for VDI.

# Simon Phipps noted that there is a difference between forking and rehosting.

# Fonality updated its cloud-based, open source IP PBX software with the 2010.2 release.

# enStratus and Opscode partnered to provide enStratus customers with the Opscode Platform.

# Amazon introduced read replicas to its MySQL-based Amazon Relational Database Service.

451 CAOS Links 2010.02.12

Licensing, community, funding, revenue, business models, patents. And more.

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“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# The OpenOffice.org Community announced the release of OpenOffice.org 3.2.

# An interview with Michael Tiemann on licensing and community.

# DotNetNuke raised $8m series B funding.

# Microsoft updated its Linux Integrated Components, introducing support for RHEL in Hyper-V.

# An interview with Marten Mickos on how open source businesses can break through the $10-15m plateau.

# Joe Brockmeier discussed how to make Thunderbird financially stable.

# Glyn Moody dissected SAP’s statement on software patents.

# Datamation reported on Red Hat’s open source cloud projects.

# eXo Platform introduced xCMIS, an open source implementation of the CMIS specification.

# Monty Widenius’s Open Ocean Capital invested an undisclosed sum in MoSync.

# OpenLogic grew bookings 86% in 2009 now has more than 130 customers.

# GigaOm reported what you didn’t know about Cloudera.

# Dave Rosenberg blogged about Hashrocket’s use of MongoDB.

# Dirk Riehle explained the role of open collaboration with corporations.

# The UK’s NHS will reportedly use Novell’s OES 2 as the backbone for its move towards a cloud computing environment.

# Black Duck announced version 5.1 of its Protex code analysis engine.

# Sauce Labs released Sauce RC (Remote Control) 1.0 – a commercially supported Selenium distribution.

# Couchio, formerly Relaxed, is now offering support for CouchDB.

# Sierra Ventures managing director Tim Guleri discussed what open source means to VCs.

# Stephen Walli advised Novell – following Red Hat means you’ll always be second.

# Eclipse board candidates outline their vision for Eclipse in 2010.

# Linux.com published Myth busting – is Linux immune to viruses?

# The 451 Group’s Brenon Daly poured cold water on the latest Sourcefire acquisition rumour.

451 CAOS Links 2009.07.24

Reaction to Microsoft’s Linux code. Open Source for America. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

Reaction to Microsoft’s Linux code release
There was a mixed reaction to Microsoft’s release of Linux code, much of it was positive although the company was also criticized for serving its own interests. Linus Torvalds defended Microsoft’s actions. See this post for more on that. Meanwhile it was also widely reported that Microsoft’s apparent altruism was in fact the result of a violation of the GPL. See this post for a round-up on that subject.

Elsewhere Stephen Walli pointed out that the LinuxIC code is not Microsoft’s first contribution under the GPL, while Microsoft made sure it was not the last by contributing a plug-in for Moodle under GPLv2.

Microsoft also dismissed Red Hat’s demands that it should “pledge that its patents will never be used against Linux or other open source developers and users”.

We are the code

# Open Source For America, a coalition of vendors, individuals, academic and NGOs, formed to record an ensemble charity single promote open source in Government. Roberto Galoppini wondered whether we need Open Source for Europe while Glyn Moody pondered Open Source for Britain.

Best of the rest
# The recorded presentations from Red Hat’s Open Source Cloud Computing Forum are now available. In response to the event ITWorldCanada reported on why cloud computing needs open source, while The Register published Open source and the cloud: An unbalanced marriage.

# Rackspace released the specs for its Cloud Servers and Cloud Files APIs under a Creative Commons license.

# Kaltura launched Kaltura Community Edition, an open source self-hosted online video platform MindTouch 2009 release added video, application packaging and content staging to collaboration platform, and announced a partnership with Mindtouch, which released MindTouch 2009 with video, application packaging and content staging.

# Actuate hired Ray Gans as the first community manager for BIRT Exchange.

# Glyn Moody reflected on the deep, fundamental tension at the heart of FOSS, and its value.

# Black Duck Software reported a 53% rise in new subscriptions in Q2.

# Jaspersoft launched Community Edition v3.5, support for MariaDB and JBoss Teiid.

# Red Hat adopted the BPEL engine developed by Intalio.

# WSO2 delivered WSO2 Governance Registry 3.0 and WSO2 Identity Server 2.0.

# Likewise announced support for heterogeneous file sharing via Server Message Block with Likewise-CIFS.

# UK construction group K&G outsourced its IT systems to open source services firm Sirius.

# Matt Asay reported on NASA taking open source into space with some cool projects, while the Apollo 11 Command Module code and Lunar Module code transcribed and released as open source.

# OmniTI released Reconnoiter, a new open Source monitoring and trending system.

# Chris Messina declared himself sceptical about Adobe (and Microsoft’s) open source intentions.

# Oracle announced that drivers are available to run Windows guests in an Oracle VM environment.

# Open source software saved Indian IT@schools program $2 million.

# Dave Neary published “Barriers to community growth”.

# Voxeo announced that the Tropo.com cloud telephony service source code will be available as open source.

# Open Source Database Magazine, issue #1 was published.

Microsoft GPLv2 code – donation or obligation?

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that it was contributing driver code to the Linux kernel under the GPLv2, and we published a CAOS Theory Q&A to discuss the implications. It has subsequently become clear that there were two important questions that were not answered by our Q&A:

Q. Is this a donation, or an obligation?

A. In discussing the motivations for the Linux Integration Components (Linux IC) release, Microsoft cited enhancing the performance of Linux as a guest operating system where Windows Server is the host, and that the GPLv2 is “the Linux community’s preferred license”.

An alternative viewpoint began to emerge that suggested that perhaps Microsoft had little choice in the decision to release the code, however. It started with the publication of a post written by Stephen Hemminger, a principle engineer at Vyatta, which stated:

“This saga started when one of the user’s on the Vyatta forum inquired about supporting Hyper-V network driver in the Vyatta kernel. A little googling found the necessary drivers, but on closer examination there was a problem. The driver had both open-source components which were under GPL, and statically linked to several binary parts. The GPL does not permit mixing of closed and open source parts, so this was an obvious violation of the license. Rather than creating noise, my goal was to resolve the problem, so I turned to Greg Kroah-Hartman.”

Kroah-Hartman runs the Linux Kernel Driver Project and is working with Microsoft to introduce the Linux IC code to the Linux kernel. He appeared to confirm Hemminger’s perspective when he wrote “Steve gives a little more of the backstory of what caused me to start talking to Microsoft in the first place,” and then told Mary Jo Foley that her suggestion that “Hemminger is claiming Microsoft put the LIC code under the GPL because it was in violation of the GPL” was “accurate”.

Cue stories such as “Linux community pushed Microsoft to hand over its code” and “Microsoft opened Linux-driver code after ‘violating’ GPL“.

Before commenting on these stories I took the opportunity to speak to Sam Ramji, who seemed genuinely surprised by the perspective that the driver code had violated the GPL and maintained that he was not aware of the account provided by Hemminger prior to its publication.

The two viewpoints are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In his exchange with Foley, Kroah-Hatmann notes that he “didn’t have to ‘suggest'” that Microsoft was in violation, he “only had to merely point out the obviousness of the situation”.

Additionally, Vyatta’s vice president of strategy and marketing, Dave Roberts, has noted that “nobody ‘accused’ anybody of anything. Stephen merely called the situation to Microsoft’s attention… There were no threats, no screaming, no broken fingers, no frothing at the mouth. Just a few calm phone-calls placed behind closed doors, out of the limelight and media focus. And that was that. Microsoft noodled on things. And then it decided to open source the drivers and contribute them to the kernel.”

I also put it to Ramji that if, *hypothetically*, Microsoft were to have discovered it was inadvertently in violation of the GPL, then from a PR standpoint, the company would have much more to gain by being seen to have responded appropriately than by trying to cover it up. He agreed.

(And I don’t think this can be understated actually, if you consider what the open source group within Microsoft is trying to achieve you begin to understand why they would be hyper-sensitive to the fact that trying to claim credit for something they didn’t do would be counter-productive).

Anyway, Ramji has subsequently posted his views on the issue, including:

“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.

The primary reason we made this determination in this case is because GPLv2 is the preferred license required by the Linux community for their broad acceptance and engagement. For us to participate in the Linux Driver Project, GPLv2 was the best option that allowed us to enjoy the tremendous offer of community support.”

Q. So was Microsoft in violation of the GPLv2?

A. Of course, “not being accused of being in violation of the GPL” is not the same thing as “not being in violation of the GPL” but it is not completely clear whether that was actually the case.

Over on Cnet, Gordon Haff got some more technical details from Hemminger:

“According to Stephen, the issue revolves around a feature of the Linux kernel called EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL that allows for interfaces to be marked as only available to modules with a GPL-compatible license. From Stephen’s perspective, Microsoft’s proprietary code had to use some of these interfaces that ‘the kernel did not want to offer to non-GPL [code].’

If that all seemed a bit geeky technical, well it is. Very possibly a violation of the GPL but hardly one that is simply flagrantly flouting the law.”

UPDATE – The Software Freedom Law Center’s Bradley Kuhn has told SDTimes that Microsoft *was* likely in violation of the GPL:

“It seems to me that Sam [Ramji] is likely correct when he says that talk inside Microsoft about releasing the source was under way before the Linux developers began their enforcement effort,” said Bradley Kuhn, a policy analyst and tech director at the SFLC.

“However, that talk doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a problem. As soon as one distributes the binaries of a GPL’d work, one must provide the source for those binaries, so Microsoft’s delay in this regard was a GPL violation.”

However, Ramji continues to deny that a GPL violation was the significant issue. “Greg’s coaching on how to get it contributed was invaluable, but it was not the original driver of our plan or decision,” he told SDTimes. “That’s the beauty of the real world. Different people have different perspectives, and that is what causes them to act. We appreciate Greg’s coaching regardless of his motivation.” – UPDATE

2ND UPDATE – Sam Ramji has once again denied that Microsoft violated the GPL. In a podcast published at Network World he points out (from 15.30) that the code did not statically link to libraries in the Linux kernel, but to the header files, and that Linux developers are split on whether that constitutes a violation of the GPL. “The act of compiling to a header file doesn’t generate a GPL obligation to my knowledge, that was never a consideration in our process.” – 2ND UPDATE

In his initial blog post, Hemminger stated that the saga was started by an inquiry about supporting Hyper-V network driver in the Vyatta kernel, presumably this one, from March, when Hemminger has said the issue was bought to his attention. Hemminger’s response at the time is that “Msft hyper-v driver is not open source, and redistributing it would require agreement with them”.

The driver cited in that query would appear to be the original Linux Integration Components for Hyper-V, which were released in September 2008, the same components that The H reported were previously withdrawn from release candidate distribution in July 2008 for a licensing review.

As Patrick O’Rourke noted at the time, “Licensing is tricky when open source and proprietary software are packaged.” No kidding.

A quick note while we are on the subject of timing, Hank Janssen says he proposed that Microsoft open source Linux IC driver code in October 2008. Sam Ramji told me Microsoft started seriously considering it in January this year and first heard from Greg Kroah-Hartman in May.

While Hemminger started that Microsoft’s release of the code under the GPLv2 “”took longer than expected”, Gordon Haff notes that Hemming “said that he first discovered this in March, so four months is actually fairly rapid resolution as such things go in large companies.”

Q. Anything more to add?

A. Probably. If anything new does arise, we’ll post details here.

451 CAOS Links 2009.07.21

Microsoft contributes to Linux. Acquia raises $8m. And more.

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“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

Microsoft contributes to Linux
Microsoft announced that it is to contribute device driver code to the Linux kernel under the GPLv2. Prompting us to publish a CAOS Theory Q&A. Answering one questioning we failed to ask, ZDnet reported that Microsoft’s Linux contributions should find their way into the 2.6.32 release.

Acquia raises $8m
Mass High Tech reported Acquia has picked up an $8m second funding round from existing investors. The funding was later confirmed by the company.

# Adobe released Flash Platform Media and Text Frameworks as open source.

# Red Hat replaced CIT in the S&P 500.

# The recent spate of posts about licensing continued as Dirk Riehle argued that every license has its time and place and examined the intellectual rights imperative of single-vendor open source. Meanwhile Matt Asay noted that the right business strategy is openness, but defining that strategy is variegated, while Tarus Balog explained why reports on the death of the GPL are greatly exaggerated.

# Bradley Kuhn described Microsoft’s patent deal with Buffalo as free software-targeted patent aggression.

# Engine Yard launched Cloud services platform and GA of Flex, a cloud service plan for Rails apps.

# City of Chicago selected SpringSource Hyperic HQ Enterprise to run and manage IT and Web operations.

# Take Off Technology is sponsoring two new support for Solaris/and integration with the ZFS filesystem in openQRM.

# Alfresco’s Nancy Garrity presented the case for community involvement with commercial open source.

# “I’m giving [Microsoft] its divorce papers,” says City of Edmonton CIO, according to an Information Exec report.

# Canonical has released the source code for Launchpad.

# Percona released v6 of its XtraDB storage engine for MySQL.

# HadoopDB is a new open source project combining DBMS and MapReduce technologies to target analytical workloads.

# Dr Dobbs Q&A with MySQL’s creator, Michael “Monty” Widenius.

# Accenture announced that it is to acquire Symbian professional services operations from Nokia.

Microsoft contributes to Linux kernel: a CAOS Theory Q&A

Microsoft has announced that it is to contribute code to the Linux kernel development effort under the GNU General Public License (GPL) v2. What on earth does it all mean? Here’s our take on the situation. With thanks to Jay Lyman for his contribution to the following:

Flying Pig

Q. This is a joke, right?

A. Not at all, although if any announcement is better suited to the image above, we can’t think of one. Microsoft has announced that it is going to contribute code to Linux under the GPLv2.

Q. What code is Microsoft contributing?

A. Microsoft is offering 20,000 lines of its own device drivers to the Linux kernel that will enable Linux to run as a guest on its Hyper-V virtualization technology. Specifically, the contributed loadable kernel modules enable Linux to run in ‘enlightened mode’, giving it efficiencies equivalent to a Windows virtual machine running on Hyper-V.

Q. Why is Microsoft doing this?

A. Red Hat and Novell’s Linux distributions already support enlightened mode, thanks to the development work done by both in partnership with Microsoft. One benefit for Microsoft of contributing to the kernel is that it reduces duplication of effort and the cost of supporting multiple, unique implementations of Linux. Once the code has been accepted into the kernel, Microsoft will use the kernel tree code as the basis for future virtualization integration development.

It also means that community Linux distributions will be able to use the code, which opens up more opportunities for Microsoft in the hosting market, where adoption of community Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS is significant. It also therefore slightly strengthens the challenge those community operating systems can make to Red Hat and Novell, which are more direct commercial challengers to Windows.

Make no mistake about it, Microsoft’s contribution is driven by its own interests. While it must serve and respond to enterprise customers that continue to drive the use of multiple operating systems and mixed environments, Microsoft also benefits by differentiating its Hyper-V virtualization technology from virtualization leader VMware. We believe Microsoft sees an opportunity to make virtualization with Windows more Linux-friendly than VMware.

Q. What’s in it for Linux?

A. The interoperability benefits previously reserved for ‘approved’ Microsoft partners will now be available licensed under the GPLv2, and available for all Linux distributions – commercial or community – without the need for a formal partnership.

The contribution of device drivers to the Linux kernel as been a sticking point for the Linux development community in the past as developers have struggled to encourage vendors to contribute driver code to the kernel. Microsoft is therefore setting something of a precedent and could encourage other vendors that have been reticent to contribute their drivers to do so.

The seal of approval Microsoft has given to the GPLv2 is also not to be overlooked. If Microsoft can find a way to contribute to Linux projects, many other organisations may also be encouraged to do so.

Q. I guess Linux is no longer “a cancer” then?

A. Exactly. Back in 2001 Steve Ballmer told the Chicago Sun-Times* “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That’s the way that the license works.”

Reviewing the statement in the context of today’s announcement demonstrates how much progress Microsoft has made in the intervening years to understand open source licenses. Contribution to Linux, or to any other project under the GPL, would have been unthinkable at the time, and is still barely believable today. The announcement is likely to challenge perceptions of Microsoft’s strategy when it comes to open source, Linux and the most popular open source license.

*The original article is no longer available online. Plenty of references are still available, however.

Q. What does this say about Microsoft’s overall strategy towards open source?

A. The contribution is a significant sign that Microsoft is now prepared to participate with open source projects on their own terms by using the chosen license of that project and making contributions directly to the chosen development forge of that project. Microsoft continues to use its own CodePlex project hosting site for code releases, but if an existing open source project uses SourceForge then Microsoft has acknowledged that the best way to engage with that community is on SourceForge. Don’t expect this to be the last contribution Microsoft does under the GPL.

Microsoft is now becoming more proactive in how it engages with open source under a strategy it describes as ‘Open Edge’ (which we have previously mentioned here and here. Whereas Open Core is used by commercial open source vendors to offer proprietary extensions to open source code, Open Edge is Microsoft’s strategy to encourage open source development and application deployment on top of its suite of commercial software: Windows, Office, Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL Server etc.

The Open Edge strategy is rooted in attempting to ensure Microsoft’s commercial products continue to be relevant to the ecosystem of developers and partners that the company has attracted to its software platform. It is also a continuation of the realization that if customers and developers are going to use open source software, Microsoft is more likely to retain those customers if it helps them use open source on Windows et al.

For more details on Microsoft’s strategy towards open source, its partnerships with open source vendors, and its contributions to open source projects, see The 451 Group’s formal report on the contribution to Linux (the report will shortly be available via this link ).

Q. How is the contribution to the Linux kernel being handled?

A. The contribution is being made via an alliance with the Linux Kernel Driver Project and its maintainer, Greg Kroah-Hartman, who will steward the contribution into the Linux kernel code base. (Greg has a post up about it here).

Q. What are the intellectual property issues?

A. The copyright for the code will remain with Microsoft, with the contributor credit going to its engineering lead, Hank Janssen, group program manager at Microsoft’s Open Source Technology Center.

Q. And patents?

A. If we were putting money on the most likely conspiracy theory to emerge in response to this news it would be that this is a Trojan horse and Microsoft is contributing code to Linux that it will later claim patent rights over. Whether that is even theoretically possible depends on your understanding of the GPLv2.

The GPLv2 contains an implicit patent promise that some would say makes a Trojan horse impossible. However, the FSF obviously thought it necessary to introduce a more explicit patent promise with the GPLv3 to remove any doubt.

Ultimately this is a question for a lawyer, or an eloquence of lawyers (yes it is ironic, apparently). In the meantime, it is our understanding that Microsoft’s understanding is that contributing code using the GPLv2 includes a promise not to charge a royalty for, or assert any patents covering, the code being contributed.

Q. What about Microsoft’s prior claim that Linux infringes its patents?

A. Microsoft really dropped the ball on its communication of the suggestion that free software infringes over 200 of its patents, and tensions with free and open source software advocates are likely to continue to be tested by Linux-related patent agreements, such as the one struck with Melco Holdings last week, which have driven scepticism and mistrust of Microsoft among some key open source supporters.

Absent the company giving up on software patents altogether, we believe that in order to convince those FOSS advocates that it is serious about co-existence, Microsoft needs to find a way to publicly communicate details about those 200+ patents in such a way that is not seen as a threat and would enable open source developers to license, work around, or challenge them. We also believe that the company is aware of this, although finding a solution to the problem will not be easy. But then neither was contributing code to Linux under the GPLv2.

UPDATE – It has subsequently become clear that there were two important questions that were not answered by our Q&A. Those have been covered by an addendum – UPDATE.

451 CAOS Links 2009.02.24

Citrix makes XenServer free, but not open source. REd Hat outlines virtualization strategy. Ingres debuts ECM Appliance. Ubuntu in the clouds. MuleSource appoints a new CEO. OpenLogic and OpenGear boast of their successes. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live on Twitter @caostheory

Virtual reality
Once again virtualization was at the top of the agenda this week as Citrix announced that XenServer is now free (as in beer). While XenServer is not open source it is based on the open source Xen hypervisor. The company also delivered Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V, once again proving that sees its future is in closed source virtualization management. 451 Group clients can read our take on the Citrix announcements here.

Meanwhile Red Hat followed up its partnership with Microsoft with more virtualization news, outlining its hypervisor and virtualization products roadmap following its acquisition of Qumranet, as well as a number of partner certifications. CTO Brian Stevens also shed some light on the virtualization strategy.

More on open source business models

The discussion continued with Matt Asay and Tarus Balog before I delivered my thoughts on the matter. I previously mentioned that Carlo Daffara has been at the forefront in terms of examining open source business strategies and it was good to see Carlo start off his new blog with the first in a series on the dynamics of OSS adoption followed byfurther comments on my post.

Ubuntu says G’day to the cloud
Mark Shuttleworth introduced Karmic Koala, the next version of Ubuntu and the first to enable the deployment of Ubuntu in the cloud – specifically Amazon Web Services. Karmic Koala will also enable improved use of Eucalyptus, support for which will be introduced in Jaunty Jackalope. Speaking of which, that release will come with a new version of the Landscape remote management tool. As WorkswithU documented, Canonical plans to more aggressively promote Landscape in 2009.

# Following last week’s debate about corporate contributions, The Washington Times released a number of open source projects including a a source code repository manager and issue tracking application and a multi-media management application.

# Greg Schott was announced as new CEO of MuleSource.

# Ingres launched the Ingres Enterprise Content Management Appliance developed with Alfresco.

# Opengear reported record order bookings in the fourth quarter of 2008.

# Symbian Foundation director Lee Williams told Silicon.com “Android is not open. It’s a marketing label. It’s controlled by Google.”

# Optaros facilitated the integration of CMIS into the Drupal open source CMS in conjunction with Alfresco and Acquia.

# OpenLogic claimed 2x increase in enterprise customers in 2008 and more than 75 enterprise customers in total.

# The EC’s Open Source Observatory and Repository began offering web space and facilities for open source communities.

# Paglo introduced network management as a service.

# MIPS Technologies joined The Linux Foundation.

# XAware announced the availability of XAware 5.3.

# In an open letter to the openSUSE Community board members Pascal Bleser and Bryen Yunashko confirmed that some members of the openSUSE Community were laid off by Novell.

Microsoft blinks first on interoperability with Red Hat

More than two years since Microsoft persuaded Novell to enter into an interoperability agreement concerning Linux and Windows, it has finally got Red Hat to talk interoperability.

The agreement does not appear to be a repeat of the one Microsoft struck with Novell, however. I’m still taking in the details but one element stands out:

    “There are no patent or IP licensing rights provided by these agreements, nor are there any financial clauses.”

That is a significant statement given Red Hat’s insistence that an intellectual property agreement was not necessary to create interoperability between Linux and Windows, and Microsoft’s former claim that patent indemnification was a prerequisite for collaboration.

Under their agreement to work together Microsoft and Red Hat will provide testing, validation and coordinated technical support for mutual customers using server virtualization. Red Hat has joined Microsoft’s Server Virtualization Validation Program, and Microsoft is now a Red Hat partner for virtualization interoperability and support.

According to the agreement: “Once technical validation testing is complete, customers with valid support agreements will receive coordinated technical support for running Windows Server 2008 virtualized on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization, and for running Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.”

There is no Linux-support coupon scheme, although that was exclusive to the Novell-Microsoft agreement anyway, and no patent or intellectual property agreement either.

Choosing virtualization sides

We’ve sure seen some interesting maneuvering on virtualization recently by the major OS players Microsoft, Novell and Red Hat. While Red Hat sought a bigger stake in virtualization with its $107m Qumranet acquisition, Microsoft and Novell were busy releasing the first fruit of their interoperability lab – native support and performance for Novell’s SUSE Linux as a more welcome guest OS on Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.

It’s interesting to see Novell so vigorously supporting Microsoft’s Hyper-V, and this may be part of what accompanies the partnership with Microsoft and its purchase of SUSE Linux coupons, but Novell is certainly not alone in its Hyper-V support. This is also a logical place for Microsoft and Novell to build on their promise of Linux-Windows interoperability. However, it may raise questions about the impact to the other virtualization technology that has figured prominently in Novell’s SUSE Linux for the last couple of years: Xen. Novell insists Xen is its hypervisor of choice and it remains committed to the virtualization software and project. In fact, as Novell seeks to make good on its promise to deliver some of its collaboration with Microsoft back to the greater Linux community, Xen may very well be the place it does so. At the same time, when asked about Red Hat’s Qumranet buy, one Novell executive responded by touting Xen’s ecosystem, which has indeed matured dramatically since Novell first included it in its enterprise Linux more than two years ago.

Red Hat has also affirmed its commitment to supporting Xen as well, even while it was announcing its $100m+ investment in, ahem, another virtualiation technology and company. Nevertheless, Red Hat also realizes the time, effort and maturation that it has taken for Xen to get where it is. In fact, that was one of the drivers for the Qumranet deal, according to one company official who says Red Hat knew it had to get something that was already underway, yet could speed and spread Red Hat’s presence in virtualization. Qumranet and KVM may be the ticket, but the lone Linux vendor will have formidable challenges in its OS rivals Microsoft and Novell, as well as the ‘virtualization only’ vendors (VMware and Citrix) that Red Hat is aiming at with its new acquisition.