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Microsoft releases Linux kernel drivers

Microsoft releases Linux kernel drivers

The release of the LinuxIC kernel drivers under the GPL surprised many in the industry, but makes sound sense for Microsoft's Hyper-V business unit.

Microsoft has become an unlikely proponent of open source software – and Linux specifically – with the release of several kernel drivers under the GNU General Public Licence.

As reported over on CNet, the company – long a harsh critic of the efforts of open source in general and Linux as a possible competitor to Windows – is releasing its Hyper-V Linux Integration Components under the GPL open-source licence, freeing them for further community development and possible inclusion in future versions of the Linux kernel.

The LinuxIC package is a series of drivers which allow a Linux system to co-operate with the company's Hyper-V virtualisation system – vastly improving performance when compared to an un-modified system. This finally makes Linux guests a possibility on Windows-based virtual machine servers running Hyper-V – and should go some way to answering critics' complaints about Windows bias.

The move isn't all about altruism on Microsoft's part, however: while the release of the LinuxIC code will make Linux a choice for Hyper-V users looking to performance specific tasks with a virtual server, the system still requires a Windows server as a host – tying people in to Windows even as they move towards Linux.

A statement on the company's press site claims that the release represents the open sourcing of a not-unimpressive 20,000 lines of code. The company has also stated that the release is specifically for inclusion into the “Linux tree” - heading off any possibility of a TomTom-style lawsuit in the future.

While the move represents baby steps for the company which many still see as an opaque monopoly, it's certainly refreshing – and arguably had to happen sooner or later so long as Microsoft wanted its virtualisation technologies to be taken seriously.

Do you support Microsoft's move to a more enlightened approach to open source, or will it take a fully open-source release of Windows before you'll cut it some slack? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

13 Comments

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Aracos 21st July 2009, 10:05 Quote
I'm shocked I never thought someone would be able to use open source and microsoft in the same sentence. Oh well, at least you can (If I read this right) natively use Linux in Windows without the need for something like VMware :)
p3n 21st July 2009, 10:11 Quote
It seems to me like a classic MS move that doesn't seem 'selfish' at first - they are basically 'patching' linux so it will work with their backwards (presumably, its MS...) VM OS so they don't lose out on performance vs. VMware, cytrix etc who's OS is based on Linux and presumably isn't coded with MS DOS crap lingering...
liratheal 21st July 2009, 10:27 Quote
My world.. It is crumbling.
BLC 21st July 2009, 10:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by p3n
It seems to me like a classic MS move that doesn't seem 'selfish' at first - they are basically 'patching' linux so it will work with their backwards (presumably, its MS...) VM OS so they don't lose out on performance vs. VMware, cytrix etc who's OS is based on Linux and presumably isn't coded with MS DOS crap lingering...

... With the eventual aim of further embedding their virtualisation system into the corporate market by allowing a wide range of platforms to access the system, so that companies eventually become even more reliant on Microsoft software due to it fitting their corporate IT structure that little bit better (i.e. no need to overhaul existing architecture if you have a deployment of mixed Linux & Windows client machines). Thus, of course, gaining further market share in a burgeoning, and extremely lucrative, market

It's a canny move by MS, as they can paint it with all the good intentions in the world and it will actually be a big benefit. Fundamentally however, businesses do not run on "good intentions". Businesses - and I mean *any* businesses, no matter how benign they appear - are in business for one reason and one reason only: to make money.
OWNED66 21st July 2009, 10:53 Quote
YOUR DOING IT WRONG !!!!
knuck 21st July 2009, 13:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by OWNED66
YOUR DOING IT WRONG !!!!

*sigh* - so are you

microsoft could have chosen a better name though ... hyper-v sounds idiotic
TreeDude 21st July 2009, 13:16 Quote
I prefer VMware to Hyper V. VMware Server for workstations and ESXi for Servers. They are both free, work very well, and have a proven track record.
DXR_13KE 21st July 2009, 13:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by OWNED66
YOUR DOING IT WRONG !!!!

was almost reporting this post...

Anyway, this is just one of those boomerang moves, they do this and they get something superior in return in the future.
crazyceo 21st July 2009, 13:25 Quote
So remind me again why this isn't a good idea by Microsoft? Is it because it's a move by Microsoft?
TomH 21st July 2009, 13:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
It's a canny move by MS, as they can paint it with all the good intentions in the world and it will actually be a big benefit. Fundamentally however, businesses do not run on "good intentions". Businesses - and I mean *any* businesses, no matter how benign they appear - are in business for one reason and one reason only: to make money.
I agree absolutely; they're doing it because they can't afford not to.

I don't think they've done anything wrong. They're doing this the right way, as the code can now be reviewed and improved (and probably will before it'll actually be merged into the kernel) instead of simply being 'pushed' upon others.

All this talk of interoperability is making me dream of a 'new' Microsoft. One that innovates to compete, but as above; I'd imagine they're only doing this because they'll never succeed with Hyper-V if they don't.

And anything that contravenes vendor lock-in is good in my books. :)
DXR_13KE 21st July 2009, 15:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
So remind me again why this isn't a good idea by Microsoft? Is it because it's a move by Microsoft?

Who said it wasn't a good idea? Its a brilliant idea, MS knows where the money is and how to make it, even if they have to invest in their competitors they know they will get that money back.
dicobalt 21st July 2009, 18:29 Quote
Why do people find this amazing? If you look back to NT4 days they tried to embrace UNIX to steal away some market. Microsoft has released this so it works with their products so they can extend the number of systems that it works with. Microsoft thinks that in the virtualization market they need to acknowledge other operating systems. That makes perfect sense because virtualization is all about being able to run different os environments. Ignoring the place Linux has in virtualization would only hurt Microsoft.
Turbotab 21st July 2009, 18:44 Quote
For low power apps, I can see Windows Server software powering Linux VMs for thin clients, a smart move by Microsoft.
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