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Microsoft Software Linux

Microsoft Was Distributing Ubuntu Linux 281

Posted by Zonk
from the but-not-so-much-anymore dept.
ausage writes "Groklaw has noted that for the last few days, Microsoft has been distributing Unbuntu Desktop Linux from the Windows Marketplace Website. The page is gone now, but can still — as of this morning — be seen using Google cache. 'Heaven only knows that's true, simply perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. The part Microsoft got wrong is it says the license is "Free" and "No limitations". Actually, the GPL does set some limitations, like what you are responsible to do if you redistribute.'"
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Microsoft Was Distributing Ubuntu Linux

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  • confusing (Score:2, Interesting)

    Slightly confusing.. wtf...

    Maybe an employee joke?
    • by Jugalator (259273) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:19PM (#19609657) Journal
      At least it got 11000 downloads -- not too shabby! :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kebes (861706)
      Let's assume for the moment it was an employee joke.

      Microsoft can certainly fire the employee, but they nevertheless distributed Ubuntu, which includes alot of GPL-software. This means that they are bound by the terms of the GPL. Among other things, this means that:
      1. Anyone can ask for source code from Microsoft. If Microsoft doesn't give out source, then they are violating the GPL and hence copyright law. If they do give out the source code, then they better hope it doesn't infringe on other companie's pa
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jbrader (697703)
        I don't know about "2" but as to "1" if somebody asks them for the source couldn't they just point them to the relevant Ubuntu web page?
      • Re:confusing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kebes (861706) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:28PM (#19609803) Journal
        Ah... apparently the download link was redirecting to CNET. So I guess Microsoft can claim, as they do with the Novel coupons, that they are not the ones actually distributing the binaries hence not bound by the GPL.
        • Re:confusing (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Smidge204 (605297) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:32PM (#19609871) Journal
          Too bad that argument doesn't work for torrent trackers. Yay double standard!

          =Smidge=
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ohearn (969704)
            No, this just means that the next time a torrent tracking site is taken to court they can point to this example with Microsoft as part of thier defense. After all precident does hold a lot of sway in court cases.
          • Re:confusing (Score:5, Interesting)

            by maztuhblastah (745586) on Friday June 22, 2007 @01:46PM (#19610965) Journal
            That actually might make this a good case for the EFF. If they sue Microsoft, Microsoft's defense will be:

            We didn't distribute it -- we just pointed people to a place that was.

            At which point, the we'll have legal precedent for the defense of BitTorrent trackers. If the EFF loses, we get precedent, if they win, the MS patent threat is neutralized. Sounds like a good idea to me! (But IANAL).
            • Re:confusing (Score:5, Insightful)

              by mhall119 (1035984) on Friday June 22, 2007 @03:27PM (#19612527) Homepage Journal
              They did not distribute it, their site merely promoted it. Therefore they are not bound by the GPL distribution requirements, they didn't even have to accept the GPL as a license.

              Now, if your BitTorrent tracker points to a source of illegal music distribution, you can still be held liable for copyright infringement because you are promoting violation of copyright. Microsoft was in no way promoting violation of the GPL.

              So basically this doesn't hurt Microsoft (other than we all get a good laugh at their expense), and it doesn't help illegal file sharing. And since Microsoft was diligent about removing the page after it was brought to their attention, they can't even be accused of actively promoting the use of Ubuntu, so it wouldn't even be patent entrapment.

              So the long and short of it is this: It was funny, but doesn't change anything.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by perp (114928)
                mhall119 says:
                Therefore they are not bound by the GPL distribution requirements, they didn't even have to accept the GPL as a license.

                Moot point. No one has to "accept" the GPL; there's no button to click. The way it works is that the GPL is what gives you the right to distribute at all, so if you distribute a GPLed app, you are bound by the GPL for that app.

                If you don't like it, well, no one is forcing you to distribute it.

                That said, I don't believe that pointing to a Sourceforge link counts as "dis

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2007 @01:13PM (#19610469)
          Microsoft can claim what they want, they entered into voucher distribution willfully and with full knowledge that GPL2 covered indirect distribution. They weren't distributing via their marketplace, it's a simple link to a product available elsewhere.

          There's a world of difference between telling someone where to download something and selling them a voucher directly redeemable against a product and commercial support package. If I tell you there's a guy down the road selling crack then I'm not supplying it. If I sell you a voucher redeemable for crack from the dealer down the block, I am indirectly supplying it.

          Disclaimer: IANACD (I Am Not A Crack Dealer).
      • Re:confusing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by _Hiro_ (151911) <hiromasaki&gmail,com> on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:30PM (#19609827) Homepage Journal
        You also have the debate as to whether they were a distributor or merely a Vendor. If Staples carries a boxed copy of RHEL, they're not bound by the GPL anymore than they're bound by the EULA for Windows for carrying Vista.

        Since it wasn't a Microsoft-Branded product, and was in their "Marketplace" area, not their downloads, they probably haven't incurred any liabilities at all.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Erioll (229536)

          You also have the debate as to whether they were a distributor or merely a Vendor. If Staples carries a boxed copy of RHEL, they're not bound by the GPL anymore than they're bound by the EULA for Windows for carrying Vista.

          Since it wasn't a Microsoft-Branded product, and was in their "Marketplace" area, not their downloads, they probably haven't incurred any liabilities at all.

          Beyond that, if somebody put it up without approval then they aren't liable to be bound by it. It's like if some random guy at MS signed a contract saying that his company gives up all patent rights now and in the future. It wouldn't hold water because it wasn't authorized by anyone with the authority to authorize that. This falls under the same sort of thing.

        • If the boxes containing the software go through Staples' supply chain, they are distributing it. Odds are that there is even a specific entity known as a regional "distributor". The only way to escape liability would be to claim that the box was still owned by RedHat and Staples was simply acting as a kind of shipping service. Even that would be tough, because they put a markup on the product and keep some profit from it.

          You wouldn't say that ibiblio isn't bound by the GPL because they are only a mirror ser
      • Re:confusing (Score:5, Informative)

        by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:39PM (#19609979)

        Microsoft can certainly fire the employee, but they nevertheless distributed Ubuntu, which includes alot of GPL-software. This means that they are bound by the terms of the GPL. Among other things, this means that:


        Microsoft has distributed GPL software in the past (Services for Unix). Just not Linux per se.
        • by quantaman (517394)

          Microsoft can certainly fire the employee, but they nevertheless distributed Ubuntu, which includes alot of GPL-software. This means that they are bound by the terms of the GPL. Among other things, this means that:

          Microsoft has distributed GPL software in the past (Services for Unix). Just not Linux per se.

          That's an important detail. Any legal rights that Microsoft bestowed would be limited to the software they distributed under the GPL, if they wrote some custom app and released it under the GPL it wouldn't affect any other application, but if they did legally redistribute Ubuntu then they're now bound to the GPL for the kernel, gcc, OpenOffice, and any other app included in there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Intron (870560)
        No wonder companies are afraid of the GPL when stuff like the above is posted.
        1) You are only required to distribute source if you made modifications.
        2) If MS makes patent claims against Linux users, they just lose the right to distribute Linux, they don't magically lose (or give up) rights to their own patents.
        • 1) You are only required to distribute source if you made modifications.

          Not true. You are required to distribute the source to anyone you distribute copies to. You are not, under copyright law, allowed to make copies. If you do, then you can only do this by agreeing to the GPL. If you agree to the GPL then you are required to make the source code available to anyone you distribute the binaries for. You are permitted to charge a reasonable copying fee for providing the source, however.

          2) If MS makes patent claims against Linux users, they just lose the right to distribute Linux, they don't magically lose (or give up) rights to their own patents.

          The GPL clearly states that it includes a license to any patents required to use the cod

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Intron (870560)
            You should read the thing before you post.

            1) From the GPL v2 on source distribution:

            c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
            to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is
            allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
            received the program in object code or executable form with such
            an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

            Now expla
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Teancum (67324)
          Regarding point #1 .... read the GPL again. The source code is required if you make a modification or not. If you get it from a website, you are usually covered by providing a link to the source code, but it still must be there. If this is distributed on physical media, the source code must be included on the media. You don't have to give modifications "back to the author" (a common thought for some open source discussions) or even make it easy for the original author to find you, but if you do make mod
      • by oni (41625)
        Anyone can ask for source code from Microsoft.

        Yeah, anyone can ask for source code for Ubuntu from Microsoft. So what?? You make it sound like OMFG NOW THEY HAVE TO GIVE ME WINDOWS!!!111oneone
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by HiThere (15173)
          Don't be silly. Why would I want Windows? I had a copy and reformatted, rather than accept the EULA.
  • Am I wrong? (Score:5, Informative)

    by moderatorrater (1095745) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:08PM (#19609495)
    Or do I see that Microsoft was merely putting a link to a place where you can download Ubuntu? Wouldn't this free Microsoft from any obligations under the GPL?
  • BWHAHAH (Score:5, Funny)

    by jrwr00 (1035020) <<jrwr00> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:09PM (#19609509) Homepage
    Arg! our Linux spy have bee found! he was going to make a windows update to reinstall windows as Ubuntu, Oh well i guess this works
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:10PM (#19609533) Homepage
    I've been trying to get an Ubuntu laptop myself, maybe Microsoft can give me a laptop too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:10PM (#19609537)
    I think my first post is missing because:

    1) It was on a blackberry confiscated by the communist French govt.
    2) I was ready to post, but the lake I was fishing on suddenly disappeared
    3) I was 4th born in my family and I'm too stupid to post
    4) ???
    5) Profit!
    • by baomike (143457)
      Sarkozy is the new French pres, having defeated Royal the "left of center" candidate.
      Even the parliment went conservative, although not by a huge majority.
      And Sarkozy likes the US.
      • by jez9999 (618189)
        Doesn't seem to mind the French farmers getting subsidised under the Common Agricultural Policy, though.
  • by jshriverWVU (810740) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:11PM (#19609545)
    ... thought it was a bit cold outside, did hell REALLY freeze over?
  • Distributing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:11PM (#19609559) Homepage Journal
    There's a difference between "distributing" and "referencing". According to TFA, Microsoft was doing the latter by sending users to CNET for the product.

    This is amusing, but it will not have any of the legal implications that many would expect from Microsoft distributing Linux.
    • I don't think TFS was accusing MS of violating the GPL, it was just accusing them of misrepresenting the license that covers Ubuntu Linux. I don't think it was even implying that it was done intentionally, just that whoever listed Ubuntu on there was a little careless with their description.

      On a side note... how did that get there to begin with? Can users of the website submit software, a la Web2.0, or did some MS dude explicitly approve it?
  • "Unbuntu"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by sczimme (603413) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:12PM (#19609563)
    From the summary:

    "Groklaw has noted that for the last few days, Microsoft has been distributing Unbuntu Desktop Linux from the Windows Marketplace Website.

    However, according to the cached page Microsoft spelled 'Ubuntu' correctly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GMFTatsujin (239569)
      Microsoft *is* the Un-Ubuntu.

      They've been distributing that for years. I say we call the article a 'dupe' and move on to real news.
      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        Microsoft *is* the Un-Ubuntu.


        SCENE: MR BALLMER IN A WHITE LINEN SUIT ON A LARGE WICKER CHAIR.

        BALLMER: Microsoft... the un-Ubuntu. Freedom - never had it, never will. Ah-ha-ha-ha. [BIG SMILE]
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          BALLMER: Microsoft... the un-Ubuntu. Freedom - never had it, never will. Ah-ha-ha-ha. [BIG SMILE]

          BALLMER stands up and throws the chair at the camera, then storms off set muttering "developers, developers, devel-" under his breath.

          Exeunt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:12PM (#19609565)
    I downloaded and installed Unbuntu from the Microsoft page. Does anyone know where I can find a link to Rebuntu?
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:12PM (#19609571) Homepage Journal
    that a security breach was responsible for this? Someone breaks into the microsoft distribution area and silently puts Ubuntu there and leaves, knowing that Microsoft probably would not notice for days.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rhartness (993048)
      I kind of had the same thought but I think it is more likely that a disgruntled employee did this, or one that knew his days at M$ were numbered.
    • by jeevesbond (1066726) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:23PM (#19609737) Homepage

      That makes a lot of sense, either that or a Microsoft grunt was playing a practical joke (whoever is responsible: they're playing with chairs IMO).

      The breadcrumbs for that page backup your theory:

      Downloads > Utility Downloads > System Downloads > Driver Downloads > BIOS & System Update Downloads > Ubuntu Desktop

      Pretty weird place to put the download if they meant to be distributing it. :)

      • Not to mention that the "Driver Downloads" and "BIOS & System Update Downloads" categories also seem to be missing now as well....
    • by fermion (181285)
      It is more likely sheer ignorance. How many people know that Ubuntu is a version of Linux. Probably less than know Linux is an OS that can replace the basic functionality of MS Windows on many machines.

      My suspicion is that someone submitted this to the market place. Note that the title is Ubuntu Desktop, rather than Ubuntu Linux. Also note that the text does not seem to contain 'OS' or 'Linux', and from the description appears to be an office application rather than full featured OS. I suspect that s

  • System Requirements (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Odin_Tiger (585113) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:14PM (#19609595) Journal

    Supported OS
    Windows 3.x
    Windows 95
    Windows 98
    Windows Me
    Windows NT
    Windows 2000
    Windows XP
    Windows Vista
    Windows MCE
    Windows 2003 Server
    WTF?
    Also...

    Number of Downloads 10,923
    Like...Damn.
  • Screenshot (Score:3, Informative)

    by Known Nutter (988758) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:17PM (#19609627)
    in case the google cache goes away...

    http://mrose.org/images/slashdot/microsoft_ubuntu. jpg [mrose.org]

    pretty funny.
  • by Nimey (114278) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:18PM (#19609645) Homepage Journal
    From the cached page:

    Windows 3.x
    Windows 95
    Windows 98
    Windows Me
    Windows NT
    Windows 2000
    Windows XP
    Windows Vista
    Windows MCE
    Windows 2003 Server

    *snerk* The Windows 3.1 requirement really makes this post.
  • SP1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by MadUndergrad (950779) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:19PM (#19609655)
    They only took it down because they forgot to replace all instances of "Ubuntu" with "Vista SP1". It'll be back fairly shortly, I'm sure.
  • Could this possibly be something simply to stir up the community by causing confusion?

    That being said, is there anything illegal about MS re-distributing Ubuntu? Did anyone here actually download it? Can we checksum everything to make sure they didn't trojan any packages?
  • by rs232 (849320)
    "Actually, the GPL does set some limitations, like what you are responsible to do if you redistribute"

    Actually that isn't a limitation, it prevents you from imposing limitations on what downstream developers can do with the code.
    • by spun (1352)
      It is a limitation, in service of greater freedom. Freedom is like that, you have to give up some to gain some. That's a basic implication of the golden rule. If you don't want something done to you, you can't go around doing it to others.
    • by Myopic (18616)
      Something that prevents you from doing something is a limitation [reference.com].
  • ah yes, let the derison of yet another microsoft foible begin, I can feel those endorphins already, coupled with the remnants of the Red Hat and Ubuntu defiance of Microsoft patent fud, I've been walking around with a natural high these last few days ;), speak my friends, let my minds reward systems be overwhlemed with the resonance induced by our collective anti-microsoft rants, amen ;)
  • Not Quite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lprechan (9859) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:33PM (#19609873)
    The part Microsoft got wrong is it says the license is "Free" and "No limitations".

    The page Google cache is showing me does not say that. What the page I'm seeing says is...

    1. Ubuntu is and always will be free of charge. - (True according to the Ubuntu web site.)

    2. You do not pay any licensing fees. - (True.)

    3. You can download, use and share Ubuntu with your friends, family, school or business for absolutely nothing. - (True, again.)

    Perhaps an previous version of the file may have said the license is "Free" and "No limitations", but I'm not finding any evidence of it now. Even Groklaw is saying that "The part Microsoft got wrong is it says the license is "Free" and "No limitations"."

    My home and office have been Microsoft-free since 1995 so I'm certainly no Microsoft fanboy, but I think I'm smelling a bit of "knee-jerk" here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swg101 (571879)
      If you expand the "Detailed Product Specifications" sections, you will see:
      License Type - Free
      Limitations - No Limitations

  • Where can I (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wooky_linuxer (685371) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:35PM (#19609905)
    get the code? I downloaded this funky utility called Ubuntu from Microsoft, and it says in a funny EULA called GPL or something that I should be able to get the source code from whoever distributes it. Since my Windows system has been rock stable and much quicker after I installed this utility, I guess it's a keeper, and I think it is a pretty good marketing idea from Redmond to let us see how do they actually program these things. Course, this Ubuntu stuff is only a utilty or a driver according to that page, but even then this is pretty slick. Can you imagine if someone would let us see the source code for, say, a a WHOLE OPERATING SYSTEM? wow! Perhaps that is MS next step and this whole Ubuntu downloads are a marketing test. So spread the word guys...
  • First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
  • http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/showcase.aspx?ct Id=17 [windowsmarketplace.com] So, perhaps story should be that a *ux fan got past the products posting filter.
  • It's a CNET thing (Score:5, Informative)

    by KarmaMB84 (743001) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:47PM (#19610081)
    You can get listed in the Windows Marketplace by signing up with a Microsoft partner or by signing up with CNET.com. Items in the Windows category end up in the same or equivalent category as they are on Download.com.

    From the how to get listed page at the Windows Marketplace:
    "Packaged Software, Hardware, & Devices: If your product is available in packaged format, you can offer it at Windows Marketplace by signing up with CNET.com."

    The category for Ubuntu form Download.com:
    Windows > Utilities & Drivers > Device Drivers > BIOS & System Updates

    Eerily familiar, no?

    This is a total non-story. Microsoft isn't distributing anything and CNET needs to fix their categories.
  • It was a simple prank I'm sure. Applications can get listed on the Windows Marketplace with next to no approval process. You need to self-certify the software as something that "works with vista" and then inclusion in the catalog should be largely automatic. Someone's day in Redmond probably starts with clicking Accept and Reject next to new listings, and this one slipped through. Not a big deal I think.
  • by fm6 (162816)
    There's still a ton of Linux and Linux-related products on Windows Marketplace:

    http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/results.aspx?tex t=linux&tabid=1 [windowsmarketplace.com]

    This site is just Microsoft aggregating listings from other web sites, such as CNET. A typical brand exploitation exercise, which has essentially nothing to do with the product the product the brand ("Windows" in this case) originally applied to. Ironic, but no relevance to the climate of Hell.
  • by fishthegeek (943099) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:52PM (#19610159) Journal
    Ubuntu Home Basic
    Ubuntu Home Premium
    Ubuntu Ultimate
    Ubuntu Business
    or
    Ubuntu Home Server?
  • by assassinator42 (844848) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:59PM (#19610275)
    Compare the current page [windowsmarketplace.com] with the cache [72.14.209.104].
    Looks like they took the entire "Driver Downloads" category, the one that Ubuntu was in, down.
    Also, Notice what category Download.com has Ubuntu under [download.com]. BIOS & System Updates, same as the Microsoft page. So I'd wager that Microsoft was using a script to aggregate download links rather than do them by hand.
    So, no joke by a Microsoft employee or anything like that.
    • by LParks (927321)
      I think this is the one time that Microsoft will say its a bug and I'll say its a feature, instead of the other way around.
  • Rating/Comments (Score:2, Informative)

    by neowolf (173735)
    I visited this when it was still active yesterday.

    Something that doesn't show up in the Google Cache that really added to the whole thing before it was deleted: Ubuntu got a 5-star rating, and there were several glowing commentaries about how much more usable and stable it is compared to Windows.
  • May be m$ has some agreement with cnet/others and their e-commerce site gets this products through some rss feed, SOAP server, or similar. The filter fucked up and this showed up on their site.

    I'm sure m$ has some pretty strict contracts with their employees, and they are held liable for this kind of action, even after fired, so i don't think someone will take such a risk.

    Besides, don't attribute to malice what is clear product of stupidity.
  • by AlgorithMan (937244) on Friday June 22, 2007 @01:27PM (#19610665) Homepage
    I've downloaded and installed it
    looks nice, feels nice... only one thing disturbs me... every once in a while a paperclip appears and saies

    It looks like you are trying to switch to linux.
    How can I help you to stay honest?
    - show me bogus statistics about how much better and more secure windows is
    - threat me with patent lawsuits
    - offer me more DRM
  • Oh, no! (Score:3, Funny)

    by objekt (232270) on Friday June 22, 2007 @01:30PM (#19610707) Homepage
    Now how will Linux ever be taken seriously for business use if MS isn't behind it?

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