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Greg Kroah-Hartman Gripes About Microsoft's Linux Contribution; MS Renews Effort 213

Posted by timothy
from the public-growing-pains dept.
dp619 writes "Microsoft's developers were missing in action after the company donated GPL-licensed drivers to the Linux kernel community in July, leaving significant work to the Linux community, according to Linux driver project lead and Novell fellow Greg Kroah-Hartman. The company rekindled its involvement after Kroah-Hartman published a status report this week. Kroah-Hartman said that other companies were also laggards in Linux development, and that Microsoft's lack of involvement was nothing out of the ordinary."
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Greg Kroah-Hartman Gripes About Microsoft's Linux Contribution; MS Renews Effort

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  • Kinda funny. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradisNO@SPAMpalegray.net> on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:45PM (#29384039) Homepage Journal
    I don't get it. Microsoft donates code to the community, licensed under the GPL. Anyone is free to do whatever they like with this code (well, within the constraints of the license), and people are actually bitching about this? I've released quite a few pieces of software under various OSI licenses, and I don't actively maintain the code. If somebody else wants to, fine. Would everyone be happier if Microsoft weren't releasing anything at all?

    I use Debian for almost all my server needs, and I'm a big fan of Ubuntu on the desktop. That said, I'm certainly not going to bitch at someone or some company because they aren't slaving away maintaining code I got free of charge.
  • Re:Of course. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:47PM (#29384059)

    'scuse me?
    They weren't contributing out of the goodness of their hearts?
    They were legally obligated to, and since then have avoided doing much of anything further.

    It wasn't over zealousness. If they hadn't been reminded of their obligation they wouldn't have contributed at all.

  • Re:Kinda funny. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:48PM (#29384077)
    Because it's Microsoft and no matter what they do these people will still criticize them regardless.
  • Re:Kinda funny. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shentino (1139071) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:49PM (#29384095)

    MS only gave it because they got caught with their hands in the open source cookie jar and nanny GPL made them sit in the sharing corner.

  • Re:Kinda funny. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:52PM (#29384123)
    Well then they released what they were supposed to so either take it or shut up.
  • Re:Kinda funny. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:55PM (#29384159) Homepage Journal

    No, you're wrong. Whereas everyone else sees contribution of code as a nice bit of corporate philanthropy, Greg KH sees something completely different. He sees it as corporations dumping their code on the community so they can off-load its support. As such, he often calls on corporate contributors to step up and fund a developer or two to work on the kernel full time. This flame is no different.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by noundi (1044080) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:58PM (#29384189)

    Hmm.. did they forget to thank? It's quite common to cry about this and that... when the only think needed is to shut your mouth and THANK for the little help.

    If you're here to build me a bridge, then tell me so and build it. If you're here to bring me a stone, then don't tell me you're here to build me a bridge.

  • Re:Kinda funny. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:01PM (#29384211) Homepage Journal

    MS only gave it because they got caught with their hands in the open source cookie jar and nanny GPL made them sit in the sharing corner.

    I know this has been modded insightful, but am I the only one who's noticed how chronically juvenile it also sounds?

  • by harmonise (1484057) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:04PM (#29384221)

    Quote from the article:

    It did take over 200 patches to get their code into reasonable shape, which is a bit excessive

    GKH also said:

    If they do not show back up to claim this driver soon, it will be removed in the 2.6.33 release.

    If the driver was in such poor shape and didn't follow the kernel coding guidelines, then how did it make it into the kernel in the first place? I was under the impression that the kernel maintainers had pretty strict guidelines about coding style and what is and isn't acceptable.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:17PM (#29384337)

    Thank them for what? MS's contributed drivers are useless to anyone who isn't running MS's own hypervisor and Linux underneath (i.e., MS's customers). They didn't donate this code out of any altruism, only pure self-interest.

    So don't act like they're doing the Linux community any favors, because they're not.

    Sounds to me like MS dumped this pile of crap code on the kernel maintainers, and then faded away instead of sticking around to deal with the inevitable problems that result when trying to merge code into the mainline (i.e. fixing all the problems that the maintainers point out).

  • Re:Of course. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:20PM (#29384359)

    If you're over zealous about it, MS will just stop contributing.

    So what? They haven't contributed anything useful anyway. This "contribution" was only so their own customers, running MS's hypervisor, could better run Linux underneath. For Linux users not running MS's hypervisor (99.999% of them), it's completely useless.

    Wake me when MS actually contributes something genuinely useful to FOSS, such as some fonts or codecs or something.

  • Re:Kinda funny. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:22PM (#29384389)

    Welcome to crowdsourcing, my friend! The new corporate model where pathetic geeks will be exploited by the big moguls, and just see promises of profit sharing. After you make my code work, I will close the source, become richer than I already am, and you will go back to watch online pr0n and play WoW...

  • Re:Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:40PM (#29384559)

    No, they were violating the GPL.
    They had to at least give source to their customers.

    Rather than to continue to do that they made this driver the kernel maintainers problem. If they don't want to help maintain it, I say drop it from the kernel.

  • It's all good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:43PM (#29384579) Homepage

    Greg K-H's public comments about the code being abandoned had the desired effect: people at Microsoft got in touch with him again. The same thing happened with code contributed by several other companies:

    Although not hesitant to point a finger at Microsoft, Kroah-Hartman refused to name these other companies, claiming it would be "rude" to disclose private e-mail information.

    "But what's the big deal here?" he asked. "This is the normal development process happening, and a company learning how to deal with it. It happens every single day with all companies who are new to the Linux kernel development process. Sure, some do it better than others, but in the end, it's all good."

    This is Microsoft (and other companies) learning how to deal with kernel development. Greg K-H has a good attitude about it, so let's not build a mountain out of this. Perhaps Microsoft will do better next time.

    Not everything and everyone associated with Microsoft deserves abuse and scorn. Save it for their next DRM initiative or something.

    steveha

  • Re:Thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nxtw (866177) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:48PM (#29384615)

    Thank them for what? MS's contributed drivers are useless to anyone who isn't running MS's own hypervisor and Linux underneath (i.e., MS's customers). They didn't donate this code out of any altruism, only pure self-interest.

    Paying Hyper-V users will probably be running SLES or RHEL, and Microsoft provides support for SLES and RHEL in Hyper-V.

    And neither distribution will distributing a kernel new enough to have these drivers in the mainline source for a while.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:55PM (#29384663)

    Yeah, I'd want to do that too. But if the kernel maintainers do that, it would look really bad and arbitrary (no one ever remembers MS's long, long history of unethical behavior), so to be fair, they have to accept the code.

    However, that doesn't mean they have to do MS's work for them. I've submitted kernel patches before (pretty minor ones), and part of the process is making your patch meet the standards of the maintainers: the coding style has to match the rest of the kernel (no Hungarian notation crap, which MS is a big fan of), and they usually find all kinds of nitpicky things they want fixed to meet their standards (which is a good thing; this is a place where perfectionism is useful). So it usually takes a few back-and-forth iterations before the patch is accepted and merged.

    If I, Joe User, were to submit a patch and then disappear, it would NOT make it into the kernel. They'd write back with their complaints, wait for me to resubmit with the fixes, and then forget about it when I never resubmit.

    MS shouldn't be treated any differently. They're not special, and a patchset of this size represents a lot of work to merge into the kernel. If MS wants it merged for the benefit of their customers, it's their responsibility to make the required changes, not expect it to be done for them.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @07:57PM (#29384695) Journal

    If they don't want to help maintain it, I say drop it from the kernel.

    Indeed. Just because they are obligated to release it, that doesn't mean the Linux kernel is obligated to use it.

  • by Vexorian (959249) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @08:08PM (#29384767)
    Ok, honestly, when VMWare released GPLed drivers LOOOOOOOOONG ago, how many blogs did we have talking about how VMWare is contributing code to Linux, and how many people needed to state that those were simply self-serving drivers for VMWare? Nooone... These are self-serving, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, they wanted their virtualization stuff to be able to run GNU/Linux, and they released drivers. It is not an 'evil' move but simply a logical one. But for sure it is not a 'contribution' to Linux. It is nothing out of the ordinary and honestly, I am tired of having to read countless of stories about...
  • by gbarules2999 (1440265) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @08:16PM (#29384831)
    All your posts have been so far have all been complaining about how everyone around here thinks Microsoft is evil, and how the group mindthink is fucking you over. No wonder you got modded down.
  • by MoxFulder (159829) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:23PM (#29385059) Homepage

    Thank them for what? MS's contributed drivers are useless to anyone who isn't running MS's own hypervisor and Linux underneath (i.e., MS's customers). They didn't donate this code out of any altruism, only pure self-interest.

    Yeah, and they only decide to "donate" this code after it was pointed out to them that keeping the code private was a violation of the GPL, since it's clearly a derivative work of the Linux kernel.

    So what do they do? Instead of GPL'ing it and working to maintain and clean up the code themselves, they just dump it on the kernel maintainers. Lame.

    In my mind, it shows that Microsoft still doesn't take Linux seriously on some level. They don't bother to build a useful working relationship with the kernel devs because they see this as a one-off interaction just to "get Linux working with Windows."

    Contrast this with, say, Intel or AMD or Realtek or IBM or pretty much any hardware company. Of course, contributing to the Linux kernel is a matter of "pure self-interest" for those companies too: they want to make their Linux-using customers to buy and happily use their hardware. But those companies learn to work with the mainstream kernel development process, because they see a long-term interest in a good relationship with the community of Linux developers and users.

  • by TravisHein (981987) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @09:28PM (#29385113)
    Kind of funny how today there was that other announcement here about Microsoft sponsoring CodePlex foundation to help bridge the gap between commercial developers and open source projects, which kind of seems to be what they should have done a bit more here right.
  • Re:Kinda funny. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:06PM (#29385335) Homepage

    I think the point is, that kernel contributions in general, even if it's MS, don't get included just because they exist. In fact, it is my understand that patches more often get rejected than accepted. If this contribution less public, and not not from MS, it might have been rejected outright.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:55PM (#29385611)

    Somebody call the wambulance please.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:49PM (#29385893)

    "If you're here to build me a bridge, then tell me so and build it. If you're here to bring me a stone, then don't tell me you're here to build me a bridge."

    Except they're here to teach you to fish, not to become your unpaid fishermen/code slaves for the rest of eternity.

    I actually expect that this was an intern project for one or more interns (intern season just ended), and that there was never any expectation that the people who did the work would be around to maintain it. It was in fact a very large move for Microsoft to release this code at all, and it probably took a lot of begging internally to get management to agree to that much concession. Then they went above and beyond, and released the code patches under the GPL, which meets their requirements under the GPL to donate the code back to the Linux project. You seem to expect them to stick around and maintain that code in perpetuity, which wasn't the contract, and wasn't the license. So you're complaining and threatening to remove the drivers in the next release unless they commit resources in perpetuity to maintaing the drivers vs. *your* code base.

    This is really a stupid demand on your part;if the kernel level APIs (what Sun calls their DDI/DKI - Device Driver Interface/Device Kernel Interface) in Linux were stable and not such a moving target, you could just forget the drivers and they'd keep working indefinitely.

    As one of the people who struggles internally in a company to keep certain sources out there and available for anyone who wants them, IMO it's really ungrateful of you to look the gift horse in the mouth and demand more just because you can't maintain stable APIs.

    -- Terry

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <[slashdot3] [at] [justconnected.net]> on Friday September 11, 2009 @12:03AM (#29385955)

    They didn't attempt to violate the GPL, get caught, and then take a crap on the floor either.

    Had Microsoft gone and said "We have these drivers for you, benefiting us, that we want in the kernel. We've made a good-faith effort to do everything right, stylistically and otherwise, what do we do next?" everybody would be applauding them (as it is, people are still applauding them).

    What they did instead was try to sneak them out like a thief in the night, then get caught and need to hand the code over or risk a lawsuit. So they had half-assed it to begin with, and now weren't answering questions. They've been working in bad faith.

    That's the difference.

  • by tokul (682258) on Friday September 11, 2009 @12:18AM (#29386019)
    People don't have to be under mind control in order to think that Microsoft is evil. They might have enough work experience to know that Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk and Corel don't care about end customer and care only about own profits and suppressing opposition. Such corporate behavior fits definition of evil in human world.
  • Re:Thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vancorps (746090) on Friday September 11, 2009 @12:34AM (#29386093)

    No offense but you just sound like a rabid anti-Microsoft person who would hate anything they do simply because they are the ones doing it. The reality is that all corporations have self interest at heart when contributing to the Linux community. IBM for one mainly sells software services for Linux/Unix even though they also sell hardware. Oracle sells purely software but have always supported Linux/Unix.

    The reality is that I went with XenServer instead of Hyper-V because Linux wasn't a supported guest OS. Since MS has made this change their product is much more competitive with the other players who support multiple operating systems. Microsoft's customers won't suffer because MS doesn't offer drivers for a VM, they will simply migrate to another platform which happens to free.

    As far as most Linux users I think you are way the hell off base in that every shop I have ever encountered runs some Windows in their environment and those people will find that virtualizing their infrastructure saves them a ton of money especially since they already bought their Windows license. Get off your anti-MS high horse and come back to reality friend, it's not as bad as you make it out to be. MS is finally starting to embrace the Linux community and they face criticism the whole way, it's a stupid way of doing business and an even less intelligent method of getting what you want which is interoperability between all the major platforms. If only Apple would play so well with others... given the state of networked support in OS X I think your rabid hatred is best reserved for them although I can understand a strong distaste of Windows too.

    For those of us out there that run just about everything, we'll continue on and enjoy the small improvements each platform makes and encourage continued improvement from all sides.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2009 @02:37AM (#29386569)
    Beggars cannot be choosers and like it or not, Linux community = beggars.
  • Re:Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nosPam.gmail.com> on Friday September 11, 2009 @02:58AM (#29386653)

    They didn't donate this code out of any altruism, only pure self-interest.

    Everyone using the GPL is doing so out of self-interest. If it was altruism, they'd be released their code into the public domain.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Friday September 11, 2009 @03:08AM (#29386687)

    But aren't we just seeing this process dramatized before us.

    Microsoft: "Here you go. Hyper-V Code."
    Kernel Maintainer: "Wait. There are some problems with it that you need to deal with or we aren't going to include it in the kernel."
    [Slashdot story]
    Microsoft: "Oh we'll look into that."

    If Microsoft cares enough about getting it into the Kernel they'll fix it. Otherwise they wont... problem solved.

  • Hit and run. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Friday September 11, 2009 @03:19AM (#29386749) Homepage

    From the blog,

    "hv (Microsoft Hyper-V) drivers. Over 200 patches make up the massive cleanup effort needed to just get this code into a semi-sane kernel coding style (someone owes me a bit bottle of rum for that work!) Unfortunately the Microsoft developers seem to have disappeared, and no one is answering my emails. If they do not show back up to claim this driver soon, it will be removed in the 2.6.33 release. So sad..."

    I'm not shocked. M$ reputation is so bad that this kind of behavior is not a surprise.

    Was is a bit of a shock is that GKH actually wasted one minute longer than rejecting the fake drivers with a missive to "hold off on re-submission of the code until it actually works" What happened to the idea of showing something that works? There used to be pretty strict guidelines about coding style and what is and isn't acceptable, including having some working code first.

    Anyway, what are these so-called developers from M$ off doing while the Linux team is cleaning up from this hit and run?

  • Re:It's all good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:16AM (#29387001) Homepage

    Indeed - Microsoft were (eventually) fully in compliance with their GPLv2 "freedoms". They squatted down and strained and squeezed out a steaming dump of their actual source. There is no - zero - onus on them to make that source fit in with the Linux kernel zeitgeist, only to provide what was used to build their binary, everything that was used to build their binary, and only what was used to build their binary.

    Their "freedoms" ends with bundling source with the binary or making it available to "any third party", not to massage it until it fits the whims of any particular Linus-kernel Nazi. And thus ends the thread.

  • by extintor (826864) on Friday September 11, 2009 @04:32AM (#29387057) Homepage

    You seem like one paranoid individual.

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