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Microsoft Networking Operating Systems Linux

Microsoft Has Built a Linux Distro 282

jbernardo writes: Microsoft has built a Linux distro, and is using it for their Azure data centers. From their blog post: "It is a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux." Apparently, the existing SDN (Software Defined Network) implementations didn't fit Microsoft's plans for the ACS (Azure Cloud Switch), so they decided to roll their own infrastructure. No explanation why they settled on Linux, though — could it be that there is no Windows variant that would fit the bill? In other news, Lucifer has been heard complaining of the sudden cold.
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Microsoft Has Built a Linux Distro

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  • by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @08:59AM (#50548265)
    Science has indeed gone too far!
  • MS uses what works (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danbuter ( 2019760 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @08:59AM (#50548269)
    It's in-house and they aren't trying to sell it. No reason not to use Linux.
    • by neilo_1701D ( 2765337 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:05AM (#50548303)

      Exactly.

      I'm sure that given time and money, there could be a Windows variant that did the job. But that isn't MS's focus. Here in the Microsoft Dynamics consulting world, Azure is what is being pushed hard for all the latest enterprise systems (CRM, ERP). Microsoft makes it's money from Azure and everything that runs on top of that. This stuff is nothing to them.

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @10:22AM (#50548879) Homepage

        ..is fine, right? When you're trying to sell Windows to the public as a one size fits all OS yet its apparently not good enough to run the network of their own Premier cloud service thats not a problem?

        Give me a break, this has embarrassing U-turn written all over it.

        • by neilo_1701D ( 2765337 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @10:35AM (#50548963)

          Your comment would be correct 5 years ago.

          Now, cloud services are the thing.

          As an example, the premier ERP solution that Microsoft has, Dynamics AX, is currently totally tied to Windows. The next version, AX 7, changes the game completely. The rich client - the bit the user interacts with - is gone, replaced with a browser-agnostic UI (sporting a Windows 8 Start screen look-and-feel, but that's another story). The server and database components are now running on Azure. Windows has effectively vanished from the equation. And this the flagship ERP application.

          For another example, look at Microsoft Office.

          Microsoft is no longer the company that makes Windows and defends the Windows franchise; it's now services, services, services, and Windows with stand-alone Office etc.

          • Your comment would be correct 5 years ago.

            Now, cloud services are the thing.

            As an example, the premier ERP solution that Microsoft has, Dynamics AX, is currently totally tied to Windows. The next version, AX 7, changes the game completely. The rich client - the bit the user interacts with - is gone, replaced with a browser-agnostic UI (sporting a Windows 8 Start screen look-and-feel, but that's another story). The server and database components are now running on Azure. Windows has effectively vanished from the equation. And this the flagship ERP application.

            For another example, look at Microsoft Office.

            Microsoft is no longer the company that makes Windows and defends the Windows franchise; it's now services, services, services, and Windows with stand-alone Office etc.

            As an Dynamics NAV Developer, this is a bit frightening to me.Because MS has already started to "Azure-ify" NAV, and I believe that what is happening to AX will trickle-down to NAV (even though they are entirely separate products).

            • As an Dynamics NAV Developer, this is a bit frightening to me.Because MS has already started to "Azure-ify" NAV, and I believe that what is happening to AX will trickle-down to NAV (even though they are entirely separate products).

              You think? I always saw NAV as the more fun EFP solution, in terms of ways to get data in and out of the system. Some of the NAV concepts, like publishing a table or a class as an instant WebServices endpoint, would have to almost vanish in an Azure-ized version. Once you take all the fun bit out of NAV, is there really any point to the product?

              • As an Dynamics NAV Developer, this is a bit frightening to me.Because MS has already started to "Azure-ify" NAV, and I believe that what is happening to AX will trickle-down to NAV (even though they are entirely separate products).

                You think? I always saw NAV as the more fun EFP solution, in terms of ways to get data in and out of the system. Some of the NAV concepts, like publishing a table or a class as an instant WebServices endpoint, would have to almost vanish in an Azure-ized version. Once you take all the fun bit out of NAV, is there really any point to the product?

                I've never messed around in AX; so I'll take your word that NAV is "more fun". But, MS is slowly but surely pounding the "fun" out of NAV, that's for sure!

                Once you take all the fun bit out of NAV, is there really any point to the product?

                Well, for one, it keeps me fed... ;-)

          • I trust you're getting compensated for your attempts to change the subject?
        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          Sort of like that supermodel you take out to dinner. Who just nibbles on a salad and pushes the steak and lobster away. And then goes home and wolfs down a few pints of Haagen Dazs.

        • Really? I suppose they should port windows OS onto CISCO routers to maintain 'purity'.

        • Where did you get this idea? Windows has always catered to the majority. They didn't stay you could launch a space shuttle with their OS. Use the right tools for the right job. In this case Linux was that tool to break the gap.

          You should be happy MS used Linux for something within their critical structure. After all, Linux is the perfect OS to solve problems that require infinite flexibility. Linux is also amazing when packaged for specific hardware. Raspberry Pi, mobile phones... That's where Linux has shi

        • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @04:49PM (#50551835) Homepage

          I have worked at Microsoft, and they are all about eating their own dog food. Everyone at Microsoft uses Microsoft products for everything.

          And, let me remind you of the fiasco where Microsoft bought Hotmail and switched its servers from UNIX (FreeBSD on front-end servers and some Solaris database servers) to Windows. They had to throw more hardware at the operation and still had problems, but they did it, and they knew going in [theregister.co.uk] that they would have more problems with Windows.

          But now we are talking about Azure. Microsoft is seriously going for market share in cloud hosting, and most of the customers they are trying to win over are already running their stuff on Linux. So it's not really that embarrassing for Azure to run on Linux... I attended the Linuxfest Northwest conference this year, and Microsoft Azure had a booth in the vendor room where they had signs saying "Microsoft <heart> Linux".

          Also, Microsoft is going after the Docker market. They are whipping together something like Docker for running Windows server apps in the cloud, but meanwhile they are all in on supporting Linux Docker apps for Azure. They have ported the Docker admin tools to run on a Windows machine, so that people can control Docker from a Windows machine (while the Docker is still running on Linux, you understand).

          Give me a break, this has embarrassing U-turn written all over it.

          I disagree about the "embarrassing" part. Microsoft has, in the past, acted like it could control the industry. One reason it acted that way was that it used to succeed more often than not in actually controlling the industry. But it's far too late for Microsoft to kill Linux; they are going to have to co-exist with Linux forever now, and it's not embarrassing for them to act like it.

          I remember, about seven years ago, seeing a video at Microsoft that showed a skinny kid on a skateboard as a visual metaphor for Linux. I was amused... did they really think they could convince IT guys to choose Windows over Linux just by sneering at Linux in a marketing video? The Microsoft that made that video could never make its own distro.

          In recent years, Microsoft has not shown much ability to adapt. Look at how horrible their strategy was with portable music players and then with mobile devices. But now, the Azure guys are just doing whatever makes the most sense for them, and it is politically possible at Microsoft? That's actually a good omen for Microsoft's future; at least they are not denying reality as much as they used to.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by dwywit ( 1109409 )

            That reminds me of the story Frank Soltis ("father" of the AS400) told about one of IBM's customers. They ran AS400s for their distribution network. Then they decided to switch to Windows servers - and after 12 months or so, switched back to AS400s, because Windows just couldn't cut it.

            The customer was Microsoft.

            https://scs.senecac.on.ca/~ibc... [senecac.on.ca]

        • U-turn, perhaps. Embarrassing? More like long overdue. Good engineering is about using the best fit for the task at hand, not about shoving balls into square holes for the sake of politics.

          Let me show you something. This [technet.com] is a Microsoft product that runs on Linux (IPython/Jupyter notebooks specifically, that is). It's not even a customized distro, just plain Ubuntu running in Docker containers. And it's not something that runs under the hood, because in notebooks you can run shell commands and access the fil

      • I don't think a windows variant could do the job. There are so many mature packages for linux. Apt get or whatever keeps them up to date and patched without

        1) Porting something or
        2) Writing from scratch

        And that functionality would not be in the server, it would be an installable package. Because if Windows needed it, they would build it.

        They aren't marketing windows for cloud providers, they are hosting Azure. So why add to windows if your customers don't need it? So they can build a competing cloud?

        Given t

    • by bug1 ( 96678 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:10AM (#50548333)

      No reason not to use Linux.

      Except that its un-American, and causes cancer...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by spacepimp ( 664856 )

        Also, doesn't this mean that they now have to sue themselves for the MS patents they are infringing by using Linux? I wonder if they have given themselves an NDA to find out what those infringements are finally?

      • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:16AM (#50548377) Journal

        Speaking of which, I wonder how long it will take for Linux to 'metastasize' within the organization?

        First, it fulfills a couple of roles here and there in MSFT. Next, they have to make their own in-house distro. Next, they discover that it's kind of useful for a few internal roles within a few internal departments (esp. budget-starved ones). Next...?

        Slowly, surely... ?

        • Speaking of which, I wonder how long it will take for Linux to 'metastasize' within the organization?

          First, it fulfills a couple of roles here and there in MSFT. Next, they have to make their own in-house distro. Next, they discover that it's kind of useful for a few internal roles within a few internal departments (esp. budget-starved ones). Next...?

          Slowly, surely... ?

          They use OS X, too, in a few places (even outside of the Mac Business Unit). Just like Apple runs Windows on some production and test equipment, as well as some other places, I'm sure.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by FranTaylor ( 164577 )

            They use OS X, too, in a few places

            Microsoft is the #1 vendor of OSX software, which makes Microsoft the #1 vendor of BSD software.

    • It is likely that the need/want the option of running on non-x86 hardware, like IBM mainframes.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:33AM (#50548521)

      I'm not joking around here. If Microsoft put out a Linux distro that didn't use systemd, with some guarantee that it never would, I'd very much consider using it. It sounds absolutely crazy, but things have gotten so fucked up in the Linux ecosystem lately that the thought of Microsoft putting out the best Linux distro has actually become plausible.

      • You can always use slackware it does not use systemd and probably never will. That's why I use it on my home server.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iampiti ( 1059688 )
        It'd be fun if they released a nice Linux distro at the same time they're pushing the most-invasive Windows version ever. Maybe some Linux hackers could give us a nice Windows version.
      • I'm not joking around here. If Microsoft put out a Linux distro that didn't use systemd, with some guarantee that it never would, I'd very much consider using it. It sounds absolutely crazy, but things have gotten so fucked up in the Linux ecosystem lately that the thought of Microsoft putting out the best Linux distro has actually become plausible.

        Of course it's plausible. It's radically different than how most MSFT products are designed, but they still have a huge amount of money and a lot of great engineers. If they decided to put out the best linux distro in the world, they would have a good shot.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2015 @12:53PM (#50549987)

        We will never use use systemd. We have replaced it by svhost.exe (Microsoft insider).

      • It's not crazy... if they started a business arm with a distro and support like RH it would probably be quite profitable.

    • Exactly. I think in the past they might have burned 1B building a "core Windows" version for networking. I think recently MS has realized that there is no point spending a lot of money to roll your own, or even keep secret tech you make that you have no intention in selling. Ex: ASP, .Net, Entity Framework etc all going open source: none of them were things you were paying for anyways so why not open it up? You still will likely use windows and VS if you like the tech so they might as well.

    • It's in-house and they aren't trying to sell it. No reason not to use Linux.

      Well yeah, except for that whole we-sell-server-OS-solutions, in a eat-your-own-damn-dog-food kinda way...

    • by number6x ( 626555 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @10:40AM (#50548991)

      No reason, other than Microsoft's own policy of 'Eating Its own dog food'.

      This policy was in place in order to force Microsoft to develop its own solutions from within its own software, in order to force their own software to become continually better and better.

      Of course Microsoft doesn't build their own chairs and desks for their offices, so where do you draw the line between the dog food policy and using other's products for solutions instead of their own? Office furniture is a no-brainer, Microsoft has no dog food to eat. Enterprise level RDBMS data bases would be another, as SQL Server is not really in the same class as Oracle or DB2. Linux, however is different. Linux is a general use OS for Intel (and other) based computers. Windows is a general use OS for Intel based computers. This is a pretty significant cross over. Anything Linux can do, Windows should be able to do. Not improving Windows to be able to match or beat Linux at something is definitely choosing to eat someone else's dog food.

      It may show that Microsoft is shedding some of their traditional 'rules' in order to transform the company and create a new Microsoft.

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        Linux may run on x86, but it also runs on MIPS, PPC, ARM etc which Windows generally does not and most networking equipment does not use x86 cpus.

        It's more likely that MS have realised there is no long term future in selling software, and that cloud hosting is the future due to being an ongoing revenue stream... And that's a market where linux has a heavy presence.

    • All your servers are belong to us.

    • It's in-house and they aren't trying to sell it. No reason not to use Linux.

      Then why did they destroy Danger Labs and the Side-Kick trying to migrate everything to their own servers?

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. They used to run microsoft.com on Apache/FreeBSD. Now they (fake?) it running on IIS.

    • Other than the former CEO who publicly called it a cancer and communist? You'd think that after Microsoft's own experience with replacing Linux, they'd have more tact. Some notable fails: when they bought Hotmail, they tried to switch from the existing Linux servers to Windows ones. There were major system outages so they had to resort to some parts of Hotmail running on Linux. Microsoft's own website servers could not withstand daily attacks and had to hide behind Akamai's servers for protection (which run
  • Wrong choice (Score:5, Informative)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:04AM (#50548293)

    This was just a bad choice. If they wanted a proper software defined network, they'd have selected FreeBSD since it has the fastest, most compact networking stack in the world and its well known/accepted fact by anyone who does high-end networking, hence why Microsoft ALREADY has a fuck ton of FreeBSD installs on their core network labeled ... Juniper Networks ... or F5 ... or any of the other ones.

    Someone deserves to get fired for this. Not because they picked Linux, but because Linux simply wasn't the right choice in any way shape or form as every other major company doing networking has illustrated.

    • FreeBSD is a good choice for networking appliances in general. For their specific use of software defined networking, given the specific constraints they are working under, and their precise goals ... Well, there are people who actually understand a situation, and there are random blowhards on Slashdot who onow much better what should be done, despite not knowing anything about the situation.

    • Re:Wrong choice (Score:4, Informative)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:23AM (#50548417) Journal

      Not so fast - after all, guess what Cisco chained into their Nexus line of switches? (NX-OS is not using a FBSD kernel, after all.)

      It's not that FBSD is failed or failing, but because Linux has a much bigger mindshare nowadays, which means you can more easily get the real esoteric and custom bits for your needs, especially without having to write it all yourself.

      Yes, I know FBSD has linux compatibility [freebsd.org] and stuff, but that's not the point.

    • Re:Wrong choice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by coolmoe2 ( 3414211 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:32AM (#50548503)
      Sooo tired of FBSD blowhards claiming that it is the right choice for everything. Linux has a very large developer base and is mature enough to give all of the BSD's a run for their money. Linux is everywhere now days from the data center to your smartphone. Your claims that somebody should be fired for using it is just plain childish.
    • Re:Wrong choice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Burdell ( 228580 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:54AM (#50548671)

      I suggest you look up how SDN switches and Juniper routers work. In neither case is the commodity OS used in the forwarding path; it is just a control-plane OS, and the performance of the control-plane OS's network stack has no bearing on traffic performance. Whether FreeBSD's network stack is "better" than Linux's is debatable (I thought all the BSD-heads "knew" that OpenBSD's network stack was the best, not FreeBSD), but it has no relevance here.

    • Re: Wrong choice (Score:2, Insightful)

      by morcego ( 260031 )

      Then why is Linux used to power rendering clusters and supercomputers, and not FreeBSD?

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      I agree. What makes Linux nice is the ton of supported hardware. For an excellent Network Stack, go FreeBSD. Linux is just acceptable in that field.

  • Clever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:04AM (#50548297)
    By launching their own distro, Microsoft has figured a way to grab Linux for free and make it another money-making machine for them. Now, this is ironic. Well played, I have to admit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:07AM (#50548311)

    The Total Cost of Ownership is so high, that only a company as rich as Microsoft can use it for their own business.

  • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:20AM (#50548399)

    This is not the first Linux released by Microsoft.
    The first one was released in 2003. http://www.mslinux.org/ [mslinux.org]
    It was released under GPL (Gates Private License).

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:27AM (#50548453) Homepage Journal

    I can't find it on torrent sites.

    • by msimm ( 580077 )
      You're welcome [mslinux.org]. I'd recommend at least scanning the "hot topics" before purchasing and installing the system.
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:34AM (#50548525) Homepage

    I mean, Linux is just full of their patented inventions - hell, they practically wrote the whole thing! They should use it, and proudly!

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:35AM (#50548529)
    The major change is adding the Blue Screen of Death, just to make everyone comfortable with using Linux.
    • Why does Linux not have a user-friendly kernel panic screen, BTW? Serious question. It's pretty random what you get: a sudden reboot, a kernel panic text, or a blank screen. A swooned Tux picture with the text "The Linux kernel has crashed" would look quite professional.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Simple: You see it far to rarely to make the effort worthwhile. With Windows, it was frequently enough before Win7 to deserve special consideration. In fact, the only kernel panics I have had on Linux in the last 10 years where when I told the kernel a wrong amount of memory (instead of letting it detect it) and a wrong root device.

    • Maybe they just wanted to get the most out of the driver they finally found that works correctly with their peripherals.
  • Systemd (Score:5, Funny)

    by snookiex ( 1814614 ) on Friday September 18, 2015 @09:40AM (#50548569) Homepage

    Cool. Now they will bundle Clippy into Systemd.

  • ...no Windows variant that would fit the bill?

    The Bill? Oh, THAT Bill, I got it. Stupid pun.

  • That distro [mslinux.org] was about to be released more than one decade ago (2003) on the GPL (Gates Private License).
  • Dante's Inferno has been renamed Dante's Beer Cooler.

  • Microsoft Has Built a Linux Distro

    Ha ha, I love April 1st on slashdot, what with all the crazy, made-up stories and stuff.

  • MS is in the process of switching from a "software as product" to "customer as product" or "spyvertising" business model.

    This shouldn't be a surprise to anybody who has read Satya Nadella's speeches about the direction in which he wants to take the company.

  • ... the Pope announces that from now on all religious observances in monasteries will be adopted from those of the Unitarian Universalist sort-of-religion. "Hey, it's completely in-house -- our monks will get a lot more work and meditation in not having to waste so much time chanting and going to mass all of the time," he is quoted as saying. "In a few cases it is just plain easier to use the rituals of other religions where using our own would involve a major expenditure or loss of efficiency."

    Meantime,

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