Engineer: Microsoft violated GPL before Linux code release

Vyatta's Stephen Hemminger claims that Hyper-V Linux drivers had to be released for compliance with the open-source license

Code that Microsoft released Monday for the Linux kernel under the General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) was in violation of that license before Microsoft made it available, according to an open-source network engineer.

Stephen Hemminger, principal engineer with open-source network vendor Vyatta, in a blog post claims that a network driver in Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization software used open-source components licensed under the GPL. Since the license does not allow for mixing of closed-source or proprietary code with open-source code, the software was in violation of the GPL, he said in the post, which details how the violation was discovered.

"This saga started when one of the users on the Vyatta forum inquired about supporting [the] Hyper-V network driver in the Vyatta kernel," Hemminger wrote. "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."

Hemminger said rather than "creating noise," he alerted Novell to the violation, which then informed Microsoft of the matter. He also congratulated Microsoft for releasing the code, which consists of four drivers that are part of a technology called Linux Device Driver for Virtualization.

"It took longer than expected, but finally Microsoft decided to do the right thing and release the drivers," he wrote.

Microsoft said through its public relations firm on Thursday that it is working on a response to Hemminger's claims. Novell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft's announcement on Monday that it was releasing 20,000 lines of code under the GPL -- a license it has criticized and never used before -- came as a shock to the industry, and Microsoft used it as yet another example of its interest in working with the open-source community despite a past of thorny dealings with that community. The Linux kernel is licensed under the GPL.

The drivers Microsoft released, once added to the Linux kernel, will provide the hooks for any distribution of Linux to run on Windows Server 2008 and its Hyper-V hypervisor technology. Microsoft will provide ongoing maintenance of the code under the GPL, the company said Monday.

Many see open-source software as the biggest threat to Microsoft's software business. The company has made broad claims that Linux violates many of its patents, and it continues to seek royalties from open-source companies that use Linux-based software.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags open sourceLinuxMicrosoftgpl

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?