Microsoft says Samba co-operation working well

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Microsoft says Samba co-operation working well

Documentation access and bug reports ensure interoperability.

Microsoft's key open source executive said that an ongoing agreement between the Redmond giant and the developers of Samba continued to prove productive for both sides.

Samba, originally developed by Australian coder and open source advocate Andrew Tridgell, has long occupied a critical place in the Linux and Unix community by allowing interoperability with Windows-based networks.

However, Microsoft's unwillingness to document its protocols meant that for much of the 2000s, Samba developers were forced to use techniques such as reverse engineering to try and ensure interoperability.

Since the signing of an agreement in late 2007 to share protocol information with the Samba team, that process has been much smoother, according to Tom Hanrahan, director of Microsoft's Open Source Labs.

"They're at the point now where they're reading the documentation and they're doing the implementation based on that documentation, so from a design point of view that makes their job a lot easier," Hanrahan told iTnews.

"We participate on a regular basis with them at plugfests, where we'll join them and we're sitting there for basically a week testing interoperability between the platforms."

Microsoft has also begun making small contributions to the Samba code base.

"Members of my team actually run the Samba test suite against our implementation during development so that we ensure that before we ever go out the door we've documented a certain degree of good interoperability," Hanrahan said.

"In the process of that testing we sometimes find bugs in the Samba code base. We will submit bug reports and we'll actually set up an environment and give the Samba community access to it so they can try and take out the problems.

"We're trying to be participatory in our relationship with them."

Watch the video interview below to see Hanrahan explain why Microsoft has an open source lab in the first place and whether its staff members get beaten up in the canteen by narky Windows developers.

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