Microsoft may have been forced into GPL release

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Microsoft may have been forced into GPL release

Commitment to open source less than first thought.

Microsoft’s first foray into releasing open source code might not have been quite as altruistic as it first made out.

At the start of the week Microsoft released its first code under the open source General Public Licence (GPL) version 2.0. The code was for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.

The company made much of the fact that it is active in the open source community but it now appears that Microsoft was forced to release the code for previous violations of the GPL.

Stephen Hemminger, an engineer with open-source network vendor Vyatta, blogged that the move by Microsoft was a response to a violation of the terms of the GPL.

Microsoft, he said, had been using GPL technology in its Hyper-V network drivers.

“This saga started when one of the user's on the Vyatta forum inquired about supporting Hyper-V network driver in the Vyatta kernel,” he writes.

“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.”

He said he contacted a counterpart with Novell who was working with Microsoft to rectify the situation without causing a fuss. The Novell employee, Greg Kroah-Hartman, appeared to confirm that Microsoft was forced to GPL its code in his blog.

If true the revelation will be of serious embarrassment to Microsoft, given the previous public statements the company has made on the matter.

A request for information to Microsoft was not returned at time of going to press.

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