As announced on the linux-kernel and driver project mailing lists here, Microsoft has released their Linux Hyper-V drivers under the GPL version 2, and have submitted them for inclusion in the main Linux kernel source tree.

I've been working with the developers at Microsoft for a while now trying to make this happen, through the Linux Driver Project.

Now, on one hand this is no different from any other company that I have worked with through the driver project. We are averaging about 2 new companies a month right now, working with them to get their code cleaned up and merged into the Linux kernel tree. Stuff like this happens all the time with new companies becoming part of the Linux kernel community every day. This is backed up with the statistics published for every kernel release on the kernel pages.

But, on the other hand, this is Microsoft, so it is a big deal. There are two major aspects of what they did here:

  • They released the code under the GPLv2 and publicly stated that this is a valid license for companies to release code under. They will be continuing to contribute under this license, as they work to clean up the code, and add new features and fix bugs as time goes on. This is a huge step forward for Microsoft from what they have previously stated in the past.
  • They publicly stated that the proper license to release a Linux kernel driver is under the GPLv2, To quote from the notes they sent out to a number of press members:
Q: Why release the code?

A: Because we have utilized Linux code, Microsoft has an obligation to open source the device drivers. This is the process outlined by the Linux community.

Q: Why open source the code?

A: Because this is a requirement of the community, and critical in ensuring that as the Linux Kernel evolves, and as Hyper-V evolves, that the Hyper-V Linux Device Drivers evolve as well.

As one person involved in this whole process said to me, "It looks like hell just froze over."

Steve gives a little more of the backstory of what caused me to start talking to Microsoft in the first place.

posted Mon, 20 Jul 2009 in [/linux]


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