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Microsoft Contributes To Linux Kernel -- And It's Not April 1Microsoft Contributes To Linux Kernel -- And It's Not April 1

That'll <em>never </em>happen. I'm learning not to say those words, because <em>never</em> is a long, long time. How about, for instance, Microsoft contributing GPLed code to the Linux kernel? Well, guess what.</p>

Serdar Yegulalp

July 20, 2009

2 Min Read

"That'll never happen." I'm learning not to say those words, because never is a long, long time. How about, for instance, Microsoft contributing GPLed code to the Linux kernel? Well, guess what.

Even the first graf of Microsoft's own press release admits this is outlandish news:

Today, in a break from the ordinary, Microsoft released 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community. The code, which includes three Linux device drivers, has been submitted to the Linux kernel community for inclusion in the Linux tree. The drivers will be available to the Linux community and customers alike, and will enhance the performance of the Linux operating system when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.

"Break from the ordinary", to say the least! It's in the same rubric of understatement as noting that the Eiffel Tower is rather pointy and tall.

It's fairly clear this is something that benefits them in the long run as much as it benefits Linux. The whole point is to make Windows Server / Hyper-V an appealing choice as a Linux virtualization container --not exactly a kiss-and-make-up arrangement with Linux as a whole. If they can't squeeze Linux out completely, the least they can do is find creative and mutually beneficial ways to co-exist with it. And they're right: I doubt they could ever make Linux vanish entirely even if they dropped free copies of Windows Server on IT managers from the tops of tall buildings.

But I also see all this as another step on a road Microsoft has been on for a while. They've been making Windows a place where open source of one kind or another, whether applications or language platforms or whole operating systems, can land comfortably and work well. They did the same thing with PHP, when they worked to optimize the performance of said language on Windows and make it all the more appealing to run it there.

Perhaps this is a reflection of how Microsoft is training itself to see all of open source software -- OSes, languages, apps -- in a unified light. It's all software that can be run on Windows. And this is all a way to make that "can" into a "should".

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Serdar Yegulalp

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