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24 July 2009, 10:15

Microsoft and Vyatta rebut reports of GPL violation

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Reports that Microsoft had to release the Hyper-V Linux Integration Components (LinuxIC) under the GPLv2 because they had violated the GPL have been rebutted by Microsoft and Vyatta. Vyatta had been referenced by reports as the source of the accusation.

Microsoft's Sam Ramji has stated that Microsoft's decision to release the Hyper-V LinuxIC drivers under a GPLv2 licence was "not based on any perceived obligations tied to the GPLv2". Ramji says that instead it was because Microsoft determined that it was "beneficial" to them release under the GPLv2 because it was "the preferred license required by the Linux community for their broad acceptance and engagement".

Vyatta Vice President Dave Roberts states that neither it, or principal engineer Stephen Hemminger, have accused Microsoft of GPL violations, as reported elsewhere. In a blog posting, Roberts says "news stories have started to circulate that have bordered on putting words into the mouths of both Vyatta and its employees". Stephen Hemminger had reported that when investigating the Hyper-V network drivers, part of LinuxIC, he found a licensing issue; according to a report Hemminger found that Microsoft's closed source code used a number of interfaces marked EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL, which marks an interface as only usable by code which has a GPL compatible interface.

Hemminger then contacted Greg Kroah-Hartman, who leads the Linux Driver Project and works at Novell, to see if the issue could be resolved with Microsoft, given Novell's "(too) close association with Microsoft". Roberts says "Stephen merely called the situation to Microsoft's attention" and that Microsoft have made the right decision to open source the Hyper-V drivers. Hemminger says "once Microsoft was aware of it, they were eager to resolve" the problem, which he discovered in March 2009.


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