Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

Summary: Microsoft has contributed source code under the GPLv3 to Samba, the file server software that enables Linux servers to share files with Windows PCs. No, I'm not making this up.


Freak snowstorm reported in hell. Tea party agrees Obama is the best candidate for 2012 presidential election. Microsoft submits open-source code under the GPLv3 to Samba. Those are all pretty unlikely, but Microsoft really did submit code to the Samba file server open-source project.

This might not strike you as too amazing. After all, Microsoft has supported some open-source projects at CodePlex for some time now and they will work with some other projects such as the Python and PHP languages and the Drupal content management system (CMS). But, Samba, Samba is different. They're an old Microsoft enemy.

Samba, itself, is a set of Windows interoperability programs that provide secure, stable and fast file and print services for all client operating systems that use the Server Message Block (SMB)/Common Internet File System (SMB/CIFS) protocol. As such Samba is used to seamlessly integrate Linux/Unix servers and desktops into Active Directory (AD) networks using the Winbind daemon. In common usage, Samba is on almost every network attached storage (NAS) device that ships today. In short, Samba enables Linux to rival Windows Server on workgroups.

In fact, it was Samba on Linux that took Linux from being an edge server, used for Web serving and e-mail, to being an infrastructure server. With Samba, Linux delivers the bread and butter of file and print serving that every business needs in millions of companies.

Since Samba began in 1992, Microsoft has been well, less than happy, with its server rival. But, every since Microsoft lost an anti-trust case in the European Union and was forced to open its network protocols to Samba in 2007, Microsoft has ever so slowly been getting along better with Samba.

But, even so it came as a surprise when on October 10th, when Stephen A. Zarko of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center, gave Samba some proof of concept code for extended protection (channel and service binding) for Firefox and Samba for NT LAN Manager (NTLM) authentication. That's one small step for open source, one giant leap for Samba/Windows interoperability.

As Chris Hertel of the Samba Team wrote, "A few years back, a patch submission from coders at Microsoft would have been amazing to the point of unthinkable, but the battles are mostly over and times have changed. We still disagree on some things such as the role of software patents in preventing the creation of innovative software; but Microsoft is now at the forefront of efforts to build a stronger community and improve interoperability in the SMB world."

Hertel continued, "Most people didn't even notice the source of the contribution. That's how far things have come in the past four-ish years. ...but some of us saw this as a milestone, and wanted to make a point of expressing our appreciation for the patch and the changes we have seen."

Jeremy Allison, one of Samba's leaders and a software engineer at Google Open Source Programs Office told me that he was "really pleased. It does show that Microsoft now consider us part of the landscape they inhabit, and cooperating with us is a really good sign that engineering-wise they understand Free Software/Open Source is a really good thing that can help them also (not to put words in their mouth, but I think recent work from them on Hadoop [An Apache open-source framework for reliable, scalable, distributed computing] and others have shown this).

That said, "Sending code to Samba is a big deal due to historical legacy of the EU lawsuit, and shows that Microsoft is becoming a mature member of the OSS [open source software] ecosystem," said Allison.

He continued, "Now if they'd only stop threatening OSS over patents, and just tried to make money with it the same way everyone else does by building it into products (they're nearly there I think), I think we could finally bury the hatchet :-)."

"But," Allison concluded, "I want to be fair to the guys who sent the patch, that's another department in Microsoft (the one who is suing people :-). These guys are in the OSS-lab in Microsoft and they're great!"

OK, I was wrong. One amazing thing hasn't happened. Two amazing things have happened. First, Microsoft has contributed code of its own free will to a former enemy, Samba. And, second, one of Samba leaders and a well-known champion of open-source software is saying that people at Microsoft are great. It's a day of miracles!

Related Stories:

Samba makes change to enlist corporate developer support

Samba 3.6 now available

Samba may consider accepting corporate-donated code ... fixes only?

Samba 3.6 release soon, Samba 4 pushed to late 2011, 2012

Likewise moves into storage networks with Active Directory

Topics: Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Servers, Software

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  • It would be useful to know...

    ...what was submitted. Since Jeremy Allison posts here sometimes, maybe he can tell us.
    John L. Ries
    • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

      Sure, it was some fixes to the ntlm auth code to work better with firefox on Linux. It's not my area (Andrew Bartlett's really) so I won't be evaluating the patch. But it's pretty cool to see none the less.<br><br>Jeremy.
      • nobody should touch that code

        because it's infested with bugs, vulnerabilities and patent traps.
        LlNUX Geek
      • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

        Linux Guru Advocate wrote:

        >"nobody should touch that code because it's infested
        > with bugs, vulnerabilities and patent traps. "

        Don't be crazy please. It's code, just like any other. It'll be evaluated, tested and if it's the right fix, added like any other contribution.

  • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

    Microsoft is in top 5 contributors to the Linux kernel. Nothing to see here. Move on.
    • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

      @1773 Although that might be technically accurate it is important to point out that their contributions are almost exclusive to Hyper-V compatibility. If they are getting their butts handed to them by VMWare in that space and are doing what they have to do to stay semi-relevant.
    • No, They Are Not

      @1773 <br>Microsoft was one of the top five contributors of <i>new</i> code to the Linux kernel for the 3.0 release (and I think a couple of previous releases as well), not one of the top five contributors overall. They are not even close to that. As kennon said, their contributions are mostly related to Hyper-V compatibility.
  • Minor correction..

    It was submitted under GPLv2+, not GPLv3+.

    They haven't given up on patents yet :-).

    • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

      That's an important correction, thanks Jeremy! Also, in all these articles, everyone keeps spelling my name wrong ;)
      • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba


        That's a big Oops! Back before Microsoft existed, I worked in Engineering with a firm that had to submit everything to Army Corps of Engineers. The Chief Engineer told us "You can make any mistake you like, but NEVER misspell the reviewer or charges name!"

        That is the politics of the situation.

        Thanks for letting us know what your name really is.
  • Paging Jeremy Allison

    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      And oddly enough DTS and SVJN can't man up and break their ABM mentality. Some things will never change
      • And how was MS denigrated?

        You did actually read the article, didn't you?
        John L. Ries
    • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate
      Care to elaborate?
  • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

    It really must hurt SJVN, when you can't spin an MS story into another attack by the Evil Empire.

    Cognitive dissonance is a b*tch isn't it? ;-)
    • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba


      We've seen this dance before - there's always a catch. "Embrace, extend, extinguish" is the only song they know in Redmond.
      • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

        Actually I really don't think this is the case here. Microsoft seem to have moved on from this old method of competing to a new model based on charging rent with patent threats.

        It's still competing of course, and based on a completely toxic concept (software patent extortion), but has nothing to do with Microsoft engineers, who in this case are working diligently to fix interoperability bugs that affect their customers - just like any other engineer.

        And I certainly applaud them for that.

  • One small step.....

    Let's see if it is a fluke, or a real attempt to grow up and play nice with others. I really hope it is the later.
    linux for me
    • RE: Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba

      @linux for me - y'know that Linux kernel you love so much? Microsoft have submitted <a href="">quite a number of patches to the Linux kernel</a> to ensure that Linux runs beautifully within a Hyper-V environment.

      Microsoft has also essentially coordinated and shipped a HUGE body of networking protocols and document formats (way beyond those mandated by the EU) under open licenses (e.g. WS-*, CLI, CLR, C#). They're also contributing HUGE resources to the C++11, HTML5, etc. standardization efforts in order to ensure that these standards and specs are designed and implemented coherently.

      And let's not forget that Microsoft actually delivers quite a lot of open source code including NuGet, ASP.NET MVC, the Orchard CMS, IronRuby & IronPython, Singularity, as well as contributing time, resources and code to a large number of other OSS projects. Slowly but surely, Microsoft is opening up to open-source. Will they ever open-source things like Windows or Office, no, of course not. Nor should they have to - they have to earn a living after all. But their involvement with a growing number of open-source projects will inevitibly grow and many of us will benefit in the process.
      • You know - it's kind of pointless.

        When you look at the Linux fan responses here - the ONLY thing that Microsoft can do that would make them happy is go under and vanish.

        And that's not likely to happen any time soon... so really, it's pointless to try and be reasonable. They'll seize any flaw - and invent ones when that's not viable.