Samba 3.2 reflects open source project's ambivalence toward Microsoft

Samba 3.2 reflects open source project's ambivalence toward Microsoft

Summary: Samba’s forthcoming version 3.2 release capitalizes on Microsoft’s interoperability commitments while also guarding against patent covenants that threaten the GPL.


Samba’s forthcoming version 3.2 release capitalizes on Microsoft’s interoperability commitments while also guarding against patent covenants that threaten the GPL.

Samba 3.2, which is expected to be released in roughly one month’s time, offers improved integration with the Active Directory in Windows Server 2003 and recently released Windows Server 2008 and offers support for Vista clients authenticating through Kerberos.

Version 3.2, for instance, offers full support for Windows Server 2003 cross-forest transitive trusts and one-way domain trusts, support for establishing interdomain trust relationships with Windows Server 2008, the ability to join to Windows server 2008 domains and built-in support for Active Directory LDAP signing policy.

Samba is file and print serving software for Linux/Unix servers that provide interoperability with Microsoft’s SMB/CIFS clients and servers. In recent years, project lead Jeremy Allison (updated: pictured below right, dessed as a self described cyberman, leading the annual Golden Penguin quiz show at LinuxWorld 2007) has been an outspoken critic of Microsoft’s alleged efforts to undermine such interoperability efforts.  In an e-mail discussion with this ZDNet blogger, Allison agreed the situation is improving. Microsoft is making more protocols available and sent engineers to its recent Samba XP conference where engineers from both organizations drank beer together and discussed future joint engineering events.    Allison

Yet, in spite of a warming up between the two organizations, Microsoft and Samba remain on opposite sides of the fence, Allison said.  

Samba’s support for GPLv3 in Samba 3.2 -- its first incarnation of the revised open source license --guards against the kind of patent covenants that violate the spirit of open source development and free distribution.  Last year, the open source community cried foul after Microsoft and Novell entered into a patent protection deal that was widely viewed as a legal end run around the GPL. The Free Software Foundation acted swiftly to enact the GPLv3 to prevent Microsoft from making such arrangements with other open source software companies.

As part of its rollout of Windows Server 2008, and its interoperability promise, Microsoft has been promoting its strengthening relationships with prominent open source projects -- including those that tangled with Redmond in the past.  Still, Allison sought to clear up any notion that the two organizations are now joined at the hip.

“Samba doesn't have a partnership with Microsoft. We joined the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (PFIF) and they have the agreement with Microsoft. Having said that, Microsoft has been very cooperative and friendly, and the engineering relationship is getting back to the way it used to be in 1994-1997, which is a great relief to us,” said Allison. “Microsoft engineers are now collaborating directly with us on protocol details and improving the documentation, and we envisage further collaboration in the future. Now, about those software patents."

In that email, Allison scoffed at the idea that Microsoft’s interoperability agenda would signify an end to Samba. “That's not what the promise means.  What I think it means is that they are no longer actively preventing people from interoperating with them, not that they're proactively interoperating with others. The onus is still on us to do the work I'm afraid, which means Samba is more important now than ever.”

Beyond Samba 3.2, Samba is working on a major 4.0 upgrade that will feature support for clustered file systems. Experimental support will be offered in version 3.2

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

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  • Samba 3.2 reflects open source project's ambivalence toward Microsoft

    Lets see if there is a way to get rid of Samba completely. Perhaps Microsoft could make a protocol to work on all machines and thus eliminate the need for Samba.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Is that you Mike Cox?...

      D T Schmitz
      • No (nt)

        Loverock Davidson
    • Showing your .....

      ignorance LD ? They already did ....
    • Already exists.

      Well they could adopt NFSv4 as a first class client redirector along with all the other UNIX vendors. Not that I'm a fan of it - expecially the ACL model, but at least it's a true open standard with an RFC.

      That would get rid of Samba completely :-). Lots of people would cheer :-).

      • If they did that

        wouldn't that put you out of a hobby?
        Loverock Davidson
        • Yes

          I'd have to get a real job. That would suck :-). But I'd live with it :-).

          • I've always wondered...

            Why no one has put out a GPL nfs client and server for windows...

            It's always seemed to me to be a simpler approach to the interoperability.

            That said, I love samba. better performance and it's saved us thousands of $$$ on CALs.
          • The client (redirector) is the problem

            Until recently (*) Microsoft didn't document the internals well enough for someone to do it. I must confess I haven't looked into this for a good few years. It's probably possible now, but a little late for it to matter (which was the intent in hiding the info, I'm sure).


            * For some value of "recently" :-).
    • What's your problem?

      I've noticed that you seem to be the first to comment on a lot of the blogs - do you just sit in front of you computer waiting for every new blog - so you can bash everything you don't agree with or understand?
      You're probably a MS employee paid to do it. (If you're not - you sure have been brainwashed - sad!)
      I can assure you that I'm certainly not going to waste my time reading any of your posts.
      Maybe if we got rid of microsoft - that would solve the problem. lol.
      • Don't waste your time

        "I've noticed that you seem to be the first to comment on a lot of the blogs"

        Loverock Davidson is a troll.

        Essentially, he makes completely absurd, and totally irrational statements with no basis in fact, with the specific intention of angering and upsetting those who disagree with his point of view (although exactly what that is he will never clearly state).

        Once his opponents have gotten angry, he can then accuse them of being emotional and not being objective. The fact that his own extreme subjectivity is the cause is generally forgotten in the ensuing smoke screen of insults and juvenile stupidity.

        The clever thing about this trolling tactic is that you use the most passionate words from the opposition's camp, while utterly ignoring any and all rational comments, and get away with it pretty much every time.

        I 100% guarantee that Loverock's response to this posting will be either:
        A. To ignore it completely or
        B. To post some sort of derogatory comment in an attempt to distract attention from his being a troll.

        Just watch, I don't have to do anything more, he WILL prove me right with his own response.
      • He's a Mike Cox that replies.

        He hooks em in, reels em in and has fun. Enjoy his posts, you can usually pick up the subtle sarcasm. See, his post is MS should release a protocol on all platforms to get ride of SAMBA. SAMBA exists because MS took the standard protocol, extended it, made it Windows only, refused to share. See the irony, an excellent post on his part.

    • Are you crazy?

      Microsoft doesn't WANT to get rid of Samba! They want them (Samba) to do all the work so they (Microsoft) can get paid for it.

      Who hands your cue cards down to you? Better check the supply chain before you say something that gets you canned.
      Ole Man
  • "Leading a panel"

    Indeed :-). It's actually my home-made cyberman suit I wore for the Golden Penguin quiz show. It's a fun event, not exactly "leading a panel".

    Come to LinuxWorld this year to see what my costume will be in this year's quiz.. :-)

    • I guess Cybermen are more personable...

      Than are Daleks. Could you have seen yourself as Davros?
      • Can't do a Davros costume

        Couldn't get the wheelchair up the stairs to the stage :-). Daleks and stairs don't mix.

        • I thought these days they could levitate?

          I guess they didn't open source that, or perhaps there's a bunch of hidden Dalek-only API's :P
          • Naaah . . .

            The Levitation system is proprietary!!! :)
          • And anyway!

            What good is levitating (wasting energy to counter physics laws) when you can fold space (manipulate physics constants to bend reality)?
            Mitch 74