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