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Microsoft Launches Linux Labs Website 275

Posted by Zonk
from the getting-the-message-out dept.
mjdroner writes "ZDNet is reporting that Microsoft is launching a website to 'share the activities of its internal Linux laboratories.' Microsoft says its goal is to foster communication with those who use open-source. The article also mentions that Microsoft runs a 300-server Linux installation to test open-source products." From the article: "Customers will be able to submit requests to Microsoft employees. For example, a person could ask how to best test the use of Linux desktops working with Microsoft's directory software. In addition, Port 25 will do video interviews with Microsoft employees with experience in the open-source or Unix world, Hilf said."
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Microsoft Launches Linux Labs Website

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  • by liliafan (454080) * on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:57PM (#15079744) Homepage
    My biggest question to MS regarding their interaction with Linux/*NIX would be why the hell windows XP SP1 broke my Samba PDC!! Before SP1 I was able to load roaming profiles without any problems, I applied SP1 and it all fell apart.

    Microsoft seems willing to help you get your Linux workstation running against their PDC but are unwilling to reverse and allow their desktops to run against a Unix PDC.

    MS has always seemed to break interaction with samba at every opportunity, I suspect this is completely intentional, especially considering their server products (that include the PDC functionality) is their flagship productline.
    • by psocccer (105399) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:08PM (#15079888) Homepage

      Actually it was apparently a security fix, I recently went through this since we're migrating to XP and samba 3.x + ldap. There is a setting in the group policy editor for checking ownership of roaming profiles in SP1. You have to disable this check by enabling the "Do not check ownership" thing. There are details here [rmschneider.com], but once you're done it all works fine.

    • "MS has always seemed to break interaction with samba at every opportunity, I suspect this is completely intentional..."

      No way! Microsoft would need an entire Linux lab for doing that intentionaly...

      Oh,ok. Never mind...

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @06:38PM (#15080575) Journal
      My biggest question is how much of this Linux "lab" is really dedicated towards finding ways for Napoleon Gates and his foul minions at Redmond to spread more of their FUD near and far. After all, we all know that all the Linux types that go into the sanctum of Redmond come out reprogrammed to shit on Linux at every opportunity.
  • Its a trap! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:57PM (#15079745) Homepage Journal
    I'm serious.
  • obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by sTeF (8952) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:59PM (#15079768) Homepage Journal
    in other news: hell just froze over.
  • Embrace... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LithiumX (717017) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:01PM (#15079802)
    We all know what this is. They've more or less claimed it as a prime mantra behind their business logic. Embrace and "Extend". The Embracing has started, but that Extension is going to be considerably less fun.
    • by mtenhagen (450608)
      As long as they follow the GPL rules (which they legaly must) I dont see the problem.
      • Can't they build and then link to completely separate binaries? If they write a closed source library or program, and make their advancements dependent on that, won't that slow re-implementers down?
        • by jZnat (793348) *
          You can only do that with LGPL software. If you use GPL software in your software program, you must GPL that software as well (or perhaps an equally permissive and restrictive copyleft license in the future). There are only a small handful of GPL'd programs that can even be used via linking like you mentioned, and that's GCC (glibc).
      • The GPL basically says they don't have to release one bit of code if they keep everything internal.

        And hell really will freeze over before MS releases GPL code.

        So... they won't have one bit of problem "complying" with the GPL in this instance.
        • Re:GPL (Score:3, Funny)

          Microsoft have distributed many GPLed applications, including GCC, for some time as part of the Software for Unix package. Hells still going strong, and provides central heating for the sun.
          • I said RELEASES... not DISTRIBUTES.

            As in: modifies the code and let's others have it under a GPL (license... but that would be redundant).
      • by MyHair (589485)
        As long as they follow the GPL rules (which they legaly must) I dont see the problem.

        <cough> binary code with GPL wrapper <cough> a la Nvidia <cough>

        If they can get people using their proprietary connectors they can embrace and extend at a whim and leave reimplementers in the dust.

        I think all supported MS OS'es have Windows Update and Automatic Updates built in, and they're not supporting XP prior to SP1. They could require their binary connectors to use Windows Updates for updates and cla
    • by nizo (81281) * on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:55PM (#15080282) Homepage Journal
      Just for once I wish Microsoft would "embrace" face to face and not sneak up from behind. Can we at least get some lube for the "extend" part this time?
    • I prefer the 3E's myself:

      Embrace
      Extend
      Extinguish
    • Re:Embrace... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolic (11752)
      I think the community-at-large should be very careful with this. Linux is open source, no doubt. But, what if, over time, Microsoft became *the* resource for open-source software, advice, etc., relegating much the current open source effort to a class of unimportant distinction? What better way to eventually rid yourself of a huge problem - support it out of existence.
    • Embrace and "Extend".

      Damn spam. Yet another Viagra ad.

      I do find it funny that Microsoft is running a lab with 300 linux servers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:01PM (#15079806)
    The U.S. Airforce once had some of their practice squadrons use Russian tactics and made 'em speak Russian and had 'em briefed with a Soviet flag in the background. This helped the regular pilots practice "against the enemy".

    I wonder if this is sort of the same concept going on here.

  • For all of these years M$ has tried to Buy, steal or distroy anything to do with Linux, Then why do they want to be so nice to anyone dealing with Linux, Be afraid.
    • by vandon (233276) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:13PM (#15079945) Homepage
      For all of these years M$ has tried to Buy, steal or distroy anything to do with Linux, Then why do they want to be so nice to anyone dealing with Linux, Be afraid.

      It's pretty simple. They've tried killing, buying, and trashing Linux. It's not going away. So now the question is 'How can I make money off of Linux?' This is market research to find out what MS-Linux interoperability tools people may need and how to best sell them.
    • Anyone who goes to Microsoft for Linux advice deserves the misinformation/FUD that they're going to get. It's kinda like going to kernel.org for Windows help.
  • by jacobcaz (91509) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:03PM (#15079825) Homepage
    For example, a person could ask how to best test the use of Linux desktops working with Microsoft's directory software.

    Answer: Thank you for choosing Microsoft(TM) Software. We have studied this problem and have determined to best use Linux desktops with Microsoft's Active Directory(SM) first format the machines and install Windows(TM) XP Professional(SM)...

  • Obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dadragon (177695) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:03PM (#15079830) Homepage
    Well, to me it was pretty obvious that Microsoft runs Linux machines. How can they test their competition if they don't? I expect that they also have HP machines with HP-UX, Sun, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Apple machines. It's just good business sense to know what the competition is doing. I'd be disappointed if they didn't.

    Oh, OpenBSD also forms the base of Services for UNIX, so that'd be a shock if they didn't have at least some OpenBSD servers.

    Now, Microsoft writing about it, that's kinda neat.
    • It's just good business sense to know what the competition is doing. I'd be disappointed if they didn't.

      Be prepare to be disappointed. Note the choice quote in the summary:

      In addition, Port 25 will do video interviews with Microsoft employees with experience in the open-source or Unix world, Hilf said.

      My guess is that those employees are few in number, and most work off-site, in the basement, or are otherwise segregated from the rest of the collective, but get to attend weekly meetings with the folks in M
    • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phat_Tony (661117)
      They keep the competition around [michaelhanscom.com] for something.

      But Shhhh! They'll fire you [michaelhanscom.com] if you tell anyone. At least, they did before this announcement.

  • Actual Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:04PM (#15079847) Homepage
    Since the summary did not provideth, here's a link to the actual site: http://port25.technet.com/ [technet.com]
  • by caffiend666 (598633) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:05PM (#15079854) Homepage

    Hello dear friend,

    While this message my come as a surprise to you, I have spent extensive time trying to port MS Windows applications to Linux. After my company (Loki Software) went bankrupt, the CEO mistakingly transferred $100m (One Hundred Million US Dollars) to my Nigerian bank account and I am looking for a partner in transferring this money back to the United States. In exchange for this service....
  • by vertinox (846076) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:06PM (#15079871)
    I dunno. Isn't this kind of like Stalin asking for input on the democratic process:

    Stalin: Hey guys... I know I've been kind of totalitarian in the past, but... Um... Let's foster some thoughts about that democracy thing we keep hearing about over in the States.

    KGB Adivsor: I hear they don't have secret arrests over there...

    Stalin: Ok. Thats a start... Anything else?

    Army Commisar: They don't have secret laws or show trials.

    Stalin: I seeee....

    Politburo Advisor: Oh... And they watch funny shows on TV and actually own their own homes and cars and mow their lawns and have these things called elections so that everyone can have their input into the process... Oh and almost forgot there is the...

    Stalin: *cuts advisor off* Ok. I think that is enough fostering for a very long time. Lets get back on the subject of 'summary executions'. You know guys, I was thinking maybe we could double our efficiency if we outsource to the Chinese.
    • Hey, Bill has already made it quite clear that it is *linux* users who are the communists.
    • Wow, you missed Godwin's law for a millimeter!
    • Re:Thats strange. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phillup (317168)
      Isn't this kind of like Stalin asking for input on the democratic process

      Well, MS isn't asking anyone anything... they are "providing information".

      Their intent is to make the "information" look legitimate by having a huge resource that they could use for "research" if they really wanted to.

      So... a more appropriate analogy would be:

      Asking Satan for the best way to get into heaven.

      In the end you really have to consider the true intentions of the source of the information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:08PM (#15079890)
    First Apple lets people install Windows then Microsoft lets its own people install Linux.
    Whats next ?
    Balmer takes an anger management course and Steve Jobs changes his appearence ?
  • by jlebrech (810586) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:14PM (#15079951) Homepage
    Microsoft Linux Virus Labs
  • by geoff lane (93738) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:16PM (#15079971)
    MS admits that staff inspect and use open source.

    How do they ensure that none of that source doesn't leak into MS products?

    It would be interesting to discover the facts, we've shown you ours, how about you show us yours?
    • How do they ensure that none of that source doesn't leak into MS products?

      By realizing it doesn't really matter if you don't ever let anyone see that particular piece of code?

      Ever wonder why they *really* don't ever "share" enough of the code to compile the whole thing and compary signatures of the binaries...
    • Actually MS is *very* sensitive about employees looking at open sourced code (particularly viral licenses such as the GPL). I would imagine that the employees looking at things like Linux source are doing so for reporting purposes only, and do not share their knowledge with the product groups.
    • by Churla (936633) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @06:55PM (#15080704)
      From personal experience.. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" stops working when people hit puberty and figure out some key things.

  • by Like2Byte (542992) <Like2ByteNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:17PM (#15079980) Homepage
    {anti-microsoft rhetoric ON}
    What's to stop Microsoft from receiving a request then patenting it and stiffling all future OSS development for your submission?

    On the covers, it sounds like Microsoft is opening their arms to open-source development - which is what the OSS community has been wanting for years - but, under the covers, what's to prevent Microsoft from garnering too much control of any given project?

    This move isn't to gain the respect of the IT community, it's a ploy aimed directly at removing the ever-increasing market share that GNU/Linux has been gaining. Every Linux installation removes the Microsoft Tax Revenue Stream from Microsoft's coffers and that is a threat to them.

    Until you see a Microsoft release of a GNU/Linux distro, don't expect Microsoft to support Linux too earnestly. This is just another move by Microsoft geared to directly affect GNU/Linux installations by those installations being replaced with Microsoft server OSs.
    {anti-microsoft rhetoric OFF}
  • by gentlemen_loser (817960) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:21PM (#15080000) Homepage
    The Prince of Darkness (TM) as set up a new site called "Port 666" where residents of Hel will discuss their experiences with that Other guy. As a quote from the PoD himself, "We'd really just like to help the community out there understand the implications of the decesions they make." More on this later...
  • by caluml (551744) <<gro.mulac.erehseogmaps> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:22PM (#15080012) Homepage
    Hmmm :) Isn't this how revolutionaries bring down governments - from the inside?
    • by AoT (107216)
      That's called a coup.

      Hmmm. An open source coup at MicroSoft.

      I like it.

      Let's get working on this kids.
      • That's called a coup.

        In 'merica we call them elections.

        Just make sure your friends [google.com] are the ones counting the votes...

        But, to pull it off you have to make sure the local military is busy in another country. That way you can make it look like you are "building up the military" with increased budgets... but you are really syphoning off money from the treasury and running the military into the ground.

        So, when everyone catches on... it is too late.

        And if you get caught? Pardons all around!

        (Gotta give them credi
  • In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by init100 (915886) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:24PM (#15080030)

    ...Microsoft urges UK PC vendors to not sell PC's without an OS, since this is a missed opportunity to market their software and services. They also claim that so called naked PCs are often used to install pirated copies of Microsoft software.

    Note that they do not specifically mention that this OS is Windows, but I think it is implied between the lines. It is also common knowledge that BSA counts systems sold without a commercial OS as using a pirated OS, which means that computers running Linux or other F/OSS OS'es are included in their piracy statistics.

    • This is from a previous slashdot article. The "missed opportunity to market software and services" line was for Microsoft PARNERS and AFFILIATES - the people who specialize in MS products. In other words, they're telling their own vendors that selling less is bad.

      Not really all that malicious.

    • [that computers running Linux or other F/OSS OS'es are included in their piracy statistics.]

      As well they should be. Why, I myself specifically bought a naked PC so I could run a pirated copy of Fedora Core 5 that I got from the notorious warez site fedora.redhat.com. I just hope it doesn't get slashdot'ed now that I've posted it here.
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:35PM (#15080127) Homepage
    As large as Microsoft is, they can't totally control the computing choices of all of the businesses and governments in the world.
    As much as marketing is importing in the consumer field, I think aggressive advertising is not taken as favorably in the business world. Many large businesses and organizations have chosen to use Linux on various servers, and Microsoft has to acknowledge this, especially if they want to keep their core desktop business.
    For example, say you are a large university and you keep thousands of students and staff members' e-Mail on a Linux computer (or computers), and you have labs full of desktops that students use to access it. Say the IT department at this university calls Microsoft up with a question about some minor problem this is causing. Microsoft tech support can't really say "oh, just format that closet full of mail servers and put Windows on them!" They might be able to suggest such a thing in advertising, but they know that if they try it with corporate professionals, they are just going to be laughed at.
    Microsoft needs to adjust itself to the decisions corporations, governments, universities and the like are making. It is as simple as that.
    • You, know, part of me is wondering whether this part of there attempt to satisfy the EU. After all, the EU demanded that MS play nice with competitors. By 'supporting' Linux in the sense of helping people to integrate other solutions with MS, they might actually be helping their case in the EU. MS could claim that they have documented stuff and that they now are offering support via a website to help people integrate. Afterall, MS needs the EU to calm down before they get in some serious trouble with Vist
  • by MindPrison (864299) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:37PM (#15080148) Journal
    ...and your enemies even closer!

  • Yoga Tutor: OK, now put your arms in front of you. Now slowly join your hands making a circle, and breathe out.

    Breathe out....
    Now extend your arms and breathe in.

    Breathe out...
    Breathe in...

    Join your arms again. Embrace...
    Now extend your arms and breathe in. "Extend".

    Keep doing it guys...

    Embrace...
    Extend...

    Embrace...
    Extend...

    Well done! See you next week!
  • Embrace and extend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:56PM (#15080298)
    Why is the first thing that went through my mind "Ok, how're they going to use it against Linux?"? Maybe because it's always been like this so far?

    I pondered, and so far the only explanation is their usual "embrace and extend" practice. Take a standard, implement it, then extend with some "extra features" nobody else supports, hope that devs jump the wagon and make use of those "features" until customers have to use their flavor or else something doesn't work.

    It worked before in the Browser War, I'd guess it's a tactic that could work again.

    Now, how?

    My guess goes towards .net. Yes, there's Mono, but MS has the advantage of setting the standard. If they provide a Linux version of the next .net version, Mono will have a rather hard time holding a foot in that market. The framework is free anyway (has to be, who'd buy it?), so MS isn't even losing anything.

    After a few years, Mono will vanish. And then MS can start pulling resources from the Linux version, making it less stable, making it slower (unless it's neither stable nor fast from the beginning). Yes, that takes time. But MS is in no hurry.
  • I'm guessing this is mostly a "know thy enemy" kind of thing; the more they learn and explore about Linux, they more they can try to poke holes in it or create F.U.D.. I'm guessing the rewards would be great for someone within MS who can come up with fundamental low-level areas where they can say Linux falls down as compared to XP (whether they are actual, or not).
  • At least, this makes it seem like they do: "The lab's software is even more diverse, with some 15 versions of UNIX and 50 distributions of Linux--including many lesser-known ones like Asianux, CentOS and NetBSD." http://port25.technet.com/archive/2006/03/31/14.as px [technet.com] Looks like there are already a few comments there about it though.
  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @06:18PM (#15080458)
    OK, I will repeat this once again...

    I have said this a lot on Slashdot, and usually it gets dismissed, but I will restate it.

    Know your competition and DO NOT under estimate Microsoft.

    This just shows that at least they 'get' this concept of knowing their competition. This also would demonstrate that Redmond is not blind to the advances in the Open Source world.

    Not only are the using and learning from it, but all it would take is a bit of popularity to see a Linux subsystem for NT, like the already MS *nix subsystem shipping free for NT.

  • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @06:28PM (#15080516) Homepage Journal
    I posted this on Kishi's Korner on port25. I really hope they publish it.


    Dear Microsoft:

    Before investigating Linux, would you guys please do the following so we can testify of your good faith?

    * Opening the Excel and Word binary formats
    * Adapting the Open Document Format for Microsoft Word
    * Fixing the Web Folders to be 100% compatible with existing standards (I want to use webfolders on my php-based site!)
    * Adopting the ext2 and ext3 (and reiser if possible) file systems for Windows XP and Vista
    * Releasing the Internet Explorer sourcecode (including but not limited to the extensions like XML and XSLT handling) under the GPL
    * Supporting the w3c standards in Internet Explorer - for this we web designers have had to endure constant headaches.
    * Promise not to file any patent suits against Open Source programmers and companies
    * Stop the "embrace and extend" business please...

    Also, there's something I have against Microsoft. For years I've found bugs in various of your products but me, as a mere mortal user have found no means to contact you. Please adopt collaboration tools like Sourceforge - trust me, they're great.

    P.S. If you could get Steve out of the company and put MiniMSFT in his place, I'd be delighted :D

    Thanks!
  • by Yuioup (452151) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @06:52PM (#15080682)
    Ah but everyone... here's the catch...

    OPEN SOURCE CANNOT BE EXTENDED. At least not the way Microsoft wants it to be.

    Why? Because it's based on open collaboration and open standards. It's a collective which cannot be controlled. What happens if Microsoft tries to control OSS? Simple. You fork it. What happens when Microsoft tries to find a way to exclusivly make money off of OSS? Simple. You make a free (beer, speech) alternative and put all the documentation on-line. All of it.

    You see, Open Source cannot be killed. That's the beauty of the whole concept. Cut off one head and another grows... and I mean it in a good sense.
  • HONEYPOT [wikipedia.org]
  • 99 comments (Score:5, Funny)

    by Captain DaFt (755254) <captain_daft@gmail . c om> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @06:57PM (#15080720) Journal
    And yet nobody has yet said:
      "Finally! The ease of linux combined with the security of Windows!"

    Really guys we're slipping here.
  • by frankmu (68782) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @07:26PM (#15080894) Homepage
    apt-get assimilate

    (resistance is futile)
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @07:58PM (#15081066) Homepage Journal
    Like in that movie, I can visualize badly cloned, mutant penguins in that lab, suffering and asking for death. Someone must stop Microsoft to do those evil experiments.
  • Marketing Ploy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerim (872022) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:46PM (#15081878)
    This is a classic marketing ploy. Pretend to be "concerned" about the needs of a competing product. In actuality, they are attempting to "re-educate" you. Oh, you have a question about why something doesn't work with Windows? "Well such and such won't work with us. It is best to just use Windows."

    True, they aren't going to be that obvious. But the attempt here is to see the concerns of users of a competitors product and best understand how to meet those needs through their own product. Don't think for one second that MS is actually looking for ways to make their products work better with Linux. They are looking for what doesn't work and see if they can turn that into a compelling reason to stay with MS based products.

    Since I manage an ISP among other duties, it would be like me offering advice to AOL users, with that advice always boiling down to AOL sucks, use my product which is better. Sure, I can throw in some technical jargon to make it sound legitimate, but it is still just a sales pitch.

    Don't be fooled.
  • by LodCrappo (705968) on Friday April 07, 2006 @04:12AM (#15082746) Homepage
    Their "Port 25" website is in fact not accessable via port 25 at all. On a hunch I tried port 80 and some kind of web site about port 25 came up. This is apparently another embrace and extend type of thing, where port 25 is now accessable only via port 80 and god knows where they've extended port 80 to or what's actually running on port 25.

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