by Peter Galli on July 20, 2009 11:48am

In what many may see as a surprising move, Microsoft today released 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community under the popular General Public Licence v2.

The code includes three Linux device drivers, and has been submitted to the Linux kernel community for inclusion in the Linux tree.

The drivers will be available to both the Linux community and customers, and will enhance the performance of the Linux operating system when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.

In an article posted to Microsoft's PressPass site, Tom Hanrahan, director of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center, notes that this is a significant milestone because it's the first time the company has released code directly to the Linux community. "Additionally significant is that we are releasing the code under the GPLv2 license, which is the Linux community's preferred license," he said.

In the same article, Sam Ramji, senior director of Platform Strategy at Microsoft, points out that Microsoft communities and open source communities are growing together, which is ultimately of benefit to customers. An example of this is the Linux community, which has built a platform used by many customers. "So our strategy is to enhance interoperability between the Windows platform and many open source technologies, which includes Linux, to provide the choices our customers are asking for," he said.

Ramji also alluded to the fact that people are often surprised when they hear how much open source community and development work is happening across Microsoft, which is largely due to the fact that these collaborations focus more on getting the work done and engaging with the various communities on a one-to-one basis and less about promoting them.

One example of how Microsoft participates with, and contributes to, open source is its relationship with the PHP Community. The company's involvement includes contributing to the PHP Engine, optimizing PHP 5.3 to perform strongly on Windows, and working to improve the performance of numerous PHP applications on Windows. Then there is the ongoing participation in various Apache Software Foundation projects, such as Hadoop, Stonehenge and QPID.

"In short, we're focused on building sustainable business strategies for open source at Microsoft ... we see open source playing into three key areas, one of which is the use of 'inbound' open source and the open source development model to make our software development processes more efficient."

"Good examples of this include what we did recently with jQuery in Visual Studio 2008, the implementation of OpenPegasus connectors and adaptors into System Center Operations Manager, and work that the Microsoft High Performance Computing team did with the Argonne National Lab (ANL) to source its MPICH2 implementation, which is a portable implementation of the Message Passing Interface (MPI) used in cluster computing and super computers," Ramji said.

We'll be posting a number of other articles on the release of the device driver code to the Linux community over the week, several of which will be penned by Hank Janssen from Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center, so look out for those.