What Open

By Matthew Broersma  |  Posted 2005-06-02 Print this article Print

-Source Developers Need from Microsoft"> The developers of Windows-compatible networking technology such as Samba beg to differ. The server-to-server protocols are needed even for basic file and print servers, because these need to be able to communicate with Active Directory, said Volker Lendecke, a Samba consultant and member of the core Samba developer team.
"You definitely need that, otherwise you cant take part in normal Windows networks," he said.
"We want all the protocols, so that Windows clients and other servers fully believe we are a Windows-compatible implementation. Its the network behavior we want to clone, but the implementation behind that is different. Thats where we see that we really can compete, by making it more efficient, more secure or whatever," he said. So far Samba has had to rely on reverse-engineering for Windows compatibility. Far from representing real intellectual property, Microsofts protocols have no value whatever, except for locking out competitors, argue the FSF Europe and companies such as Real Networks Inc. Locking out open source? What sort of license would be sufficient to allow competition? Microsoft has argued that its current terms—involving per-seat fees—should be fine for open-source projects. ACT supported this view. "It would be easy for Red Hat [Inc.] or Novell [Inc.] to include the protocols in ... their enterprise server products along with an incremental price increase to cover the license costs," ACTs Zuck said. "In fact, there should even be a way to distribute an interoperability layer as object code." That would allow open-source projects to distribute an implementation of the protocols without virtually releasing them into the public domain. Fees would be fine, responded Sambas Lendecke—the problem is the requirement to keep track of the number of seats, something incompatible with the freely distributable nature of projects like Samba. "We have no idea who is using our stuff," he said. And an interoperability layer sounds good, but in practice it would mean taking decades of working years to reimplement a proprietary version of Samba that included the protocols. "It goes so deep into the operating system that its not practical, nobodys going to do it," Lendecke said. The only way to ensure compatibility with open-source projects is a different license, he said: "If the EU accepts per-seat licensing terms, this explicitly excludes open-source software." Proprietary competitors would probably not have a problem with the licenses, he said. The Commission has said it will complete its evaluation of Microsofts proposal by the end of this month. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.


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