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Microsoft Credited as a Top Linux Kernel Contributor for First Time

For the first time, Microsoft has made the Linux Foundation's list of the top Linux kernel development contributors.

The Linux Foundation announced the list this week during its semiannual report on developer contributors to the open source operating system. The top 10 contributors to the Linux kernel include "Red Hat, Intel, Novell, IBM, Texas Instruments, Broadcom, Nokia, Samsung, Oracle and Google," according to the report. The group has kept a running tally since 2005, when the tracking began.

Microsoft placed at No. 17 among companies that have contributed the most toward developing the Linux OS's kernel. As the Linux Foundation's announcement pointed out, it represents quite a change from the time when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux "a cancer" (Ballmer meant it from an intellectual property standpoint, according to Slashdot). The foundation suggested that Microsoft is "clearly working to adapt" in a world where Linux is used across enterprise and mobile environments.

Since 2005, there have been more than 7,800 developers contributing to the Linux kernel, according to the announcement. The foundation also claimed that "75 percent" of Linux kernel developers get paid for doing it. The full report, "Linux Kernel Development: How Fast It is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing and Who is Sponsoring It," can be downloaded here.

Hadoop Efforts
Microsoft announced this week, alongside the product release of SQL Server 2012, that it has initiated a second community test preview of its "Hadoop-based service for Windows Azure." Hadoop is an open source Apache Software Foundation project, initially started by Yahoo, that's designed for so-called "big data" querying, such as sorting through petabytes of Web-site clickstream data to glean insights. Microsoft's latest Hadoop for Windows Azure CTP will preview the use of some its business intelligence charting tools, such as PowerView and PowerPivot, as used with SQL Server 2012. Microsoft also described some specific interoperability improvements in the service.

"This preview provides an elastic Hadoop service with more reliability through disaster recovery of the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) NameNode, and support for advanced analytics through Hadoop projects like Mahout," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Registration for this Microsoft Windows Azure Hadoop CTP is available by invitation after filling out a survey form at Microsoft's Connect site.

Open But Not Open Source
Last month, Microsoft announced that it had enabled third-party developers to contribute to some of its product technologies that are licensed under Apache 2.0 open source licensing. One of those products is ASP.NET MVC v4, and Microsoft added ASP.NET Web API and ASP.NET Web Pages v2 (code-named "Razor") to the mix. The code contributions for those solutions are being housed at Microsoft's CodePlex open source site.

However, while Microsoft opened up contributions to ASP.NET, it still controls the source code. And not all code will be open source, such as Web Forms in ASP.NET, according to an ADTMag.com report.

Microsoft has a whole team devoted to Linux interoperability with Windows. The team's liaison with open source communities is currently being led by Gianugo Rabellino. He serves on an Apache management committee but joined Microsoft's interoperability efforts a year ago after coordinating with Microsoft on the Apache POI project.

Microsoft's interoperability efforts with Linux also coincide with its legal department's efforts to sue companies using the open source Linux-based Android mobile operating system for patent infringement. And of course Windows itself, in contrast to Linux, is closed source and proprietary, although Microsoft committed itself three years ago to providing open APIs and documentation on various Microsoft products. That documentation effort initially was under supervision by the U.S. Department of Justice after a series of antitrust court skirmishes, but the oversight ended in May of last year.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.