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Microsoft Agrees to Release Work Group Protocols

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the kind-of-a-big-deal(tm) dept.

Microsoft 143

UnknowingFool writes "Groklaw is reporting that the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (PFIF) has signed an agreement with Microsoft to release their protocols relating to Windows Work Group Server. The Foundation agrees to pay MS $10,000, and the agreement does not cover patents. This agreement apparently was made to somewhat satisfy the EU Commission complaints. With PFIF's objective to aid open source, this agreement means that the Samba Team may finally get the information they need to fully interoperate with Windows AD servers."

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Just another example (4, Insightful)

microbee (682094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771600)

that EU did something the US government couldn't.

Re:Just another example (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21771856)

Couldn't or wouldn't? When they were under pressure earlier this decade, Microsoft spent a lot of money lobbying/buying off US state and federal governments, creating fake "grass roots" campaign sites and paying for press releases from pro-corporate lobbyist groups such as the cato institute (source1 [sourcewatch.org] source2 [zdnet.com] ).

Re:Just another example (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772952)

I agree, the US Govt could have done it but they just wouldn't

Microsoft spends so much on lobying to get what they want its not funny. If the US wanted to split Microsoft in half (which there was talk of many moons ago) the would have, problem is Microsoft pay alot to be near exempt from anti-trust laws. The EU despite no doubt having corruption there too (all govt's have it, just a question of how much), are not as well bought as US congress seems to be.

Re:Just another example (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773144)

Too many different people/languagos/cultures to buy all at once. In the US you only needto buy-at an absolute most-535 people (on the incorrect assumption that everything needs a unanimous vote to pass).

Re:Just another example (3, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771884)

that EU did something the US government wouldn't.

There, fixed it for ya.

Re:Just another example (2, Interesting)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773260)

that EU did something the US DOJ couldn't.

There, fixed it for you. :)

Re:Just another example (2, Interesting)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773560)

that EU did something the US DOJ wouldn't do, on behalf of the current sitting President.

There, I fixed it for you. ;)

Re:Just another example (3, Funny)

Handover Phist (932667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773998)

In Soviet Slashdot...

Re:Just another example (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774178)

The PFIF did something that the EU couldn't do and the US (DOJ) wouldn't do on behalf of anyone.

There fixed it for you. :D

Re:Just another example (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771896)

I'd like to think that the EU has a better system for dealing with monopolies although at the same time I can't help but wonder if the fact that Microsoft isn't based there had a lot to do with it. in either case, good job EU! The only thing better would be if they actually had the power to give Microsoft more than a slap on the wrist and used that power if/when Microsoft starts giving anyone trouble.

Re:Just another example (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772606)

I'd like to think that the EU has a better system for dealing with monopolies although at the same time I can't help but wonder if the fact that Microsoft isn't based there had a lot to do with it.

This might apply for a case within a given EU member state, since politicians can play on anti-americanism, but not so much for EU posts. The EU commission has enforced antitrust regulation against numerous european countries over the past decade. If anything they seem to have gone out of their way to give MS huge amounts of leniency and extra time.

Re:Just another example (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21772160)

What a stupid thing to say.

Re:Just another example (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21773018)

You seem to imply that there is some difference between the US Government and MicroSoft.
Truly, the only thing more tightly integrated with Windows than Internet Explorer is the Justice Department.
Was that my outside voice?

Re:Just another example (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773084)

No. It was you virtual one.

Fully interoperate with the AD (2, Informative)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771606)

Are you sure about that? Workgroup is often designated as software separate from their Enterprise or Domain integrated stuff. Are you sure that releasing their workgroup protocols includes Active Directory access?

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (5, Informative)

Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771906)

Yes it includes all AD protocols.

Jeremy.

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (1, Interesting)

ddoctor (977173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772990)

Wow. THE Jeremy Allison. I guess it's not that surprising to see a famous opensourcerer on /. but good to see you involved. This must be MASSIVE news for your team - the years and years of painstaking reverse-engineering and guesswork are over.

Have you guys busted out the champagne, yet?

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (0, Redundant)

dadragon (177695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773088)

And you can verify it's really him because his user id is so low.

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (5, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773486)

Off-topic for a second. THIS is why I have continued to suffer the 1:19 signal:noise ratio and goatse trolls on Slashdot since 1997. Especially before the dot bomb, every story had someone directly involved with the situation posting somewhere in the comments.

Got a story about VAX? There are fifteen people with decades of experience on the forum. Bruce Perens is always on any story involving him (sometimes to an annoying level...). You had to know that Jeremy would be posting on this story.

Although less than it used to be, Slashdot still has people I can't see anywhere else. Thank you, Slash!

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (5, Interesting)

Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773872)

But I *loved* the goatse trolls :-). It used to be the only reason I
came to read /. :-). I miss sig11 and klerk and the rest of that crew.

They made /. fun, especially as they drove taco *nuts* :-).

Anyone remember the Bruce Perens impersonators ? :-).

Jeremy.

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774010)

Yeah. Do you remember all the "IAmTheReal..." usernames once impersonation became popular? You never knew who to believe. Hehe. Memories.

Thanks, Jeremy, for continuing to make Slashdot a place worth my time.

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773766)

But what would you know? :)

Thanks (3, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774416)

Just to say thank you for all your work.

Re:Fully interoperate with the AD (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21776630)

How about the proprietary protocols used by exchange and such?
And what about sharepoint? does that rely on any proprietary protocols?

Until the next release? (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772628)

THis is only worth anything so long as MS does not "innovate" and "extend" the protocol and break compatability.

Re:Until the next release? (2, Interesting)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772764)

That's how they are going to implement the "Extinguish" part of their plan. Release a new version (always incompatible w/it's predecessor) every week/month until Samba can no longer afford to keep buying the new specs. Does the agreement apply to future versions as well?

...
...
...
... I guess it is a good thing after all that corporations don't upgrade as fast as the software world moves.

So, they can follow the law now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21771648)

Good development! This means SAMBA can now work without violating Microsoft's intelectual property. This must be a FOSSie first, right?

Re:So, they can follow the law now? (2, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771882)

Correct me if I'm wrong but, reverse engineering for compatibility purposes is legal. IIRC, that's why OOo is able to handle .doc.

Re:So, they can follow the law now? (5, Informative)

LionMage (318500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772650)

Correct me if I'm wrong but, reverse engineering for compatibility purposes is legal.

Totally legal in the United States. In other jurisdictions, the law is not so clear-cut. In Europe, the right to reverse engineer is not sacrosanct. Then again, Europe doesn't (yet) have software patents.

Standard IANAL disclaimers apply, of course, but I've worked for several companies that relied on reverse engineering precisely for the purpose of compatibility with undocumented file formats. In one such company, I was informed by management (after advice from legal counsel) that it was actually legal not only to reverse engineer the file format, but it was even legal to reverse engineer / decompile the code for the application that generated the files in order to see how they were written -- the caveat being, you could only reverse engineer the code to insure compatibility, not to plagiarize it. (Usually you do a clean room reverse engineering process to insure that the people who reverse engineer the code write a clean spec that the people who write your code then use. The people doing the reverse engineering shouldn't be writing code based on that process, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.) Of course, that particular employer's policy was to not reverse engineer the code of the applications themselves, only the files they wrote, but if we had the resources and we needed to, we could reverse engineer just about anything we wanted.

The legal climate in the U.S. was shaped in part by the outcome of a case where IBM sued Compaq for reverse engineering the BIOS of the IBM PC. Clearly, Compaq prevailed, and the clone PC market was born.

What about the DMCA? (1)

remmelt (837671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21776790)

If there is a locking mechanism or some other encryption, however feeble, it will become illegal to reverse engineer, right? Or would that still be OK for compatibility purposes?

$10,000!? (0, Troll)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771658)

How could Microsoft pass up that offer!?

Re:$10,000!? (1)

Plug (14127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772862)

It's actually 10,000 Euro. That's a $14,333.65 windfall for the Redmond current account!

Re:$10,000!? (1)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772886)

It's not so much a price as its worth to Microsoft as much as it is a fee to keep the protocol out of the hands of the average Joe. It's a move mostly aimed at open source I'd imagine.

Finally? (0)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771664)

Actually, the Samba team already received [samba.org] the documentation from Microsoft.

Re:Finally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21771974)

already received
Your linky points to a page dated today...

WTF are you talking about?

Re:Finally? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772014)

Read the summary again:

this agreement means that the Samba Team may finally get the information they need to fully interpenetrate with Windows AD servers
The link says that they agreement to receive the info has already been made.

Re:Finally? (1)

sepluv (641107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772586)

Right, but according to Jeremy Allison on the podcast he hasn't seen them with his own eyes yet, so I think the may was reasonable.

They need more information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21771756)

I haven't had any problem working with windows domains in about a year. Whatever the current version that comes with Ubuntu seems to work out of the box.

Re:They need more information? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771886)

Active Directory certainly is limited in Samba. Now imagine Samba sufficiently AD-esque that it could be used as a DC for an Exchange 2003 member server.

That's akin to (1)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771788)

Telling someone the punchline of a joke after they beat you to it.

Re:That's akin to (3, Interesting)

sepluv (641107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771922)

That's the point I'm a little confused about. I fully understand that Samba decided to continue propping up the EC's prosecution (after all the other witnesses...ahem...changed their minds about testifying) of Microsoft as a matter of principle as the victim of a crime (rather than necessarily to be compensated in any way), but, I am assuming (even though they didn't pay for it themselves) this information must be worth something to them still (despite how well Samba currently works) and the PFIF apparently thinks it is worth 10 000 (which might be donated to the Samba developers for reverse engineering or something instead). Maybe someone with knowledge of Samba development (rather than the legal cases) fill me in on what they need from this data.

Re:That's akin to (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774380)

Maybe someone with knowledge of Samba development

You'll be disappointed. They don't use Lisp.

Most importantly though,

Under the agreement, Microsoft is required to make available and keep current a list of patent numbers it believes are related to the Microsoft implementation of the workgroup server protocols
That means Microsoft must tell Samba which patents apply to the protocols, and keep telling them. The developers will be able to avoid any patent traps.

Re:That's akin to (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21776168)

> That means Microsoft must tell Samba which patents apply to the protocols, and keep telling them. The developers will be able to avoid any patent traps.

Those patents apply only in the US.

Hello from EU by the way ;) Believe or not, Novell/MS deal was like godsent boost for Linux here. As we don't have braindead software patents here - stuff like Mono (+ those "evil" patented apis) and OpenXML support etc, do only good here.

Shame that you guys there have to suffer from software patents ;) Even if EU would approve software patents later it wouldn't really matter (As everything before that point would go under 'prior art' and they would need to come up with new stuff and they couldn't apply for all these insane "innovations" they have patented now)

works just long enough (0, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771818)

this will work just long enough for microsoft to update some software or release the next version, then what? another 10 grand?

Re:works just long enough (4, Informative)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773474)

"Section 3 is where Microsoft promises to provide the documentation that we need. It deals with the timeliness of that documentation, how errors in the documentation will be dealt with, how and when updates will be provided and what type of technical support will be provided."

WSPP Documentation - Updates.
3.2
(a) General. Microsoft will make updated WSPP Documentation for modified and new WSPP Protocols (that are added to WSPP after Microsoft initially provides WSPP Documentation to Licensee under Section 3.1) available for license by Licensee under this Agreement:
(i) if applicable, upon release of the First Beta for the relevant Service Pack to the relevant product, or new version of that product, that includes the modified or new WSPP Protocol (documentation provided in such instance, a "Preliminary Documentation Update"), or
(ii) if no such First Beta is released, then at least 15 days before the : (A) commercial release of the Service Pack to the relevant product (i.e., Windows Client Operating System or Windows Server Operating System), or new version of that product, that includes the modified or new WSPP Protocol, or
(B) the day on which the final version of any other Update is released. "First Beta" means the first public beta testing version of the Service Pack or new version of the relevant Windows operating system product made available by Microsoft via an MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) subscription offering or of which 150,000 or more copies are distributed. Licensee will be given automatic access to the WSPP Documentation for any Licensed Protocol modifications made available under this Section 3.2, for no additional charge beyond the License Fee. Licensee will be given access to the WSPP Documentation for any other WSPP Protocol modifications or any new WSPP Protocols pursuant to the process described in Section 3.1(b)(ii), for no additional charge beyond the License Fee.
(b) Preliminary Documentation Updates. When a Preliminary Documentation Update is made available to Licensee, Microsoft will also make the WSPP Documentation for the commercially released version of the relevant Service Pack or new product version (such documentation, a "Final Documentation Update") available to Licensee within 15 days after the relevant date production is authorized for the manufacture of copies of software for commercial availability. THE WARRANTY PROVISIONS OF SECTIONS 3.3(a) AND 6.3 DO NOT APPLY TO PRELIMINARY DOCUMENTATION UPDATES, BUT DO APPLY TO FINAL DOCUMENTATION UPDATES. SINCE THE FIRST BETA CODE, FEATURES AND/OR FUNCTIONALITY MAY BE SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE CODE, FEATURES AND/OR FUNCTIONALITY OF THE COMMERCIALLY RELEASED VERSION, LICENSEE IS ADVISED THAT THERE ARE RISKS IN ANY RELIANCE ON PRELIMINARY DOCUMENTATION UPDATES, AND TO THE EXTENT THAT LICENSEE INCURS ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT OR ANY OTHER COSTS AS A RESULT OF SUCH RELIANCE, IT DOES SO AT ITS OWN RISK.
(c) Availability. Once a protocol becomes a WSPP Protocol under the WSPP, Microsoft will continue to make WSPP Documentation for that protocol available during the Term. Subject to the foregoing, nothing in this Agreement requires Microsoft to (i) deliver any WSPP Documentation for any modified or new protocol other than as provided in this Section 3.2 or (ii) continue to implement any WSPP Protocol in any Windows Client Operating System or Windows Server Operating System. However, Microsoft will provide notice to Licensee in the relevant portion of the WSPP Documentation of WSPP Protocols that remain available for license but which are no longer used by Microsoft in Windows Client and Server Operating Systems, generally in accordance with the timeframe in Section 3.2(a)(i).

and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (4, Insightful)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771852)

Good news for Samba. Still listening to that audio link, but it's interesting that the Samba team aren't allowed to release the information they receive, just use it for developing OSS.

I'm sure Microsoft will use this in their 'we support open source' campaign. (I've always reckoned Microsoft should release the code for their unsupported OS's such as Windows 3.11)

Doesn't cross license patent's, but Microsoft does have to provide a full list the patents that they believe Samba infringes. This allows Samba guys to code around it. Good news for them.

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (5, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771912)

I've always reckoned Microsoft should release the code for their unsupported OS's such as Windows 3.11
The OSs may be unsupported, but the code is still used.

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21772416)

>> (I've always reckoned Microsoft should release the code for their unsupported OS's such as Windows 3.11)

How could they? They still use the damn code!

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (1)

dlevitan (132062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772574)

I'm sure Microsoft will use this in their 'we support open source' campaign. (I've always reckoned Microsoft should release the code for their unsupported OS's such as Windows 3.11)
This'll never happen. Even if they completely change the codebase. Think about how many bugs there are in the Windows codebase that haven't been discovered yet. Think about how many of those bugs probably pertain to the design of the code (and may well be carried over into a completely different codebase). What would happen if MS released the Windows ME codebase as open source? The 1.5% of users out there still using Windows 98/Me are probably going to be hacked in about 5 minutes and Windows 2000/XP/Vista users will follow soon afterwards.

No, much as it might help OSS projects if MS released their code, it would be a disaster security wise and even I don't want to see it happen.

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773034)

I know this sounds like a troll, but, seriously: do you really believe any of those 1.5% of users still running Windows 9x/ME aren't rooted already?

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773350)

Boxen owned by /. readers for the sake of having a 9x/ME box that they can practice on for when they troubleshoot their obsolete relative's system. May be a Virtual Machine or dual-booted with Slackware because that is the only other OS (besides DOS) that can use the same specs.

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21773990)

Fluxbuntu?

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774750)

Most VM programs have "snapshots" which revert the machine state after a reboot. If you're using something with such poor security on the Internet, it's almost a must-have.

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773514)

Not: "Microsoft does have to provide a full list the patents that they believe Samba infringes."

Rather: MS must provide a full list of all patents that apply to this work.

That Samba infringes is only FUD. (But insightful FUD).

This is a real victory ... if it pans out (3, Informative)

megabunny (710331) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773888)

The shell company and the subcontracted developers (Samba etc) cannot release the documentation.

BUT, they can create a reference implementation with normal source code comments and release that without any limits. This will effectively document the protocols. The hoi polloi just can't read Microsoft's documentation directly.

And if the documentation is incorrect, there are recourses.
And if patents come into play, there are recourses.
And if the documentation gets out of date, there are recourses.
And if you read the docs you are only NDA for three months (patents, not so much, as ususal)

This actually looks really good. Fingers crossed the inevitable gotchas are small and can be lived with.

MB

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21773930)

Too bad Samba is irrelivant now that it is GPLv3. If they added any active directory stuff that really worked, it will never show up in a router, home server or those home NAS boxes. Only batshit crazy companies with a death wish will use it now.

Shame, really.

(posted anon because this will get modded into the ground)

Re:and you'll see this in a glossy brochure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21777044)

Not agree.

Microsoft can keep their lead over the protocol and the free software community is always one step behind. Why? You can't force Microsoft to accept new features, but they can force them in other implementations like samba.

They will cry crocodile tears how bad the world is. In practice, the relevant parts of the protocol (printing and file exchange) are already available.

But with the release of the spec a Microsoft controlled technology will spread wider. So the whole story is a pyrrhic victory.

/dev/tank

Good (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21771874)

I am somewhat dubious, but this /could/ mean that I may finally be able to convince my workplace to adopt more linux workstations. I for one will work on samba if the allusions made by the summary are true. I say this because, all other issues aside, Windows interoperability really is an issue where I work.

Re:Good (5, Interesting)

Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772034)

Yes they're true. Please help us. See here :

http://samba.org/samba/devel/ [samba.org]

for details.

Thanks

Jeremy.

Re:Good (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772212)

Jeremy, consider it done. I have holidays, so am looking for a project to hook my teeth into. Thanks for the link. Craig

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21776094)

So are you going to revert your license to GPLv2 or BSD so we *can* help you? GPLv3 kinda cuts off your market for "developers willing to help on somebody else's dime" does it not?

So where can I find the documentation? (3, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772026)

Taking a quick look at the agreement, it looks like PFIF can't release the documentation to the public. So, as a user of Samba, if I find a bug in Samba's handling of the protocols, how do I fix it? If I have to rely on the "Samba Team" to fix the problem, this isn't much better than source-available proprietary software---I'm still tied to a single vendor.

Let's be serious, they're still confidential, proprietary protocols, aren't they? Way to go, Microsoft.

Re:So where can I find the documentation? (5, Informative)

Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772064)

They way it will work is as follows. We'll read the docs and work on creating client-side test cases and embedding them into Samba4 smbtorture. Once that's in place, any competent engineer can create the server-side implementation without having to have access to the actual docs. We need the test cases anyway (remember, untested code is broken code), so this is the way we've been going about doing things anyway. This should just open up new protocols and new protocol areas to implementation by others.

Jeremy.

Re:So where can I find the documentation? (4, Interesting)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772390)

I don't mean to belittle your work, which is important, but I want to pre-empt Microsoft salesmen who might decide to point to this as evidence that Microsoft protocols are as open as, say, NFSv4.

Re:So where can I find the documentation? (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774778)

ISAGN. Cognate with "free as in beer" and "free as in speech", we should have a saying like "open as in goatse".

Re:So where can I find the documentation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21773022)

I hope it works that way.

As it says MS still owns the patents, and the 10,000 was just to look at the protocols, and not share them, does this mean MS lawyers can ask for 10,000 more if someone wants to use them?

I have noticed that once or twice in the past, MS lawyers have not been as nice as I might wish.

I'm not understanding something... (2, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772038)

If the licensed documentation is under non-disclosure terms, but the source code is still freely distributable....

what's the point to the documentation not being disclosable?

Talk about pointless legalese...

Re:I'm not understanding something... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772108)

Legalese was not designed with FOSS in mind.

Re:I'm not understanding something... (3, Interesting)

sepluv (641107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772542)

I suppose so proprietary software developers have to pay them the 10 000 again (or pay Samba for a non-GPL license), although an X11-style licensed free software project could, of course, get the documents gratis from the PFIF making that situation moot.

However, the more fundemental reason is that Microsoft's European lawyers need something that they can tell Ballmer they haven't backed down on in their fight with the EC to avoid any coniciosesiation* incidents.

* chair throwing

Re:I'm not understanding something... (1)

aj50 (789101) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773062)

Could a proprietary software developer not do something similar, have one employee document the protocol from the samba source and have another implement it again from that documentation?
Given the effort involved, it might be easier to pay MS $10000...

Re:I'm not understanding something... (1)

jayp00001 (267507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774342)

what's the point to the documentation not being disclosable?

Talk about pointless legalese...


Not really. The docs themselves might contain patented material. And only your source code might be freely distributable. Even if you had the source code it might not be possible to implement certain features (IE replication notification algorithms) without breaking patents.

Re:I'm not understanding something... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21775078)

  • If you inspect the documentation and write code based on that documentation, you have at least partly disclosed what's in the documentation by embodying it in source code. If the docs are nondisclosable, logic suggests code based on the docs should be.
  • If the code embodies none of the information in the documentation... WTF was the point of getting the documentation?

Patents here are a bit of a red herring anyways.

  • Patent protection isn't included. Microsoft disclosed the documentation, but they didn't license or waive patents. If you read the docs and implement a patented algorithm on the basis of those docs, your permission to read the docs doesn't immunize you from patent infringement.
  • Also, patents aren't necessarily the point of a non-disclosable technical specification. Non-patented trade secrets, for instance, might be the reason for non-disclosability. Or simple corporate paranoia.

I'll say it again: if you write code based on NDA documents, and the source code is distributable, the information in the NDA document is being disclosed in the form of the source code. And that makes no sense to me.

Re:I'm not understanding something... (1)

jayp00001 (267507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21775236)

If you inspect the documentation and write code based on that documentation, you have at least partly disclosed what's in the documentation by embodying it in source code. If the docs are nondisclosable, logic suggests code based on the docs should be.

As I said your code should be available if you choose

If the code embodies none of the information in the documentation... WTF was the point of getting the documentation?

To work around hypothetical patent issue. Know what is required is far better than not knowing that function x is required even if you know you cannot do it as well as the patented version.

Patent protection isn't included. Microsoft disclosed the documentation, but they didn't license or waive patents. If you read the docs and implement a patented algorithm on the basis of those docs, your permission to read the docs doesn't immunize you from patent infringement.

I thought that's what I was saying about patents

Also, patents aren't necessarily the point of a non-disclosable technical specification. Non-patented trade secrets, for instance, might be the reason for non-disclosability. Or simple corporate paranoia.

I agree but in this case I'd think Microsoft would have moved or be in the process of moving every trade secret into a patent ASAP. Normally the trade secrets act would have been the hammer to squash anyone silly enough to somehow get secret Microsoft docs. Since that's maybe gone or mitigated the next thing is to drop a patent on it.

I'll say it again: if you write code based on NDA documents, and the source code is distributable, the information in the NDA document is being disclosed in the form of the source code. And that makes no sense to me.

Let me try this approach. I give you the plans to build my airplane- however every single part is protected by patents. if you take a look at those parts, figure a way to make different parts that perform the same functions and build a plane, on the outside you might say it's a duplicate of mine. On the inside its another beast entirely. Even if you published the plans to your plane, someone else is not going to know how I built my plane. Your plane and mine might have different flight characteristics. it will most certainly not be the same.

Re:I'm not understanding something... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21776652)

But do consider that this release is due to the EU ruling...
Software patents are not valid in the EU, so such concerns are not directly relevant to developers/users in the EU, and it is european people who the european commission's job is to look out for.

What's this mean in the real world? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772058)

Am I going to be able to run a Linux based Domain Controller? Is my Samba box going to be able to publish Active Directory compatible ACLs for the shares it hosts? Is nmap now going to tell me that Samba boxes are Win2K3 servers?!?! ;)

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772090)

The title should have been, "What does this mean in the real world?" Grammar Nazi's please pardon me.

Obligatory (2, Funny)

FoamingToad (904595) | more than 6 years ago | (#21777148)

No apostrophe in Nazis. ;-)

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773038)

Samba has been developed without the actual documentation of the protocols. The team has done a remarkable job of reverse-engineering them as much as possible. The end result is that Samba is mostly compatible with Windows servers and clients. But there have been some missing pieces because the protocols haven't been open. For example Samba can operate in an Active Directory (AD) domain but cannot be used as a primary AD server. It could be used to make a Linux Primary Domain Controller though.

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (1)

ddoctor (977173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773042)

The Samba4 project has been working on exactly this goal for ages now. They have a few "Technology Previews" available.

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773118)

Am I going to be able to run a Linux based Domain Controller?

Samba has allowed Linux/Unix boxes to be a Primary Domain Controller for a while.

Is my Samba box going to be able to publish Active Directory compatible ACLs for the shares it hosts?

Yes I think it does but I'm not an expert.

Is nmap now going to tell me that Samba boxes are Win2K3 servers?!?! ;)

I'm not sure but that is probably not a good thing. ;)

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (3, Informative)

ScytheBlade1 (772156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773468)

Primary Domain Controllers died with NT4. As of server 2000, the concept of "primary" was removed and everything was made multi-master.

To that end, no, samba has not been able to *fully* function as a "domain controller" - as that is a separate technology from that of a "primary domain controller." They share some characteristics, but they are not the same thing.

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (3, Informative)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773798)

Well there are the FSMO roles, and the one I think he is referring to is the PDC Emulator role, which there can be only one.

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21774250)

Will they ever be able to fill FSMO roles? How about providing NETLOGON share functionality to permit the replication of group policy objects and logon scripts? I imagine that Microsoft will probably draw the line some where. I doubt that they'd let a third party have all of the knowledge required to produce an Active Directory domain.

Re:What's this mean in the real world? (2, Interesting)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21776848)

I would assume since the EU is aiming to make it possible for third parties to interoperate with Microsoft products (IIRC this is intended to mitigate the negative effects of Microsoft's monopoly whilst providing an opportunity for competition) that Microsoft 'letting'

a third party have all of the knowledge required to produce an Active Directory domain.
isn't really an issue, the intent is to try to make it possible and in doing so make it possible for anyone interested to produce a node (for want of a better word) that can provide an/or utilise services made available within a domain.

Microsoft may not want others to be able to be able to provide services that work well with and/or provide similar or better functionality than their own, but that is what they have been told not to hinder by hiding their specs.

Thank you Jeremy. Thank you Europe. (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772354)

Merry Xmas, happy new years etc.

Next up: dogs and cats living together? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21772658)

- Duke Nukem progress
- IE8 passes Acid2
- Dell ships Linux
- Microsoft opens specs

Wait... this *is* the other place!

That was earth! Damn you, apes!

Re:Next up: dogs and cats living together? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772808)

Dell's been shipping Linux for a while. They just moved on to 7.10 when they had been shipping 7.04. No bigger news than when OEMs started selling Vista instead of XP. It was inevitable.

Re:Next up: dogs and cats living together? (1)

omkhar (167195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772934)

Linux 7.10 ? Wow!!!!

Idiot

Re:Next up: dogs and cats living together? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773418)

You know what I meant. Would you prefer that I had said they had moved on to Ubuntu 7.10?

Re:Next up: dogs and cats living together? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773616)

You missed the joke ...

Ok (2, Interesting)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21772964)

Now can we do the same thing for the Outlook/Exchange protocol?

Re:Ok (1)

xiaomai (904921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21775774)

This is what I've been wondering ever since I heard the news as well. Anyone have any information on this front?

Benefits Linux, OSX, Solaris and other *nix (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21773626)

This makes a mixed environment more accessible and I imagine with Microsoft seeing that they are having to deal with many solutions not of their own that they'd treat this as a playing nice in the sandbox. Customers are tolerant but if they can find a compelling solution that saves them money I think Microsoft is wise to put this in so as to stem such customer defections.

mod doWn (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21774730)

a child know5h yes, I work for

a little disappointed.. (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 6 years ago | (#21775848)

As with the original EU descision, i am somewhat disappointed.

The WSPP protocols dont covery enough. And to be honest, things like smb/ad should be FORCED into an open standard when they're a dominant player in the market (and used as leverage for even more monopolism).

On top of that, it should have covered many more protocols, the exchange protocols for starters.

Really very disappointed in this descision and AT for going out making it sound like a win.

Impresisons (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21775898)

This is fine and good but I was under the impression the Samba team had reverse-engineered a lot of protocols to get where they are. Can they not do the same with Active Directory too? Is it a patent or legal issue or is it actually a technical hurdle?

Re:Impresisons (2, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21777076)

Yeah, they can do the same, so long as they follow the well-established clean-room procedure, as they have done previously and are still doing. And the current (and next) Samba already has a lot of AD in it, just not stuff that's useful to managing networks like Group Policy etc. which IS covered by this agreement. AD auth is already in most samba's distributed. However, if you want to work out all the corner cases, all the undocumented stuff etc. then you need specs. Or else you can spend (literally) another decade, not to mention a lot of money on people's wages, to figure out how it all works using a bit of cleanroom reverse-engineering by which time it's obsolete and outdated.

It's a hurdle on all three counts - there are patents (but with this agreement MS has to tell us what they are and if they get any new ones that affect licensees), there are legal problems (making sure the code is CLEANLY reverse-engineered for starters) and there are technical issues (it's a whole heap of a mess and it's taking years to find out useful information that you can put in a nicely programmed version, it requires literally throwing educated-guess packets at a Windows server and trying to replicate it's response depending on the state of the entire network, the packet and the server databases).

Novell is probably happy. (2, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21776238)

Its pretty funny that Novell cant make their products work against AD. They have this agreement with Microsoft and it sure looks like pure vapour.

Samba seems the only way that Novell can make for example Open Enterprise work as an AD controller. This is in my mind pretty funny considering they are supposedly in an interoperability agreement with Microsoft.

What i think happened was that Novell was given a large wad of money to shut up and pretend that Microsoft is working togheter with others in the industry and to give credibility to the patent FUD.

$10,000 does not eq 10.000 euro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21777158)

i think its more like $15,000 USD with the current exchange rate only going up
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