Joomla!, Microsoft cite joint agreement as a new stage in open-source relations

Microsoft OK'd its developers occasionally writing some GPL'd code. There's still that pesky antagonism with the Linux community, however.

Microsoft seems to be everywhere open source is lately.Joomla! Contributor Agreement and handed over some code. Earlier this month, Microsoft sent folks to DrupalCon to talk about the release of the latest SQL Server Driver for PHP (and those representatives were asked every five minutes why they were at DrupalCon).Microsoft representatives spoke at the Open Source Business Conference about how it needed to include open source in its "ecosystem" and, separately, announced the open source Microsoft Biology Foundation program.saying phones designed to run Android are violating its patents. Those familiar with Microsoft's antagonistic relationship with Linux aren't surprised by that at all. (Microsoft's contributed to the kernel while at the same time accused Linux, as a whole, of violating Microsoft patents.)contributed 20,000 lines of code to the Linux kernel. Microsoft's site has a list of 400 open source projects Microsoft is involved in.

This week, Microsoft signed the

Last month,

But at the same time, Microsoft is

So this raises two points (well, a question and a point):

• Is Microsoft really a friend of open source?

• Open source doesn't end with Linux

Sure, Linux is probably the most famous piece of open source out there. Maybe Firefox is more popular and well-known, but I guarantee you that many people using it don't have the slightest clue that it's open-source software, nor what that even means. And, yes, Microsoft has

But those tens of thousands of lines of code were pretty much just so Linux users could run on Hyper-V, virtualization technology developed by ... Microsoft. Hey, still, just because you use Linux doesn't mean you don't want to use any Microsoft products.

Josh Holmes, a Microsoft "architect evangelist," blogged about his excitement over the Joomla! contribution and what that means for users:

However, the thing that’s really exciting to me is that what it means is that the Microsoft legal department has signed off on writing GPL’d code under the right circumstances. That’s awesome! It’s a clear demonstration of how far Microsoft has come in it’s commitment to OSS projects. Now, I’ve got my own issues with the GPL as I think that it strips the consumer of all of their rights but that’s for a different discussion.

And, indeed, this is one of very few times Microsoft has signed the GPL, so the opinion Holmes expressed is certainly in line with his employer's, it would seem.

Joomla! is the second-largest application of PHP out there, so it makes sense that Microsoft would be involved. And Microsoft is the biggest software company out there, so it makes sense that Joomla! would be excited to have them on board.

As I previously blogged about Microsoft and open source, I think it makes a great deal of sense for the software giant to get involved and make friends where once there were nothing but foes. But it does make one wonder if the core of the open source community will ever accept Microsoft's overtures unless it makes nice with Linux.

While the Joomla! blog post about the Microsoft's agreement is fairly glowing with excitement, it does allude to Microsoft's issues with the community:

So at a high level, what does this mean for Joomla! and the community? New code contributors are always welcome, of course, especially when they can bring new expertise. In terms of Joomla! usage, supporting IIS means opening a whole new territory of possibilities including in many enterprises. And, more generally, we're happy to see Microsoft as a contributor to the GPL world. Wouldn't it be great if this is the start of constructive engagement between Microsoft and the Free and Open Source Software world?

So far, it looks like the answer is yes.

Some members of it, anyway.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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