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[school-discuss] SFU - MS Services for Unix & idle speculations....

I remember MS had announced they were dropping posix support, but funny how things come full circle.... MS bought Interix & turned around and sells it as SFU. It's bundled w/ W2k3 server & Vista. It comes with bash, 300+ unix utilities, a working *nix API and provides for standard Unix pathing (/usr/bin) within the running environment. Sounds like pretty darn good interoperability...


You can pretty much count on plenty of direct Windows-specific API in any Microsoft hybrid, so it's been integrated with MS's ADS API, a large chunk of which came from Novell's NDS (now e-Directory) during the Great ADS Debacle of 1999. And, FWIW, Novell's NDS/e-Directory runs natively on Windows.... Heh.

I'm thinking about what this means in terms of FOSS vs. Microsoft ... I've noticed more and more FOSS desktop projects being ported to Windows ( Scribus just got ported, Bluefish is apparently in the works ). I'm wondering whether this creates a quandary for Microsoft in particular - does it hurt them or help MS?

Certainly it's a win-win situation for Windows users, and while it puts BSD/Mac/Linux on par with MS, does it also put MS on par with the FOSS platforms Linux & BSD? Does cross-platform FOSS helps MS and create incentives for MS to become friendlier to FOSS in general?

This could color (optimistically) how I look at the MS-Novell deal because there were related issues brought up in the deal, namely MS's lack of document portability and XML. The continued support of Interix/SFU adds to the picture what this MS-Novell deal might actually entail along with VirtualPC (also freely distributed from MS) & Visual Studio Express (their free J++, J#, C# & VB version of Vis. Studio).

Vis. Studio Express requires .net (in my case, .nyet, its bloat is horrid so I refuse to install the beast and by association any apps that require it) but I've bumped into apps being distributed & bundled with Novell's FOSS .NET equivalent, Mono (which allows for USB ThumbDrive portability, so maybe my conversion is nigh).

MS has made .NET an important part of its strategy, vastly more important now than Gates' ActiveX plan of the femtosecond... The sudden proliferation of mature FOSS .NET projects has left me completely puzzled: What FOSS developer in their right mind would freely use .NET (and not Mono?!) as their preferred API when there are plenty of good cross-platform libs already available (the conspiracy theorist in me smells rich corporate benefactor, but the coincidence theorist doesn't want to be so suspicious ... ;-).

So, is a rough picture of an internal strategy is emerging here? Or Novell's & MS's combined strategy? Maybe they are more natural partners than it would appear at first glance?

OTOH, IBM is practically converting over to a Linux shop and has a huge warchest of patents that it rarely brings out except in defensive litigation (as seen in the SCO litigation...). This conversion within IBM, almost natural for IBM, could also well serve to temper MS's animosity to open source. Sure MS wants to embrace & extend, but the MS Dept. of Evangelism (I kid thee not...) won't become inquisitors intent upon strangling and killing. That doesn't get them from engaging in FUD or demonstrating excessive zeal, but so long as MS gets to keep eating at the center of the pie, MS is happy....

Depending upon the level of *nix conformance, the specter of a fully working Interix/SFU API lends to some amusing speculation: What would it take to port X, Fvwm, xFCE, Gnome or KDE to Windows? There are already FOSS & non-FOSS explorer.exe replacements of various levels of maturity and function so the desktop itself is clearly fungible. What's left in Windows is the API, and below that the kernel. Linux itself is really just a kernel that provides interfaces to hardware, the rest is a matter of bundling Gnu & BSD work with the kernel.

So is MS positioning itself to provide a non-FOSS kernel for a Gnu/FOSS desktop as a way to slow down desktop Linux? So long as MS has nothing to do with the project MS doesn't get tangled into GPL issues, while at the same time benefiting from GPL'd work (Ballmer can say what he wants about GPL, but my guess he'd love to make money selling management wrappers for GPL'd applications without MS ever writing a single line of GPL'd anything...).



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