Samba Gets Microsoft Protocols
The Open Source community took a step forward in compatibility last week — and perhaps, towards the eventual downfall of Big Evil — with the announcement that the newly-founded Protocol Freedom Information Foundation has hammered out an agreement to gain access to Microsoft's protocol documentation.
After a lengthy court battle in the European Union, Microsoft was ordered in September to release documentation needed to make Open Source applications compatible with Microsoft systems, and to do it in a reasonable and non-discriminatory manner. After a lot of negotiating, the PFIF has paid up the $10,000 fee to access the documentation, and worked out an agreement that allows them to distribute it to Open Source developers. The first expected distributions will be to developers of Samba, the popular networking protocol implementation.
The deal isn't perfect, most notably as it requires those who access the documentation to do so under non-disclosure terms. However, it does let developers get to work on interoperability, it does let them freely release the code they write based on what's laid out in the documentation, and unlike the patent deals inked by many of the large Enterprise Linux firms, it doesn't involve giving in to the FUD and licensing Microsoft patents.