SFLC's Kuhn remains skeptical of Ramji's remarks

David Worthington
December 29, 2008 —  Microsoft's Sam Ramji's remarks were greeted with skepticism and suspicion by Bradley Kuhn, a policy analyst and tech director at the Software Freedom Law Center.

Kuhn, formerly the executive director of the Free Software Foundation from March 2001 until March 2005, said that Microsoft has realized that it cannot destroy open source and free software, so it is trying to manipulate it by "gobbling up licenses that don't require things to be given back to the community, and driving a wedge between the copyleft and non-copyleft branches of the community."

The number of lines of code Microsoft has given back to the community is tiny compared to other software companies of the same size, he said. "Microsoft has made tiny contributions under BSD-style licenses and is making big noise about giving code back. They are making a mountain out of a molehill. Sam's job is to put a clean face on Microsoft's involvement with free and open-source software, and to make the community feel that they are giving back."

Kuhn's biggest point of contention is that Microsoft is still refusing to participate with the General Public License (GPL), the most widely used open-source license. "They basically have the opposite position of every other company involved with open-source software," he noted.

Kuhn also dismissed Microsoft's work with the Samba project as being nothing more than a consequence of court-ordered mandates.

"I lived through the period of time where they [Microsoft] were trying to destroy open source. They have never apologized or said they were wrong. They have 10 years of catch-up," he said.

"When someone has been walking around trying to kill you for years and now they want to be your friend, you have got to wonder. Thirteen months ago [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] was saying that he would kill Linux-based systems with his patents. That was being said well above Sam [Ramji] pay grade," he said.

Related Search Term(s): open source, Microsoft, SFLC

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