Flying under the radar, Microsoft developers submitted a Samba patch in early October and now the Samba team publicly thanks them.

"A few years back, a patch submission from coders at Microsoft would have been amazing to the point of unthinkable, but the battles are mostly over and times have changed," Samba team member Chris Hertel writes in a blog post. "We still disagree on some things such as the role of software patents in preventing the creation of innovative software; but Microsoft is now at the forefront of efforts to build a stronger community and improve interoperability in the SMB world."

Samba and Microsoft

Launched in early 1992, the Samba project provides a standard Windows interoperability suite of programs for Linux and Unix. Licensed under the GNU General Public License, Samba helps integrate Linux/Unix servers and desktops into Active Directory environments using the winbindd daemon.

The Samba/Microsoft relationship has come a long way since 2007, when the European Commission's March 24th, 2004 decision in the antitrust lawsuit required Microsoft to make protocol documentation available to competitors. In fact, earlier this year we wrote about Microsoft warming up to open source when the company launched WebMatrix, a website development and deployment tool and Orchard, a .NET open source content management system.

The Patch

On October 10, 2011, Stephen Zarkos, from Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center, posted a message on the Samba developer's list with the heading Patches for channel and service binding or NTLM (extended protection). He wrote:

Earlier this year we had an intern working with us to implement a proof of concept for extended protection (channel and service binding) for Firefox and Samba. To enable this scenario on the client side, we were able to use libraries available on Windows and contribute code to the Mozilla team to make this all work. On the Linux side, however, Firefox utilizes Samba for NTLM authentication and so he also built some patches for Samba to enable this scenario.

Zarkos explained that the patches were approved for release as GPLv2 or later, but he was concerned that they might be stale and need additional work.

Patch quietly submitted

As you can see in the message thread, Zarkos didn't receive an immediate response to his post which Hertel corrects in his Samba blog post:

Most people didn't even notice the source of the contribution. That's how far things have come in the past four-ish years. ...but some of us saw this as a milestone, and wanted to make a point of expressing our appreciation for the patch and the changes we have seen.