Open-source Samba gets inside look at Microsoft specs A complicated third-party arrangement means that the open-source Samba project will be able to make use of proprietary documents describing Microsoft file-sharing software. Samba, governed by the General Public License (GPL), lets Unix or Linux servers behave like Windows machines used to share files over a network and control networked printers. But the effort has been difficult: Microsoft doesn't go out of its way to share the details of the protocols; patent infringement concerns also have appeared more than once. On Thursday, though, the Samba team announced a deal that gets around the previous barriers. The increasingly influential Software Freedom Law Center, led by open-source legal guru Eben Moglen, established a nonprofit group called the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation. The PFIF is paying Microsoft 10,000 euros (about $14,400) for documentation that will be shared under a nondisclosure agreement (click here for a PDF of the NDA or read this Samba explanation for further details) with Samba programmers. Those programmers are free to write code based on the documentation, though not to share the documentation itself, Samba said. And Microsoft must keep the documentation up to date. The move is interesting for a number of reasons. For one thing, it's a concrete outcome after years of antitrust efforts that had left many Microsoft foes bitter. For another, the technological repercussions very likely will strengthen a direct Microsoft competitor. And perhaps most interesting, it illustrates the growing legal sophistication and clout of the free and open-source programming movement. Samba leader Jeremy Allison is champing at the bit with the technical possibilities the agreement opens up for the software project. "If you'll pardon me breaking into song: it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," Allison said. Among the features he expects will be added as a result of the agreement are full support for Microsoft's Active Directory, encrypted files, a better search interface, and support for "SMB2," a new version of Microsoft's Server Message Block protocol after which the Samba project took its name. SMB2 is built into Longhorn Server, which when released in 2008 will be called Windows Server 2008. I asked Allison whether open-source code in fact reveals information in the proprietary documentation. "It does to those who can understand it. It's not revealing the actual documents, though, and that's the main thing," he said. Why was Microsoft so willing to share the specifications now? In short, the antitrust case the European Union brought against Microsoft required the company to release interoperability information. Most recently, Microsoft agreed to share the information for a one-time fee rather than requiring a share of revenues from products--a pricing scheme that doesn't jibe well with open-source methods. Read More @mod Pakilipat nalang sa News section kasi d ako maka post dun.. salamat po.