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Technology / Software

VMware denies violating Linux open source license

VMware has rebuffed allegations that it violated Linux’s open source license with its hypervisor VMware ESXi.

Filings from the Free Software Conservancy (FSC) in Hamburg, Germany accused the company of failing to release the source code for the open source products that is included with ESXi, following a three-year dispute over the matter.

However VMware has declared the case to be "without merit", and is "disappointed" that the FSC has taken legal action against them.

"VMware ESXi is an operating system that manages the hardware and software resources of the physical server," a statement from the firm read. "At the core of the ESXi operating system is a kernel called ‘vmkernel’, that provides control over those resources."

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According to VMware, third parties can write drivers that interact with vmkernel using a proprietary VMK API, and also a Linux-compatible kernel module called vmklinux.

"VMware offers vmklinux to third parties under the GPL (General Public License) and makes this source code available," the company said.

"For the reasons we’ve outlined above we are confident that our operating system is not a derivative work of Linux code and that we comply with our obligations under the GPL."

Christoph Hellwig, a Linux developer working with the FSC on the case, claims that VMware infringed on his copyright through its failure to comply with the GPL license, and has enlisted the legal counsel of Till Jaeger of JBB Rechtsanwälte, who has handled GPL violations before.

Speaking generally about GPL violation, Bradley Kuhn, president of SFC, said: "The prevalence and sheer volume of GPL violations has increased by many orders of magnitude in the nearly two decades that I have worked on enforcement of the GPL.

"We must make a stand to show that individual developers and software freedom enthusiasts wish to uphold copyleft [the preservation of open source policy in software derivatives] as a good strategy to achieve more access to source code and the right to modify, improve and share that source code"
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