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Microsoft has published its own distribution of FreeBSD 10.3

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June 9, 2016

Microsoft said earlier today that it has published what looks like its own distribution of FreeBSD version 10.3. It would appear that this is in order to make the operating system available and supported in its Azure environment.

Jason Anderson, principal manager at Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center says that the company “took on the work of building, testing, releasing and maintaining the OS image” so it could “ensure our customers have an enterprise SLA for their FreeBSD VMs running in Azure”.

Microsoft did so “to remove that burden” from the FreeBSD Foundation, which relies on community contributions.

Microsoft isn't keeping its work on FreeBSD to itself, however. Anderson says “the majority of the investments we make at the kernel level to enable network and storage performance were up-streamed into the FreeBSD 10.3 release, so anyone who downloads a FreeBSD 10.3 image from the FreeBSD Foundation will get those investments from Microsoft built in to the OS.”

OS code will flow both ways. Anderson added that “our intent is to stay current and make available the latest releases shortly after they are released by the FreeBSD Release Engineering team. We are continuing to make investments to further tune performance on storage, as well as adding new Hyper-V features – stay tuned for more information on this.”

Microsoft asserts it will support its distribution when run in Azure. The company's rationale for the release is that plenty of software vendors use FreeBSD as the OS for software appliances.

That reasoning was behind Microsoft's 2012 decision to ensure FreeBSD could run as a guest OS under Hyper-V. Your guest OSs are your own problem. Microsoft clearly decided it needed something more predictable for Azure, although it has in the past allowed custom FreeBSDs to run as cloudy VMs.

Naturally, Microsoft has also allowed Linux on Azure VMs for years, so news of the FreeBSD effort feels like an effort to ensure the platforms cloud users are available.

But no matter how you look at this, it's still surprising to see Microsoft wade into the development of FreeBSD.

Additionally, when Microsoft announced it would ensure that FreeBSD runs on Hyper-V, NetApp was one of its collaborators. NetApp knows FreeBSD quite well because Data ONTAP is built on it. But NetApp is absent from the vendors listed in Microsoft's announcement of its FreeBSD efforts.

Source: Microsoft.

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