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SubjectRe: [QUESTION] Microsoft, WSL, and the Linux trademark (Edited For Readability)
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Mr. Caputo,

> In reading the news today, I stumbled across an article talking about a $20
> "linux-based distro" app for Windows 10.

Hello. That was my idea. Please allow me to address some of the concerns you raised.

> This is just a bundled userspace for WSL, there is no actual Linux in this thing,
> yet the trademarked Linux name is used throughout.
> Did Microsoft license the trademark or something? Did I miss a memo?
> Does their joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member two years ago
> include such use of the trademark?
> I'm confused by what seems to be total silence about what _appears_ to be an
> obvious large-scale trademark abuse in everything WSL-related.
> Could somebody informed please shed some light on this?

The Linux trademark is owned by Linus Torvalds and administered by the Linux Foundation
through the Linux Mark Institute: https://www.linuxmark.org. The Linux trademark can be
used by third parties subject to a Sublicense Agreement:
https://www.linuxmark.org/programs/legal/trademark/sublicense-agreement.

The terms of the Sublicense Agreement permit the use of the Linux trademark for derivative
goods and services that deploy, document, facilitate the use of, or enhance Linux­-based goods.

WLinux does contain a bootable Linux kernel in a base image. The criticism that 'WSL is
not Linux' is because the kernel is not executed when the base image is installed and run
from within the WSL layer on Windows 10. But WLinux can be used to patch and build the
Linux kernel from sources to install on other devices, assist in deploying and configuring
Linux on other devices, and can cross-compile software using standard Linux libraries,
all when running on WSL. For more about how WSL works for those unfamiliar:
https://github.com/sirredbeard/Awesome-WSL#overview. WLinux unquestionably contains
derivations of the Linux kernel, relies on the WSL re-implementation of Linux kernel syscalls,
and facilitates the use of and enhances Linux-based goods, all within the terms of the
Linux Sublicense Agreement.

We obtained a valid Sublicense Agreement for the use of the Linux trademark for WLinux
from the Linux Foundation before launching WLinux. All of our intellectual property
compliance disclosures are here:
https://github.com/WhitewaterFoundry/WLinux/blob/master/LICENSE.md

> The situation strikes me as harmful to the kernel as the majority of folks being
introduced to "Linux" this way will be tricked into thinking they're using/supporting Linux.

Users who purchase WLinux from the Microsoft Store are supporting the Linux ecosystem
and free software generally. Everyone working on WLinux are Windows and Linux users
who are committed to making the Linux software ecosystem accessible to as many people
as possible regardless of what device or operating system they are on. WLinux and WSL
generally opens up new possibilities for bringing people to the Linux ecosystem,
cross-platform development, and expanding access to free software and free software
development tools.

WLinux builds in a number of value-added enhancements and features, we provide
end user support, and work with various developer communities and other open source
companies to try to make it easy to get into the Linux ecosystem from Windows 10. We
make it easy to get up and running with Go, Ruby, other dev toolchains, soon Docker, install
various editors, configure predictive text input for non-Latin input, and implement a handful
of other tweaks to defaults. I personally do not believe a frontend dev stepping into Linux
should have to know how to partition and dual-boot a system, or even have to learn Docker,
to get started using node.js and trying different packages off npm. They will get to that.

Many WLinux users are going to end up working on traditional server Linux eventually,
if they don't already, as many of our users seem to work in hybrid environments as it is.
I imagine a few will end up trying and then switching to desktop Linux, again if they don't
use it already. But desktop Linux is just one small part of Linux, WLinux is not here to
replace it, and WSL is not capable of doing so in it's current limitations. Users are not being
'tricked'. Free upstream distros from Canonical, Debian, SuSE, and Kali are available where
you can implement our tweaks and custom packages manually. Of the many copies we have
sold we have only had two refund requests which we have promptly honored. Users always
have the option of building WLinux from source using instructions we provide. WLinux is also
heavily discounted or free in many less developed countries.

We turn the funds WLinux earns around to hire open source developers, sponsor bug and
feature bounties, donate to upstream projects, and cover overhead. We are profitable and
expect to pay out over $2,000 USD in bounties this month alone after being on the store for
just six weeks. We are focused on building a sustainable commercial open source project
that can direct our own development resources where we see fit to improve the Linux
experience on WSL for us, the users of Linux on WSL. Microsoft has had absolutely zero
input into how we have evolved WLinux besides open source code of theirs we have used.

Hayden Barnes
Whitewater Foundry, Ltd. Co.
hayden@whitewaterfoundry.com
https://www.whitewaterfoundry.com
https://twitter.com/WLinuxApp
https://github.com/sirredbeard
https://github.com/WhitewaterFoundry/WLinux

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