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Microsoft has released a Debian Linux switch OS

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Put down your coffee gently. Microsoft has today released a homegrown open-source operating system, based on Debian GNU/Linux, that runs on network switches.

The software is dubbed SONiC, aka Software for Open Networking in the Cloud. It's a toolkit of code to bend switch hardware to your will, so you can dictate how it works and what it can do, rather than relying on proprietary firmware from a traditional networking vendor.

It also pits Redmond against white-box network operating systems from the likes of HP, Dell, and Cumulus Networks.

SONiC builds upon the Windows giant's Linux-based Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) operating system that we learned about in September.

ACS is the brains of switches in Microsoft's Azure cloud: the code can run on all sorts of hardware from different equipment makers, and uses a common C API – the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) – to program the specialist chips in the networking gear. This means ACS can control and manage network devices and implement features as required regardless of who made the underlying electronics.

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