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Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2019 16:03:21 +0200
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: linux-distros membership application - Microsoft

Hi Sasha,

Thank you for posting this application.

Are you also on security@...?  If so, then on one hand also being on
linux-distros would probably be of less use to you since I suspect most
of the issues relevant to Microsoft are in the Linux kernel, but on the
other hand you could serve as a liaison to that group.

On Wed, Jun 26, 2019 at 10:13:58AM -0400, Sasha Levin wrote:
> >1. Be an actively maintained Unix-like operating system distro with
> >substantial use of Open Source components
> Microsoft provides several distro-like builds which are not derivative
> of an existing distribution that are based on open source components:
> - Azure Sphere
>   ( This
>   Linux-based IoT device provides, among various things, security
>   updates to deployed IoT devices. As the project is about to step out
>   of public preview into the GA stage, we expect millions of these
>   devices to be publicly used.

This does sound like it includes a Linux distro, but obviously there's
no security track record for it yet, so it's hard to estimate relevance
of information you'd obtain via linux-distros to that product.

> - Windows Subsystem for Linux v2
>   (
>   A Linux based distro that runs as a virtual machine on top of Windows
>   hosts. WSL2 is currently available for public preview and scheduled
>   for GA early 2020.

You call this "a Linux based distro", but that's not clear to me from
the web page you reference, which talks about managing (third-party?)
distros in the WSL2 subsystem.  Can you clarify this, please?

> - Products such as Azure HDInsight
>   ( and the Azure
>   Kubernetes Service
>   (
>   provide public access to a Linux based distribution.

These look like SaaS offerings.  We do not have any explicit guidelines
on whether "provide public access to a Linux based distribution" is
potentially enough to qualify for linux-distros or not.  We do have
Amazon as a member, so there's that precedent.

> >2. Have a userbase not limited to your own organization
> Microsoft customers have millions of cores running the various workloads
> described above.
> >3. Have a publicly verifiable track record, dating back at least 1
> >year and continuing to present day, of fixing security issues
> >(including some that had been handled on (linux-)distros, meaning that
> >membership would have been relevant to you) and releasing the fixes
> >within 10 days (and preferably much less than that) of the issues
> >being made public (if it takes you ages to fix an issue, your users
> >wouldn't substantially benefit from the additional time, often around
> >7 days and sometimes up to 14 days, that list membership could give
> >you).
> Microsoft has decades long history of addressing security issues via
> MSRC ( While we are able to
> quickly (<1-2 hours) create a build to address disclosed security
> issues, we require extensive testing and validation before we make these
> builds public. Being members of this mailing list would provide us the
> additional time we need for extensive testing.

It'd be helpful if you could directly address this part: "including some
that had been handled on (linux-)distros, meaning that membership would
have been relevant to you".  Without such examples yet, we'd have to be
guessing whether the membership would have been relevant to you or not.

Right now, the statistics at:

only go until the end of 2018, so you'd be able to use them for examples
dating back to 2018 and earlier.  We should ask Gentoo to update these
statistics soon, perhaps for period until end of June 2019, which will
be possible soon.

> >4. Not be (only) downstream or a rebuild of another distro (or else we
> >need convincing additional justification of how the list membership
> >would enable you to release fixes sooner, presumably not relying on
> >the upstream distro having released their fixes first?)
> None of our builds are based on an existing distribution. For few of
> these workloads we have a very custom kernel and userspace (such as for
> Azure Sphere), while some share a more conventional kernel/userspace
> configuration.
> >5. Be a participant and preferably an active contributor in relevant
> >public communities (most notably, if you're not watching for issues
> >being made public on oss-security, which are a superset of those that
> >had been handled on (linux-)distros, then there's no valid reason for
> >you to be on (linux-)distros)
> We follow closely public discussions with regards to security issues
> that would affect us. While there was only a minor contribution back to
> these lists mostly as we did not have any value to add back.
> During past years I've reported multiple security issues which were
> assigned CVEs.
> >6. Accept the list policy (see above)
> We accept the list's policy.
> >7. Be able and willing to contribute back (see above), preferably in
> >specific ways announced in advance (so that you're responsible for a
> >specific area and so that we know what to expect from which member),
> >and demonstrate actual contributions once you've been a member for a
> >while
> We understand this need and will be contributing back. Looking at the
> list of vacant positions I can suggest the following, but I suspect that
> existing list members will have better suggestions.
> Technical:
> 3. Review and/or test the proposed patches and point out potential
> issues with them (such as incomplete fixes for the originally reported
> issues, additional issues you might notice, and newly introduced bugs),
> and inform the list of the work done even if no issues were encountered
> - primary: Amazon, backup: vacant
> Administrative:
> 3. Evaluate if the issue (or one of the issues) is effectively already
> public (e.g., a fix is committed upstream with a descriptive message)
> or/and is low severity and thus the report (or its portion pertaining to
> the issue) should be made public right away for one or both of these
> reasons, get a few other list members to confirm this understanding, and
> if there are no objections then communicate this strong preference to
> the reporter - primary: CloudLinux, backup: vacant

If Microsoft volunteers for these, I'd like that to be in "primary" role
at least for the technical task of "3. Review and/or test the proposed
patches ..."  I think Amazon hasn't been doing enough on that front,
especially given the request to "inform the list of the work done even
if no issues were encountered".  Given this request, if this were
seriously worked on, I would have expected such reports from Amazon on
almost every issue handled on linux-distros, but this wasn't the case.

I also would like a distro (maybe Microsoft) to volunteer for Technical:

4. Check if related issues exist in the same piece of software (e.g.,
same bug class common across the software, or other kinds of bugs exist
in its problematic component), and inform the list either way

and Administrative:

4. Evaluate relevance to other parties such as the upstream, other
affected distros (not present on the (sub-)list), and other Open Source
projects, see if the report mentions notifying any of these, communicate
your findings and possible concerns to the reporter and the list, and
stay on top of the resulting discussion until a decision is made on who
else to possibly notify (or not) and any such notifications are in fact
made (with the reporter's approval)

These are completely unclaimed now, but are much needed.

For Technical "4. Check if related issues exist ...", we sometimes get
some helpful for varying distros' package maintainers and such, but this
is not consistent.  For example, recently Takashi Iwai of SUSE helped
with Linux Marvell Wi-Fi driver issues - thanks! - but this is more of
an exception than the rule.

The lack of a volunteer distro for Administrative "4. Evaluate relevance
to other parties ..." came up e.g. here:

"Linux kernel: Bluetooth: two remote infoleaks (CVE-2019-3459, CVE-2019-3460)"

> >8. Be able and willing to handle PGP-encrypted e-mail
> I am able and willing to handle PGP-encrypted e-mail.
> >9. Have someone already on the private list, or at least someone else
> >who has been active on oss-security for years but is not affiliated
> >with your distro nor your organization, vouch for at least one of the
> >people requesting membership on behalf of your distro (then that one
> >vouched-for person will be able to vouch for others on your team, in
> >case you'd like multiple people subscribed)
> Greg Kroah-Hartman <> would vouch for me
> (Sasha Levin <>).


Let's discuss this further, and perhaps arrive at a decision in July.



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