Sun CEO to Torvalds: Let's work together

Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz invited Linux leader Linus Torvalds to dinner and made the case that Linux and Solaris should join open-source forces.

Days after Linus Torvalds discussed the possibilities of Linux and Solaris joining forces as open-source projects, Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz has invited the Linux leader to dinner to allay his suspicions about Sun's motives.

"We want to work together, we want to join hands and communities," Schwartz wrote on his blog Wednesday. "We have no intention of holding anything back, or pulling patent nonsense. And to prove the sincerity of the offer, I invite you to my house for dinner. I'll cook, you bring the wine."

Linux is governed by version 2 of the General Public License (GPL), which Torvalds considers superior so far to the GPL 3 that the Free Software Foundation is due to deliver in final form by the end of the month. Sun's OpenSolaris software--the open-source components of Solaris--is so far governed only by the Community Development and Distribution License, but Schwartz believes sees GPL 3 could let Sun "converge on a uniform license" for its open-source projects.

"We love where the FSF's GPL 3 is headed. For a variety of mechanical reasons, GPL 2 is harder for us with OpenSolaris--but not impossible, or even out of the question," Schwartz said.

That perspective shows some convergence with Torvalds' view, who said on a mailing list posting, "I don't think the GPL 3 is as good a license as (GPL) 2, but on the other hand, I'm pragmatic, and if we can avoid having two kernels with two different licenses and the friction that causes, I at least see the reason for GPL 3."

Torvalds expressed interest in one Solaris technology in particular, ZFS (the Zettabyte File System), which governs how data is stored on hard drives, with built-in features to span multiple drives and ensure data integrity. But in what he described as his "cynical" prediction, Torvalds forecast Sun would find a way to keep ZFS out of Linux.

Schwartz took pains to deny that possibility, saying Sun is "interested in seeing ZFS everywhere, including Linux, with full patent indemnity."

And more broadly, he said, "We should put the swords down--you're not the enemy for us, we're not the enemy for you."

Linux can benefit from ZFS and other Solaris software such as DTrace dynamic probe or Crossbow network virtualization, and Solaris could benefit from Linux driver software that gives it broader hardware support.

"It's not predation, it's prudence," Schwartz said. "Let's stop wasting time re-creating wheels we both need to roll forward."

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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