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Sun supper offer appeals to Torvalds

Linux leader seems inclined to take Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz up on his dinner offer, so at least one cultural barrier separating Linux and Solaris may be lowering.

In the latest word in a peculiarly public interchange, Linux leader Linus Torvalds appears inclined to take up Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz on his offer for dinner.

Last weekend, Torvalds expressed some "cynical" thoughts about Sun's intentions regarding its open-source Solaris operating system, which in turn led Schwartz to invite Torvalds to dinner to demonstrate Sun's intention of being a team player in the open-source realm, not a parasite.

In an interview Wednesday, Torvalds indicated he was interested in the dinner date, even given the condition Schwartz attached.

"I'm a fervent (believer and founding member) of the Free Food Foundation, and while Sun as usual has a few gotchas ('bring wine') in their licensing, it does sound like a good offer," he said.

But Sun has some work to do establishing its bona fides in Torvalds' eyes. In particular, he was clearly unhappy with how long it took Sun to make Java into an open-source project. The server and software company moved through multiple licensing regimes before finally releasing the core Java code under the General Public License (GPL), the same license that governs the Linux kernel.

"Quite frankly, if it wasn't for Java, I'd probably not be nearly as cynical," Torvalds said. "I've absolutely detested the Java licensing situation from the get-go, and a short time of being mostly open-sourced just hasn't yet had time to flush away all the bad taste of years of just stupid license shenanigans."

But Schwartz has had luck wining and dining potential adversaries in the past. As soon as Schwartz took over as CEO in 2006, his first call was to Intel CEO Paul Otellini. At that point, Sun sold x86 servers solely with Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processors. But the two met over dinner and wine.

"It was a bottle of Barolo at Delfina," Schwartz said earlier, referring to the San Francisco restaurant. Now, just over a year later, Sun now sells Intel-based x86 servers.