Shedding Light on Linux
Will the new OS have a bright future in design and publishing?
Some Wall Street types are already bullish on Linux, having profited from related stock market moves, such as the recent, high-soaring IPO (initial public offering) by Red Hat, a commercial distributor of the fledgling open-source operating system.
However, while day traders can cash in on any technology fad enjoying its 15 minutes of fame in the public eye and financial community, publishers and graphic designers count on digital developments with long-term, industry-specific viability.
So, is Linux just a fly-by-night financial fancy, or will it become a staple in print and Web production portfolios, joining blue chips like Mac, Windows and UNIX incarnations?
One industry supplier that's backing Linux as a professional publishing platform for the new millennium is SGI, a Mountain View, CA-based provider of graphics workstations, servers and displays. SGI has already announced Linux support for server products, with additional news expected soon.
In an exclusive conversation with Publishing & Production Executive, Wayne Arvidson, global industry manager for SGI's digital media markets, explains why SGI rates the OS a strong buy for graphic arts users and reveals his company's Linux-leveraging strategy.
Publishing & Production Executive: In a nutshell, what is Linux and what's the hook for our industry?
Wayne Arvidson: Linux is a UNIX-like OS (operating system) that runs on Intel architectures. The primary advantage [for graphics and production professionals] is that Linux-based solutions can offer a lot of performance capabilities—like multitasking and fault tolerance—at economies of scale more in line with PC systems.
P&PE: We've learned that the central part of Linux, its kernel, was developed by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland, and that the OS was completed by members of the Free Software Foundation under the GNU General Public License so that the Linux source code is available free to any individual or organization. Obviously, not every prospective user can or wants to do his or her own Linux programming. Since the code's release, other companies have developed their own commercial versions of Linux (for which they may charge a fee), adding customized feature sets. Can you identify some of these suppliers?