Shedding Light on Linux
Arvidson: There are several distributions of Linux currently. At SGI, we're primarily focused on three: Red Hat in the United States, and SuSE and Turbo Linux internationally. We're supporting various versions due to localization issues in Europe and the Pacific Rim. We do pre-install the OS on our Linux-based solutions.
P&PE: Is there hardware support for Linux now?
Arvidson: A lot of vendors have announced support; however, levels of support can vary greatly. Since Linux is compatible with with Intel 32-bit architecture, theoretically, the OS can run without extra engineering on any Dell- or Gateway-type box. At SGI, we're working on overlays that will run on top of Linux to allow the OS to take advantage of our hardware. We're also taking components of our IRIX 64-bit system and making them available to the open-source community to facilitate development of 64-bit-based versions of Linux. [IRIX is SGI's UNIX-based OS technology.] We're very committed to the open-source movement. In fact, we've already released the source code of our OpenGL Sample Implementation, which will enable professional OpenGL implementations on Linux. [OpenGL is SGI's high-end 3D graphics API, already utilized by a number of developers, including Apple Computer.]
P&PE: What design and publishing applications are best suited to Linux?
Arvidson: Everything from graphics to server and RIP applications to asset management—for both print and Web jobs.
P&PE: Which of those aforementioned applications will Linux-based solutions address first?
Arvidson: We'll see initial implementation, probably by year's end, in two key areas: RIPs, based on Linux's performance advantages; and high-end graphics. Linux is ideal for working with large files, such as for packaging.
P&PE: Are any industry software applications running on Linux-based systems now?
Arvidson: There are some applications that are related to workflow management available from industry vendors such as Torque Systems, DALiM and Helios. At Seybold [this February], we demonstrated several apps running on Linux, including Helios EtherShare Linux version server. At this point, we're starting to see mainstream graphics software companies, like Adobe Systems, announce Linux support in some of their products. In general, developers find that they can get a much more robust product at PC prices. We expect many Linux-related announcements by various suppliers at DRUPA in May—and some even before the show.