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millimeter: The Little Engine That Could - Linux on the Fast Track

Mar 04, 2001, 16:16 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ellen Wolff)

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"You have a hundred thousand programmers constantly working on improvements," notes Kevin Braun, manager of Pacific Title Digital. "If we need to tweak something, we can because the code is open source. This saves money and time. Deadlines are getting shorter and shorter in postproduction, and I think that every house that wants to keep reacting to these deadlines will have to explore the option of running a free operating system on cheap, readily available boxes."

"Many in the industry agree. At a meeting of technical experts hosted late last year by the Visual Effects Society, Linux was front-and-center. According to Industrial Light + Magic's network systems director Andy Henderickson, people from companies like PDI, Pixar, Manex, and Digital Domain all sat down to talk about where operating systems are going. "It's in our best interest to standardize on the same platform," states Henderickson. "Since we use all the same packages, it doesn't make sense for the Alias|Wavefronts of the world to port their software left and right to different platforms. Within a couple of hours, two dozen companies agreed the answer was Linux."

"Henderickson reports that ILM has been moving toward Linux. "We've been primarily running IRIX, which is SGI's variant of UNIX," he says. "But Linux looks like it has a big future for us because it's UNIX without the expensive boxes. Today's commodity boxes-meaning basically Intel PCs with hot graphics cards in them-perform quite well." ILM's future desktops, he expects, would be based largely on Linux, with some Mac OSX machines (Mac OSX being a UNIX variant). He cautions, however, that Linux is by no means "fully baked."

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