"As businesses turn to Linux to run more of their critical
business applications, it looks as if the open-source operating
system is entering an awkward adolescence. You liked Linux a lot
when he was just the gawky kid from down the block mowing your lawn
or shoveling the snow. But now that he wants to date your daughter,
you're not so sure he measures up.
"3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc. would like to welcome Linux
into its family. The company, which uses computers to screen
possible drug combinations to speed up the drug-discovery process,
wants to move its workstations for X-ray crystallography and other
drug-discovery functions from Unix to Linux. That would cut the
cost of workstations from around $30,000 for a Silicon Graphics
Inc. Octane to about $7,000 for a Dell running Linux from Red Hat
Inc. The savings would make it feasible for 3-Dimensional, which
was acquired in March by Johnson & Johnson, to put a
workstation in front of each of its 40 chemists, making them more
"'We're trying to move so that more people can access the same
data,' says John Spurlino, a senior director with 3-Dimensional.
'Unix workstations are more specialized and more expensive than a
PC environment. If we can bring those programs to a PC running
Linux, it becomes more cost effective...'"