Originally Published: Thursday, 26 August 1999 Author: Scott Nipp
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

What SGI Brings to Linux

Lately, SGI seems to be the talk of the town in the Linux community. SGI, one of the leading manufacturers of Unix-based graphics workstations, has been making some very exciting announcements lately concerning Linux. We will take a look at what SGI's involvement with the Linux community will hopefully bring to Linux....

   Page 1 of 1  

Lately, SGI seems to be the talk of the town in the Linux community. SGI, one of the leading manufacturers of Unix-based graphics workstations, has been making some very exciting announcements lately concerning Linux. We will take a look at what SGI's involvement with the Linux community will hopefully bring to Linux.

Recently, I wrote an article discussing SGI's XFS filesystem in some detail. XFS is a journaling filesystem that SGI is in the process of both porting to Linux and releasing to the Open Source community. Basically, a journaling filesystem like XFS dramatically reduces the recovery time after a system crash. Furthermore, XFS is a 64-bit filesystem that by nature allows for very large filesystems and files. If you would like more information about XFS, check out my article "XFS - What it means for Linux" in the Linux.com archives.

One of the most exciting developments, which SGI has recently announced concerning Linux, is that they will be dropping their Windows NT product line. SGI will be replacing this Intel/NT based product line with an Intel/Linux product line. This new Linux product line will be backed by SGI's excellent product support group, and will also most likely receive a strong focus from SGI's marketing people. This differs from the recent Linux products by the likes of HP, Dell, and IBM in one fundamental way. These other companies are simply adding Linux products to their existing lines, where SGI is completely dumping its Windows NT products in favor of Linux. SGI is making a serious commitment to the success of Linux by making this move. This should have several beneficial side effects for the Linux community as a whole. First, SGI takes the lead in the industry by making such a bold move. This should lead many SGI-dedicated organizations, which are not currently utilizing Linux to any great degree, to more closely evaluate Linux as a potential solution. This will hopefully lead to more corporate penetration of Linux systems, which is obviously a wonderful thing for Linux as a whole. Companies who are not necessarily SGI shops should also be inclined to give Linux more consideration based on the fact that such a large organization is making this type of move.

The commitment, which SGI is making to Linux, means that the success of Linux is crucial to the success of SGI. This means that SGI should be allocating substantial resources to supporting and improving Linux. The support which SGI will be offering for their Linux-based systems should serve to help find and resolve that many more issues with Linux. Furthermore, SGI brings considerable development talent to the table from having developed its own commercial Unix variant, Irix, for several years. This should also help accelerate current kernel development efforts by SGI contributing in this area.

Another development area where SGI should be able to lend considerable expertise is multiprocessor support in the Linux kernel. SGI currently owns Cray Systems, makers of the most powerful super-computers on the planet. These Cray systems can have up to 192 processors, Gigs and Gigs of RAM, Terabytes of storage capacity, etc. SGI is in the process of spinning Cray Systems off into a separate company that they will not maintain a stake in, however, SGI has years of experience with these extremely high-end servers. This experience with Cray systems should allow them to make very significant contributions to enhancing multiprocessor capabilities in the Linux kernel.

The level of commitment to the Open Source community and Linux in particular remains to be seen, but I think that SGI can only help themselves by contributing to and supporting the Linux community. SGI stands to reap considerable benefits from the success of Linux, and it therefore makes good business sense that SGI do everything they can to help make Linux a success. The end results of SGI's recent announcements remain to be seen, but the upside is substantial to the Linux community while the downside is detrimental primarily to SGI.

Scott Nipp is a Technical Analyst at Sprint Paranet. He spends his time there fighting the good fight, advocating Linux to his managers and customers.





   Page 1 of 1