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SGI elevates Linux in servers

The firm gives its imprimatur to a multipronged operating system strategy for server computers, giving Linux a stature which rivals Windows NT and Unix.

SGI today gave its imprimatur to a multipronged operating system strategy for server computers, elevating Linux to a stature which rivals Windows NT and Unix.

SGI today announced that Linux will take its place along side of SGI's Unix operating system (OS) called Irix, its Unicos supercomputer OS, and Microsoft's Windows NT.

"No single operating system can meet the...needs of all customers," said John R. Vrolyk, senior vice president of SGI's computer systems business unit, in a statement.

SGI said previously that it would offer computers that support both Linux and NT. These computers will be based on Intel's 32- and 64-bit processors.

"SGI engineers are currently contributing expertise and technologies to the Linux and open source communities," the company said today. This includes technologies such as providing the capability for servers to handle increased workloads--called "scalability"--high-performance "I/O" subsystems, and high-performance file systems and compilers.

SGI executives have said in the past that releasing technology to the open-source community isn't like giving away the crown jewels. Instead, the company hopes it will lead people to develop computer systems more like SGI's, helping popularize technology where SGI has expertise and a competitive advantage.

The company recently introduced support of Samba 2.0 file and print server software for its Origin server line. Samba is an open source product which allows access to Unix file systems from Windows-based systems. Open source is a new term recently defined to describe software which is available to the public in source code form, and which does not have licensing restrictions which limit use, modification, or redistribution. Linux is one of the most prominent examples.

Other computer source code such as GLX and OpenVault source code has been released into the open source community, SGI said.

The company is also looking to advance Linux in its workstation line. "[We intend] to address the needs of customers looking for desktop and visual computing solutions on the Linux operating system," said Murali Dharan, vice president of marketing, workstation division in a statement. "SGI is looking at ways in which we can bring our expertise and leadership in OpenGL and digital media technologies to the Linux community, although we have no definitive product plans to announce at this time," he added.

The Mountain View, California-based company also reiterated its support for Windows NT. "It has become pervasive across both the desktop and server markets," the company said in a statement.

In addition to NT-based workstations, SGI intends to introduce an NT server later this year, and will disclose further details at that time.

SGI will also be improving its Irix operating system by focusing on extending scalability and clustering--which ties computers together to form a more powerful virtual computer. The company will also port to Irix-specific supercomputing functions from its supercomputer Unicos OS.

Irix supports computers ranging from single-processor workstations all the way to 256-processer servers.