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SGI funds Linux advocate

One of the industry's oldest advocates of the Linux operating system takes a position with the high-end computer maker.

One of the industry's oldest advocates of the Linux operating system has taken a position with high-end computer maker SGI.

At SGI, Jon "maddog" Hall will continue his company-neutral role as executive director of Linux International, said Paul McNamara, SGI vice president of products and platforms. SGI is sponsoring Hall the way VA Linux Systems and Compaq Computer have done in the past, McNamara said.

"We want to get more active in sponsoring things going on in the community," such as the pool of open-source programmers who collectively create Linux, often as volunteers, McNamara said. "We thought this was a good way to demonstrate our commitment to the community."

SGI makes high-end computers with a particular specialty in visually challenging problems such as portraying complex 3D car models. SGI aggressively embraced Windows in the mid-1990s and Linux in the late 1990s, but the still unprofitable company failed to keep up with bigger competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems.

SGI is working on a new Linux computer that uses Intel's high-end Itanium processor. SGI's first Itanium-based computers are due in January 2003, spokeswoman Ginny Babbitt said.