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Test Suite Heralds SGI's Growing Involvement with Linux - page 3

Testing Linux

  • August 13, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

Many people involved with Linux tend toward suspicion whenever any commercial outfit becomes involved, but Chung said that Silicon Graphics is doing its best to make its voice neither louder nor softer than those of other members of the community. SGI is represented on various standards-setting committees, but Chung pointed out that having a voice in standards is far different from dictating them.

"We have a general goal," she said. "We're very, very much committed to the Open Source movement. We think that having an operating system that is jointly developed within the community is a great thing. We really put our wallet where our mouth is; we don't just say that we believe in it. Fundamentally, our goal in the company is to realistically help Linux mature faster. As great as it is, Linux is limited in various different aspects. For example, Linux doesn't scale very well. Linux doesn't handle things like big memory. Whenever we see an area where Linux is lacking, that prevents Linux from being adopted in the corporate space, whenever we have the appropriate technology, we will basically share it with the community. We Open Sourced, for example, our compilers. We Open Sourced our file system, which allows you to have very large file systems and very large shared file systems. These are all things that we feel Linux can use and can benefit from. We have the technology, and we're sharing it with the community."

She noted that SGI's business objectives need not and generally do not conflict with the objectives of the Linux community. But the typical Linux user is probably not the person who would buy an SGI cluster, which would more likely be used to predict the weather, analyze nuclear reactions, or serve complex business purposes. Yet SGI contributions that make it easier to achieve a more robust kernel or faster and better graphics will help not just SGI's efforts to sell machines running Linux to customers, but all Linux users.

Commenting on the distrust from within the community toward companies involving themselves with Linux, Chung pointed out that everybody in the community, company or not, has opinions and goals, and all voices should be heard.

"We're paranoid, too. Often times others in the community have very different views, and we don't want them to dictate a view that is totally unsuitable for our customers. So we're equally paranoid. The goal isn't for us to dictate, the goal is for us to move Linux to maturity faster."

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