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COMDEX: SGI CEO says Linux strategy coming soon (1999)

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Chicago (April 20, 1999) -- Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), which is trying to recast its corporate image, will announce its Linux operating system strategy soon, including plans for servers using the open source software, the company's chief executive officer and chairman said today.

Richard Belluzzo told reporters after his keynote talk at Spring Comdex that he cannot provide specifics about SGI's Linux plans or dates for announcements, but "it's not that far away," he said. SGI, which now prefers to be referred to solely by those three initials -- lower-cased in the new corporate logo -- will focus its Linux server offerings on machines for telecommunications and ISPs (Internet service providers) where the operating system is particularly popular.

SGI will continue its work on servers for the Windows NT platform, said Belluzzo at the news conference following his speech, emphasizing that SGI's new corporate image focuses on desktops, servers and supercomputers, with some software and services tossed in for balance.

Some companies that have announced Linux strategies are opportunists, looking to cash in on a hot industry trend, and Belluzzo said he wonders "how aggressively are they going to contribute technology" to the OS. Will companies actually help develop the OS or "will they just throw a Red Hat CD in a box," he added, referring to Red Hat Software Inc., a premier Linux developer and distributor.

"Our intention today is to be strategic about it," Belluzzo said of SGI's Linux plans. He didn't make any comments about what SGI's intentions for Linux might be tomorrow -- or whenever actual SGI announcements will be made -- but he did pledge that his company is "committed to Linux" during his keynote address today.

"We believe in the open source model," Belluzzo said in his speech, which also included a variety of demonstrations of visual computing and how visualization is being used in manufacturing to design and build safer automobiles, in medicine to avoid unnecessary surgeries, and in other industries including architecture and urban planning.

Although he said at the outset that his speech would show how visual computing is being increasingly used in the mainstream, the demonstrations were only of high-end applications. When he was asked during the news conference why the demonstrations weren't of mainstream applications, Belluzzo insisted that such use of visual computing is occurring, although he didn't offer specific examples.