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SGI selects Linux over IRIX for IA-64

Too few apps, too expensive to port, company exec admits

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SGI has as near as damnit admitted it will not be porting its IRIX OS to Intel's upcoming IA-64 platform -- instead, the company will standardise on Linux. "Given the resources we have, we have to focus on just one [OS], and that one is Linux," SGI's strategic technologist, Hank Shiffman, told PC Week UK. That will leave SGI's Merced-based products with just two operating system options and contenders: Linux and Windows NT. IRIX will continue to be made available on SGI's MIPS-based hardware. However, the decision to pass on porting the Unix variant to Merced was made, said Shiffman, because of the relative number of applications available on the alternatives. "The ISVs I am talking to, are thinking about doing two [ports] -- NT and Linux," he said. However, Shiffman was quick to point out that an IRIX port to Merced had not been ruled out completely: "We have not closed the door finally on [it], but the current feeling from an applications standpoint is that Linux is the right answer." That said, according to Shiffman, SGI is looking at moving IRIX technology into its version of Linux, and is even developing portability APIs to simplify the process of porting IRIX-based apps over to Linux. If Linux becomes suitably souped up, there becomes little need for IRIX, and that suggests all this could be the first stage of an SGI IRIX exit strategy. It could even signal the end of SGI's support for MIPS too. ®

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