SGI opens Open Inventor source code

High-end graphics app development tool handed to Linux community

SGI has released the source code for its high-end Open Inventor 3D graphics object-oriented application development system to the Linux and open source communities.

The move follows on from SGI's decision to allow open source developers the freedom to use its OpenGL brand and compatibility certification. Back in January SGI issued open source sample code for an OpenGL API, to allow open source developers to create APIs that more closely match the 'official' OpenGL spec.

All three moves are designed to encourage widespread development of OpenGL-based open source graphics tools which - SGI hopes - will persuade graphics users to move to Linux from Windows NT and the Mac, and, in turn, buy more SGI boxes in the process. Open sourcing Open Inventor should also reduce SGI's R&D effort on maintaining and improving the software development framework.

Open Inventor is essentially a rapid application development (RAD) tool for graphics, one that has found plenty of proponents in really high-end graphics work, such as movie special effects houses, science and engineering operations and in academia. As a high-end product, Open Inventor hasn't come cheap, though that revenue stream is clearly likely to dry now that any Open Inventor customer can get the source code for free.

"We have received numerous requests for a Linux version of Open Inventor," said Kurt Akeley, SGI's CTO. "By open sourcing this toolkit, we are making it available on Linux and at the same time enabling this large and very active user community to study, understand and enhance the toolkit." ®

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