New Delhi, INDIA — Narayanan Madhavan reports that Silicon Graphics Inc (SGI) said on Monday that Linux, the open-source computer operating system software that nobody owns, was just right for the country with its vast army of programmers and security minded officials.
Robert Bishop, chairman and chief executive officer of the California-based company that makes high-performance computers and workstations, told a news conference that the “open source” movement ensured robustness and safety.
“I think there is a good reason why India will find itself connected to the Linux movement,” said Bishop, whose company is trying to match its own properietary standards by quickly embracing growing Linux and turning a cheerleader for it.
Linux is gaining popularity among programmers who like its flexibility. The source code of rival platforms like Microsoft Corp’s Windows is guarded and owned by the firm. Supporters of Linux add an open code enables bugs to be fixed more easily.
Bishop named countries like India and China among those whose officials would feel safe with Linux because of its open code. The two countries have strong nuclear and defence establishments which are suspicious of embracing software standards that could compromise on secrecy. “With other proprietary operating systems, you can never be sure,” Bishop said.
India’s defence bodies and weather agencies are among key customers served by SGI, which is trying to diversify from its own MIPS microchips and IRIX operating systems by embracing Linux and popular microprocessors made by Intel Corp.
However, Bishop said SGI would continue to rely heavily on its proprietary systems. “Even ten years from now, our balance between these platforms would be fifty-fifty,” he said. SGI officials said the firm’s Indian unit, whose revenue grew by 20 percent to around 1.0 bilion rupees ($21.8 million) in 1999/2000 (July-June), is expected to grow by 50 percent this year. In response to a question, Bishop said SGI was focused on core technologies, and was willing to consider investing in Indian developers that use Linux.
“Linux and open source could turbo-charge the Indian software community,” he said. Bishop spoke extensively of SGI building tools to drive infrastructure that would enable the quick transport of rich content like video and graphics over the Internet, and eyed a global market in digital content. He said he believed somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of global trade was now in the form of intellectual property, and such “digital content” would account for 50 percent two decades from now.
Bishop mentioned agencies engaged in weather forecasting, science, research, oil and gas, design, satellite monitoring and architecture among those which would create digital content. He said skills-rich India would be a key centre of creation. “There is no limit to where the origin of this content will be,” he said.