Sinbad and Linux brave the high seas

Now Tux, the Linux mascot, is rubbing elbows with Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer.

These Hollywood stars all give their voices to characters in DreamWorks LLC's "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," the studio's first animated film created entirely on Linux-based hardware.

The movie, which opens on Thursday, was created on Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) workstations and servers running Red Hat Inc. Linux operating system software, HP said Tuesday.

DreamWorks began using Linux systems for its animated films several years ago and has progressively increased its use of the open source operating system, because of lower costs and more programming flexibility.

"This is the first (DreamWorks) movie that has been done start to finish, every single part of it, 100 percent, on Linux systems," said Mike Balma, Linux business strategist at HP.

One of the greatest draws of Linux desktop and server systems is that, in general, they cost less than their comparable Unix and Windows counterparts. DreamWorks estimates its savings at about 25 percent when comparing a Linux system and a Unix system that have similar performance, Balma said.

And because Linux is open source software, it can be easier to modify and adapt than software whose source code isn't available to developers. DreamWorks also took advantage of this quality to tweak its software according to its needs, with HP's help, for things like color calibration, Balma said.

The Linux systems DreamWorks used for the movie included HP XW-8000 dual-processor workstations and HP ProLiant servers, Balma said. Both the workstations and the servers used Intel Corp. chips.

Most artists were given dual-monitor workstations, which made their work easier by allowing them to have more windows open, a prohibitively expensive set up with non-Linux hardware, HP said in a statement Tuesday.

DreamWorks anointed HP as its "preferred technology provider" in 2001. The movie studio previously used Silicon Graphics Inc. systems running that vendor's Irix Unix flavor as well as Linux.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service

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