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Unix, Linux Mythology Continues to Unfold

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The problem for Sun and, to a lesser extent, SGI is that for too long, they competed against a brain trust in Redmond, Wash., and not the global brain trust that was creating Linux. Therefore, they weren't prepared for how quickly it undercut their business. Linux has forced both SGI and Sun to adopt a "we do Linux better" strategy. The word "Unix" is never uttered.

Unix fans have been on the ropes of late. SGI declared bankruptcy earlier this month. In April, ongoing financial problems at Sun Microsystems led to an executive shakeup. It's not surprising to see the two highest-profile Unix-identified vendors in trouble. Things are not looking that bright for Unix anywhere.

Although a few folks at Microsoft might think they've had a hand in Sun's and SGI's misfortunes, they'd be wrong. Linux is the culprit. As in some Greek myth, Linux, the unwanted child of Unix, is putting Unix vendors to death.

Helps to Be Lucky

A look at the Top500 list of supercomputers tells the tale best. In 1998, Unix machines from Sun and SGI combined for 46 percent of the 500 fastest computers in the world. Linux accounted for one (0.2 percent).

In 2005, Sun had 0.8 percent -- or four systems -- and SGI had 3.6 percent, while 72 percent of the Top500 ran Linux.

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