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Behind everyone’s favorite animated series or special effects-laden blockbuster stands a host of highly skilled visual effects (VFX) and animation studios, providing the artistic muscle to bring the wildest concepts to life on-screen. These creative houses rely on artist workstations and backend services powered by Linux, given the flexibility and scalability of the platform. A new report from the VFX Linux Task Force, however, doesn’t recommend that studios use just any Linux - the working group recommends Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 9.x, along with downstream rebuilds of the published RHEL sources.

Linux wasn’t always the dominant force in animation and VFX, however. Silicon Graphics and the company’s proprietary IRIX dominated until roughly the 21st century, mirroring the enterprise transition from UNIX to Linux. Fast forward to today, where the Visual Effects Society Technology Committee, along with software vendors, have collaborated to create a VFX Reference Platform to provide a standard set of tool and library versions for use across the industry and across operating systems, including Linux.

The VFX Linux Task Force set forth with a goal of identifying a primary Linux platform recommendation as CentOS Linux 7 approaches end-of-life. By establishing a common operating system recommendation, the Task Force intended to make it easier for studios and software vendors to work together on common ground and avoid fragmentation.

After months of research, interviews and benchmarking, the Task Force settled on the RHEL ecosystem as their recommended Linux platform. But why RHEL? According to the report:

  • Critical mass support in infrastructure, tooling and expertise in the VFX community. RHEL delivers a more familiar experience to studios already working with CentOS Linux 7 and provides a smoother transition path.

  • A balance between stability and progress with a predictable three-year major release cycle.

  • Strong engagement and support between studios, the broader VFX community, and Red Hat provides options for collaboration and partnering to address dynamic industry conditions.

The report also highlights Red Hat’s continued commitment to fully open sourcing the code behind RHEL, which leads to an even broader community of Linux distributions built around the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform. This includes CentOS Stream and more, providing a broader choice for studios that need additional options.

We’re pleased to be able to meet the needs of the VFX industry with RHEL and look forward to continued work with animation studios, VFX houses and more as we bring open, innovative platforms to more workloads.

About the author

Bob joined Red Hat in 2017 to manage a portfolio of products and tools focused on software developers, including the developer experience for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). In 2020, he joined the RHEL team to manage the Workstation offering. He has a strong focus on user experience and helping people succeed while using RHEL. He has been pushing to advance the Linux workstation further by understanding the critical problems people are solving with RHEL Workstation across multiple industries and driving focus on components that will make the ecosystem for RHEL Workstations stronger.

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