The last few years a shift has started in the FX industry. SGI IRIX based machines have been a staple of the industry, the pillar of their technological infrastructure. But in recent years the Linux operating system has been getting a foothold on the industry, especially since it can be used on commodity hardware and is becoming stable and capable enough.
The major animation software companies have ported or are currently porting their software, among them Pixar's Photorealistic RenderMan, Alias/Wavefront's Maya, Softimage's Softimage XSI, and Side Effect's Houdini, among others. SGI has begun offering several of their technologies to the Open Source community and offer Linux in their x86 machines. The last few years there have been very enthusiastic Birds of the Feather meetings at SIGGRAPH related to Open Source and Linux. The Visual Effects Society held a tech meeting last year about this and info has started coming out regarding the use of Linux in several FX houses and films, including ILM.
You know that Linux in the FX industry is becoming important when it's being mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. The article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal but was reprinted by ZDNet. It was also mentioned on Slashdot.
As a reference here are a couple of articles that appeared in the last few years regarding this:
Thanks to EwanMagic for pointing the story out at the WSJ.