Frequently Asked Questions

Building software products for a common platform means they are easier to install and integrate into pipelines so may result in quicker adoption of new software releases at your studio. It will also make it easier for the industry to adopt new technologies more rapidly.
We also hope that by making it simpler for vendors to support Linux we will see more applications available on Linux in the future.
No, neither the VES nor the VFX Reference Platform working group endorse or promote any specific software packages for use in the creation of visual effects. The decision to include a particular library or tool in the Platform is based primarily on whether using differing versions introduces compatibility issues.
There are plenty of excellent libraries and tools in common use throughout the VFX industry that are not included in the Platform because they do not present version compatibility issues.
There is no VFX Reference Platform certified Linux distro available today so it is currently up to VFX and animation studios to take a standard Linux distribution and upgrade/install the relevant platform versions. In the future it’s possible that a Linux distribution vendor or service provider will choose to provide a VFX Reference Platform compliant distro, either by providing a distro with pre-packaged platform components or providing the components in a manner that is easy to add to a vanilla distro.
If you are responsible for building a linux environment for a studio or would like to learn more about the process, we suggest joining the discussion at Studio Sysadmins where these topics are regularly discussed.
There are numerous reasons to pick one Linux distribution over another. Some distros offer paid support, some offer an update schedule that is favorable for a particular studio’s upgrade schedule and many other factors impact the decision for which distro to run in a studio.
Our goal with the VFX Reference Platform is to make it more straightforward to run a wide variety of Visual Effects and Animation software on any modern Linux distribution you choose.
While we do not recommend any particular distribution, Redhat’s Enterprise Linux and CentOS and Canonical’s Ubuntu are both commonly used in the industry. By using a resource like DistroWatch you can easily see which library versions are used by each distro release and how closely they line up to a given VFX Reference Platform.
The glibc specified in the VFX Reference Platform is the minimum version of the GNU C library that the platform will work with. Generally speaking, glibc is not upgradeable on a given Linux distro release so if your distro has a glibc version earlier than that specified in the VFX Reference Platform then it will not be supported.
For example, for CY2015 the minimum glibc was set to 2.12 which meant that releases earlier than CentOS 6.0 or Ubuntu 12.04, just to take those distributions as an example, were not supported by CY2015 because they shipped with an older version of glibc.
No. Creating and maintaining a Linux distribution is an enormous task, and it would be challenging for a single distro to be universally adopted across the industry. The VFX Reference Platform effort is focused on relieving the pain of multiple incompatible versions of libraries across different software products.
The VFX Reference Platform is a collaborative project. So far, we have the enthusiastic support of all of the major application providers for the visual effects and animation industry, including Autodesk, The Foundry and Side Effects Software.
There are two ways to participate: First, any interested person or company may join the discussion at vfx-platform-discuss@googlegroups.com. Second, we have formed a Working Group who hold regular conference calls to ensure progress is made in complicated areas. The Working group is made up of interested parties invited by the VES Technology Committee and currently has several members, one representative from the VES and one each from several software vendors.
There is no certification program, but you are encouraged to advertise the fact that your software is compliant with a specific iteration of the VFX Reference Platform and link to this website.
First, please help ensure your application provider is aware of the VFX Reference Platform and the goal of making it easier to develop for Linux. Asking them to support the VFX Reference Platform as a priority for their development is a great idea for everyone.
Second, users should be aware that some developers will have technical challenges changing software to conform to the version requirements in the VFX Reference Platform. Even companies who enthusiastically support the effort may take a few releases to be compliant with the platform.
Linux is prevalent in VFX, particularly in the larger studios where they build sophisticated automation pipelines that integrate multiple different software vendors’ products together. These Linux-based pipelines are where the problem of conflicting versions most often manifests itself. This issue is made more complicated by the lack of standards across different Linux distros, hence our initial focus on Linux rather an any other OS.
Although the issues are not exactly the same, similar ideas could be extended to Windows and MacOS and the Working Group is considering this for the future. If you’re interested in helping with any of these efforts, please contact us at feedback@vfxplatform.com.
This is a complex issue given the lack of backwards compatibility to Python 2.6/2.7. The right time to make the switch will decided by the software vendors in consultation with their customers and it’s possible Python 3 may not see wide adoption in VFX until and unless Python 3 is fully compatible with all the legacy Python code in active use across the industry.
This has been a common request and is being actively looked into by the Working Group. If you have suggestions as to which flags should be standardised and to what then please contact us.
Ideally two months prior to SIGGRAPH is the time to have your library released so there is time for it to be considered for inclusion in the Reference Platform for the following year. That said, we will consider new library releases right up until the SIGGRAPH deadline, but cutting it too close may mean there is not enough time for the software vendors to fully evaluate the new version before we lock down and publish the final Reference Platform versions for the following year.
Please send comments, questions, suggestions to: feedback@vfxplatform.com