The article is an excellent read, the movie was made ~1997 too.
"The Linux distribution used was Red Hat 4.1. At that time Red Hat was shipping Linux 2.0.18, which didn't support the PC164 mainboard, so the first thing we had to do was upgrade the kernel. During our testing we tracked down a number of problems with devices and kept up with both the 2.0 and 2.1 series of kernels. We ended up sticking with 2.1.42 with a few patches. We also decided on the NCR 810 SCSI card with the BSD-based driver and the SMC 100MB Ethernet card with the de4x5 driver. It turned out to be a very stable configuration, but there was one serious floating-point problem that caused our water-rendering software to die with an unexpected floating-point exception."