I use both together if that is any help, I think both have their good and bad sides and can get different jobs or parts thereof done faster than the other. Also I think they complement one another really well and fill in each others weaknesses. Exchanging data between them isn't that hard. They both employ very different mind sets behind them and one needs to approach them on their terms or one ends up frustrated. When in Rome….
Houdini are available both as workstation (node-locked) and as a network license under Linux. Softimage is only available as a network license under Linux. You are able to run Houdini under a variety of Linux distros, including ones not listed on the download page. Autodesk only supports Red Hat derivatives. Although SI will probably run under other distros but it might be a pain to install/configure.
Update: Forgot to mention that you can rent Houdini for shorter projects.
Edited by - April 13, 2011 13:40:25
If you'd like to cultivate insomnia, Bed down with a pretty girl. Amor vincit omnia.
There is no might about it, xsi on linux IS a pain. Forget anything debian related. It comes down to a choice of rhel (and clones like centos) or fedora. If you have too much time on your hands gentoo and some others can be made to run it but then again gentoo can be made to do most things.
Both are really good, Its just that when It comes to price, softimage might have the upper hand. the only reason I go to Houdini is for that occasional extremely complex idea. though softimage isn't as procedural as houdini, it can get some tough jobs done like fire and fracturing. Its all about the price
It's been a long time that Maya, Softimage & 3dsMax were my friends, I learned from them and still learning, today also I learning from Houdini, I do whatever as much as I can, what I know is that people are behind these really awesome programs that made effort and thought too much, and we using, And every program has its own style, Thanks