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ISS Switches To Linux

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posted on May, 11 2013 @ 07:48 AM
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Bill Gates Ejected From International Space Station



Hello again ATS!

Yes, yes, there is a bit of pun to my thread title. Bill Gates was not actually jettisoned into the vacuum of space by irate astronauts ( Still... one can dream I suppose ) - but his creation, his baby, his mark on this world most certainly was...

Henceforth, the critical systems on the I.S.S will run on Linux products and not the creations of Microsoft.


The United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station in association with NASA, has announced that the Windows XP computers aboard the ISS have been switched to Linux. “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”

Source

A Techworld article adds a few more tidbits of information.


The contractor that manages computers for the International Space Station (ISS) has announced that the orbiting project is now running Debian Linux on its laptop fleet having successfully jettisoned Windows XP.
Although the move has been planned for some time, the announcement from six weeks ago was so low-key that few noticed the momentus event until it was picked up from the United Space Alliance’s website this week...

The PCs in question are the International Space Station’s ‘OpsLAN’ laptop network used by crew for everything from collecting imagery to running day-to-day functions such as tracking position...

“We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable – one that would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust or adapt...


This article discusses how the non-profit Linux Foundation will be involved in the training of the Astronauts.

It also mentions a cool easter egg that I will get to shortly...


The I.S.S is now in line with NASA ground operations, SpaceX, and CERN's Large Hadron Collider for their choice of stable operating computing platforms.

This might have something to do with a 2008 incident in which a Russian Cosmonaut brought along a stowaway with him to the I.S.S – namely the computer virus called W32.Gammina.AG. Indications are that this was not a deliberate act of war and the virus only seeks to steal video game login information – so aside from infecting numerous computers on the I.S.S no harm was done. However, since the I.S.S is reported to have no Internet connection ( not sure I am buying that.... ) - updating ones McAfee or Avast isn't possible.

In space... No one can hear you asking for tech support...

This is not at all surprising – as this one day old article from PC World Illustrates:


Linux code is the 'benchmark of quality,' study concludes



Fans of free and open source software (FOSS) may recall a report from Coverity last year that found open source code typically has fewer defects per thousand lines of code than proprietary software code does...

According to this year's results, open source projects with between 500,000 and 1,000,000 lines of code had an average 'defect density' of just .44, whereas proprietary code scored at .98 for such projects. Defect density refers to the number of defects per 1000 lines of software code...

“Since the original Coverity Scan report in 2008, scanned versions of Linux have consistently achieved a defect density of less than 1.0, and versions scanned in 2011 and 2012 demonstrated a defect density below .7,” the company explained.
Whereas Coverity scanned more than 6.8 million lines of Linux code in 2011 and found a defect density of .62, the 2012 report included a scan of more than 7.4 million lines of Linux code and found a defect density of .66.
Most recently, Coverity scanned 7.6 million lines of code in Linux 3.8 and found a defect density of just .59.


I tried to find some defect density numbers for Windows 8 but so far have only found this page of really, really confusing math.

The particular flavor of Linux chosen for the laptops on the I.S.S is Debian 6 – affectionately known as Debian Squeeze by users. This is a very popular and highly supported Linux flavor that serves as the basis for several of the most popular varieties of Linux, including both Ubuntu and Mint – arguably the two most well known. My own computer currently dual boots two unique Debian based derivatives.

Other systems on the I.S.S run other flavors of Linux, such as Red Hat, a commercial ( for cost ) version – and Scientific Linux, an open source ( not for cost ) flavor developed by Fermilab and CERN.

To quote the article from my first source, a member of United Space Alliance has said:


As far as we know, after this transition, there won’t be a single computer aboard the ISS that runs Windows.


So there you have it ATS. When a young computer hacker and software engineer was coding a UNIX clone that he actually wanted to call FREAX – with the absolute intent and belief that he wanted his creation to be free to all – who could have guessed that his quest would eventually lead to having an asteroid named after him and his creation helping humanity to pioneer the hostile environment of space!?!

Some background on Mr Linus Torvalds.

edit on 5/11/13 by Hefficide because: typo
edit on 5/11/13 by Hefficide because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 11 2013 @ 07:48 AM
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Closing thoughts



While I have approached this thread with a jovial and lighthearted touch, it is my humble opinion that this is a profoundly important step in our advancement into space. Not just because I am a person who loves Linux – but because this can change the for profit, price gouging, insanely expensive business of space exploration. It shows that open source, community based enterprise can and actually does achieve results in excess of the Corporate contractors who have always justified their exorbitant by claiming that nobody could do it better than they do.

Well, Mr Gates... it appears that a bunch of geeks, many of whom are probably fluent in Klingon might just have proven that business model to be fallacious.

Oh, I nearly forgot about that Easter egg...



Robonaut 2 – the first humaniod robot in space? Well, he'll speak Linux as well.


It's probably just as well... Rumor had it this guy ran on Windows....



And I hear they had some technical difficulties with him.


Thanks for reading and have a great day ATS!

~Heff



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 08:01 AM
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NASA should be careful Bill Gates, Microsoft and his buddy Warren Buffet could outspend NASA and land colonies on Moon and Mars with nothing but Microsoft servers on board. The three mentioned above could easily fund such an effort and still be billionaires and leave NASA in the dust.

edit on 11-5-2013 by Xeven because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 08:05 AM
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Wow, yeah, I had never thought to look into what O/S a place like the I.S.S. runs on. It just never occurred to me as a factor. I suppose in thinking about it now though, the BSOD would bring ALL new meaning to people in that situation, wouldn't it?? (Pun half way intended!
)

That must have hurt the 'ol ego for Gates and Co. Having his flagship product 'spaced' as it were? Well, I can't think of a much louder statement than that, especially when 'Stable and Reliable' are right in the cited reasoning. Oh...Ouch Ouch. lol.... I can't argue a single thing in the logic though.

I've come to settle into a hybrid mix of Linux Mint, Android on my Tablet and Windows 7 for my desktop, due to requirements in school needs for software. It's a bad trade off, but some times...I have to make things work. When I can though, I intend to convert fully over to Linux on all things I have for much the same reasons though. Windows is a great operating system....for some things I suppose. In the same way Print Shop is a fine thing to those who wouldn't want to learn a real graphics program.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 08:38 AM
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I'm honestly shocked that they ever used windows on the ISS. I'm imagining the astronauts rebooting the ISS every 3 days to avoid crashes. Its laughable. I would have guessed they built their OS in-house and called it "ISS_OS" or something like that.

Now I'm curious about the selection process that led to windows ever being used in the first place, how much money microsoft made from it, and how much cash we'll never know about because it was passed under the table between key people to make that deal happen.

I'm assuming the process was rigged because, from a purely technical standpoint, windows loses in every way. Its only arguable advantages would be availability of commercial software (not a factor, NASA and its partners are surely using highly specialised stuff and can code whatever they need) and approachability for novices (they are astronauts, so again not an issue).

Imagine a boss-type person at NASA walking into a ISS development meeting, telling the software engineers "We have decided to go with Windows XP" and being met by blank stares of anticipation as they wait for the punchline.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 08:38 AM
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I'm immensely disturbed that Windows XP is being used on these types of systems in the first place ... especially given it's an operating system that can be compromised before its finished installing and many many years old.

That said, I don't necessarily think we should be gloating over things like this. We don't gloat when someone throws a brick through a window and steals a television. We don't laugh at our neighbors because their security door isn't as good as ours (well some of us do ... but those persons are morons). I think it's sad that we have to spend so much time securing our operating systems.

I'm glad linux is doing so well ... and while it may save people money, I do think linux is thriving partly due to competition from the commercial operating systems. I also don't think Microsoft (or Apple for that matter) being pushed out of the operating system sphere is going to change anything as far as big corporations go. I think also big corporations are learning from web 2.0 and social media development and will catch on to some of the benefits of open source development ... (Apple did!)

Still the real question for me here is ... why did they wait so long?!



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 08:58 AM
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ok, before everybody gets all gooey, and gushy about Linux, you might want to look at this link and obviously others:
en.wikipedia.org...
edit on 11-5-2013 by jimmyx because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:08 AM
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What a strange misleading title..bill gates has not worked for Microsoft for 6 years now.


I find the whole "my operating system is better than your operating system" argument a bit childish. I think this OP would have been a lot better if just reported the switch without the Microsoft hater overtones.

edit on 11-5-2013 by PhoenixOD because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:14 AM
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reply to post by jimmyx
 


Sure. We can compare it to this one:

en.wikipedia.org...

Also, notice that the entire "Criticism of Linux" article is about issues that are completely inapplicable to usage in the ISS. Nobody claimed Linux was perfect, just that it was superior to windows in this setting. When it comes to choosing an OS for the ISS, I'll take the opinion of ISS engineers over a wiki article any day.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:16 AM
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reply to post by jimmyx
 


That sword cuts both ways. But the whole subject is something of a red herring as we're not discussing whether not Linux is more stable than Windows. We are discussing the fact that the folks in charge of the I.S.S believe it is.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:17 AM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


First sentence of the OP:

Yes, yes, there is a bit of pun to my thread title. Bill Gates was not actually jettisoned into the vacuum of space by irate astronauts


ETA: Further... would you please quote the places where I bashed Windows. I seem to be missing those entirely and my rereading of the OP ( at least the parts of it I authored ) don't seem to read like a Microsoft bashing at all.
edit on 5/11/13 by Hefficide because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:23 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


Yes its a sensationalist misleading title, apologizing for it in the very next line does not make it any less misleading or sensationalist.



Bill Gates was not actually jettisoned into the vacuum of space by irate astronauts ( Still... one can dream I suppose )


I find that rather unnecessary just for a start.




It's probably just as well... Rumor had it this guy ran on Windows....



And I hear they had some technical difficulties with him.


Another swipe..

The whole of the op is constantly taking swipes at Bill Gates who doesnt even work for Microsoft any more. Now he spends billions helping the poor around the world. I dont understand the need for the hating on an almost personal level.

edit on 11-5-2013 by PhoenixOD because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:33 AM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


woah.....Do you mean you clicked the link because you were afraid that Bill Gates was actually shoved out the airlock? That's deep.

Regardless of his employment status he is, and always will be, the symbolic face of the company. He is their Ronald McDonald, the Michael Jordan to their Nike.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:35 AM
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reply to post by Slugworth
 




woah.....Do you mean you clicked the link because you were afraid that Bill Gates was actually shoved out the airlock? That's deep.


lol , who knows with the beginnings of space tourism on the horizon



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 09:42 AM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 




hu·mor
[hyoo-mer or, often, yoo-]
noun
1.
a comic, absurd, or incongruous quality causing amusement: the humor of a situation.
2.
the faculty of perceiving what is amusing or comical: He is completely without humor.
3.
an instance of being or attempting to be comical or amusing; something humorous: The humor in his joke eluded the audience.
4.
the faculty of expressing the amusing or comical: The author's humor came across better in the book than in the movie.
5.
comical writing or talk in general; comical books, skits, plays, etc.

Source

And, FTR, I dislike Windows immensely. It is an inferior product IMO that enjoys a monopoly due to business practices that have been investigated numerous times.

Relevant.
Also relevant
edit on 5/11/13 by Hefficide because: bb error



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 10:06 AM
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reply to post by Hefficide
 


Wow cool, a broken down definition of the word 'humor'..hey thanks for that little stab


Yes swipes disguised as humor are still swipes.

You display all the normal behavior of a Linux owner which is to constantly just to try bash Microsoft. Im glad the ISS has a more stable operating system but the whole "My Linx is better than Microsoft, haha Mr Gates..put that in your pipe and smoke it..your system sucks..boo!" is just not relevant to the subject of the OP and just childish.

Every operating system has its strengths and weaknesses. A trimmed down tailored operating system like Linx would seem a much better solution than a consumer based all round multi use operating system like windows. You should be happy the one you favor has been chosen for the ISS.



edit on 11-5-2013 by PhoenixOD because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 10:50 AM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


I think you are missing the larger point, which is that this announcement is a small but impressive victory for community-based free open source software over commercial software produced by a company with a history of monopolistic behavior and shoddy design.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 11:02 AM
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Originally posted by Slugworth
reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


I think you are missing the larger point, which is that this announcement is a small but impressive victory for community-based free open source software over commercial software produced by a company with a history of monopolistic behavior and shoddy design.


Yes it is a good day for a community-based free open source software, it got the position at the ISS because it was the right tool for the job.

The *nix based systems can be specifically tailored by anyone to suit the needs of the ISS. *nix based systems tend to work well with older equipment and are very slimmed down. So in that respect they are better suited for the space station which has very old (but extremely reliable) equipment. You can compile a *nix based system to do just the work you need which makes it very stable as there is less needless services / apps running that can cause conflicts.

The Microsoft systems are far from a shoddy design. A Microsoft system is more of an all in one system with protected code owned by the company itself so its less customizable by the end user. Because its an all in one solution there is a lot of unneeded bulk with services and apps that will never be used on the ISS. These services use up power when running the system, power is always a consideration in space. So all in all makes no sense to use an of the shelf enterprise or consumer based OS on the ISS.


edit on 11-5-2013 by PhoenixOD because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 11:22 AM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 



The Microsoft systems are far from a shoddy design.


Say that to a room full of computer engineers, and pay attention to the righteous gut-laughs that fill the room.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 11:25 AM
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Originally posted by Slugworth
reply to post by PhoenixOD
 



The Microsoft systems are far from a shoddy design.


Say that to a room full of computer engineers, and pay attention to the righteous gut-laughs that fill the room.


i am a computer engineer, programmer , software designer, network analyst..etc

There are certain jobs that each system is better at doing. Hating on one just system because you have a competing one is strictly for the school yard.

edit on 11-5-2013 by PhoenixOD because: (no reason given)





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