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Computers-Hacking
See other Computers-Hacking Articles

Title: International Space Station switches from Windows to Linux, for improved reliability
Source: Extreme Tech
URL Source: https://www.extremetech.com/extreme ... linux-for-improved-reliability
Published: Aug 30, 2019
Author: Sebastian Anthony
Post Date: 2019-08-30 14:07:32 by Willie Green
Keywords: None
Views: 583
Comments: 4

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.”

In specific, the “dozens of laptops” will make the change to Debian 6. These laptops will join many other systems aboard the ISS that already run various flavors of Linux, such as RedHat and Scientific Linux. As far as we know, after this transition, there won’t be a single computer aboard the ISS that runs Windows. Beyond stability and reliability, Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance says they wanted an operating system that “would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust or adapt, we could.” It’s worth noting that the ISS laptops used to run Windows XP, and we know they’ve been infected by at least one virus in their lifetime: in 2008, a Russian cosmonaut brought a laptop aboard with the W32.Gammima.AG worm, which quickly spread to the other laptops on board. Switching to Linux will essentially immunize the ISS against future infections.

The laptops that were upgraded belong to the station’s OpsLAN. The crew use the OpsLAN to perform day-to-day activities, such as viewing stock inventory, controlling scientific experiments, or checking their current location. Presumably the laptops used to run bespoke Win32 apps on Windows XP, and now those apps have been re-written to work on Linux — hopefully they’re not being emulated in WINE. To get the astronauts and cosmonauts up to speed, they will be trained by the Linux Foundation.

To be honest, we shouldn’t be too surprised at the ditching of Windows. Linux is the scientific community’s operating system of choice. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is controlled by Linux. NASA and SpaceX ground stations use Linux. DNA-sequencing lab technicians use Linux. Really, for applications that require absolute stability, which most scientific experiments are, Linux is the obvious choice. The fact that the entire OS is open source and can be easily customized for each experiment is obviously a very big draw, too.

Robonaut 2

In other news, the first humanoid robot in space, Robonaut 2, which also runs Linux, is due for an upgrade soon. Robonaut 2 (pictured above) was delivered on Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission in 2011, and at the moment it’s just a torso with two arms — but later in 2013, some climbing legs and a battery pack should be delivered. The ultimate goal is to see whether humans and robots can operate peacefully in zero gravity, with Robonaut eventually performing menial tasks (vacuuming, changing filters), and possibly dangerous tasks during space walks, too.

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#1. To: Willie Green (#0) (Edited)

Just kidding...

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-08-30   16:40:24 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Willie Green (#0)

It was interesting to read that those laptops had still been running WinXP. You'd think they'd be on Win7. WinXP is way beyond its service life, meaning they wouldn't dare connect them to outside networks. Too many known security holes in WinXP.

I suppose the heightened security measures and programming talent needed for writing drivers for versions of Windows after XP is why they stayed on WinXP for so long. WinXP was more straightforward to program and especially to create drivers for your hardware.

I liked the mention of Scientific Linux, an interesting distro (debranded Red Hat Enterprise that lags the official distro by a few months but emphasizing compatibility with common scientific software). Redhat and Debian 6 are no surprise to anyone, so standard and well-known, good security, modern features, still able to run well on older hardware.

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-08-31   13:22:02 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Tooconservative (#2)

(debranded Red Hat Enterprise that lags the official distro by a few months but emphasizing compatibility with common scientific software).

Red Hat became an IBM subsidiary in July, so maybe that'll help the competition against Microsoft.

Willie Green  posted on  2019-08-31   20:42:53 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Willie Green (#3)

Interesting that IBM acquired them, nice addition to the Big Blue portfolio. They should have done it years ago.

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-08-31   21:05:22 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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