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Tux in Space 75

Posted by michael
from the explosive-penguin-decompression-isn't-pretty dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "In between all the bad news about Linux it's nice to see some good like this story about Linux getting used by NASA for satellite control I saw on NewsForge. It is on Linux Today too. This is not some garage dream but a real NASA project run by a real rocket scientist. Does ThinkGeek sell 'Tux in Space' T shirts yet? I want one!" NASA has a page for FlightLinux.
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Tux in Space

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The original was Mirosoft - that's inflation for you.
  • Hmmm... I'm curious about the choice of BlueCat for a satellite, a system that would require real-time control. A friend and I looked at BlueCat last weekend because it came (unexpected) with a contest package from Embedded Linux Journal which we're working on. We looked through the patches that were applied by BlueCat to the Linux kernel and determined that there are no real-time features added.

    BlueCat looks like a nice embedded development system and probably excels in that area. It would undoubtedly be suitable for a PDA or an appliance. But it isn't a real-time system. And you need that for flight control.

    For reference of what we were looking for, our application is a flight control computer for a model aircraft. Among our criteria was "hard real-time" (stringent timing tolerances on OS response to interrupts. Milliseconds matter. Consistent response times matter.announcedannouncedannounced) An unmodified Linux kernel has some real-time features, but only "soft real-time" which isn't good enough for flight software. So we looked at a number of systems including RTLinux, TimeSys and MontaVista which do offer hard real-time extensions to Linux.

    We selected MontaVista's real-time scheduler and kernel-preemption patches because they offer hard real-time without losing access to the POSIX interfaces of Linux. TimeSys also fit that description but MontaVista was better documented and more recently updated (including one in LWN this week.)

    I'm surprised that the FlightLinux project didn't have hard real-time criteria at least somewhat similar to ours.

  • One that springs to mind is AirMISR [nasa.gov]. Ok, it's a satellite instrument mounted on a ER-2 (i.e. U2) spy plane but it comes close.

    Mind you, in my opinion (as an AirMISR user) they would have been better off using a real RTOS...

    Nick

  • by moonboy (2512) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @03:33AM (#362316) Homepage


    "In between all the bad news about Linux..."

    What BAD news?


  • 'Linux is only free if your Time has no value.'

    I really don't need to say more.

    And yes, I *am* running Linux right now.
  • Why the rip on garage dreams? We all know a lot of useful things have come out of a pipe dream and a garage. Witness Apple, etc...
  • While NASA using Linux is very good, when will they trust it enough to use it as the primary OS for the main computers operating the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station? After all, extreme reliability of the software is very important for such applications, and I'm not sure if Linux with its current 2.4.x kernel has passed NASA's extreme requirements for such applications.
  • we never said that, we have not done any testing but because of the cooling APM features in the kernel it might be better. The problem is, in space heat does not radiate away from components. in order for heat to radiate, it must have air to radiate with, no air and you need to design a cooling system to keep the CPU from overheating. (like when you overclock, and the air circulation is not enough to keep the CPU cool, guess what, we have the same problem, we're not overclocking, but there is no circulation, so we need to find other ways to keep systems cool. the APM Idle functions in only one little but that might help reduce the need and expense for other cooling.


    You are incorrect. As a spacecraft thermal engineer, I use radiation and linear conduction as the primary method of heat transfer. What you are thinking about is convection, which requires gravity (and air).

    You would still have cooling with the presence of air, but not as much. Plus, for a long science mission, your air will eventually leak out. This is the cheap and dirty method used by Russian engineers, but they have to replace their satellites more often.

    I don't know the software (or hardware for that matter) causes of heat dissipation, but I typically have different operating and standby modes to design for. I doubt Linux and provide anything different than currently being used. The only possible benefit I can think of is using slower clock speeds to accomplish the same task as other embedded systems, which means less power, which means less headaches for me. As far as APM goes, it can be a benefit, but a little one. Heaters are often controlled to make up the difference in peak power modes and nominal modes or standby modes.

    Good luck with the project, I'm sure it will benefit it the industry!

    ~afniv
    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • This is my only Slashdot account, and always will be. And no, I didn't tell all my friends about the posting and ask any with mod points to mod me up. If they demonstrated such low integrity they wouldn't be my friends for long.

  • I'm just waiting for all the BSD people to come out, proudly displaying the chips on their shoulders, and decrying NASA for having picked such a non-free, unstable OS as Linux when BSD was perfectly available and they wouldn't have been forced into not making a profit on the spacecraft.

  • This has been in use for some time, I believe you can find on nasa's webpage the spacelinux project that talks about the tests they did on their docking system that is linux based and using moo-tiff libraries.

    Although, NASA's choice for linux isn't really a noble one.... they're just trying to save money. Hopefully it will prove to them that Linux and BSD should have been implimented years ago.

    The fun thing is, we are now damn sure it wont be NT on the next mars lander, nor on any probe or space vehicle launched... In 500 years, will historians talk about the serious and toy Operating systems in a way that smacks in the face of today's experts?
  • Umm wrong, the laptops have not been usually thinkpads, They usually have been gridpads made by the GRID corperation. Touch or pen based computers that are ruggidized for government and space use (inside of case is metalized and screen has a metalization to keep emissions inside). Look closely at most of the shuttle photos, you'll see GRID on that computer(1980-1997).

    some astronauts bring their own computers IF they are allowed by mission control and pass special tests.
    sadly GRID has gone, now they use whatever laptop or pen based computer (the favorite of the astronauts) they can get modified by the manufacturer to pass their requirements. (I believe they were looking ad Dauphin Orasis pen computers last.)

  • by rde (17364) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @02:07AM (#362325)
    Thus is Microsoft's greatest chance for increasing NT's uptime lost. Given that the typical spacecraft sees sixteen sunrises every 24 hours, MS would have been quite justified in saying that NT was able to stay up for a hundred days without bluescreening.

    And if this OS is for use on spacecraft, shouldn't it be called floatlinux? I'll concede that FreeFallLinux probably wouldn't go over too well.
  • I mean, this is great and all, but it's just another internal nasa project....

    Linux is no better suited to what they are doing than any number of other embeddedy RTOS. It's probably no worse than some, either.

    saying it's special... it's not. It's a kernel, and there are many kernels available for embedded work, each with strengths and weaknesses. Linux's strength is it's openness. To claim it's 'more able to deal with the harsh radiation of space becasue it runs cooler because its halts the processor for brief times' is rediculous.

  • Yes. And given the relative cost of putting an experiment into space, the cost of a commercial RTOS is *nothing*.

    And more people know it? Get real. It's not about administering a unix box.. it's about embedded programming, which is rather very different.

    The point is that although linux might be cool for some of this stuff, it's not a gift from god for embedded work. And it's certainly not 'more able to operate in the harshness of space'
  • by gattaca (27954) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @02:22AM (#362328)
    especially because in space, no one can hear your screen...
  • by ajs (35943) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Thursday March 15, 2001 @05:49AM (#362329) Homepage Journal
    All the bad Linux news? You mean like:Just wondering why all the doom and gloom. It's a great time to be a Linux-head!

    Or, were you refering to the fact that Linux companies which were riding the tech wave without real business plans are getting hit just like everyone else? Companies who were relying on the stock market to make them profitable are going by the wayside, but I think the Linux industry is here to stay. Companies like IBM and Motorola will continue to see huge returns from their Linux investments. Countries like Mexico will continue to use it. But, most of all, the companies that did have business plans and did plan on becoming profitable will have a fighting chance just like any startup businesses.

    Disclaimer: I'm a VA/Linux stockholder, so I may be biased on some of this.
  • by macpeep (36699) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @03:28AM (#362330)
    I don't want to spoil all the fun but I can't help but laugh when I see someone noticing a story about how Linux is used in some space related case and immediately everyone is talking about how Microsoft is going to die and how this is a sign of how superrior open source is.

    Guys.. There have been laptops on just about every shuttle flight so far, for use in various tasks. The laptops have usually been IBM thinkpads and the OS has usually been NT. The fact that someone is using Linux is nice, but it doesn't prove shit - one way or the other. All the other thousands of satellites in space use something else, you know...

    It's the same when ONE city in ONE country (Mexico) decides to install Linux on both of their computers and it deserves a news here and a discussion with several hundreds of enthusiastic posts about world domination. Meanwhile, I'm sure Microsoft had hundreds of installations of Windows 9x / NT / 2k elsewhere in the world.

    Now I have nothing against Linux - I develop software for it at work as a matter of fact - but I'd like to see some realism and balance in the news here. I don't know about the rest of you but I'd like to read "news for nerds, stuff that matters" - not just braindead pro Linux propaganda that isn't anchored in reality.
  • Guys.. There have been laptops on just about every shuttle flight so far, for use in various tasks. The laptops have usually been IBM thinkpads and the OS has usually been NT. The fact that someone is using Linux is nice, but it doesn't prove shit

    The crucial difference is that they are planning to use Linux to control the space craft rather than to observe the mating habits of ants in zero-G. I don't think any sane person would trust Windows to control the ship.
  • by EasyTarget (43516) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @02:08AM (#362332) Journal
    From the linux in space page:

    Software portability is of vital importance for upgrades and applications enhancement. Portability among UNIX flavors can be done quickly, preserving expandability and keeping manpower costs down. This is not true for other non-UNIX operating systems.

    A 'certain other company' ahem.. has spent years ensuring incompatibility between products to tie you into theirs, then make you upgrade regularly. It's very nice to see this policy backfiring on them in a high-visibility market space I'm sure they'd like to 'own' too.

    EZ
  • I thought there already was a satellite [audiogalaxy.com] that uses linux.

    _ _ _
    I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no god.

  • I guess someone at Mission Control thought it would be a bad idea for a satellite to 'blue screen'.

    _ _ _
    I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no god.

  • This isn't really anything new. NASA has been using Linux for quite sometime (save budget money) and not only that but Linux has been into space before this. Specifically in 96-97 (can't remember) where they sent a linux based machine in orbit that monitored plants. Linux Journal covered it.

    What I really want to see now is a robot that goes to mars with a signal of kernelcode on an audio dat. It'll emit a signal into a large mountain and finally we will know that we are not alone. Of course that vital code will be most likely from the Linux kernel. Try shooting some NT code at the mountain and you could be dead!!

  • No, you are an idiot for speaking without knowing what you are talking about. Go watch Mission to Mars dumbass.
  • by Shanep (68243)
    "Chuck" the Demon, a play on daemon, is or has been associated with all the BSD's (at least those with BSD in their name), including OpenBSD.

    OpenBSD has had a few different mascots which is kinda cool as they choose new artwork.

    There's been an old rendered demon, the more familiar Chuck demon, a large devilish cop with a root burglar as his foe, the blowfish with a script kitty as his foe (along with some other pathetic fish that get eaten probably going by the names of Bill and Steve), and keeping with the blowfish theme, we've got a Japanese anime style blowfish who just does'nt cut it up against my favorite, the devlish cop.

    Still, you're right, Chuck should'nt be associated with OpenBSD firstly, he should be associated with BSD in general.

  • ok, I stand corrected
  • ok, I made a mistake in terminology :-)

    my apologies, "Darnnit Jim, I am a software guy, not a thermal engineer!"

    still, the Heat/Power issue is a minor one and would only be a nice side effect, if it even makes a difference (remember we have not actually made any sort of tests yet!)

    (it is times like this that one wishes he could go back and make a minor edit to a slashdot post) ;-)

    oh well

    Chris
  • by Marauder2 (82448) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @04:04AM (#362340)
    let me answer a few question...

    PAZware "Dont they usaly write an independant os for satilites and telescopes and such?"

    no, normally Sattelites use Propritary, COTS Embedded system like VxWorks

    mindstrm "To claim it's 'more able to deal with the harsh radiation of space becasue it runs cooler because its halts the processor for brief times' is rediculous."

    we never said that, we have not done any testing but because of the cooling APM features in the kernel it might be better. The problem is, in space heat does not radiate away from components. in order for heat to radiate, it must have air to radiate with, no air and you need to design a cooling system to keep the CPU from overheating. (like when you overclock, and the air circulation is not enough to keep the CPU cool, guess what, we have the same problem, we're not overclocking, but there is no circulation, so we need to find other ways to keep systems cool. the APM Idle functions in only one little but that might help reduce the need and expense for other cooling.

    I_redwolf "Linux has been into space before this. Specifically in 96-97"

    yes, Debian has been known to fly on a laptop on the shuttle, BUT a Linux system has never been in control of crucial systems, like that of Command and Control, that is one of our goals

    papskier "Now we've got astronauts' lives dependent on linux."

    if we weren't currently working on flying unmanned sattelite missions. currently not yet, there are no manned missions using Linux in crucial areas. but that may very well change, and I'm sure when we send men to Mars, and the Computers running those systems are based around Linux 4.2.19 you will be the first to know

    RayChuang "While NASA using Linux is very good, when will they trust it enough to use it as the primary OS for the main computers operating the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station?"

    that will probably not happen, at least not for a while. Both the Shuttle and ISS are in deployment, meaning that the systems onboars have gone through years of development and testing. You will not see any major change of OS' in most existing systems, (imaging if you spent five years and millions of dollars developing an in house application that runs perfect on Solaris, would you change to Linux or BSD at the drop of a hat? no.) However, you may start seeing Linux in use on new systems.

    Sarin "I hope they will give us the sourcecode of the programs they run on that machine, but I don't bet on that. Perhaps we will find out they actually use it to run a slightly modified version of lm-sensors!"

    of course! this is Linux, Linux is under the GPL, nothing is available for download yet. currently what we have running is based on Lynuxworks BlueCat, and is really a simple "Hello World" (it's reall not very impressive yet, but we are taking baby steps). The initial work has all been done in house with some assistance from the FlightSoftware and IP in Space groups, once we make things publicaly available (and it will be) source will be included for everything that we work on and can Open up (there are somethings that we will probably not be able to open due to NDA issues, but they will most likely be very specific to the Univ. Surrey Sat (http://www.sstl.co.uk/missions/mn_uosat_12.html ) we will be using for our tests. which is a 386EX) but what we can, we will have available under the GPL

    ln_sensors? no, we currently are not using that, although we don't know what we may need in the future.

    "Why Linux"
  • Space contractor Boeing buys Linux-AMD supercomputer [cnet.com] for use in designing the new Delta IV rocket that launches satellites into space.
  • by jsewell (86485) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @04:01AM (#362342)
    The PGSC laptops have only been flying since the early/mid 90's - so one can hardly say they've been aboard "nearly every flight". Although they have been on all recent flights and will continue to play a more and more vital role in on-orbit operations. They will continue to do so onboard ISS.

    The OS has usually been Win95 or DOS. The laptops are "old" IBM Thinkpads, model 755 and 760 I believe. I say "old" by conventional standards on the earth-based computing industry, they're really only a couple years old. They were 486's for the longest time and only recently upgraded to the early Pentium I CPUs. I don't think they'll be running NT on that level of hardware.

    NASA has extensive testing and radiation hardening procedures to qualify computers for space, so that's why space computers seem to be "old". The computers on the Hubble Telescope were upgraded to 486-class machines over Christmas of 1999. Before that they had 286's.
  • If Star Trek has taught us anything, our satellite technologies get absorbed into new, super technology-thingies that then want to destroy us because we are not the prefection they now seek, or they are looking for their creator.

    Will these resulting combinations honor the GPL and release their source? Can the FSF use lawyers to get source from V'ger or NOMAD?
  • "We have a theory, not substantiated yet, that Linux runs cooler than other operating systems, because it tends to halt for short periods when it has nothing else to do."
    The morale of this story is: "despite the coolness factor, you shouldn't have SETI running in the background while in space"

  • And to think, other bird's wings will be useless!

    :)
  • by milgram (104453)
    How about a daemon, like in OPENBSD!!!!
  • "Highly visable"? Hardly.

    It depends on how far you stretch the definition of a market in this sense. Do you mean all imbeded devices? If so, then you have to include WinCE in that list, where Microsoft have been fairly succesful.

    If you just define the market as embeded satilite systems, then the market there is so small to not even be a sneeze stain on the radar of almost any company, least of all Microsoft.

    I wouldn't have thought Microsoft give two hoots what kernel NASA chooses for it's satilites, nor their reasons for choosing it.
  • I hope they will give us the sourcecode of the programs they run on that machine, but I don't bet on that.
    Perhaps we will find out they actually use it to run a slightly modified version of lm-sensors!
  • What BAD news?

    Probably referring to all the recent naysayers predicting the downfall of Linux due to the innumerable distros, etc.

  • It's a bit old, but NASA also uses NetBSD [netbsd.org] in the ISS to monitor gravitation etc. See the link for some more information on both the project and the hardware used. Planned lifetime of this is 10 years - can someone give me a shell account to i can check the uptime? :)

    - Hubert

  • that's the type of news we would like to hear, not that 'another clueless M@#$^F%$#&ER can't figure out how to run Linux', so he believes M$ is better.
  • "The problem is, in space heat does not radiate away from components. in order for heat to radiate, it must have air to radiate with, no air and you need to design a cooling system to keep the CPU from overheating."

    I guess it's a nit, but heat does radiate is space. You mean heat dosen't convect in space. Heat is transferred by three basic mechanisms: radiation, conduction and convection.

    Conduction requires direct contact. This is how heat travels from the CPU to the heat sink. Or how heat travels from you butt to an aluminum bench.

    Convection requires air. Here, heat conducts into the air. The air is now warmer than the air around it. It expands, and rises due to being less dense than the surrounding air. Colder air replaces it. This is how Apple cubes keep cool.

    Radiation is the primary method of heat rejection in space. Here, photons carry heat energy away from the hot object. Think of red hot metal. Incandescent light bulbs operate on this principle.

    As for your other points, they're good. I used to operate communication satellites. As an operations engineer, I learned many details about satellite design. We must all keep in mind how different the orbital environment is from the terrestrial. Even in our modern age with our high technology, we can not correctly simulate the orbital environment.

    Keep up the good work,
    -SatelliteBoy
  • I'm curious if it had been opensourced, would 'someone' have picked up on the conversion fault with the Mars lander?

    Guess we will find out.

    DanH
    Cavalry Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • We also call the language we speak over here in 'The Colonies' English. I guess we're not too precise in our language :)

    DanH
    Cavalry Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • What ever happened to all of NASA's legendary coders that could right a re-entry program in just a few lines of binary/asm?? Hell folks, why not keep it simple! Save money, and make things more reliable, code that is small enough to memorize is alot less likely to have serious problems in it!

    Of course some things do need major pieces of software and full blown OS's.

    So what the fuck has NASA been doing all these years? Shit, I can understand them using a product that is already out on the market and that they have the source too due to budget cuts, but shit, why havn't they developed their own OS that is sturdier then hell and can resist anything. They have had more then enough time to do it in, and it is not like computer OS's are a new concept are anything like that. Come on NASA, get on the ball, what ever happened to THINKING AHEAD. You'd figure that after the various problems with the Apollo missions that they would have learned!
  • What bad news ? When i logged of two days ago, everything was great. Now you tell me something bad has happened ? Should i panic ?
  • We have a theory, not substantiated yet, that Linux runs cooler than other operating systems

    I always thought that Linux was cool, but that was only metaphorically !
  • Only a computer geek will get exited over something like this!

    Now sep back for a second and imagin yourself a normal person that know nothing about computers, much less ever heard about Linux:

    Geek: "NASA is running Linux!!!"

    You: "Uhh What's Linux?"

    Geek: "It's a operating system."

    You: Huh?

    Geek: "You know Windows, well but better!"

    You: "Yhm.... ok." (dork)
  • "In between all the bad news..." What bad news?!? It's only bad news if you're hearing it from someone who's never used Linux before.
  • Marauder2 [slashdot.org] wrote:

    The problem is, in space heat does not radiate away from components. in order for heat to radiate, it must have air to radiate with, no air and you need to design a cooling system to keep the CPU from overheating.
    Not to take away from your other great points, but I think you've accidently mixed up heat transfer via radiation and heat transfer by convection. Radiation does not depend upon air to transfer the heat. That is how energy gets to us from the sun, despite the lack of atmosphere in space. Convection, however, does depend on air, and is the principle on which CPU cooling fans work.

    So, I guess the problem is that the onboard components cannot radiate energy away fast enough while kept on. Since there is no convection in space, the best you can do is put them in power save mode and wait.

  • by firewort (180062) on Thursday March 15, 2001 @04:07AM (#362361)
    Didn't Beowulf clustering originate at NASA? yes.
    Didn't that HAM satellite that was mentioned here at slashdot multiple times run on Debian? AFAIK.

    Space related sciences and Linux in combination are nothing new.

    However, what is interesting here is that NASA, who tests everything down to the last little nit, has deemed linux as worthy for controlling one of their satellites. Their testing is done more rigorously than anyone.

    Especially since they don't have Feynman to call when it goes wrong.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
  • A lot of on-orbit satellites CPUs are running state machines, not really an OS...most thoughts about CPUs in space have been considering Lynx or Vx Works.
  • The parent is quite right and I would like to add that most satellites do not contain an OS (too much potential for trouble), but if they do were already likely to contain a RTOS that is Unix-like. Nobody thinks about putting Windows or MacOS in orbit for satellites because why would a CPU that has no local users need a GUI for?
  • No one said anything about using Linux in mission critical Space Shuttle applications...the article specifically mentions satellites only.
  • I'm English and we (mostly) use the Metric system.

    The older system (feet and inches, pounds and ounces) is referred to as Imperial.

    I take it in the US it's called 'English' - weird.
  • Dunno about the ISS, but the Shuttle s/w is so intensively tuned and (dare I say it) perfected that you'd have to pry it from their cold, dead fingers. This [fastcompany.com] has been posted before, but it's worth reading if you didn't catch it then.
  • NASA's choice for linux isn't really a noble one....
    They picked it for the best reason possible -- it fits their requirements, among which is cost.

    I would think the last thing Linux needs is charity or nobility.

  • I saw this coming long ago. Well, not like in "the dark age" (prelinux era). Not much of a accomplishment anyways...

    (check my nick)

    linux2mars
  • If there was ever a malfunction, as there might be. How much quicker would it be to send out an SOS to linux hackers asking for a bug fix. Be a lot quicker for a few thousand developers around the world trying to fix the bug than a few engineers in NASA. You could become a world hero saving a few lives by fixing the unknown bug.

  • Let's hope they have some good software deleopers, cause we don't want the software becoming all patchy, like the MIR is now... ;-)
  • Actually, I think he meant something like:
    Between all the bad news Linux companies have seen lately.
  • The good or bad of any thing depends on what use we make of it, and with so many dedicated users Linux can not fade away so easily.
  • Stick your nose into anything Linux has written recently, and you'll get a good whiff of impudent demagogism.

    Man I would like to have your Linux system. I have not yet figured out a way to get mine to write anything!

    Man, I am confused by your post. I think that you are referring to a small vocal minority of Linux users who use Linux out of a sort of reactionary urge to be different rather than for the real benefits that the OS offers:

    • Increased transparancy: Unlike Windows, Linux is transparent and allows (but does not force) the user to participate in the inner workings of the system. UNIX operating systems tend to have this characteristic.
    • Stability: Particularly in the server market, Linux has a well proven reliability record. Reliability is of particular interest regarding servers, and so it has some real benefits to offer in this reguard.
    I am well versed in both worlds and comfortable working with NT (I am an MCSE) and in Linux (LPIC-1). But in the end, I prefer Linux.
  • I won't deny that some aspects of your post are defensible, and while I resent having my posts called "demented", "debauched", and "squalid," I am still not entirely sure what you are tryign to accomplish.

    As I said, I am comforable with a variety of platforms including UNIX (Solaris/HP-UX), Windows NT/2000, and Linux. In general, I prefer Linux. I am not hostile toward Microsoft or any other company. I just find that it suits my needs better.

    : For some strange reason, Einhverfr is worried he'll be disenfranchised and shunned by the worst types of disingenuous, disgraceful sad sacks I've ever seen.

    Normally I would not reply to something like this. However, I am not sure what you mean by this. Please don't get me wrong, I am actually trying to understand your point of view.

    However, his conceited prevarications convince the worst kinds of blasphemous buffoons there are that there is absolutely nothing they can do to better their lot in life besides joining him. Einhverfr then blames us for that.

    Please enlighten me as to where I blame people for anything. Calling Windows opaque is not blame. It is a statement of fact and one that helps it be successful in a certain user market.

    This whole discussion is getting rather off topic, and if you wnat to continue this discussion, write me (einhverfr@hotmail.com).

    However, I think that the question as to whether Linux is all hype or whether it brings real value to the industry is relavent in the discussion of NASA's use. Many of us forget that NASA has a long and illustrius histry of using Linux where it does add value to their projects. A primary example of this sort of thing is the Beowulf project (which developed a virtual supercomputer using commodity computers of the day).

    THat NASA is using embeded Linux in its satalites is not at all surprising. The Mars rover runs Linux on some of its systems, so this is not even the first time that NASA has been using embedded Linux in a spacegoing device.

    Linux is used because it brings real value to these projects. NASA is aware of this. If you insist on thinking of the NASA Linux projects as being as demented as you seem to think, then I cannot change your mind.

  • You are right that one instance means nothing, but, when it keeps happening, it is called a trend and it is significant.
  • An RTOS costs money. Linux doesn't and it has the advantage of being rather more configurable. That means you can use the same basic RT variant of Linux for a number of different jobs.

    Also more people know it.

  • Um, I have played with more than a couple of embedded OS platforms. I would trust them to manage traffic-lights, but the problem was they were not sufficiently well understood for larger stuff.

    The environmental stuff is something else. I don't understand the arguments. However, I certainly do understand the need to have a well understood platform and something that directly relates to the development platform.

  • He was obviously making a joke. As things have been going good for Linux for quite some time now, he figured : Let's use some sarcasm and speak of "all the bad news about Linux" even though this is another good thing happening to Linux (at least it's good for getting Linux to be known). Don't you think ?
  • And everyone who wants to fix the bug will get a shell account on the satellite? Or does everyone of them get a free satellite delivered to her door for testing?
  • The Space Shuttle and ISS don't necessarily use a conventional "Operating System", rather proprietary systems. Could you imagine porting the millions of lines of code from their proprietary systems to ANYTHING ELSE?!?!?! All it would take is ONE error in the logic and, oops. It is already buggy enough as it is after being refined for decades.

    Linux at NASA is, like, SO OLD NEWS! (best Valley-Girl&#174 dialect) Beowulf cluster anyone? ;-)

    Don't forget they still use Amigas for satellite control.

  • At least this will help to dispell all the qualms about linux not suitable for mission critical apps. Now we've got astronauts' lives dependent on linux. How much more mission critical do you get than that?

    $man microsoft

  • Let's hope they have some good software deleopers, cause we don't want the software becoming all patchy, like the MIR is now... ;-)

    F you!

    HTH

    Wroot

  • Dont they usaly write an independant os for satilites and telescopes and such?
  • A 'certain other company' ahem.. has spent years ensuring incompatibility between products to tie you into theirs, then make you upgrade regularly. It's very nice to see this policy backfiring on them in a high-visibility market space I'm sure they'd like to 'own' too.

    I don't know about that. We've seen this [slashdot.org] before [slashdot.org]. In that story it wasn't the 'certain other company' [apple.com] putting their proprietary incompatible computers into space, but rather some other nut [businessweek.com], and with NASA's blessing, so it doesn't look like their policy's backfired yet.

  • by tb3 (313150)
    Whu hasn't anyone commented on how cool Tux looks with a space helmet? Someone at that sire did a really nice job with the logo. Now, if I could just get a a space helmet for my 12" toy Tux...
    -----------------
  • they are trying make up for the lost funding by avoiding haveing to pay for a bazilion NT licences.
  • Feel free to make your own at CafePress.Com... I'm not affiliated with this site, but I've used it to make inside-joke t-shirts for friends' birthdays... Heck, you could even possibly turn a small profit by creating www.cafepress.com/tuxinspace and hiking up the t-shirt prices a dollar or two above base price! (assuming you don't need to license tux, in the spirit of open source...)

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