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U.S. Army's Future Combat System Will Run Linux 742

Posted by timothy
from the projects-always-get-scrapped-and-revised dept.
jkastner writes "In 2001 Boeing was chosen to be the lead system integrator for the Army's Future Combat System. The bumper sticker description of this project is 'see first, understand first, act first and finish decisively,' and while Boeing's official FCS site doesn't have a lot of technical details, but you can find some good information at Global Security. To quote their page, "FCS is envisioned as a networked 'system of systems" that will include robotic reconnaissance vehicles and sensors; tactical mobile robots; mobile command, control and communications platforms; networked fires from futuristic ground and air platforms; and advanced three-dimensional targeting systems operating on land and in the air.' The Phase 2 request for proposals just appeared and the estimated price is $26 billion through fiscal year 2009. The fact that the Army is spending billions of dollars on a project isn't anything new, but a little known fact is that the OS for FCS will be Linux (FAQ 4 here.)"
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U.S. Army's Future Combat System Will Run Linux

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  • by dgp (11045) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:26PM (#5416278) Journal
    I can rent terminator 2 for a lot less than $26 billion dollars. How about $26 billion for global no-cost healthcare and food? THATs futuristic!
    • by cannon_trodder (264217) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:32PM (#5416320)
      Because splashing £26 billion dollars on a "super-duper" defence system is easier than sitting down and talking to all the other countries in the world to sort out the real problems.
      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:51PM (#5416431)
        £26 billion dollars ?????

        I knew we were allies with the brits, but isn't this getting carried away?

      • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Sunday March 02, 2003 @04:07AM (#5417535) Homepage Journal
        Well, why don't you run for office and make some changes instead of claiming to have all of the answers on Slashdot? I'm sure you could have a nice chat w/ every country in the world and talk every dictator out of developing nuclear weapons in secret, right?
    • by JonWan (456212) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:37PM (#5416339)
      How about $26 billion for global no-cost healthcare and food? THATs futuristic!

      That works out to about $5 per person... One meal at McDonalds. About the only health care you can do for that is a pack of bandaids.
      • Um, check out the cost of living in places other than the ultra-rich west.

        26 billion goes a long, long, way in the 3rd world
        • "26 billion goes a long, long, way in the 3rd world"

          you mean $26 billion *more* than we already give.

          military spending isn't for developing nations. in case you haven't noticed lately, we do have hostiles which we need to protect ourselves from.
        • 26 billion goes a long, long, way in the 3rd world

          It would if you pick just one country, but the post was about "global". Even if you leave out the "first world", $10 bucks won't go very far despite what Sally Struthers has to say about it. If you are willing to spend 26 billion a week you might get something done. What's sad about it is that I don't even flinch anymore when I hear "Billions of dollars" when talking about anything global. To one person a billion might be a lot, but to the world it's chump change.

          Heck, Bill Gates only has 35 billion in cash.;-)
      • by FFFish (7567) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @11:37PM (#5416658) Homepage
        There are about four billion third-world/impoverished people in the world. The $26 billion would give them about $6.50 each. Many of these people survive on less than a dollar a day: six dollars, then, represents enough money for a week's food and health care.

        Six bucks per person would inoculate them against the major killing diseases, and provide vitamins for a year, which in turn would prevent numerous nutrional deficiency diseases and ailments.

        And if need be, we could set boundaries for help. There's little point in spending six bucks on a single elderly starvation victim who's body is so ravaged that s/he'll only live another few months anyway, when that six bucks could make a life-or-death difference to a dozen children.

        $26 billion would also be more than enough to provide contraceptive options to every third-world woman. Reducing the birth rates would allow us to, in following years, provide better health care and nutrition care to the children. And with the children growing up healthier, the long-term consequences would be even further reduced ill health.

        The long and the short of it is pretty damn plain:

        We can spend $26 billion killing a bunch of people, causing the survivors to despise us even more.

        Or we can spend $26 billion saving a bunch of people, and helping bring peace to earth.

        I know which I'd rather see.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Six bucks per person would inoculate them against the major killing diseases, and provide vitamins for a year, which in turn would prevent numerous nutrional deficiency diseases and ailments.

          Yes, and four billion disease-free third-worlders will breed even more children . . . further straining population levels, food distribution capabilities--competing for resources in general. This in turn increases their poverty, hunger, etc. Misguided compassion.

          I'll bet that rather than spending all your surplus income on caring for needy third-worlders, you instead pay for Internet connectivity. Stop whining when those of us, who choose to live a life protecting you, do so in a manner of our choosing

        • And if need be, we could set boundaries for help. There's little point in spending six bucks on a single elderly starvation victim who's body is so ravaged that s/he'll only live another few months anyway, when that six bucks could make a life-or-death difference to a dozen children.

          There's a word for that. It's "eugenics." It's an ugly word. You might want to think about looking it up, because evidently you've never heard it before.

          We can spend $26 billion killing a bunch of people, causing the survivors to despise us even more. Or we can spend $26 billion saving a bunch of people, and helping bring peace to earth.

          It must be nice to live in a world where there is no evil, no tyranny, no oppression. Must be nice to live in a world where nobody ever has to fight.

          Next time you visit Earth, please be sure to bring some photos or something. I'd like to see what such a place looks like.
          • That's not eugenics its triage, its what happens because medical resources are limited and must be spent where most effective. Go to the Hospital with a broken finger, and a car accident comes in at the same time you wait. Time/personnel resourse. get it.

            Guess you should watch M*A*S*H, preferably the movie, not the liberal leaning sanitized comedy tv series then you know what triage is.
      • Oh, and by the way: the UN estimates it would require about $25 billion to provide basic healthcare to the world population.

        Trillions are spent on war. What say we just take 10% of the war budget, and apply it to a peace budget?
      • Clinton talked about feeding every child on earth one meal a day. That would cost about $0.40 per child per day or $40 billion anually.

        Of course, Clinton never got very far with his plan, but I think it was a good one. I grew up in Zambia and I saw the kids with bloated stomachs and pencil thin arms. Those children were not going to survive but they might have if someone fed them every day.

        Maybe instead of raising defence spending by $48 billion we should raise it by only $8 billion and spend the rest on food.

      • Thinking in those terms, yes, it's pointless.

        However, if you consider the actual cost of -providing- that health care, as opposed to paying for it on the open market it makes more sense. Remove the massive profit-making element from the equation and it becomes doable. Spend money educating doctors (instead of sadling them with $100K+ student loan bills) so they don't have the excuse of having to pay back student loans to justify their massive salaries. Take out the million-dollar-a-year hospital administrators, and have druges distributed like they USDA distributes peanut butter. It's pretty socialistic, but it doesn't really make sense to pay captialistic rates for socialized healthcare.

        I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it wouldn't be hard at all to bring down the costs of healtcare; if it'd work enough is a different story.
    • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot&castlesteelstone,us> on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:46PM (#5416399) Homepage Journal
      I can rent terminator 2 for a lot less than $26 billion dollars. How about $26 billion for global no-cost healthcare and food? THATs futuristic!

      And if we do that, some petty dictator will take the food and keep it from getting to the starving nobodies we're trying to feed.

      We'd be better off spending the money on the troops, and then using them to enforce every UN decree that there is. Warlords causing human suffering? US leads the way to stop them. Need to distribute food fairly? US donates military to guard the food and keep it from getting stolen & hoarded.

      And, of course, $26 billion is only about $3 for every inhabitant of the planet. I suspect that "global free healthcare" would cost a bit more than that.
    • by kfg (145172) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:50PM (#5416428)
      There is no such thing as no cost health care or food. That's why you think you need that $26 billion to pay for it.

      There is *displaced* cost food and health care.

      What would make a lot more sense than throwing away this $26 billion, acomplishing little to nothing, would be to devise systems allowing people to provide their own food and health care.

      If, however, we merely feed people who live where producing food is inherently impossible, but the population expands exponentially with the food supply, the more we feed them the worse off *they* are.

      You can't solve social problems by writing a check.

      KFG
      • And, of course, situation that produce military action are social problems.
        • Of course, and military action is the worst possible solution, although sometimes unavoidable when social solutions have been botched beyond all repair.

          It is also sometimes unavoidable because a group of people are simply beyond reason and attack someone else.For good or ill it is a fact that there are men who are simply prone to violence. There is no shame in defending oneself.

          Please note, before knees start twitching, that I attached no names to the above.

          KFG

          KFG
      • If, however, we merely feed people who live where producing food is inherently impossible, but the population expands exponentially with the food supply, the more we feed them the worse off *they* are.

        How much food is grown in NYC? it seems like it would be pretty hard.

        Anyway, if you cant grow food there, you might be able to grow cash crops like cotton or hemp. And you can certanly set up factories, computer labs, etc, so that people can produce things that they can use to pay for food.

        The point is to keep them fed long enough for them to rebuild their infestructure, etc.
        • by kfg (145172) on Sunday March 02, 2003 @12:05AM (#5416770)
          There is a fair amount of food grown in NYC. Obvioulsy more than you would believe. The NYC *area* is one of the most productiove in the world, my small plot, on which I am able to produce a good bit of my own food plus a surplus for others, is only about 150 miles away. Full fledged farms exist no more than 30 miles from Wall Street itself.

          Millions are starving where you can't even grow hemp, without even getting into the current social problems involved with growing hemp.

          As for setting up factories there is no particular current demand for the goods they could produce. Production in most fields now being in excess of demand. Labor becomes less valuable every year. The problem of raw production has been *solved.*

          The problem of *distribution* in a world where the population is growing but the need for, and thus the value of, labor is diminishing, is still an open question with no resolution in sight.

          Often times the only logical solution is simply relocating the people. Millions of them. The social and *politcal* problems involved in that are outrageous, although the movement could be accomplished at little monetary cost.

          Take the case of Bangladesh. A poor and desperate country, that shall always remain poor and desperate so long as it continues to exist. Nothing can be done about it. Nothing.

          And yet they live on the most fertile land in all the world.

          They built their entire country, insisted on such political autonomy in fact, directly on the delta of one of the greatest flooding rivers in the world. Great for growing rice. Impossible to live on build on, make any sort of infrastructure whatever on.

          In the "old days" Bangladesh was simply a region of India. When the floods came you planted your rice shoots and then ran uphill until they subsided, then went back and havested your rice, You ate what you needed and sold the excess on the Indian market.

          Now there is an international frontier where "uphill" used to be.

          There really is only one solution, for Bangladesh to reintegrate with India. No amount of money in the world will solve the poverty and miserable conditions much of the nation finds itself living under.

          Hundreds of millions of acres, right here in the rich and good old USA, are essentially unsuitable for human habitation, and are thus almost entire uninhabited.

          In other nations, usually for purely social and political reasons, people are forced to live in these places.

          Take all the inhabitants of NYC and transport them to the middle of the Painted Dessert and telling them grow hemp (illegal, social and political issue) or build a factory they can labor in is *not* going to be a solution to their problems of existence. Even in the long term.

          (And yes, part of the problems that NYC faces with overpopulation and poverty is because it has been rendered into a place unfit for human habitation. There is as much hunger in NYC as there is in many "deprived" areas of the world. That is *also* a social and political problem, not a food supply one, since at any given moment in NYC the food supply exceeds that needed by all of its residents)

          KFG
          • Hemp? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Animats (122034)
            Hemp as a fibre is way overrated by the druggies. Sailors stopped using it back in Melville's day. Hemp rope rots from the inside, so it looks great until it breaks. Manila replaced hemp over a century ago; it's stronger and more rot resistant than hemp rope. There are other coarse fibres, like sisal and jute. Sisal twine [bridoncordage.com] is widely used; hay bales are tied with it. Burlap bags are made from jute.

            Huge industries make and sell manila, sisal, jute, and synthetic fibres. Hemp is a tiny niche product, because it's a lousy fibre.

          • Delta (Score:3, Insightful)

            Take the case of Bangladesh.

            The Rhine delta has a bit less water, but the country that occupies it (the Netherlands) has managed to get a reasonably good standard of living, and also has one of the highest population densities in the world. Centuries of technological solutions to natural problems (and yes, bad floods do still happen there, but far less people die). So it may be possible, however unlikely.

    • by lapey (144699)
      global healthcare would be great, that way people would be more dependent on the government and our health care would be worse than other countries. look at the countries that have national healthcare than look at the US. i will take the current system, flaws and all, rather than have global healthcare. giving people food doesn't teach them to work, only to wait for you to give them more food. look at the total US government budget and then look at the 26 billion. 26 billion is pennies
    • "I can rent terminator 2 for a lot less than $26 billion dollars. How about $26 billion for global no-cost healthcare and food? THATs futuristic!"

      I believe their logic is along the lines of "An under-defended war will cause far more healthcare and food issues than 26 bill would solve."
    • by cyberlync (450786) on Sunday March 02, 2003 @12:06AM (#5416772)
      Contrary to what many people think, and I know that I will be modded down heavily for this, war is a valid political tool. It has been in use from the dawn of human history and will continue to be in use while humans remain humans. Do you think that hitler whould have responded to diplomacy? It was tried and failed miserably. Do you think that Kruschev would have backed down during the cuban missle crisis if we hadn't had the ships and weapons systems to back up our demands? Peace is a wondarfull thing, but in this day and age its far from free. Weapons systems like this ensure that we will continue to have peace.

      Granted we sure could use universal healthcare and food for everyone. But even if we had that we would still need to continue to spend massive amounts of money to develop superior weapons systems just so that we are prepared should war be forced upon us.

      The money would need to be spent here regardless of where other moneys may be spent. Its one of the prices of freedom
      • Who had it right? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DaveAtFraud (460127)
        Clauswitcz who said, "War is diplomacy by other means." or Chou En Lai who said, "Diplomacy is war by other means."

        Hint: maybe they both got it right.
  • by thegreatemancipator (654451) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:26PM (#5416283)
    Will this mean that the military will start recruiting 12-year-olds to keep everything running?
  • by Libor Vanek (248963) <libor.vanek@g m a i l.com> on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:28PM (#5416287) Homepage
    What the fu** is "Kernel panic" and what is he doing with my B-52?
  • Bittersweet news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:28PM (#5416292)
    This is good news as it means that GNU/Linux will have another set of *very careful* eyeballs looking through the code. After all, it is now a matter of national security. The driver support for robotics and other real-time systems is also likely to improve dramatically.

    On the other hand, I think that more than a few hackers will feel a twinge of sadness when they see footage of some people being blown up. Doesn't exactly make you want to point and say "oh look see, that was my code they used to send the `fire' command to that unit..." Especially if it is one of those not-declared-or-debated sort of wars that we seem to be getting into these days.

    • by tshak (173364)
      This is good news as it means that GNU/Linux will have another set of *very careful* eyeballs looking through the code.

      Not necessarily. There is nowhere in the GPL that forces you to give away your source to the world - it only forces you to distribute (or make easily available) the source to those that you are selling/giving the binaries. So, unless Boeing plans on giving us their software (ya right!), we won't benefit at all. Rather, all of the donated work is benefiting a profiting corporation without any form of compensation. This is where the GPL fails IMHO.
      • Re:Bittersweet news (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Radical Rad (138892)

        unless Boeing plans on giving us their software (ya right!), we won't benefit at all.

        What makes you say that Boeing would write a GPL program for the DOD? Just because a program runs on top of Linux doesn't mean it has to be GPL'd. They will probably use the NSA version of Linux and any bugs they fix in the OS itself would have to be disclosed and that is a good thing because it will make all Linux systems more secure.

        Rather, all of the donated work is benefiting a profiting corporation without any form of compensation. This is where the GPL fails IMHO.

        It is the BSD license that allows code to be reused in a proprietary program which your employer Miscroft has taken advantage of many times. I'm curious, do you get paid to spread FUD or is this just "donated work"?

      • by Jason Earl (1894) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @11:56PM (#5416734) Homepage Journal

        You are right about what the GPL requires you to do. Boeing is going to be required to make the source code for any changes to the Linux kernel available to the DOD, but they don't have to make these changes available to the rest of us. They are also perfectly free to create proprietary software that runs on top of Linux.

        My guess, however, is that most of the changes to the Linux kernel itself will make its way back to Linus and friends, and the reason for this is simple. Maintaining your own fork of the Linux kernel is hard, and such a beast would have very few benefits. After all, one of the reasons that these folks chose Linux in the first place is that it would allow them to offload some of their work on the rest of the Linux kernel developers. If secrecy were the primary goal they would simply write their own OS from scratch. What's the point of using Linux if you are going to distance yourself from all of the neat stuff being done by the rest of the kernel developers?

      • Re:Bittersweet news (Score:3, Informative)

        by iCEBaLM (34905)
        Not necessarily. There is nowhere in the GPL that forces you to give away your source to the world - it only forces you to distribute (or make easily available) the source to those that you are selling/giving the binaries.

        Quoth the GPL section 3b (emphasis mine):

        Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange

        If Boeing distributes GPL'd code to the US Army it also must give any third party the source if they ask for it.

        -- iCEBaLM
        • Re:Bittersweet news (Score:3, Informative)

          by Error27 (100234)
          Actually, that is not correct. They have a choice between 3a, or 3b. Boing is comercial so they cannot use 3c.
          3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

          a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

          b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

          c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

      • The main problem with them not releasing is that the code will naturally diverge until it really isn't linux anymore. The secondary problem is that all those linux machines are essentially low grade military targets out there. They're going to want to release a certain amount of fixes just to harden up the civilian side. Don't you remember the NSA did pretty much the same thing?
    • On the other hand, I think that more than a few hackers will feel a twinge of sadness when they see footage of some people being blown up.

      Look at the bigger picture. Systems like these are developed in part to try to accurately blow up the minimal number of enemy leaders and soldiers to get the job done while sparing civilians.

      It's got to be better than going back to the WWII through Vietnam strategy of randomly dropping unguided firebombs on hundreds of thousands of civilians.

    • Driver support is already good for that stuff. Most robotic stuff is driven by a Serial Port. If worst comes to worse the could always use a USB-Serial cable to interface to the robotics if a Serial Port is not available. Failing that, you'd just need to use USB. Nothing strange or exotic. Robotics only need away to recieve and send codes. That's handled by the serial port. The specifics would be handled by userspace code.

      Also, I don't think they would be making major modifications to the Kernel. Why would they need to since they could just use the serial port or TCP/IP? Am I missing something? I don't think they'd need to make kernel mods beyond maybe adding a kernel driver to interface to any machine based encryption they might use and that code would be useless to us.

    • While I consider myself a pacificist, I think having the better weapons is important. When weapons are needed, they need to do their job, cleanly and precisely. If our smart missiles suddenly go "dumb", then more people will needlessly be killed. If our smart missiles were even smarter, then the military could do surgical strikes with finer precision, saving lives on both sides of the conflict.

      Plus improvements made to Linux by the DOD might be released to the public. That would benefit everyone (including encryption-using terrorists, I guess). However, it just occurred to me that the DOD might not need to release their changes, even though Linux is GPL. If they don't "distribute" them product (just use it themselves "internally"), then I don't think they need to legally release their changes..??

  • by MrRudeDude (450053) <mr_rude_dude@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:29PM (#5416294)
    the kill command.
  • This is great for the army, but as we consolidate overlap between services, I would like to see all branches adopt similar platforms (Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserve Force, CIA, and Secret Service). It would save moneys for the purpose of cross-training and upgrading in the-long-run.
  • by worst_name_ever (633374) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:30PM (#5416310)
    Now I guess they'll have to rename it GNU/Army!
  • Slogan: (Score:3, Funny)

    by FosterSJC (466265) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:32PM (#5416319)
    Be All That You KDE: In the KArmy.
  • ...from 30,000ft?

    With Linux the pilot can ha>0r straight into the computers.

  • by spoonist (32012) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:38PM (#5416348) Journal

    TWENTY-NINE BILLION DOLLARS? (That's dollars, right? Not pesos or something?)

    Somebody had better tell the Army that Linux is free and they're getting ripped off big time!

    • Re:SON OF A BITCH! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rolo Tomasi (538414)
      Bleh, always the same. New gigantic futuristic (and super-expensive) program is announced. A bunch of defense companies (with good connections to the gov'ment) works on various projects for a few years, a few people get rich, and then the project is quietly shelved. Star Wars anyone?
    • The US government has offered over US$30 billion in "aid" to Turkey if it agrees to allow the US military to attack Iraq from Turkish military bases...

      That's a lot of money... but if they're prepared to pay it for one little war it doesn't seem that much for updating/creating a new command infrastructure.
    • Re:SON OF A BITCH! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      That's a good one. Really, I don't think the Army is paying for the OS but the hardware, drivers, design, coding, integration and maintainance of software that happens to use that OS. Compared to the overall Army FCS system, Linux is probably just another layer on the stack. Pay for and maintain a special version of a commercial OS on every system and it just might be another billion or more, not that I trust initial figures from a government agency.
  • by errittus (13200) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:41PM (#5416360) Homepage
    You know, I just can't help but feel that this not-so-recent shift to electronic warfare (in contrast to "modern" warfare) or heavy usage of electronics would leave an army equipped as such VERY vulnerable to ElectroMagnetic Pulse.

    http://www.wsmr.army.mil/paopage/Pages/WU%2312.h tm

    As advanced as many armies are in the world the advent of more and more electronic warfare systems, innovation will bring on more portable and potent EMP weapons. There's always a rub.

    • by superdan2k (135614) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:54PM (#5416451) Homepage Journal
      You do understand that military hardware is hardened against EMPs, right? You also do understand that while soldiers will be equipped with high-tech combat gear, they'll still be trained to use the basics?

      When I went into the Army in 1991, no Army unit had executed a bayonet charge since World War II, but we still learned to fight with them attached to the M-16. There's all sorts of high tech gadgetry that can help you kill the enemy deader than shit...but you still learn to do it with bayonet, bare hands, and rifle with iron-sights before you ever learn to call in MLRS fire or pull down realtime data from a Predator drone...
      • You do understand that military hardware is hardened against EMPs, right?

        No one really knows how "hardened" it really is. It's not like you can generate an EMP to test with. Sure, we have electric-field chambers to roast military electronics in, and we try to use sturdy circuitry-design principles, but unless you're willing to detonate atomic warheads 100km in the air, you're never really sure if a system can withstand an EMP or not. The full effects of an EMP are still not completely understood. (Maybe if someone invents an easier way to create those blasts, we'll be able to perfect- or at least measure- our resistance)

        There's all sorts of high tech gadgetry that can help you kill the enemy deader than shit...but you still learn to do it with bayonet, bare hands, and rifle

        There's only 25 hours in every day for a soldier to train. The more time he spends on robotic control commands, the less on marksmanship, orienteering, and PT. The future soldier of America will have more special tools than the enemy, but if they're taken away, then he'll be worse off than the man whose never learned to rely upon them.

        Besides, a goal of the FCS project is to need less manpower in harm's way. In the face of an EMP (or some other, theoretical attack which disables advanced machinery), that's a disadvantage in that you don't have fighting men to take up the slack (and the weapon systems might not be suitable for manual operation).

        But it's an advantage in that soldiers can't die if they're not there in the first place. For the US, overall, it is much better to lose $50 million of equipment than to bring home 25 dead Marines. The voting public doesn't like to see body-bags. "Force Protection" is the doctrine. And, the military contractors will love to sell replacements for all that hardware! Think of the economic stimulus! (They might even scrap together a re-election dontation as a thank-you to the vistionary CiC)
    • As others have already pointed out, the government is very aware of EMP vulnerability and have hardened their weapons against it. Guess what won't be hardened though: Guns sold in New Jersey [slashdot.org] (and probably every other state too in a decade or so)
  • by spoonist (32012) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:43PM (#5416372) Journal
    You've got to be kidding. $29 BILLION for this:
    #!/bin/sh

    rm -rf enemy
    And why just Linux? That script is portable to any flavor of Unix!
  • by Mathetes (132911) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:47PM (#5416405)
    Time for a Penguin carrying a M-16?
  • They'd better (Score:4, Informative)

    by arvindn (542080) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:48PM (#5416412) Homepage Journal
    "FCS is envisioned as a networked 'system of systems".

    For such a system, linux is the obvious choice IMHO. Here's why: Consider the possibility of a malicious agent (possibly an insider) gaining unauthorized access to some of the systems. Because the whole thing is networked and remotely coordinated, the possibility for damage is immense. In that case, it is absolutely essential to detect the intrusion, track the attacker's footprints and minimize the damage as quickly as possible. And I would say linux wins hands down at this, because of its transparency. The main thing is not cost or ease of use or applications or any of the things that are usually considered, but having the innards of the system open for the administrator to see.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @10:57PM (#5416470)
    This ought to make for some interesting device drivers and kernel patches.

    I can see it now on the Kernel mailing list - a bunch of new developers with .mil addresses submitting kernel patches --

    Hey Linus - this one gives improved target acquisition for the Patriot II antimissle. If you want you can come see the live tests in Iraq.

  • The GPL aspects of this should be interesting, since it will give the system's end users the right to request source code of any parts that were modified, all the way down to the lowly grunt.

    I guess asking for secret source code would land the people concerned in the brig or worse and so would never happen, but it's an interesting issue nevertheless.
    • The military is one entity. It will not be distributing secret binaries to anyone, thus will not need to distribute secret code.
    • You assume they will make gpl programs?

      2 points.

      1st point. The army has the resources to reverse engineer any bit of gpl code they want.

      2nd point. If you are familiar with the GPL it only requires supplying the source code to the people you supplied the program to. As a end user you are not required to supply modifications back to the main project. It is only when you distribute the program with your modifications when you are required to distribute your code, and then only to those who recieved the program from you. The only thing that has to be done is to leave the original copyright and credits unmodified.

    • When you develop software under governement contract, the governement owns the code. Only when some software is "Commercial off the shelf" (COTS) does the governement not get the source code. I worked for a defense contractor for twelve years and every scrap of code that went into the systems including test scripts and drivers, makefiles, etc. was governement property once it was accepted. The main thing was to document anything that wasn't developed for whatever program so that the governement didn't think they were entitled to that too.

      A few of other points...

      The acquiring agency is generally considered to be the end user. Not the guy in the field who sees it as a fire control or logistics system.

      Usually the source code for something like this won't be classified. Its a command and control system so its only useful to someone else when it has live data in it. Think of it as a telephone: its not the phone that's classified, its the conversation that's held using the phone.

      The developer, Boeing, will have every incentive to provide patches for commercialy applicable code back to the Linux development community. Otherwise, they have to maintain their own set of patches and independently apply them and test them every time they go to a new release. I'm guessing they WON'T provide the device driver for the Patriot battery though.

      One last item, a couple of systems I worked on when I was with said defense contractor were elements of what the Army then called the Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATTCS) which consisted primarily of HP9000/3X0 workstations running the current flavor of HP-UX and communicating over a variety of tactical comm gear. So this isn't really new but looks like just the next evolution of a concept that has been in use by the Army for about 10 years.
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @11:07PM (#5416519) Homepage Journal
    .. .the next "killer app" will be for Linux
  • by George Walker Bush (306766) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @11:17PM (#5416562) Homepage
    As commander in chief, no way will I stand for MY DAMN RED-BLOODED ALL-AMERICAN APPLE PIE ARMY running a system developed by COMMIES! First thing Monday, I'm having a word with the Pentagon!
  • by fzammett (255288) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @11:21PM (#5416578) Homepage
    Wow... all you Linux zealots will now be responsible for the deaths of hundreds, thousands and perhaps some day millions. I hope your proud of yourselves! ;)

    You liberals should be firmly backing Microsoft at this point... Windows is the ultimate anti-war software... I mean, how can you bomb the hell out of innocent civilians when your missile launch systems crash when you push the launch button!

    But noooooo... with Linux, this'll never happen, and we can kill all the people we want with no doubt our systems will function properly.

    Yeah, good job penguin-heads!

    (In case there is any doubt, tongue is firmly planted in cheek here)
  • As much as I hate to see Linux used for war, this is probably a good thing; can you imagine killer military robots running on Microsoft software? I don't want to see the headline, "Chinese Embassy Nuked by Talking Paper Clip."

    --Tina Russell thinks you're typing a letter. Would you like to go to the Bomb Iraqi Peasants Wizard?
    This wedding party has committed an illegal operation...
  • Oh, great. (Score:5, Funny)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Saturday March 01, 2003 @11:55PM (#5416729) Homepage Journal
    To quote their page, "FCS is envisioned as a networked 'system of systems" that will include robotic reconnaissance vehicles and sensors; tactical mobile robots; mobile command, control and communications platforms; networked fires from futuristic ground and air platforms; and advanced three-dimensional targeting systems operating on land and in the air.'

    Oh, great. They're building SkyNet.

    All robots. All automated. All computer controlled. And they're using Linux. Who'd have thought lil' Tux would eventually bring about the end of civilization? Linux's reliability means that SkyNet will become self-aware and overthrow the humans many years sooner than it would otherwise have done. At least if they ran Windoze we could rest assured that it would eventually collapse due to bluescreens or worms/viruses. But it's running Linux and will therefore be undefeatable. I fear the end is near...
  • One of the reasons that linux was chosen was due to source code accessbility. As you can imagine, when you have 50,000 units deployed using FCS and something breaks, you need to be able to sit down and fix the problem on the spot if at all possible.

  • Say... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TerryAtWork (598364) <research@aceretail.com> on Sunday March 02, 2003 @03:00AM (#5417389)
    How many of the people who contributed to Linux knew their work was going to be used to kill people?
    • Re:Say... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ctid (449118)
      The GPL states explicitly that it's not possible under the terms of the licence to restrict the use of the SW. You're not allowed say that the software is not to be used by the military or peace campaigners or Al Qaeda or anyone else.

  • $28B over 7 Years? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trifster (307673) on Sunday March 02, 2003 @08:50AM (#5418121) Homepage Journal
    The reason Linux was chosen by GD and other defense manufacturers is they have ruined defense projects by trying to make thier own propietary software. I can guarentee that the defense department requried commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) for all development. Windows not open enough to use so naturally Linux was selected.

    The Land-Warrior gear that the Special Ops use was originally a GD contract. They wrote custom software to work the gear; the program and gear failed misserably. Then, a few small companies in California took Windows CE, a CE PDA, wrote some custom drivers and hardware mods and you have a very useful system that is used today. Although Windows was chosen, the point is to the DOD that COTS works and has been pushed as the right thought for system development up to the highest generals. It is only natural that this time defense integrators choose the RIGHT technology for the job.

    I don't know where most posters to this thread are from, but $26B is chump change. With a $350 Billion defense budget a year that is only $4B a year or 1.1% of the annual budget.

    The US produces more food than can be eaten. We air drop for FREE billions of tons of food for third world nations.

    Furthermore, you all have to realize that the only reason UN demands are NOW being executed and inspectors are NOW back in Iraq is b/c there are 200,000 US Troops with the billion dollar toys effectively saying "you have no choice, you couldn't disarm on your own in the late 90's and we're tired of taking shit, disarm or get distroyed." A fair statement IMHO.

    With Nations like N.Korea just trying to cause problems; Mind you a nation that doesn't have a spare volt to power a palm handheld, or food to keep its people alive (YES we are airdropping food to them as well), is building nukes to "shakedown" the asian community??? It is countries such as N.Korea that force the US to build $26 Billion dollar army combat systems to defend the rest of Aisa and Europe (minus the UK-they are pretty damn tough).

    [begin Sarcasim_time]
    But if you would rather the US to give that $26B in small-bills to third-world nations, OK we'll do it, and at the same time pull our fleet of aircrat carries over to the UK, Spain, Italy (short list of our supportrs) and protect only them from evil dictatorships and let the rest of you all die horrible nuclear and chemical weapon deaths.
    [end Sarcasim_time]

    All this idological talk about peace is nice but if you are typing on a computer, you should have the intelligence to realzie that the real world doesn't have people that want peace. As cyclic as economic markets are, so cyclic are the ideals of dictators.

    In the 1940's you had Hitler, 1960's was the Cold War, and now you have Terrorists and distructive regiemes. I feel much better paying a few hundreds bucks for my health insurance and knowing my government is doing all that is necessary to ensure the future of free (as in beer and freedom) people will carry on.

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