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United States Software Linux Technology

Tux Enlisted for U.S. Defense Program 312

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-as-in-bombs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Linux is a key part of the Army's massive $200B FCS (Future Computing System) initiative, it seems. RTOS vendor LynuxWorks was chosen to provide the OS for 18 weapons platforms under development, because its LynxOS-178 real-time OS can run Linux binaries -- including the "common operating environment" that Boeing is developing for FCS."
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Tux Enlisted for U.S. Defense Program

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  • by tcopeland (32225) * <{moc.dnalepoceelsamoht} {ta} {mot}> on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:41AM (#12200309) Homepage
    ...this paper [ie.org] talks about using the open source, BSD-licensed agent framework COUGAAR [cougaar.org] to run FCS modeling tests.

    Also, there's a bunch of COUGAAR support software written in Ruby, i.e., ACME [cougaar.org].
  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Neopoleon (874543) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:41AM (#12200313) Homepage
    Nothing says "feel-good bluegrass tech movement" like becoming part of the military industrial complex.
    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:44AM (#12200341)
      You mean "grassroots", genius, not "bluegrass". Put the banjo down.
    • ARPA-NET (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Luddite (808273) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:49AM (#12200392)
      You're shooting for the Funny mod, but think about it.

      - The precursor to the web we're both using right now was pentagon (ARPA) funded.
      • Re:ARPA-NET (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dpilot (134227) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:24AM (#12200757) Homepage Journal
        Thinking about this for a minute...

        What we're REALLY talking about is blue-sky, no immediate payback, research. That is, research with a true eye to the future, not the next quarter or two, the kind of research that got us where we are today. That's the realm of deep pockets and minimal (or at least enlightened/tolerant) oversight - by stockholders or congressmen. That's also the kind of research that has been all-but-destroyed in the US by beancounting, be it corporate finance types, stockholder expectations, Congress, etc.

        The US could well be moving in to an era where the only true research, the long-range stuff, goes "black" - "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

        For another perspective, see:
        http://technocrat.net/article.pl?sid=05/04/1 0/1312 50&mode=thread
        Then combine it with the fact that there are others who DO see the value of long-term research:
        http://technocrat.net/article.pl?sid=05 /04/10/1392 50&mode=thread
      • Re:ARPA-NET (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Atrax (249401)
        Arpanet never directly killed anyone, that I know of. The post talks of 'weapons systems', i.e. people being fucking killed.

        We ain't logging in to the World Wide Howitzer
        • Re:ARPA-NET (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Luddite (808273) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:39AM (#12200954)
          >> Arpanet never directly killed anyone, that I know of. The post talks of 'weapons systems', i.e. people being fucking killed.

          GPP: >> Nothing says "feel-good bluegrass tech movement" like becoming part of the military industrial complex.

          ARPA-NET and the earliest incarnations of the internet were certainly a "feel-good" tech movement, yet they were funded with military bucks. My point is not that the "internet is a weapon" (how the hell did you get that?). My point is that it shouldn't be surprising when a progressive, open technology like Linux is used by the military. They have some smart folks working for them. Sometimes good things come of it.
          • OK, I give up. too late here in the outside world.
        • that the military uses the internet, and TCP/IP, to communicate? For that matter, so do the intel agencies. I seriously doubt that the NSA developed selinux out of the goodness of their hearts.
        • Re:ARPA-NET (Score:4, Insightful)

          by damiam (409504) on Monday April 11, 2005 @12:00PM (#12201211)
          Guns don't kill people, either, bullets do. Right? No, the gun contributes to the death by shooting the bullet. Likewise, all military projects, whether they are weapons systems or communications systems, are intended to further military goals, which basically involve killing people. What level the involvement is at is irrelevent, if you want to be idealistic and take a complete no-war stance.

          Or, you could be sane, and realize that the military is going to kill people no matter what, and it might as well use safe, reliable, accurate, well-built systems to ensure that it kills the right people and no more people than necessary. In that sense, Linux is a good thing.

          • Or, you could be sane, and realize that the military is going to kill people no matter what, and it might as well use safe, reliable, accurate, well-built systems to ensure that it kills the right people and no more people than necessary. In that sense, Linux is a good thing.

            Holy crap.... my head asplode... I can't tell if that's a sensible argument (a rarity in itself) or just some odd devil's advocate game. Either way it's insightful...
          • Re:ARPA-NET (Score:4, Insightful)

            by jonadab (583620) on Monday April 11, 2005 @02:25PM (#12203217) Homepage Journal
            > to further military goals, which basically involve killing people.

            You've greatly misunderstood the military. Killing people is seldom if ever a military goal. Almost always the goal is to force people to accept certain terms. Killing people is often employed as a way of furthering that goal, but it is not itself the goal.
      • I figured he just meant that if we have officially entered into "Then they fight you" Phase, before we get to the "and Then you win" Phase, Its nice to be able to answer the question "You and What Army" :)
  • by infonography (566403) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:42AM (#12200324) Homepage
    Uniform of the Day is now a Tuxedo.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:43AM (#12200328)
    of a penguin with a cigarette hanging out of the side of its mouth, cradling an assault rifle and wearing a helmet with 'Born to kill' written on it.
  • by WonderSnatch (835677) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:43AM (#12200334)
    That is all.
  • It's a linux RTOS, yes?
  • by Scoria (264473) <slashmail@@@initialized...org> on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:44AM (#12200348) Homepage
    Colonel Panic: Not just a reaction to incorrect artillery coordinates anymore!
  • by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:45AM (#12200354) Homepage
    Apparently not. The press release states that they provide ABI compatiblity using special shared libraries ("[...] compatibility is implemented through the use of dynamically linked shared libraries[...]", similar to WINE). Maybe they have ported GNU libc to LynxOS and use some free software. But apparently, no Linux kernel code is involved.
    • SCO / Sun use something similar called lxrun. It runs ELF / a.out Linux programs, trapping certain system calls and translating them to the native equivalent. Combined with the same base libraries as Linux (i.e. glibc) and you have a Linux compatibility layer. Apparently the performance hit is fairly small.


      Maybe this system uses lxrun or something like it.


      As an aside I suppose in theory you could do the reverse. Wouldn't it piss off SCO no end if someone produced a scorun app?

    • Yes, but they're not just using LynxOS. They're also using BlueCat Linux, which I'm a bit worried about. I called Lynuxworks asking them if I could have access to the source code once I got my hands on the BlueCat distro. They put me off, didn't return calls, and told me they couldn't discuss that with me at "this time." I'm not saying they won't give it to me, but they're not being forthcoming, either.

      Combine this with the stunt they pulled with User Mode Linux (see this story [usermodelinux.org]) in which they used GPL'

      • I'm hoping FCS switches back to looking at Red Hat - at least they have a track record.

        My experience with Red Hat is that I wouldn't wish the military involved with that track record...

        At least you didn't say they have a good one. :)
  • by freeio (527954) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:45AM (#12200360) Homepage
    At that price, supporting free software is a mixed bargain if I ever heard of one. Note that it supports Linux binaries, but it is not Linux as we know it.
  • GNU (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MSG (12810) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:49AM (#12200394)
    Since Linux isn't actually involved in this project in any way, shouldn't the summary state that GNU is a key part of the FCS initiative?

    Tux is actually sitting this one out.
  • While we all know that Windows is easily subjugated by trojans and viruses, and with the penetration of windows system on the market and connected to the Internet, it's a real problem. Some attribute this to the Windows mono-culture.

    Isn't this just another mono-culture waiting to be exploited? Consider the risk. One trojan or virus with a trojan let lose in the military network, and there is no telling what it would / could do. All of a sudden, zillions of fake targets are buzzing around the UCAV's rad
    • We already have military equipment running Windows. And this article isn't even about using the Linux kernel or a Linux distro, just an API on top of LynxOS. So what you said could be said about the military's use of any operating system x, what if someone develops a virus/trojan/exploit on x?
    • Isn't this just another mono-culture waiting to be exploited?

      A mono-culture needs a specific software+hardware combination.

      So a buffer overflow exploit use a specific bit of exceutable code for a specific processor.

      So, that UCAV running vxWorks-on-ARM with the Linux compatibility ABI won't be affected by the exploit that has x86 code in it.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:53AM (#12200441)
    expect a sharp ramp up in anti Linux/FOSS lobbying from Microsoft via supposedly worried parties... all worried about the US's defence being trusted to a "commie OS" written by "hacker"s and other "hippy" malcontents...
    • expect a sharp ramp up in anti Linux/FOSS lobbying from Microsoft via supposedly worried parties... all worried about the US's defence being trusted to a "commie OS" written by "hacker"s and other "hippy" malcontents...

      You know, of course, that Windows NT/2000/XP has a similar emulation environment, using GCC and a lot of code from OpenBSD.
      • Here's the thing... Boeing initially ran FCS on DP machines running Windows 2000. We got sick of running it because it blue screened, we couldn't easily build our own version of windows stripped down, with services removed that we didn't want in there...

        basically, Windows is a desktop operating system that is closed source and a pain in the ass to take apart and use exactly how you want. It is what it is, and there's only so much you can do.

        at some point, it was obvious that a RTOS was what was needed.
  • LynxOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by pointym5 (128908) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:57AM (#12200481)
    LynxOS is older than Linux. Development on LynxOS began in Dallas, TX in early 1986. The system was built for the 68000 architecture originally, targetting a custom-built 68010 VME bus CPU. The software was compiled with the C compiler sold by Megamax for the Macintosh. LynxOS was ported to the IA86 for the 386 in 1988-1989. The LynxOS ABI compatibility history goes back to about 1989 also, when SVR3 compatibility was added to the system. No UNIX or (of course) Linux code was used in the development of the OS.
    • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:11AM (#12200602) Homepage
      Mod parent up. He's right.

      LynxOS is not Linux. It's a completely different, and much smaller, kernel. It's not as minimal as QNX [qnx.com]; LynxOS has drivers in the kernel. But it's far smaller than Linux. It's small enough to get through the expensive and difficult examination process required for avionics.

      Confusingly, the company that sells LynxOS recently changed their name to LynuxWorks [lynuxworks.com], and also distributes BlueCat Linux [lynuxworks.com], an embedded Linux distro based on the 2.6 Linux kernel. LynuxWorks had a huge booth at the Embedded Systems Conference last month.

      LynxOS, BlueCat Linux, and QNX all use the GNU compilers and tools. All are POSIX compatible, and will run most commmand line programs with a recompile.

  • Too bad... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nutria (679911) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:58AM (#12200493)
    FCS is getting scaled back because of the extreme cost.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A351 18-2005Mar14.html [washingtonpost.com]
  • by wiredog (43288) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:03AM (#12200536) Journal
    It's just not well publicized. Often because the department using it doesn't want any publicity. But Linux was highly visible at FOSE lats week.
  • by Le Marteau (206396) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:10AM (#12200588) Journal
    Thank goodness Slashdot doesn't have an icon for Liunx in the military. Knowing Taco, it would probably be Tux wearing an adorable little camoflage outfit, in the same vein as the Tux wearing a suit icon.

    Adorable.

    Taco, about that Tux in a suit icon as a symbol for Linux in the business realm, Tux himself would not be wearing the suit. He's already got a tuxedo, for chrissakes. It would be the suits who were USING Linux. Linux/Tux himself would not be the one changing himself to suit the situation, it would be the suits.
  • by Greg151 (132824) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:23AM (#12200737) Homepage Journal
    Hi all,

    Lynxworks can say whatever they want, but the Army isn't picking an OS until 2006. See this link: http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2005/0214/web-fcso s-02-17-05.asp [fcw.com]

    Here is one quote that may be interesting:
    "Cartwright and Muilenberg downplayed rumors that they decided not to use Microsoft's Windows operating system in FCS because of security issues. The officials said they have made no such decision to date."
  • by mormop (415983) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:41AM (#12200979)
    You fit a missile with a Linux kernel. Does this mean that every time you distribute the software by nuking someone you have to drop a copy of the source code in the crater afterwards :)?
  • It's the warrior of the future
  • by alhaz (11039) on Monday April 11, 2005 @12:24PM (#12201529) Homepage
    Only a really topheavy organization can make this kind of mistake.

    The compatibility ABI isn't going to pass muster when it hits the QA phase, they never do. You can't realistically develop an application for one OS and expect it to work perfectly on a "compatible" OS.

    When developing vertical applications like this, it's most wise to develop for the actual physical installation that it's going to end up running on. Not just the *version, the actual functioning OS image that will ultimately be used.

    There's a term for what this is gonna end up being. The first part is cluster and the last part rhymes with truck.

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