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Red Hat Software Businesses Linux Business

Airbus 380 To Have Linux In Every Seat 332

Posted by kdawson
from the no-access-to-the-tubes-though dept.
jpatokal writes "Singapore Airlines will be rolling out the A380 superjumbo on October 26th, and a surprise awaits in the seat of every passenger: their personal Linux PC, running Red Hat. In addition to running the in-flight entertainment, passengers can also use a full copy of StarOffice, and there's a USB slot for importing/exporting documents or plugging in your own keyboard/mouse. Screen size is 10.6" (1280x768) in economy, 15.4" in business and a whopping 23" in first class (along with free noise-canceling headphones). The system is already available on current B777-300ER planes and will also be outfitted on the upcoming B787 Dreamliners."
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Airbus 380 To Have Linux In Every Seat

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:51PM (#20365523)
    It's not a full machine, but if you've flown Delta and used their in-flight entertainment machines (the trivia is great), they're using Redhat. I know this because I watched it crash and a subsequent reboot which was grub...

    the kernel was a 2.4 version as I recall...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:02PM (#20365657)
      I've flown Delta on a 757 and seen Linux reboot, too (I think we lost power while waiting for an open runway slot to take off from). But the system in the summary sounds much different; the Delta system didn't have StarOffice, it just had TV, movies, moving maps, etc. Basically read-only, except for paying for the in-flight movies.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:45PM (#20366035)
      Enjoy a few [flickr.com] pics [flickr.com] here [livejournal.com]. Incidentally "Song airlines" were the first ones Delta put these on. Song went out of business (there's a Frontline episode [pbs.org] you can watch about it) and the Song planes were turned back into Delta planes. Now all the Delta planes are scheduled to have the inflight video stuff too.
      • I love this comment [flickr.com]:

        After we landed in Orlando I talked the flight crew into rebooting the entire system so I could take this picture.

        Despite the hostile shake rattle and roll environment, you know they mostly reboot when they want to not at random. Notice how it was not a big deal for them to oblige the picture taker? They knew all of them would come back up.

    • by choas (102419) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @07:22PM (#20366277)
      I just returned to the Netherlands this morning, flew from Las Vegas.

      Delta indeed uses red-hat linux on their 'seat in front of you consoles'

      Also loading some modules which taint the kernel (according to the message I saw)
      I think it had to do with AAC.

      Nothing against Linux on planes, BUT please, have someone on-board to service the
      system or let it be serviced from the ground. As our flight from Las Vegas to New York
      only showed red hat reboots continually during the flight, all the time. seemed like
      Linux did boot with some ramdisk checksum errors, but it booted, but when the X layer
      came on this triggered another reboot.

      I'm a unix guy all the way, and they told me I could not have access to the plane's
      media 'mainframe' or I would have had a look to see what was wrong. All I saw was that
      the whole right side economy side of the plane was left with a rebooting red-hat distribution
      showing a cute penguin in its left corner...

      The whole time... 5 hours long...

      This was NOT a good commercial. I wish it had been.

      The whole system worked perfectly when I was flying to San Francisco two weeks ago!
      • by jez9999 (618189) on Monday August 27, 2007 @04:56AM (#20369247) Homepage Journal
        I'm a unix guy all the way, and they told me I could not have access to the plane's
        media 'mainframe' or I would have had a look to see what was wrong.


        Wow, they sound like idiots. What airline wouldn't want a random passenger given root access to their systems?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by drix (4602)

        I'm a unix guy all the way, and they told me I could not have access to the plane's
        media 'mainframe' or I would have had a look to see what was wrong.
        I am shocked--shocked--that in this day and age a bunch of non-technical people would be hesitant about letting you jack in to the "mainframe" of a fly-by-wire aircraft at 30,000 feet.

        Igniting your shoes is so 2002.
    • by jon_anderson_ca (705052) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @07:55PM (#20366493)
      Yeah, right... when penguins fly!
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:15AM (#20368393) Homepage Journal
      You must be new here. You do _not_ talk about Linux crashing on Slashdot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jc42 (318812)
        You do _not_ talk about Linux crashing on Slashdot.

        Heh. One question that came to mind immediately was: Did those people actually see linux crash, or did they see linux rebooting. These are two very different things, of course, but I've found that even experienced users can be rather sloppy about such insignificant details.

        I'm sure that most people who've taken commercial flights have noticed things like the cabin lights all flickering at times, especially during takeoff. No big deal for lights, but thi
  • what a great way to spy on naive commuters
    • Yeah. Those terrorists need to make sure they know what they are doing...

      clcikety click www.google.com "How to hijack a planes" bombs "box cutters"
  • by JRGhaddar (448765) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:52PM (#20365545)
    Penguins CAN fly!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Penguins CAN fly!
      You could get a whale to fly if you attached four 76,000-lbf Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines to it.
  • FWIW (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <`banantarr' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:54PM (#20365565) Homepage
    I don't know how they are setting up their installations but I would _highly_ recommend they use unattended installation images and re-image the installation EVERY day. Seems only logical to me. Neh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nukem996 (624036)
      In this case it would be best to use Thin clients. It would cut down the cost of having a powerful CPU and there would be no need for a hard disk. Power would also be conserved(which is important considering you are on battery on a plane). To top it all of no matter how much someone screws with their machine on a reboot everything is restored.
      • by Strider- (39683)
        FYI, you're never on battery on a plane. While power supplies are limited, it's generated by the engines, either directly or by bleed air. (I can't remember which). Also, all modern aircraft have an air startable APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) on board that can be used to power the hydraulics and onboard electrics when the aircraft is on the ground, or should the main engines fail during flight.
  • by S.Gleissner (536865) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:56PM (#20365595) Homepage
    Last year in february, i flew from Frankfurt, Germany to Johannesburg, South Africa with a brand new South African Airlines A340-400 Airbus. Just after boarding, the cabin crew resetted the In-Flight-Entertainment-System and several hundred screens in the seats showed a typical Linux booting screen with a small penguin in the upper left corner. They did not use a spash screen and it was possible to take a quick look at the booting messages... by the way, they made a network boot.
  • Security? (Score:5, Informative)

    by eli pabst (948845) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:57PM (#20365601)
    Hope they secure these well. With all the business travelers it would be a great place to drop a rootkit. From the article it sounds like each seat actually has a thin client, which would in effect reinstall the OS after each user/flight which is good from a security standpoint. But with access to a keyboard and USB hub, it still sounds a bit more vulnerable to abuse than a standard kiosk.
    • by timmarhy (659436)
      the system will be booting off ROM into RAM, so at best you could hack yourself till it got reset. it's about as secure as i can imagine.... besides is it really more of an issue then any other flight system out there now?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eli pabst (948845)
        You don't have a very good imagination then. Adding a keyboard and USB significantly increases the risk, look at the TJ Max breach, they got access using a USB port on a kiosk (shouldn't have been on a trusted network but that's another issue). While I think the thin-client idea significantly helps, you could easily load a recent exploit via the USB drive then sniff traffic or perform other nastiness like ARP poisoning/MITM and grab usernames/passwords/CC info of those on the flight.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      I assumed it's as usual in many public environments, with something like just a flat panel and some custom panel with buttons. :-)

      And not many places to connect USB devices, keyboards, and stuff?
  • Well, no wonder. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twitter (104583) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @05:58PM (#20365605) Homepage Journal

    Airlines are not going to put an OS synonymous with "crash" in front of passengers. Everything, right down to the lighting has to work well to keep the appearance of order. Anything else makes the passengers nervous and looking for another airline.

    • by tftp (111690)
      Linux is the most suitable OS for that, since all you need to do is to reset the box, and everything is back to factory defaults. Even ThinkNIC (which I happen to have) used to do that, though it had a small (32 MB) persistent storage for bookmarks and such. You could also use a truly embedded kiosk system, but it wouldn't have many apps already written for it.
      • by mikesd81 (518581)
        Well if the embedded device just pulls the apps from a server, what needs to be written for it?
    • by cnettel (836611)
      KLM on-demand in-flight entertainment was great in one direction, fast forward, pause, anything.

      Not so nice on the way back, about 1/3 of the seats had some kind of filesystem cross linking, the introduction menu was a piece of Shrek 2, any other movie would play the wrong one and then break. They tried to fix it by rebooting (making us all see that it was indeed that penguin-kernel running it), but it didn't work. This was back in 2005, but as others have already pointed out, it takes far more than just a

    • by yelvington (8169)
      I've been on a lot of painfully long international flights this year -- Paris, Prague, Tokyo, Seoul, Istanbul, etc. From Frankfurt to Atlanta I had a shiny-new Boeing 767 (it still had that "new plane" smell) running Linux on its entertainment system. From Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo I had an older 767 running Windows CE on its system.

      On other long flights, I couldn't tell. I mean, the reality is that the custom UI is what the user experiences. Typically these things "crash" only when the power is abruptly yanked
      • by mauriatm (531406)

        When I flew international in 2004, every movie was on a "channel" and everyone watching that movie would be doing so at the same time. However in early 2006, I too saw Linux in flight. Now the movies were ondemand with fast forward, pause, etc. But like most people I saw the system reboot WAY too much, one 2.5hr long movie crashed at least 4 times in between. Thank goodness for fast-forward. But I agree the GUI is really what makes the difference not necessarily the operating system.

        The systems all work pr

    • by dedazo (737510)
      Well, following your logic, now they have an OS synonymous with "difficult" in front of passengers.

      Of course neither of the adjectives is valid, as you probably well know.

      • by Bloater (12932)
        Most of them will have never used or heard of Linux, that means it doesn't carry any meaning for them and is thus not synonymous with anything.
    • No, it won't "crash". It will "deboot".
    • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:38PM (#20365985) Homepage
      The 1990s called and would like their Win95/98/ME FUD back. Most people have an extremely short-term memory (see: elections) and in recent years with XP it's been mostly stable. It will go months between every time I have an involuntary shutdown (but sometimes it seems to build up cruft so a reboot is necessary - a scheduled one is still a lot different from a BSOD). Unless you're talking to someone that got a machine infected by viruses and shit, people actually won't curse like they once did. It works well enough that Windows crashes are actually on the noise level of power outages and application crashes, yes they're annoying but you're not buying an UPS for it, nor are you switching to Linux. And please don't compare Linux server uptimes with Windows desktop uptimes, Windows uptimes improve a lot on server class hardware too. In short, they're both stable enough for desktop use, so figure out what Linux does better instead of using antiquated and mostly irrelevant rethoric.
      • Re:Well, no wonder. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dbIII (701233) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:23AM (#20368605)
        Yes, but the above poster forgets that many of the linux advocates here are also responsible for quite a few Microsoft systems too and know from a lot of personal experience why you need backup domain controllers, rebooting machines at short intervals (eg. every week) due to memory leaks and the need to keep different services on different machines despite low resource usage - plus all the desktop hassles. They also forget that these long uptimes on other sytems are often on low end desktop hardware that has been retired from destop use and used as print servers or various other task - so the server class hardware argument does not carry.

        There's too big a difference between stability over a eight hour period on a single user system that gets shut down nightly and other machines - hence the 2003 version and even 2000 version instead of XP.

        Long uptimes have a suprising downside - I always forget how long it takes Solaris to boot and get nervous staring at a blank screen for a long time every time I start it - once every year (we don't need it over Christmas so it goes down for a week). An uptime of a year is no major accomplisment for any decent operating system. That is what people in the last decade or two mean by computer stability - and Microsoft software despite all it's advantages and improvements is just not playing in that game at all. They got to where they are by being cheap enough and just good enough. It gave us what is really the Microsoft PC instead of the IBM PC, which makes me grateful that I can effectively put a relatively inexpensive more powerful version of games machines into a rack to make up a processing cluster instead of something expensive from Sun or IBM.

  • by Grond (15515) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:02PM (#20365649) Homepage
    TFA [singaporeair.com] says that the systems run Microsoft Office, not StarOffice. Unfortunately, their video doesn't show any office software, so it's hard to tell. Maybe someone will hack up a version of portable OpenOffice capable of running on the systems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jours (663228)
      > TFA says that the systems run Microsoft Office, not StarOffice

      Yeah, the two articles don't agree on that. But the system is based on the Panasonic eX2 [panasonic.aero] which is Linux by all accounts. And simple math (500+ seats times $299 per office license) tells you a single plane would have an IT cost roughly equivalent to that of a mid-sized company.

      I think the smart money's on StarOffice here...
    • by Bloater (12932)
      Perhaps they use "Microsoft Office software" as a descriptive term for software that processes Microsoft Office files.
  • finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 26, 2007 @06:15PM (#20365775)
    nerds can join their own version of the mile high club!

  •     Surely, someone will r00t the terminal, take over the plane's guidance systems, and from there, the entire air traffic network!!!
    • This is one thing I liked about Die Hard 4 (besides Bruce Willis killing a heli with a car) --- the fact that they actually acknowledge that not all computers in the universe are connected to the public internet. I like how they had to physically break into the power station to hack the computers controlling the grid.
  • Lord, I don't know which would be the worse nightmare - being behind the guys taking full size keyboards and though a TSA checkpoint on a bad day, or sitting beside them when they try to use the full size with number pad keyboard on typical tray table.
  • StarOffice ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nsebban (513339)
    Despite what is said above, the Singapore Airlines website doesn't mention StarOffice, but MSOffice [singaporeair.com]. Using Wine maybe ?
  • A bootup shot. (Score:3, Informative)

    by antdude (79039) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @08:05PM (#20366561) Homepage Journal
    see here [flickr.com] (not sure if this is fake).
  • Gutenberg (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @08:06PM (#20366563) Journal
    If they are going to include terabytes of movies, they would do well to include gutenberg for those who like to read. Perhaps even offering a web server on board so that the book can be downloaded to the personal PC. Finally, they might want to approach one of the major e-book sellers and get them to port to Linux. This way they have nearly everything covered at a cheap price.
  • by zaunuz (624853) on Sunday August 26, 2007 @09:18PM (#20366993)
    ...you've surfed pr0n at 20.000ft
  • by WereRaven (461445) on Monday August 27, 2007 @12:58AM (#20368321) Homepage
    If I Wine do I get a Windows seat?
  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Monday August 27, 2007 @06:30AM (#20369671) Homepage

    I am a little worried that this is a result of Singapore Airlines management knowing something that the rest of us don't - namely, that it won't be long before laptops are banned from the passenger cabin for "security" reasons.

    SQ is already the preferred airline for most business travelers who fly their routes. After this, they'll be able to lock up the rest, providing at least a usable means for productivity to business travelers who would otherwise have to sit on their hands the entire flight.

  • by FauxReal (653820) on Monday August 27, 2007 @07:08AM (#20369843) Homepage
    ...off a USB stick? Cause that would be awesome. And if I could bring my own mp3s and movies too... oh boy!

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