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What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux? 322

Posted by timothy
from the upside-down-mig-while-communicating dept.
colinneagle writes "Bryan Lunduke recently pulled together a collection of the weirdest places he's found Linux, from installations in North Korea and the International Space Station to a super-computer made out of Legos and computer engineer Barbie. Seen any weird places for Linux not mentioned in this list?"
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What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux?

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  • Pizza place (Score:4, Interesting)

    by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @01:40PM (#46219254)

    Like many others, I had several shitty jobs during college. One of those jobs was delivering pizzas for Papa John's. Running in the office of our store was a desktop computer with some really locked-down Linux on it that was limited to running some awful console program and a PDF viewer.

    • by bobbied (2522392)
      Same deal at Pizza Hut... I had a job with them porting from SCO Unix to Linux. Until they started a hugely expensive attempt to move over to windows NT. I'll bet that stuff is STILL in the stores (not the windows mess, I think they scrapped that after I left. )
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Be happy it wasn't some AS/400 garbage...

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          Oh? Actually, I seem to recall that the back of house system contacted such a system via modem every evening to upload the day's numbers and supply orders.... So, I didn't touch it directly, but we had them..

      • I had a job with them porting from SCO Unix to Linux.

        I hoped they paid their $600 per workstation licensing fees!

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          Oh you know it...At least they where buying SCO at the time. Say, maybe that was why SCO took a dump, Pizza Hut changed OS...

          Come to think of it, maybe that was why they where porting to NT. Last I heard they had 5 Million in development costs on just back of house, but that was over a decade ago. Even so, I still see the old system in use at the less than modern Pizza Hut's.

        • by Nimey (114278)

          That was $699. ...you cock-smoking teabagger.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @01:40PM (#46219262)

    At the Toronto Linux Users Group I heard a story about how the parking meters used to crash because some setting would randomly kill processes when Linux was running low on memory.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      I've seen Ubuntu Linux running on the new Wizard of Oz [jerseyjackpinball.com] pinball machine from Jersey Jack.

      I've pulled up the command prompt on it, and has been kinda fun hacking the machine with new sounds, music and videos.

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:48PM (#46220953)

      At the Toronto Linux Users Group I heard a story about how the parking meters used to crash because some setting would randomly kill processes when Linux was running low on memory.

      That's probably the Out of Memory handler in Linux. It's not exactly random, the OOM handler ranks processes by "badness" [kernel.org] and prefers to kill off newer processes that are using a lot of memory before going to older, long running processes.

      There's a sysctl.conf setting that will tell the kernel to panic and reboot in an OOM condition instead of trying to kill off enough processes to continue running, which is probably would be better for an unattended parking meter.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It must be in some embedded system, there, somewhere.

    • by cusco (717999)

      Most of the IP security cameras on the market run a Linux kernel, so yeah.

  • The strangest place? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe U (443617) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @01:41PM (#46219286) Homepage Journal

    I once saw Linux on some average users desktop. Total non-techie, and there he was using Ubuntu.

    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @01:58PM (#46219462)
      I call bullshit.
      • by JMJimmy (2036122)

        I can verify. My brother-in-law loves it and he's about as tech-savvy as my grandmother.

        • Awesomest grandmother ever?
    • by SpzToid (869795)

      Somehow, somewhere, they must have had 'connections' so they were not really what you claim to be as a 'normal user'. There is no marketing campaign, because no budget exists to market free software, so how else would you explain your sighting? No way was this some random oddity.

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Yup, same here, but it was a Fine Arts/Photo student's laptop, running Ubuntu 12.04

    • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:53PM (#46221037) Homepage

      I didn't think it was really strange, but a while back I saw some desktop computers running Firefox on Ubuntu in a coffee shop. This was the old GNOME 2 desktop, so it worked almost exactly like Windows, and the customers in the coffee shop just used the computers and it wasn't any big deal.

      I have set up multiple family members, including both of my parents, with Linux computers. I seem to be the guy who gets called when a computer melts down with malware, so I'm motivated to get people off of Windows and onto something else.

      These days my go-to distro is Linux Mint with MATE. I might switch back to Ubuntu once MATEbuntu is available... on the other hand, I have hopes for Cinnamon, so maybe in the future I'll be using Linux Mint with Cinnamon.

      But for non-geek users, I definitely don't want a poor rip-off of Mac OS X (i.e. Unity) and I definitely don't want the desktop that is just different from anything else ever made (GNOME Shell).

      The MATE desktop has the smooth polish of man person-years of work and the input of usability studies [lwn.net], and it's IMHO the best choice for non-geek users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @01:42PM (#46219292)

    "This year is going to be it."

  • Delta infotainment (Score:2, Informative)

    by bhenson (1231744)
    In deltas infotainment head rest. Saw it netbooting when it powered up
    • United uses it too.
      • Geek moment - on a recent United flight, I remember trying to read the device driver names as it rebooted right before takeoff.

        The system kind of sucked. It was X, meaning it kind of was designed with a mouse with a single pixel "Hotspot" in mind. My not very sausage-y fingers and my wife's even-less-sausage-y fingers had a hard time navigating the touchscreen.

        Luckily enough, for what this is used for, start a crappy movie and sit for 2 hours, it didn't frustrate us that much.

    • by twotacocombo (1529393) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @02:55PM (#46220073)
      Got to watch the headrest units do an infinite reboot loop from DC to Dublin on a United flight last year. Every single one on the plane was doing it, for 7 hours straight.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      In deltas infotainment head rest. Saw it netbooting when it powered up

      Not uncommon, Singapore Airlines uses Gentoo. When you think about it, it makes sense as an airline IFE system would need a robust multicast system.

      Up until a few years ago I would have said a phone. Linux is so common on embedded systems these days that its hard to find an odd place for it. I guess an advertising platform, I once saw a 7x1 metre advertising screen reboot with the CentOS logo.

      The strangest OS in a place I didn't expect I've seen in recent years is DOS on an new industrial lathe. Appar

  • Not that weird, just that it was a large insurance company that was previously
    100% a M$ house.

    With them having 18,000 offices across the US that one is going to save them a
    fair bit on licenses I am guessing, lol.

  • Coffee Machine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Just the other day the coffee machine in my office rebooted, and it is running Linux under the hood. One of these http://www.cafection.com/en/products/innovation-series/total-1.

  • I was on an Aer Lingus flight once between New York and Dublin. There were some issues with the inflight entertainment system so they needed to shut the system down and restart it.

    A Red Hat Linux boot sequence appeared on the screen.

    • Same here! Except, somehow only _I_ locked up the in-flight entertainment machine trying to search for other people to play poker with and failsafe timer eventually rebooted the thing (just mine, not the whole plane).

    • Ditto Air Canada's in-flight entertainment system. Not sure what flavour, but it definitely runs Linux.
  • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @01:58PM (#46219454)
    I was on an airliner once that had movies running to screens built into the back of each seat. I wasn't watching the movie, but at some point the host announced there was an issue with the movie playback and that they had to restart the system. A minute later I was looking at the Linux boot process scrolling across every screen on the plane.
  • Also a pizza place (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brokenin2 (103006) * on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @02:03PM (#46219502) Homepage

    I was at a Chuckecheese with the kids for one of their friends birthday parties when one of the machines freaked out...

    It was a photobooth that took your picture, and then made a sketch like version of your picture and printed it out for you..

    When the employee came to reset it, I got to see either Redhat or Cent boot up.. Somewhere I've got a picture..

    • by Idou (572394)
      You've got a picture of a photobooth? Do you have a picture collection of photographers, as well? Perhaps it sits on your coffee table, next to a camera catalog.

      Sorry, I must get more sleep tonight . . .
  • by r1348 (2567295) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @02:06PM (#46219531)

    Went with my wife to see Much Ado About Nothing, noticed that the theatre's booking/ticketing system ran on an old version of Fedora with Gnome 2. Might be because the theatre is just next to Milan's Polytechnic...

  • The command and control system embedded in US Army vehicles runs Linux. It is called FBCB2, or Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below.
  • This looks like it should be in ask.slashdot, not here...

  • Years ago I was returning to Ottawa from a business trip to the UK I was seated behind one of the Xen project members (from Cambridge or Oxford?) who was on his way to present about Xen at a conference.

    I know this because he spent a significant portion of the flight editing his slides in OpenOffice under Linux, that turned into one of my most educational flights ever.

  • I know a total nontechie who wanted to show me something on her laptop. I walked over expecting to see Finder of Explorer, and was surprised to find myself looking at Unity. I'm sure some "rocket scientist" installed that for her, but for day-to-day use, it's very clear that the people who say Linux isn't "ready" don't know WTF they're talking about. Icons and menus and windows, are icons and menus and windows.
    • by Teun (17872)
      Absolutely, Linux is since years quite ready for the desktop.

      Unity might be a bit of a FU for people that want control of their desktop but otherwise it 'just works', personally I wouldn't do without KDE..

      Last year while leaving Jakarta, Indonesia, I noticed a small screen on the front of the immigration officer's boot that showed a stuck Grub screen, on the adjacent boots this screen displayed some security information for people leaving the country.

      When my boss travels he has a USB thumb drive with Gru

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Before I escaped I saw they were running CentOS.

  • At Home Depot looking around at paint samples, the Behr color picker Kiosk was on an Ubuntu splash screen.
    • Actually, I think all Home Depot computers run Linux too. Or at least they're running not-Windows as far as I can tell.
  • I would consider it weird to see MS Windows or even more weird would be OSX in those places.

    • I very much agree. Linux can be incredibly lightwieght and flexible. More often than not I'm looking at something and wondering why they need all the heft and complexity of Windows to do such an ostensibly simple task. Like those looping electronic display systems. Why do you need Windows for that? There might be a very good reason, but I don't know it.

      I mean, I know what goes into those systems (the ability to have it automatically pull down media from a remote source, or to be able to push media to it; a

  • Usenet is nice. I can recomment comp.misc, a nice, active group with some activity there :-) (For Slashdot and Soylentnews I'm actually only guessing. An nmap probe reveals an F5 load balancer for slashdot and a probably a Linux-Box for soylentnews.org.) BTW: I hope slashdot will keep it's classic forum software, would like to remain a regular here :-)
  • There's a small convenience store in the middle of Adirondack Park, by Canada Lake, NY, with a tiny coffee bar in a separate room. As recent as 1.5 years ago, the PC (there for residents/campers who don't have net access) was running gOS (here [wikipedia.org] for more info). Was kind of clunky, but it was also a very very old PC (like, 256MB of RAM old).

    There were a couple of things obviously wrong with it and I asked if they wanted me to fix it up, but they said no, some guy came by every month or two and did stuff to i
  • I would happen to be waiting for the Subway one day when I noticed that the platform level information display was stuck in an infinite reboot loop (looked like a hardware failure)...

    But I was pleased to see the DEBIAN splash screen on the display!! ^_^

  • by cripkd (709136)
    iPod Nano 1st gen. Mine.
  • A very early linux...on a floppy disk

    • Hell, until recently you could get Debian netstall images on diskette. First diskette contained the kernel and everything needed to bootstrap the system, if I remember correctly, and the other three contained the installer, dpkg/apt, modules for network hardware, sources lists, and I think a few base packages for installation.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @02:43PM (#46219947) Homepage

    I was stationed at a small base just outside roswell and we were dispatched to investigate an aircraft crash site. when we arrived these little grey guys were running all over the place waiving their arms about, when I looked inside the strange sausage shaped craft there was a computer teriminal running that I had no idea what it was until 1992 when I first saw linux.

    Those little guys were running linux. I think they were put in a government protection program and one of them was shipped off to Finland.

  • at least the one at my fitness center run some linux, and they do tv, radio, internet, have an ipod dock and stuff like that

  • that sells certain types of paddles.

    Canoe paddles.

    What?

  • Never really thought about it, but we hooked up a small linux system for GPS-tracking the Olympic torch at the Youth Olympics. Of course, youth olympics are not really a big or important event, but it is 'official' olympic fire from Olympia.

    The thing with Linux systems is that unless something really weird is happening, you would never know you are looking at one. I suspect there is much more linux around us than we realize.

  • Sanborns, Plaza America, Xalapa, Mexico has a "Linux Terminal" at the magazines section. It has a Sun keyboard with a Spanish layout :-).
  • I walked into Tim Hortons for a double-double. They use big LCD screens for menus and video advertising in stores. Their screens were black and showing pxelinux trying to load. I guess they boot their menu server off the network, probably from corporate HQ.

    Also, Mr. Lube (a drive-through oil change place) was using Ubuntu on their workstations - an early version with the nasty brown window titlebars. Their inventory/sales app was running in Gnome Terminal. Who knows what the backend was, linux was probably

  • Provinzial (a german insurance company) has all their desktops with their custom software running under Ubuntu.
  • that so many people recognize Linux in so many 'add' places becasue it ad crashed or needed a reboot?

    I find it pretty funny observation, NOT a derision toward Linux.

    • You'd be surprised. Most of the time when I see Linux splashes it's during "ordinary" use. For example, the infotainment systems in Delta flights are completely powered down until the on-board power systems come online. And Minnesota State Lottery terminals are pre-programmed to do a reboot every 24 hours.
  • I remember someone saying they saw a laptop on Power Rangers (fairly recent season, like in the past 5 years, can't find reference now) running Ubuntu.

  • I saw they were using Ubuntu, the last time I went there to get my oil changed.
  • At 30000 feet on a united 767 on the entertainment system. It had to be rebooted so i could tell it was red hat and a lot more info too

  • ...was on the desktop one time. Ca-raaaazy, man!
  • by photonic (584757) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:11PM (#46221255)
    Last year, I visited the Palazzo Valentini [palazzovalentini.it] in Rome, which is just a few steps away from Piazza Venezia [wikipedia.org] and within falling distance of Trajan's column [wikipedia.org]. They dug up some Roman remains of houses and temples in the basement of a more modern building. They did quite some effort to make it into a multimedia show, with beamers projecting accurately aligned overlays of all kind of things that had disappeared. One cool effect was for example to extend a mosaic, of which only a small piece was left, over an entire room. I was observing how the tour-guide started the shows, he was just launching a VLC player or so on a linux box sitting in a rack in the corner. From the looks of the icons, it was probably an older version of Ubuntu (8.04 or 10.04).
  • Insert normal whine about downmodding here, but it's gotta be running SOMETHING right?

    I mean if we had union of all "what's the weirdest place you've seen {MacOSX,Windows,WindowsCE,Linux,FreeDOS,OS/2} you'd get a good chunk of all the odd devices. Though in the future, they all might run Android, then we'll debate if that's Linux (Linux kernel, non-stock everything else)

  • Saw a Linux boot screen on one of the Toy Story Midway Mania displays.
  • The Seagate Central external HD seems to run linux. Its running sshd, lighttpd, smbd, along with several other common services. Its only got 256mb ram 1gb swap so you can't do a whole lot with it at once but it still makes a pretty neat little linux box. Was an unexpected bonus being able to ssh to root on my external drive. It only costs like $15 more than a plain external usb drive.
  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:20PM (#46221411) Homepage

    But I bet that some places that do run Linux would be really weird for Windows.

  • Really not that weird, but the coffee machines where I work all run Linux 2.6.something.

  • by stevew (4845) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:26PM (#46221481) Journal

    I have a Fedora login prompt on channel 1000 (The Comcast test channel) on my home TV.

    The problem is - I can't find the keyboard anywhere near by to try and log in!?!

  • Antarctica.

    Whose bright idea was that anyways, breeding a bunch of linux moscots and shipping them over there?

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