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US Military Drones Migrating To Linux 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the arming-the-penguin dept.
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Raytheon is switching its UAV control system from Solaris to Linux for U.S. military drones, starting with a Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter. Earlier this month Raytheon entered into a $15.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy to upgrade Raytheon's control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a recent Avionics Intelligence report. The overhaul is designed to implement more modern controls to help ground-based personnel control UAVs. Raytheon's tuxified version of its Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Air Vehicle Tactical Control System (TCS) will also implement universal UAV control qualities. As a result the TCS can be used in in all U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps UAVs that weigh at least 20 pounds. By providing an open standard, the common Linux-based platform is expected to reduce costs by limiting the types of UAV control systems that need to be built and maintained for each craft."
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US Military Drones Migrating To Linux

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:45PM (#46933507)

    NO CARRIER

  • by cleveralias (1823186) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:46PM (#46933521)
    free to use unless you intend to kill people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      Why is killing people with closed source software morally superior?

      • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:10PM (#46933833) Homepage

        Obama wanted to be able to claim his drones help spread freedom.

      • Why is killing people with closed source software morally superior?

        Because, if you're a software engineer working on the Linux Kernel you can do so knowing that your work wont be used to kill people.

        (ok, they could just ignore the license... but you get my point)

        • By the same logic, people working in knife factories should quit en masse.
          • I was explaining the afore mentioned posts reasoning. Not agreeing with it.

          • If knife developers had the option of adding a license clause forbidding the use of their knives in muggings, perhaps they would.
        • by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @06:06PM (#46934909) Journal

          if you're a software engineer working on the Linux Kernel you can do so knowing that your work wont be used to kill people.

          I guess if they switched from Linux to OpenBSD, it would make EVERYBODY happier:

          "software which OpenBSD uses and redistributes must be free to all (be they people or companies), for any purpose they wish to use it, including modification, use, peeing on, or even integration into baby mulching machines or atomic bombs to be dropped on Australia." - cvs@openbsd.org mailing list, May 29, 2001

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The freedom to run the program, for any purpose, shall not be infringed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even the GPL covers this. You can argue that a shell shot by the drone is like a linked library to the drone. Therefore the victim has to see the GPL before being killed.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Even the GPL covers this. You can argue that a shell shot by the drone is like a linked library to the drone. Therefore the victim has to see the GPL before being killed.

        People so frequently misunderstand the GPL. There is no obligation to provide source unless someone has the binary, and the publisher can wait until they ask. So to be GPL compliant the publisher only has to provide source to strike survivors if and when they ask. The publisher is also free to choose their own delivery mechanism so long as it is something commonly used, given the precedent of the first shell a second shell containing source would be compliant.

    • I vaguely remember that Kermit had a prohibition on military use back in the 1980s; maybe longer. That seems to have gone away. No sure if it's because Kermit is no longer controlled by Columbia University.

      Cheers,
      Dave

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      free to use unless you intend to kill people.

      Would violate clause six of the Open Source Definition [opensource.org] (and the Debian Free Software Guidelines): No discrimination against fields of endeavor.

    • by DRJlaw (946416)

      free to use unless you intend to kill people.

      So you're willing to throw out "free as in speech" the moment that the person using the software uses it in a way that you don't like, or just isn't somebody that you like.

      Good luck with that. Everyone has activities that they don't like and people that they don't like. Those dislikes might even, *gasp*, be directed at you.

      Double good luck with that given that Linux is about as likely to change its license as you are to recognize the hypocrisy of a "public lice

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Freedom means letting people do things you don't want them to do. I mean that's practically the definition.

      • Freedom means letting people do things you don't want them to do.

        That's idiotic. Free people aren't free to torture and kill anyone they like, no matter how much they want to. Freedom has natural boundaries, and doesn't include murder for a start.

        • by DRJlaw (946416)

          That's idiotic. Free people aren't free to torture and kill anyone they like, no matter how much they want to. Freedom has natural boundaries, and doesn't include murder for a start.

          That's idiotic. Free people aren't free to criticize anyone they like, no matter how much they want to. Freedom has natural boundaries, and doesn't include interfering with their "elected president" for a start.

          "Natural boundaries...." an almost infinitely malleable concept useful for turning "freedom" into an arbitrary means of

  • To see the mascot!

  • When can we expect the hellfire driver to make its way in-tree?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    n/t

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai.gmail@com> on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:52PM (#46933619) Homepage
    Red Hat Military Edition? Killbuntu? Debian For Drones?
  • Imagine what Slashdot in 1999 would have made of the headline "US Military Drones Migrating To Linux".

    • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:02PM (#46933735)

      It's been my experience that drones usually migrate to Microsoft products.

    • Imagine no more:
      "Yes, but does it run linux?"
      "I, for one, welcome our Linux Powered Drone Over(head)lords!"
      "Linux powered drones pour Hot Grits on Natalie Portman from the Sky!"
    • Darl McBride would be demanding $699 for every drone flight.

      Which makes me wonder . . . Gates and Ballmer financed the attempt to kill Linux . . . and now drones have Linux . . . now if Linux gets advanced AI technology . . . will it be aware that Gates and Ballmer tried to kill it . . . and will the Linux drones adjust their flight plans and targets accordingly . . . ?

      Sounds like an excellent trashy movie . . . "Colossus: The Forbin Project Redux"

      • by stoploss (2842505)

        Given the fact that SCO v IBM apparently refuses to die (still going as of 2013), perhaps the US military should consider deploying SCO's legal team to areas in need of interdiction.

  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:02PM (#46933737) Homepage Journal
    The killer app for linux has been finally released. This will be the year of the linux desktop, or at least the one when it will take off.
    • by bobbied (2522392)

      Well, let's hope it doesn't crash and burn on launch...

      Come to think of it.. Gives a whole new meaning to "Open Office" and "Blow the Doors off" of things.

    • Killer app... Awesome, now we can all feel better about being spied on, and/or killed because the drone doing it is running open source software. I know I feel better already. :)
      What a time we live in.
    • There are and were many benefits to running military applications on Sparc, RS6000, and PA style chips. Primarily that if your enemy gets the code they can't do shit with it. Not just that, but the chips tended to be higher quality and better shielded from influence. Not that our politicians seem to care any more mind you, but many military people still do.

      So now we have Drone code running on cheap commodity chips and an OS that bad guys run too. It may save a few dollars (studies indicate very few mind

  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:08PM (#46933811)
    As far as I can tell from reading the report, Linux is not installed on the drones themselves, but is running under the operations control suite. They would be absolutely insane not to be running an RTOS on the avionics of the drones. I do research on drones (no, not the $100 quadcopters you can buy from Toys R' Us) and autopilots, and wouldn't let Linux anywhere near the avionics.
    • Ditto in automotive.

      Life critical functions (E.G. ABS braking) don't even get an RTOS. There's one program running on a micro. You don't recurse. You don't loop (except for the while true at the outer). All state is static global variables.

      • Or, you could just use something like an application processor with properly timed peripheral MCUs. BeagleBone Black is already doing that in the hobbyist-on-the-budget area. I don't think anyone has ever suggested that Linux should be in control of the active PID loops.
        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Thats what he just said, but you don't know enough about it to understand that.

          The primary functions are autonomous self contained units that can function on their own and get its general commands from another system. Cut them off from the central controller (your beagle bone black) and they (ABS, ECU, ect) still function as needed.

          • Thats what he just said, but you don't know enough about it to understand that.

            Oh, really?

            The primary functions are autonomous self contained units that can function on their own and get its general commands from another system. Cut them off from the central controller (your beagle bone black) and they (ABS, ECU, ect) still function as needed.

            I don't need you to teach me what I've already known from my EE courses on control theory and control electronics fifteen years ago.

            • I don't need people telling me to suggest to a car manufacturer that they should include a "beagle board" in an automotive control system.

              • First, I was referring specifically to the small drone business, not to any automotive application (or, in English: that was aimed at the grandparent, not you). Second, what I wanted to illustrate by the reference to BB Black was that the notion of reducing the pressure for having hard-RTOSes by providing extra hardware instead is already so widespread that SoCs combining application processors with RT controllers are already being dumped onto people on the cheap by millions even in the consumer hobbyist ar
      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:54PM (#46934241)

        Funny! While growing up my father was in charge of a team of guys that designed and built GMs first electronic speed sensor. Well, I'm not sure if it was their first but it was the first one to go into wide production and was also not-mechanical. He was working so much I ended up in the lab with him a lot. Watching those guys solve those problems is one of my most vivid memories from childhood. They had to babysit me while I played with all their test equipment and answer my silly questions about their project. Later my dad told me that was good for them. If they couldn't explain it to me, they wouldn't be able to explain it to GMs executives. lol

    • For the on-board avionics, amateurs will run embedded controllers, -maybe- running Linux with some kind of kernel preemption. Pro's like what I used to be will use VxWorks or another one I can't currently remember that starts with a "U". This article is talking about the ground station software. Solaris was the OS of choice until Sun made the hardware impossible to procure and the software impossible to support.

      I remember working with one of the prime vendors of ground control software to use their softw

  • I heard the total cost of ownership for Linux system is shit.
  • I'm still waiting for it to be on their orbiting brain lasers [youtube.com].
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:07PM (#46934357) Journal
    killall -9 "myenemies"
  • I would have guessed FreeBSD, as the logo might be more appropriate.
  • by Dega704 (1454673) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:27PM (#46934535)
    Yes, Linux is still a long way away from becoming prominent in that one particular area, but it certainly isn't having any trouble taking over everything else in the meantime. Every OS vendor is looking out their window and finding themselves surrounded by penguins.
  • Maybe hackers can program it so that any coordinates given to it, cause it to fly to Seatle.

  • ...like that time I met a guy running a telemarketing company on Asterisk :-(

  • it went in the lines of: "I dont care if you write a killer robot built on my code, I just want to get your changes back so I can build one myself"? Though I dont find it :(

  • by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @07:04AM (#46938159) Journal
    So if the NSA now knows of backdoors, it must inform the military so they can be patched, who will then be forced to publish the fixes. Right?

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