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US Military Drones Migrating To Linux

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the arming-the-penguin dept.

Government 197

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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2014 year of the linux des!!!!##^^!@#!@#$ (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933507)

NO CARRIER

Re:2014 year of the linux des!!!!##^^!@#!@#$ (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46934403)

...the year of Linux approaching your desktop at Mach 4 with all the precision of terminal laser guidance?

time for a new public licence (5, Interesting)

cleveralias (1823186) | about 5 months ago | (#46933521)

free to use unless you intend to kill people.

Re:time for a new public licence (2, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#46933555)

Why is killing people with closed source software morally superior?

Re:time for a new public licence (5, Funny)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#46933833)

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

Re:time for a new public licence (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46934087)

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)

Re:time for a new public licence (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46934099)

By the same logic, people working in knife factories should quit en masse.

Re: time for a new public licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934171)

Maybe not knives as they have other utility but certainly the case could be made for guns. They have only one purpose. Hitting either a living or non-living target.

Re: time for a new public licence (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46934263)

I specifically went for knives because most of them is used for non-lethal purposes, even though every now and then, someone gets knifed. It's the same thing with Linux: most of the time, it powers web servers and routers and other peaceful applications. Now, every now and then, someone will get droned. Does that really justify some sort of massive outrage against knife manufacturers/Linux developers?

Re: time for a new public licence (1)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | about 5 months ago | (#46934385)

Yes. Also UAVs / UASs are not limited to only military applications and even within military applications only a few are weaponized. They just happen to get most of the media attention.

Shooting, its an Olympic sports (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934529)

Maybe not knives as they have other utility but certainly the case could be made for guns. They have only one purpose. Hitting either a living or non-living target.

And what is wrong with hitting a non-living target? Target shooting is a sport. Its even a part of the Olympics.

As far as a living target goes, if its hunting and the hunter is going to eat the meat I don't see much problem unless you are a vegetarian. Those of us who pay Ronald McDonald to hit a cow on the head with a hammer in order to make us a burger are not really in a position to criticize the hunter that sees his meat go to good use.

Re:time for a new public licence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933645)

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

Re:time for a new public licence (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 5 months ago | (#46934223)

Yes, maybe not always such a great idea after all.

Re:time for a new public licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934315)

A prohibited usage list is a great idea until you find your intended usage on the prohibited list.

Re:time for a new public licence (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 5 months ago | (#46934469)

Yes, forbidding killing sure is a slippery slope. I'm so happy we don't do that anywhere else!

Re:time for a new public licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934519)

Killing is not always forbidden. Killing for self defense is generally condoned.

Re:time for a new public licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933649)

free to use unless you intend to kill people.

See JSON license [json.org] . "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil."

Re:time for a new public licence (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 5 months ago | (#46933667)

The folks using these things will argue that they're operating on the side of the "good guys", so they still fit within the parameters of that license.

Re:time for a new public licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933703)

Daleks are the good guys by definition. EXTERMINATE.

Re:time for a new public licence (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#46933857)

It's the follow up of winnuke!

Also: "Death on flaxen wings"

Re:time for a new public licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933689)

Already exists.

But Linux is GPL-2 which has no such restrictions. And unlike the FSF and many other projects, when you commit your code to Linux you still own the copyright. So Linux will be GPL-2 for the foreseeable future.

Re:time for a new public licence (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933875)

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.

A second shell with source code ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934587)

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.

Kermit (2)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about 5 months ago | (#46934199)

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

Re:time for a new public licence (2)

Xtifr (1323) | about 5 months ago | (#46934361)

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.

Neck beard rage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933531)

Can't you just feel it?

Re:Neck beard rage (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#46934027)

funny, most of the neck-bearded people I know were in the military.

I can't wait (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 5 months ago | (#46933541)

To see the mascot!

So... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#46933547)

When can we expect the hellfire driver to make its way in-tree?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933873)

Fail. Even if the drones use Linux, the armaments can use entirely different OS. There is no requirement. Plus they would not put the drive in tree as it would likely contain classified information on the operational parameters of the hardware.

free software can be used for evil?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933557)

You mean free software is free to everyone who can use it?!!

Re:free software can be used for evil?! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46933597)

Android is NEXT!!!! Buhaahaaa.....

Re:free software can be used for evil?! (5, Funny)

CODiNE (27417) | about 5 months ago | (#46933997)

Nonono, Mac OS X is NeXT.

Re:free software can be used for evil?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934109)

(nice one)

A killer new Linux distro? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933591)

n/t

Now even pinguins can fly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933593)

or kill you for that matter...

Killer question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933601)

Do they use systemd or upstart?

Re:Killer question (4, Funny)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46933847)

Just init.tab entries.. RunLevel 1 = take off, 2 is cruse, 3 is crash (not that kind...)

Re:Killer question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934477)

Worse! What happens when there's a kernel panic?

Crash. And. Burn.

Re:Killer question (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#46934567)

When the kernel panics, it's time for everyone to panic.

Re:Killer question (2)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#46933881)

No-one uses upstart.

Also mir is dead. NASA confirms it.

Re:Killer question (1)

lorinc (2470890) | about 5 months ago | (#46934043)

Also mir is dead. NASA confirms it.

Given that mir also means peace and considering what is happening in Ukraine, I sadly suppose you are right. Nonetheless I prefer puns when they don't carry a grim presage.

Re:Killer question (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#46934177)

I obviously meant the space station and the display server of which only the former is dead whereas the later seem to have got some trouble getting lift under it's wings / lift off so to say.

You obviously got that and I had no idea mir meant peace but the idea was never to say peace was dead :)

Checking Wikipedia: Mir was only up for 15 years? So young, so young! :(
And now I've learned there was a Skylab too!
NINE! Saljut!

Re:Killer question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934209)

Nooo!!!!

I made an it's rather than its!

Crap. Sorry Internet.

Re:Killer question (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#46934037)

I hear the reiserfs is a killer filesystem

Re:Killer question (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46934347)

Wow, we haven't seen that one posted a thousand times over the last 8 years.

Re:Killer question (1)

armanox (826486) | about 5 months ago | (#46934057)

Clearly they use smf right now.

What distro? (4, Funny)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about 5 months ago | (#46933619)

Red Hat Military Edition? Killbuntu? Debian For Drones?

Re:What distro? (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46933775)

BSD - Blowing Shit up with Drones

Re:What distro? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 months ago | (#46934511)

Dandy Drone

Re:What distro? (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#46933805)

Possibly their own?

One advantage of Solaris over Linux/GNU is that things don't break/stop existing over time.

Linus want the same for the Linux kernel afaik but the rest may not be as reliable.

Re:What distro? (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46933883)

Slapware? GenToBoom? Puppy - Attack Dogfight version?

Re:What distro? (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#46933921)

Surely they will use bash.

Re:What distro? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934011)

`killall bash > ~/boom` generates emptiness

Re:What distro? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46934067)

Or, one that I just came up with..... Wait for it....

Wait...

"Attack of the killer tomato.... "

I know you liked that one... I saw you simile...

.... on their own volition (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 5 months ago | (#46933655)

Imagine what Slashdot in 1999 would have made of the headline "US Military Drones Migrating To Linux".

Re:.... on their own volition (4, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 5 months ago | (#46933735)

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

Re:.... on their own volition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933953)

I thought drones migrated from the Delta quadrant to every other quadrant.

Re:.... on their own volition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934033)

One cube at a time.

Re:.... on their own volition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933787)

A flame war between supporters of Linux 2.2 and Windows 2000.

Don't be silly. The answer is too clear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933913)

Windows 2000

Re:Don't be silly. The answer is too clear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934071)

Obtain a copy of Windows 2003 from your friendly neighborhood time traveler.

Re:Don't be silly. The answer is too clear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934131)

Hey, Doc, can I get all the Windows Updates from 2015?

Re:.... on their own volition (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | about 5 months ago | (#46933901)

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!"

Re:.... on their own volition (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#46934541)

Yes, but can you make a Beowulf cluster of drones?

But.... Windows 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933719)

Why is Windows not an option?

Re:But.... Windows 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933785)

It CRASHES too often!

Thanks - I'm here all week!

Re:But.... Windows 8 (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46933903)

I'm telling you it's that danged metro interface.... Even drones hate it.

Re:But.... Windows 8 (3, Funny)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#46933991)

But.... Windows 8
Why is Windows not an option?

They couldn't find the start menu.

Re:But.... Windows 8 (2)

Wookact (2804191) | about 5 months ago | (#46934073)

Judging from experience. If you installed WIn 8 for the drone it would turn on you.

Finally (4, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 months ago | (#46933737)

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.

Re:Finally (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46934047)

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.

Re:Finally (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 5 months ago | (#46934149)

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.

Better Linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933755)

Than some system that can be taken over by the enemy ...

Oracle Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933781)

If Larry has anything to do with it, Oracle will still be there somehow.

That is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933801)

Because Linux the drones never crash and so will never ever kill anyone anymore.

Linux is not controlling the drones (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:Linux is not controlling the drones (2)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#46933895)

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.

Re:Linux is not controlling the drones (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46934207)

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.

Re:Linux is not controlling the drones (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46934373)

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.

Re:Linux is not controlling the drones (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#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

Re:Linux is not controlling the drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933943)

For a high level controller it should in theory be possible. I have worked on control systems (for industrial applications, not a drone, but with short deadlines and real time requirements). Xenomai is really good.

Re:Linux is not controlling the drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933969)

They used to run Windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934415)

Until they found that it had gotten infected with a virus...

As I understand it, it was still a benign virus - but it illustrated the lack of security available, even on a presumably standalone system.

Pacifist Linux developers... LMAO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933813)

My laughter was so hard I was tearing up. I had to get a washcloth!

Who knew little Tux could be so mean when angry?

Re:Pacifist Linux developers... LMAO (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#46934059)

on the other hand, a lot of Linux users are libertarians and gun nuts. this might piss off the developers, but hey, we're the ones with the guns.

Reminds me when (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933843)

This reminds me of a story that one of my engineering lecturers told us.

He was working for a company that was developing code for a washing machine. The company had bought up a pile of excess micros from a military supplier
and they could not get the code to work properly, they eventually traced it back to the fact the micro did not obey the RTI instruction (return from interrupt).
On enquiry they were told that particular interrupt was used to make the missile go "Boom" so
1) there was no point, there was nothing to return to
2) its was a "security feature", once they wanting the missile to go "Boom" they did NOT want anything (hardware/software bug) or anyone (hackers) to change its mind.

Re:Reminds me when (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46933951)

Company buys special-purpose equipment, engineers whine about needing to re-purpose it?

Re:Reminds me when (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46934227)

Sounds like one hell of an implausible urban legend.

TCO (0)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about 5 months ago | (#46933909)

I heard the total cost of ownership for Linux system is shit.

Re:TCO (1)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46934405)

And shit is cheap! People will pay *you* to haul their shit way.

Supervillains run Linux (1)

Compholio (770966) | about 5 months ago | (#46934001)

I'm still waiting for it to be on their orbiting brain lasers [youtube.com] .

US Military Drones Migrating To Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934245)

Wow, didn't know US drones were migratory.

shock and awe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934333)

sed and awk

Food for thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46934351)

Interesting how Linux is ending up everywhere - except for the desktop.

Finally, "kill" or "killall" really work! (4, Funny)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 months ago | (#46934357)

killall -9 "myenemies"

Re:Finally, "kill" or "killall" really work! (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 months ago | (#46934495)

Next question: will they now work on Zombie processes?

Re:Finally, "kill" or "killall" really work! (1)

Col. Bloodnok (825749) | about 5 months ago | (#46934583)

They should stick with Solaris.

'preap' is the command for killing zombie processes.

not FreeBSD? (1)

HtR (240250) | about 5 months ago | (#46934417)

I would have guessed FreeBSD, as the logo might be more appropriate.

Year of the Linux everything but the desktop (3, Insightful)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 5 months ago | (#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.
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