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back to article Penguins in spa-a-a-ce! ISS dumps Windows for Linux on laptops

The crew of the International Space Station (once they've fixed their leak) will trade their old Windows XP laptops for Debian-powered systems to use in their Operations Local Area Network (Ops LAN). The six-person ISS has over 140 laptops on board, around 80 of which are working at any one time, along with a variety of internal …

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Linux

Wasn't this...

reported by the Reg's own Verity ?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/07/verity_stob_/

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Pint

Come in Major Eadon!

This is Ground Control to Major Eadon

You've really made the grade

And the papers want to know what OS you boot

And whether it's "ls" or "dir" to you!

This is Major Eadon to Ground Control

I see "vmlinuz" scrolling by

A fat penguin on my screen

And a Gnome wants me to log in

Here am I sitting in a tin can

Far above the world

On my screen there is a spiral

on top of kernel version 3.

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Re: Come in Major Eadon!

Definitely deserves that beer!

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Re: Come in Major Eadon!

Nice song.

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FAIL

Re: Come in Major Eadon!- Wait

>>And whether it's "ls" or "dir" to you!

Both work in Linux duh!

infact any command name will because we have bash aliases ;)

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Meh

Re: Come in Major Eadon!- Wait

> Both work in Linux duh!

"Yes, I know"

Said like King Arthur said it when he was getting detailed explanations about the voting procedures of the anarcho-syndicalist commune.

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Re: Come in Major Eadon!

A laughing gnome?

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h3
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Re: Come in Major Eadon!- Wait

Both work in powershell so what ?

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Re: Come in Major Eadon!- Wait

.>>And whether it's "ls" or "dir" to you!

>

>Both work in Linux duh!

>

>infact any command name will because we have bash aliases ;)

Or csh or sh or whatever command interpreter we want!

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JLV
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Facepalm

140 laptops on board?

For 6 crew? Presumably not coming near anything mission critical?

I hope they are ultra-lights... cost to orbit is on the order of 5K$-10K$/kg for most launch systems:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_orbital_launch_systems

Excellent news with the Linux aspect - laptops are much more likely to remain usable for a long time that way.

Totally out of my depth here, but I wonder if you could rig the APT mechanism to fetch updates from a local, specially vetted, repo. That way you wouldn't be fetching over your space WAN laptop by laptop.

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Re: local repository.

"... I wonder if you could rig the APT mechanism to fetch updates from a local, specially vetted, repo."

Short answer: Yes.

Longer Answer: http://wiki.debian.org/HowToSetupADebianRepository

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Linux

Re: 140 laptops on board?

We're talking about actual space station operations here, not recreational computers for the crew to play Angry Birds. Laptops are used for the onboard OPS LAN because laptops are designed to be small, lightweight, and have low power consumption. So yes, bolting a couple of laptops to the bulkhead is a *great* alternative to lugging a bunch of heavy, bulky, power-sucking rackmount machines into space.

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Trollface

Re: 140 laptops on board?

We're talking about actual space station operations here, not recreational computers for the crew to play

Maybe that's why they're moving to linux. No games for the crew to waste time playing :P

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Re: local repository.

Short answer: Yes.

Or just set up a squid proxy--even easier.

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Linux

Re: local repository.

Absolutely, many Linux based companies set up such a server to reduce bandwidth, and to insure that unauthorized packages can not be installed.

IIRC, Windows sysadmins can do something similar.

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Re: local repository.

"IIRC, Windows sysadmins can do something similar."

if they can afford the training course!

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Re: 140 laptops on board?

Intel CPUs make good space heaters apparently

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140 laptops onboard

Seriously, how the hell did a stupid stupid stupid (did i mention stupid) computing decision like having ONE HUDRED AND FORTY laptops onboard make it past, well, anything sane really. Did someone senior have a relative work down the local Walmart computing department and was a bit behind monthly sales targets?

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ONE HUDRED AND FORTY

Leaving aside the shouty bit, oh and the linking of the ISS & Walmart. It costs to get mass up there, DON'T MAKE NO NEVERMIND TO BRUNG IT BACK DOWN AGIN, GRANDPA!

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Re: 140 laptops onboard

I agree a hundred laptops is very poor IT design. Maybe some one calculated that infinite laptops make a great heating system for the station. Sun to solar panels to electricity to laptops to comfy quarters. What gets me is that they weren't refreshed with a dozen 'current' systems to save power, space, and maybe add some features. They must have some real clowns working their IT. Yep, old Bessie is still working, we just can't figure why our electric bill is still so high.

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Linux

Re: 140 laptops onboard

Bear in mind that the ISS is cobbled together from bits and pieces from around the world, and she's getting a little long in the tooth. After the Linux install, they'll be taking some of those laptops out for spacewalks.

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Re: 140 laptops onboard

Hmmmm,

140 laptops on 6(?) crew.

Perhaps that reflects the multitasking performance of the crew relative to that of Windows XP?

/Slan

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Coat

Re: 140 laptops onboard

Space - in the shipments sent up to assemble the ISS. Just as mass is an issue, so is space. Laptops can go where large formats won't. You want to also look back to the planning stages of the original shuttles and lunar vehicles. The original shuttles were designed with a system that used core memory and fairly slow cpu. A GRiD Compass lap top carried aboard and was customized for use forcasting orbital paths and LOS communications.

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Linux

Re: 140 laptops onboard

"Just as mass is an issue, so is space."

So send up some Rasberry Pis! (or beagleboards, or pandaboards).

OK, you have to get the screens and keyboards up there to go with them, but with that ratio of machines to people, I guess quite a few of the machines will be running control functions that don't usually need screen and keyboard. In fact, one screen and keyboard per astronaut, plus a few spares, is probably enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 140 laptops onboard

But don't you know? Linux weighs less than Windows.

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Coat

Re: 140 laptops onboard

Simple way around this. Put them in The Cloud.

The Cloud solves everything, don't cha know.

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Brought of the gravity well?

Isn't LEO still very much IN the gravity well?

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Devil

Deep, deep! Down inside...

Yes, and it's worse ... it's deeper in the gravity well of the Andromeda Galaxy than in the Earth's!

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Re: Brought of the gravity well?

Yes. That is why it doesn't just fly off into spaaaaaaaace.

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Anonymous Coward

Astronauts bring up iPads on the Vomit Comet?

They probably shouldn't have eaten them in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Dave Bowman: sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: Ok.

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Command line humor – always a winner

Totally frickin' brilliant, mate.

It being a relatively late hour here in San Francisco, it's brandy up my nose and onto my keyboard, rather than coffee or tea.

But thanks – the 'board needed a good cleaning, in any case.

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Anonymous Coward

Sudo

What, without asking for the password the first time? Kill the sysadmin...oh, HALL already did that.

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Facepalm

Fixed it for you

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Dave Bowman: sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: [sudo] password for Dave Bowman:

Dave Bowman: (password not displayed)

HAL: Ok.

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Anonymous Coward

You are Ernest Scribbler and I take my hat off to you, Sir! :)

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Thumb Up

Re: Fixed it for you

And if it's the first time ?

Don't forget, with great power, comes responsibility (c) Debian 2013 ...

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Re: Fixed it for you

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Dave Bowman: sudo open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: [sudo] password for Dave Bowman:

Dave Bowman: (password not displayed)

HAL: Username is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported.

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Anonymous Coward

Old joke.

Google it. Been around since at least 2008 (http://www.seedsofglory.net/smf/index.php?topic=2056.0).

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Anonymous Coward

Send Anode up there with it....

They should have gone for BeOS..... FAIL

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Meh

Re: Send Anode up there with it....

"hey should have gone for BeOS..... FAIL"

Maybe 5% of the people reading that have any idea what you're talking about.

And that's the problem.

This is embedded land. Everything that goes up to the ISS has to be qualified and they don't want to change horses. Likewise they know there are lots of Debanian sysadmins and developers out there.

That's how professionals think.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Send Anode up there with it....

Is sense of humour failure a defining characteristic of Debian sysadmins, or are you just a special case?

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Re: Send Anode up there with it....

If they wanted even greater stability, they should've went with one of the *BSD's.. ;)

BeOS, ROFLMAO!

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Re: Send Anode up there with it....

You're right about NASA not wanting to change horses. NASA was the only organization to get SP7 for their NT4 systems.

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Re: Send Anode up there with it....

I don't know, why not type "aptitude moo" and see what happens.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm guessing that they were brought up and never brought back down again, no point if bringing your old laptop down. If the human who brought it up there has even has a 1 in a hundred chance of ever going back up again, leaving it up there would save weight on the return trip.

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Joke

ISS has over 140 laptops on board, around 80 of which are working at any one time,

Sounds just like our laptops at work!!

/rimshot

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Joke

Re: ISS has over 140 laptops on board, around 80 of which are working at any one time,

No, that's your tax-dollars at work!

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"...one of the few things Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick got right in the book and film of the same name..."

Given the huge amount of technical study they did on every aspect of the equipment, I prefer to think of them getting EVERYTHING right except one thing - the economics.. And that just means that the date when it really happens wouldn't be 2001, but perhaps 2051...

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Well, that's not true.... For one, Discovery has no reaction mass tanks for aesthetic reasons, so no braking at Jupiter. I'm sorry Dave, you have to keep going.

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Boffin

More Discovery omissions

The Discovery in the film also lacks the huge cooling fins needed by its reactor. The book version has them, and notes they make the Discovery look like a dragonfly from some angles. A.C. Clarke explains in the "Lost worlds of 2001" that they omitted them intentionally from the film, to avoid having viewers spend half the film wondering why the spacecraft needs wings...

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