back to article Russian computer failure on ISS is nothing to worry about – they're just going to turn it off and on again

It's never a nice feeling with your computer keels over, wiping out work, sometimes requiring hours of maintenance and basically ruining your day. But spare a thought for the three astronauts currently in the International Space Station who discovered earlier today that one of the three computers in the station's Russian …

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Failure is not an option

Its a standard feature of any computer system.

For those who don't get the reference - see Failure is not an option

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Re: Failure is not an option

Indeed, "Build Failure In" is the current paradigm. Fits nicely with the "Fail Fast, Fail Often" methodology.

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Re: Failure is not an option

Having worked on fail-safe systems (for London Underground - for the Signals and Mechanical Departments), the more appropriate phrase would be:-

Wrong-Side Failure is Not an Option

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Re: Fail Fast, Fail Often

Well, you gotta admit that's working.

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Which computers is this?

I presume this is a core system. The 100+ laptops on the issue were switched to Debisn 6 years ago

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Re: Which computers is this?

I meant iss bloody autocomplete & can't edit a post on mobile whilst in the pub, nor select the beer icon

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Re: Which computers is this?

The computer which failed is a part of the ISS, and not a laptop.

The laptops interfacing with the ISS systems are Linux based, both the American and Russian ones. Then there are some European and Japanese laptops. The rest are running Windows:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/12/05/how-are-laptops-used-on-the-international-space-station/#41ef24317e5d

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Re: Which computers is this?

"The 100+ laptops on the ISS were switched to Debian 6 years ago"

Oops, does that mean they are relying on systemd now?

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Coat

Re: Which computers is this?

"The rest are running Windows"

I would think the last thing you want to do in space, is open Windows.

I'll get my spacesuit.

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Re: Which computers is this?

"The 100+ laptops on the ISS were switched to Debian 6 years ago"

> Oops, does that mean they are relying on systemd now?

Nope - systemd wasn't made the default on Debian until Debian 8 Jessie

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Re: Which computers is this?

"Nope - systemd wasn't made the default on Debian until Debian 8 Jessie"

Yeah, but they might have upgraded some of those laptops.

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Trollface

Re: Which computers is this?

Are you gonna blame autocomplete for "Debisn" instead of "Debian" as well?

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Re: Which computers is this?

Moving to a version that uses systemd can hardly be called an 'upgrade'.

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Boffin

Re: Which computers is this?

Space:1999 - Opening windows on Moonbase Alpha.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_RroBm1BXU4/VK9KtHr5bQI/AAAAAAABAqU/ZBPiOUI3jFI/s1600/space1999-8.jpg

To be fair there were a couple of scripted\deleted scenes regarding the replacement of the normal windows for ones that allowed them to be opened & refitting afterwards (Can't figure out why they had factory made replacements to hand, nor would I want to be testing the seals by being in Main Mission as the atmosphere leaked away again).

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Or is it Windows for Waaaaayyyyy out in Space?

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It should finish booting by the time the ship gets to the Heliopause.

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Coat

I imagine it failed with some form of buffer overflow considering all Russian controlled computers in the world are currently tasked with skewing various elections

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TRT
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"Where the one place in the world you don't want your computer to fail?"

Or, indeed, off the world.

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It's the second one that's scary...

This is why triple redundancy is the rule outside the atmosphere.

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Re: It's the second one that's scary...

I grew up in a military environment (Navy AND Air Force), and at NASA in the 80s. I also sail (badly). Rules of thumb:

* If you need it carry two.

* If you Really need it, carry three and lash one to your effin' body.

Tripple Redunancy is SOP.

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Re: This is why triple redundancy is the rule outside the atmosphere.

So long as the machines are not voting on which one to trust, (without human oversight).

Hmm, how very topical.

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Re: lash one to your effin' body.

Paging Captain Cyborg!

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So 3 HALs walk into a bar...

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And the bar man starts singing Daisy, Daisy?

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"So 3 HALs walk into a bar..."

... and the barman says, "Why the long int?".

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Anonymous Coward

"Dave came back in through Windows"

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Anonymous Coward

Autumn update ?

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@Admiral Grace Hopper

Have an upvote! That is inspired - and I'm soundly kicking myself for not thinking of it.

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Translation quality matters

"We confirm that the so called program readiness of one of the three ISS computers was lost, in other words there was a program fault. In order to restore the computer to a working state, system reboot is required.

This fault will in no way affect ISS normal operation. The default cyclogram permits indefinite flight time using two available channels. To ensure reliable docking procedure with the Progress spaceship, the reboot will be performed on 8 Nov 2018."

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Just going to to turn it off and on again

Tovarish, get me the hammer...

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In Russia...

...computer reboots you.

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Re: In Russia...

presumably they too the time to make it the red screen of death too!

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Could be worse

It could have been reporting imminent failure of the AE-35 antenna-steering unit...

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Re: Could be worse

In space no one can hear you making meringue!

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Re: Could be worse

HAL's behaviour wasn't a malfunction as such, it was the result of secretive humans adding orders at a late stage; the result would have been the same had there been three HALs on board.

Arthur C Clarke stressed the importance of triple systems in Rendezvous with Rama.

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Re: Could be worse

Dave, you're back! Where have you been?

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Re: Could be worse

"Dave, you're back! Where have you been?"

Outside, waiting for the pod bay doors to open?

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Re: Could be worse

Now that was a great series of books. I cannot believe it hasnt been made it into a movie.

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Re: Could be worse

Yeah HAL was performing exactly as he had been instructed to, he was programmed to answer all questions 'without distortion or concealment' and also to ensure that the crew did not learn of the true purpose of the mission.

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Re: Could be worse

I would ask that the movie version of Rama doesn't mention the Grand Oral Disseminator; it really spoilt it for me.

ISTR that there was some effort towards a film version of some sort, but don't know what came of it.

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Re: Could be worse

"ISTR that there was some effort towards a film version of some sort, but don't know what came of it."

The books where a trilogy, but someone thought it would be best to make a trilogy out of each book, then someone pointed out that to be true to the source, things should be done in threes, so each trilogy had it's own set of sequels. Then they noticed the other three books. At this point the projected cost of making the films got so astronomical even the first Rama spaceships couldn't keep up. So they canned the entire deal.

Somewhere deep in Hollywierd, there are people thinking of trying a second time, then a third time, just to be consistent.

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Paris Hilton

"It's running NikitaOS 2.5"

Any good info on that gear??

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Coat

Re: "It's running NikitaOS 2.5"

I hope NikitaOS has a voice interface so you can ask it what the temperature is.

Hey Nikita - is it cold?

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Boffin

Food prep failure

"Comrade, computer is on the blink."

"Nyet, comrade, computer is on the blini."

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Anonymous Coward

Doh !

Roscomos - It isn't rocket science !

Cosmonaut - Oh yes it is....

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Anonymous Coward

Nuclear Power Plants use quadruple redundancy.

I worked for a NPP, where everything that related to critical gear was quadrupled, if possible. It's the philosophy:

"One working, One backup, One broken, One in maintenance."

Things like reactor cooling, switchgear feeding power to those cooling pumps, etc... Now THOSE you don't want to fail, as well. And the design was German, not Russian.

I'm pleasantly surprised they used triple redundancy, however.

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Re: Nuclear Power Plants use quadruple redundancy.

But, if one is broken and one is in maintenance....surely thats just single redundancy.

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Re: Nuclear Power Plants use quadruple redundancy.

'But, if one is broken and one is in maintenance....surely thats just single redundancy.'

That's pretty much how it works out in practice. My experience of TMR controllers is that when one unit fails, invariably the general reaction is not - OK we are just down one level of redundancy, we have time to investigate and plan. It's - What if another one fails! lets panic and make a poor decision.

Triplication of sensors gives less than triple redundancy in practice. Three simultaneous measurements of a single process parameter are never exactly the same due to general measurement principles i.e. there is always a factor of uncertainty. As a result, voted inputs are compared within bounds. On the complete loss of one sensor and any deviation between the remaining two exceeding bounds, which one is the correct value? Default reaction is - Shut it down!

It does little for resilience or redundancy to extend uptime significantly, at best it will prevent you operating on significantly false input data.

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Shirley comrades, Dave Akerman and Vulture Aerospace must be sending them a triple-pack of Raspberry Pi's?

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Poor joke incoming

At least it wasn't Windows 10 as you'd have no choice of when it fing reboots.

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