back to article US Army struggles with Windows to Linux overhaul

In multiple media reports over the past two weeks, the US Army has professed its love for the penguin. The Army eventually intends to move from a Windows-based infrastructure over to Linux for its new, roughly $200bn weapons program. But the Army has largely been prepping new Linux-friendly weapons, vehicles, and devices …

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Coat

Re: This is a custom implementation

"It is always a disconcerting to me that folks forget they are tying themselves to Intel when they go with Linux but nothing is ever perfect."

So Linux doesn't run on alpha, arm, ia64, m68k, mips, ppc, sparc etc.?

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Re French connection/Two points

French connection

Nigee said:

"IIRC a few years ago the French MoD if not the entire govt announced they were going to develop a secure version of Linux. Licensing presumably means this is/will be in the public domain."

Ken Hagan:

"IIRC, the NSA similarly announced that they would develop a secure linux kernel. I don't know what happened to either project, but if they actually exist then one wonders why the whole world isn't using them. Isn't "being open to third party improvements" supposed to be one of the major benefits of open source?"

Yes, but you've both missed the bit in the GPL where it says you only have to release your source code to recipients of your program. It follows logically that if you don't distribute the program outside your own organisation, you don't need to distribute teh source outside your own organisation.

The consequence of this is the SaaS controversy: companies such as Google who work from a GPL code-base, but by providing a "service" and not "software", sidestep the obligation to release improved source code that might interfere with their business model.

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@Ken's two points

OpenBSD does have a better reputation than Linux in computer "security circles" but there are factors other than security when choosing a platform. One is continuity of supply, and if you read a few e-mails from Theo de Raadt you'll see that it is a miracle that the OpenBSD project hasn't imploded. It's reasonable for a large project to trade off some small security risk to avoid supply risk.

"IIRC, the NSA similarly announced that they would develop a secure linux kernel". I doubt the NSA said any such thing. A proof of correctness of something as large as the Linux kernel isn't possible, but that is required for the strictest level of Common Criteria security (ie, a device which may contain Top Secret data but connect to an Unclassified network). See the seL4 kernel for an idea of what is required.

What the NSA did do is to initiate and sponsor the development of a "mandatory access control" (MAC) feature for the Linux kernel. This lowers the amount of revealed by application security failure and can be configured to allow multiple levels of classified data, following Bell-La Padula or other classification models.

MAC is a required but not sufficient item for using Linux to store data of varying classifications. This is very operationally desirable: it allows one computer to store all the documents related to a task or project; and prevents data at a low classification level being upwardly classified simply because it is being stored on a computer of higher classification.

OpenBSD lacks a MAC feature and thus isn't as useful for some defence applications as you might initially suppose from its reputation with non-defence security people.

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Stop

@herbys: do any crooks and spies not have Windows source ?

"So the fact you recongnize that having source code makes finding holes EASIER acts against the [open source] platform for these uses."

Sorry but since when were well-funded attackers with bad motives denied access to the Windows source code ? Windows products would not be sold to any government or military without source code, other than to very small countries with so little market clout that Microsoft salesmen would turn down a sale to them if they claimed they will use Linux instead if denied Windows "shared source" access (which is very unlikely). Since when were recipients in foreign governments of Windows source code not bribable by local crooks ? And since when was Microsoft's own programming shop leak free ?

It seems that all the people you wouldn't want to have access to Windows source code have this already. The people you do want to have access are user organisations wanting to be able to improve the security of the products they use and who are willing and contractually able to share information to help this happen. But the group you want to have access are likely to be those who respect copyrights and non-disclosure agreemenents, probably don't have access or are prevented from sharing the knowledge gained through EULAs when and where it is needed.

A fellow academic recently put a Windows source code CD on my desk - released under some academic source code access licence. I havn't looked at it and won't until I can share knowledge about it freely enough to be able to distribute modifications without having to accept restrictive EULA gags, when it will be in the same category as any other open-source software. Anyone at my workplace is welcome to it - and I havn't accepted any EULA in connection with it either.

This really is the worst of all possible worlds. Users who could help Microsoft improve their software are prevented from doing so while those who have no intention of disclosing security vulnerabilities they intend to exploit for criminal profit or reasons of state are hardly likely to respect the copyright and contractual figleafs theoretically preventing them.

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@Danny Vader

Right! You, me, outside, now!

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Alert

...are tying themselves to Intel when they go with Linux?

Huh?

I don't know of any OS which is available on a wider selection of the worlds 16, 32 and 64 bit processor archetectures than Linux. It would be easier to list the archetectures that have NOT had linux ported.

A quick off-the-top-of-my-head list of supported procs:

PowerPC and derivatives, ARM and derivatives, Sparc, MIPS, Motorola 68000 and 88000, Alpha, HP Precision, Itanium, zSystem (IBM mainframe), VAX, Transmeta, Zilog z8000, and oh, Intel and non-Intel x86 and derivatives.

I would be very surprised if there were not Prime systems with Linux running on them somewhere. Wonder what is the most obscure Linux port?

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Coat

@Adam Williamson re grunts

If my memory serves me correctly this is what happened in the Falklands and the Balkans when the British Army radio's and its associated tech did not work as expected (memories of Arnhem?). The troops on the ground just used their mobile phones to talk to each other. Lets see the enemy try and decipher a broad geordie, yorkshire, Liverpudlian accent eh? Next generation of communications code is based upon "Chav speak" LOL

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Linux

Windows vs Linux security: Register paper

On Friday 22nd October 2004 07:26 GMT, The Register published: "Security Report: Windows vs Linux" by Nicholas Petreley. (Sorry, I can't find be bothered to look for the URL, but I downloaded the paper at the time.)

The paper is well researched, and bases its conclusions on several measures of "security" (whose validity it discusses), as well as on a qualitative discussion of the relevant properties of the two operating systems. It concludes that there are sound objective reasons for thinking that Linux is genuinely more secure than Windows, and discounts (for stated reasons) as a myth the often-repeated claim that Windows needs more patches because it gets attacked more often.

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Alien

Open source code is looked at and fixed....

For the roughly 3-5 % of PC users that use Linux (spread across an innumerable amount of distros of course) I have a question.

Apparently because the code is open-source (and differs from distro to distro, and all the hundreds of versions of the same server applications ), how many of you can actually program in C (The language used to code your OS's)?

Then of those that can PROPERLY program in C, how many of you actually go through the code with a fine toothcomb looking for errors/bugs/security holes etc?

Then, based on this percentage of coders, what percentage of that is hackers? And would a hacker be so friendly as to make all the loopholes known to the rest of the linux community, or rather keep those invulnarabilites to themselves, and use them to their own advantage? Is that a secure state?

Just checking....

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Black Helicopters

Linux Windows interoperability sounds a red herring

To hide the fact these systems are not being designed to interoperate in the first place - as generally these systems will operate as TCP client and servers anyway - so no Microsoft specific protocols to cause grief

Just sounds like an excuse for the company to make lots of money with fud - so good job in is USA tax not UK

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Blue Flag Linux

Now the real question is what would the US army call their distro?

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Linux

Beg your pardon ?

"It is always a disconcerting to me that folks forget they are tying themselves to Intel when they go with Linux but nothing is ever perfect."

Last I checked linux was only second to NetBSD in terms of CPU agnosticism (and might be ranking first in actual support for useful CPUs, if we prune out legacy chips that are of little actual interest). I had personnaly the opportunity to run linux on Sun Sparc 4m and 4u, Apple PowerPC, Alpha, and of course Intel. I tried a fair deal of other OSes, windows included, but none came close to the ability of linux to run on top of everything you throw at it. For instance, OpenBSD is certainly more secure by default but couldn't use my 2nd processor on Sparc. FreeBSD has long been restricted to Intel. Windows... could theorically be bolted on top of any micro kernel (or so it is said), but MS has always concentrated on Intel, halting developpement of any other platform support (NT4 could run on alpha, albeit in 32 bit mode only).

If I had to choose an OS solely on that basis, linux would be a clear winner for its ubiquity from smartphones to big irons.

(this message posted from an old, linux driven, sparcstation 10).

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Flame

Re: I wonder...

This has been discussed a lot in the past. It has always been the intent of the FSF that even locking code freedom from those you disagree with is incorrect.

If you're free to do good, you're free to do evil too, else all you have is being told what to do, and that isn't freedom.

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Anonymous Coward

Don don don de don

Don - the notion that Linux/BSD/Open Source software is developed and code reviewed by amateurs is a myth. Partly propagated by loud voiced amateurs with big egos.

They provide some contribution, yes. But far more important are all those commercial firms using and contributing - you know, IBM, Oracle, Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc, commercial Linux distributors like Novell or Red Hat, manufacturers of embedded systems like Linksys, Netgear, TiVo, etc. Do you worry that your wireless router is insecure because it's running open source code??

Having an army of people maintaining your security is not a sign of anything - if a building needed hundreds of people to maintain it, that would not be a sign it was secure but that it was badly designed. Or as another comparison - let's say 20 security flaws were found in your house and a bank vault. Which one of them is more secure?

Now Windows certainly gets better with each version - more secure and more stable (also of importance on military grade equipment) - but it is about performing surgery on a legacy system whose origin was as a simple operating system for a single user non-networked personal computer, rather than something designed ground up as a multi-tasking, multi-user networked system.

As a final point - resource usage and performance. If you're talking a lot of portable equipment it's something you'd have on your mind.

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Stop

@Ken Haigan

By noting that you'll need your flame retardants, you're admitting that your arguments are a load of crap. You defend yourself by saying that the people who tell you it's a load of shite are merely religious nuts.

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Coat

Its not about OS security...

Its about Freedom (we love that word here). Sure it may be the freedom too crush all that oppose us. But its all about freedom. Microsoft is your basic dictatorship or monarchy, one man, or group of men decide what is best for you, without your input. Linux is somewhere between a complete democracy and a hippy commune, open free and happy, and everyone (no matter what kind of idiot they are) gets to have their say. And if you are going to crush all that oppose you, in the name of freedom, you should use a freedom branded OS.

(sorry couldn't help myself, I like the idea personally).

Off to the pub...

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Re: Open source code is looked at and fixed

"For the roughly 3-5 % of PC users that use Linux ... of those that can PROPERLY program in C, how many of you actually go through the code with a fine toothcomb looking for errors/bugs/security holes etc?" .

Firstly you will find Linux more commonly used in popular and cheap embedded systems and more expensive Internet servers than Windows. Desktop Linux tends to be used by power users, developers and within smart organisations like Google that don't waste their employees time and money.

Secondly the amount of review code gets depends upon the extent of collaborative development for any of hundreds of millions of lines of source code that comprise Linux, its device drivers and application which run using Linux (and other OS) kernels. The less the collaborative development, the more likely it is that the source code in question only runs on one system and isn't patched into the mainstream versions of whatever software packages it associates with. The more people who use a program or patch option, the greater the degree of collaborative development and the more likely it will be promoted to become an inegral part of a mainstream kernel or distribution.

This is a job done by the many developers and power users out there, not by the much greater number of non-developing users of any given program. I have submitted patches for mainstream inclusion to fix bugs in very few programs compared to the greater number and variety of OS programs I use.

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@Nigee - Linux licensing

Nigee posted

> "IIRC a few years ago the French MoD if not the entire govt announced they were going to develop a secure version of Linux. Licensing presumably means this is/will be in the public domain."

I'm astonished that nobody has pointed out that Linux is NOT in the public domain. Neither the kernel, nor the GNU utililities that make up the GNU/Linux distributions, are PD. Those components are copyrighted, and licensed under the GPL, version 2 for the kernel, at least.

Bastille Linux and the NSA-hardened kernel are already available, of course, licensed under the GPL as you would expect.

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Heart

I love this dumbass stuff...

Myth #1: Linux is all standards and Microsoft doesn't comply.

Sorry, princess, get back to your mom's basement. If 90% of machines do something a certain way then *that* is the standard. The french really do believe that the prime meridian passes through Paris and may have written it down as an international standard on a whole heap of occasions but the rest of the world population are happy to agree on it passing through Greenwich. You can write as many RFCs as you like (and they are *Requests* *for* *Comment* and not *standards* *to* *be* *adhered* *to*) but if 90% of the world's PCs adopt a different standard then you can either join up or lose out.

Myth #2: Linux is more secure than Windows.

Maybe, but it's not been proven either way.

Myth #3: Making software open source means that you immediately get thousands of highly trained security conscious programmers crawling over the code improving it.

Dude, it just does not happen. Because people *can* see the code does not mean they bother. It also doesn't mean they have the skills to do anything with it. There are the odd exceptions but most Linux fanbois who use that arguement couldn't fix a bug even if they had the inclination to because they rely on their imaginary army of Microsoft busting superheroes to do it.

Saying that making something open to the public makes it more secure is like saying that Wikipedia is more accurate because anyone *can* change it (and I think that's been proved wrong enough times - who wrote that S Club track again?).

Myth #4: Getting indignant about how Microsoft are in the wrong makes some sort of difference.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Tosser.

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Linux

Ahhh... they were using Windows!

That would make me cranky and want to fight all the time too!

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Alert

Surely this Linux vs Windows is rubbish....

because "Security by diversity" is always the best option.

Just like you wouldn't defend your country with just army or navy or airforce. A combo of all is best.

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Alert

@ george, Security by diversity...

.. is all well and good, but i'm not looking forwards to the O/S2 Warp operated nuclear missile silo.

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Coat

MS interoperability.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/17/microsoft_european_commission_verdict/

“The Court found that Microsoft had indeed failed to supply competitors with sufficient information to allow servers to interoperate effectively.”

Microsoft was fined a svelte 497 Million.

In my humble opinion this is a rather clear indication that Microsoft servers are not fully interoperable, as opposed of course to any (open) standards based system.

...mine's the flameretardant monty with the penguin hide collar and dazzle motif...

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Alert

Microsoft Paper Clip

"Hello, do you want me to show you how to use your nuclear capabilities? Click fire to continue."

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@Simon Painter

roflmao-well put!

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Very true Ryan...

I did mean some security by diversity with a little lateral thinking.

Though by previous defence procurement history the chances of this are very slim!

As for the EU Court, they are so right-on hippy headed judges what they say has no bearing on the argument. Just look at all their previous decisions in the human rights courts.

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Joke

@Simon Painter

"Saying that making something open to the public makes it more secure is like saying that Wikipedia is more accurate because anyone *can* change it (and I think that's been proved wrong enough times - who wrote that S Club track again?)."

So Linus has started taking kernel patches directly from everyone without checking them first through his most actively developing colleagues ? I really must be out of date and out of touch. He has stopped requiring signoffs too ? Thank you so much kind sir for enlightening me.

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My thoughts (for what they are worth).

I am neither pro nor anti Linux (I actually believe in using the "right tool for the job", so am equally happy with Linux, OSX and Windows), but a couple of points spring to mind.

First, the "Linux is more secure because it has more people working on it" idea. Not true for a few reasons:

It assumes that the majority of people are honest. In most cases, this is true, however, it is possible for someone experienced to posion the source code with holes. This *should* be picked up, but may not be.

It also assumes that the bulk of people developing for Linux are able to spot potential security holes. This is OK, assuming they are talented and/or old hands. Development is open to everyone, so they may be neither.

Also, if the security surrounding the system (such as on comms lines) as good, the idea is largely irrelevant anyway, as the system will be difficult (if not impossible) to access regardless of which OS it is running. Even a non patched installation of NT 4 is secure if it's physical connections are secure.

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Boffin

@Herbys .... Control

Okay. So the 'bad guys' have found a security hole and people in your military force are dying because of it, right? Which would you prefer? Firing off a sternly worded email to Richmond demanding that they issue a patch as quickly as possible and then assuring your boss and the public and the families of those dying that you really have done everything that is in your power to do ... or spending money on a room full of bearded rent-a-geeks that you can rant and rave and throw pizza at? Which provides the best appearance of your sincere concern to work on and resolve the problem at hand?

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Happy

um...

"the Army has largely been prepping new Linux-friendly weapons"...funny that, seeing as Linux was largely developed by pacifists and peace-pipe smoking hippies!

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Stop

@Simon Painter

For any process, material or system to be considered a standard it has to be accepted by a recognised standards body as being complete, sufficient, self-consistent, repeatable and able to be used for interoperability or reproduction ........ and then, of course, *published in full*. 'Nuff said.

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Gates Horns

OK the answer is Vista

If all systems are Vista then no problem.

Trading speed and stability but poor interoperability for slow performance, viruses, but interoperability is obviously the answer. Just ask Steve Ballmer and he will confirm what I am saying.

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Silver badge
Coat

All this discussion

And nobody's pointed out that the US government has rolled out their own, security hardened version of the linux kernel long ago: www.nsa.gov/selinux/

That's the value of linux, don't like the way it it works, roll your own version!

Like this one: tinfoilhat.shmoo.com/ Tinfoil Hat Linux, linux for the true paranoid!

(Yes, It's real)

Now, I'll take my coat, it's the rough canvas one with the brass buckles and the sporty, tie-behind-the-back sleeves.

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Alert

Funny that few here got the point of the exercise...

...which is that the U.S. armed forces want to detach themselves from a closed-in, closed-source codebase and get onto something THEY can control. More power to them (figure of speech only, mind you...)

The basic thing here is codebase access and standards compliance. BSD is OK here, but has a few limitations that were noted in earlier posts here, which I can imagine would rule out their use in a situation like the U.S. armed forces.

In my view, the advantages of breaking out of the MS box outweigh any possible advantage of any closed-source OS: Unlike DOS or NT (the latter includes w2k, xp and vista, the former all MS PC OSs up to WMe), stable BSD and Linux kernels are already available for just about any piece of hardware that was commercially available since the mid-1970s. Compare to a comparatively unstable NT kernel available exclusively for one processor architecture totally dominated by only two vendors.

Compared to any closed-source OS, Linux (or BSD for that matter, but note that BSD seems to be out because of other issues) is almost trivial to port to new (or modified) special-purpose chips and chipsets used in weapons systems. That alone is going to save billions on development costs in the next few years. Which, as far as I can follow the reasoning of the DoD, is exactly the point.

@ theotherone: "'the Army has largely been prepping new Linux-friendly weapons'...funny that, seeing as Linux was largely developed by pacifists and peace-pipe smoking hippies!"

Actually, Linux has so far for the most part been programmed by experienced software developers. Many do it in their spare time; a large number are even paid to develop Linux full-time by companies like Silicon Graphics, Novell, IBM and many other recognizable names in IT.

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Linux

Pacifists And Hippies?"

theotherone, you poor deluded child, do you really think

"Linux was largely developed by pacifists and peace-pipe smoking hippies!"

I take it you have never heard of someone called Eric S Raymond?

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Boffin

Blue Force Tracker on Windows? Not when I was there.

After having used the Blue Force Tracker platform in combat over two tours in Iraq...I'm relatively sure that it did not run on a MS platform....can't remember if it was Unix or Linux....but I know that it wasn't running on a Microsoft OS.....

Also, most of the Marines I worked with were so hopelessly computer illiterate, I can't imagine how much more difficulty they'd have with another OS to learn....Not that Marines are expected to be more computer savvy than the average civilian....

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Linux

@not that andrew

oh dear, you develop Linux too do you? I was talking about the general perception....you know, bearded geeks sipping light beer and getting excited about how a school district in a southern Chinese province has decided to switch to Red Hat....

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I dont think this will be an open os

I would expect DOD to make a very secure OS, based on linux because they have the source, but with enhancements they will not release.

Which sounds potentially very good. Altho, I am not clear why not contract a secure os from the ground up. Their needs will be different from ours I expect.

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"Hackers" I do not think it means what you think it means

"Then, based on this percentage of coders, what percentage of that is hackers? And would a hacker be so friendly as to make all the loopholes known to the rest of the linux community, or rather keep those invulnarabilites to themselves, and use them to their own advantage? Is that a secure state?"

Right well, see, before any patches get accepted, they have to be reviewed by a few top-level coders, and if it's for the kernel (the part you have to be most careful of), Linus himself. Also, just about everyone working on the Linux kernel is a hacker, by definition. Being a hacker just means you are an amazing coder. When you consider that some of the world's best hackers are in charge of the Linux kernel and reviewing every line that gets in, yes, that's a very secure state.

And WTF is an "invulnerability"? That'd mean "not vulnerable" or "invincible," wouldn't it?

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Boffin

Linux Hippies!

Love that....

Just the other day we were all included as Terrorists because of our aptitude for Engineering... and since most (if not all) the Linux geeks I know are Electrical or Software (by far the lesser.. by count) Engineers... I kinda think we're not really the 'pacifist hippie' type!

Face it- Hippies are irrational and controlled by substances/forces outside of their control which they 'trust' coz it's 'natural'- we, the Engineering Geeks, only 'trust' what we 'know' and by sheer overpowering OBVIOUSNESS, Windows cannot be trusted and Linux can. Then... we like to take things apart to see how and why they work... again... only something you can do with ease (yes, engineers are lazy) in the Linux world. (ok... BSD too... but it's not cool at all)

We like being in control too- so if we want to mod/hack or "improve" something, we do not want to wait for a stupid windows machine to complete its spinning-cursor routine before we can actually do something. If it is annoying, we want to stop/fix it. Code to comment style control is really great. Do you like freedom of choice (i.e. best tool for the job)? Linux (like grandpappie UNIX) giveth the greatest range of modular tools which can be strapped together rather quickly to create anything you can dream of- You are the Creator, the Radiant Light of Amen-Ra! Imagine that glow as it spreads from your ego... across the world, bringing joy to the Breed.

So- the US Army going the way of The Penguin is really in line with the whole megalomaniac syndrome as experienced by *true geeks* (i.e. engineers).

Was it not DARPA that gave us the internet?

Hmmm.... remarkable how the 'not-so-hippie-pacifist' institute can bring enlightenment to the world. Stereo-typing is fun. But... alas... only really cool if you are one of 'us'...

hehehehe...

The Article was ok and I am sure that the 'interoperability' issues refer rather to Excel, World, Access and a plethora of other applications (in house development/contracted propriety mscentric) than to networking or chips.

We all know that the Great MS is guilty of Obscurity and that they do that to maintain their stranglehold on Western Civilization. As does all other commercial software vendors.

(I got that rush of 'No bloody way!" too.... but, reason won out over emotion as it always does with 'us').

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Re: Open source code is looked at and fixed....

Given that MS can't even say about decade-old software how it works (see the "Specification" of MS's OOXML, lots of "as Word97", or their response to the EU court that they could not document what their code did, so source code is the documentation), what's the percentage of Windows coders that look for and resolve windows errors?

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Ummm...

Will the military use open source software, that anyone can get their hands on... how safe would that be?

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Coat

Huh?

Did I miss something? The Washington post is reporting that the project may be going very wrong. Why are linux supporters so proud that a huge project based on their stuff is going south? Don’t get me wrong, its cool that people can celebrate mediocrity like that.

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Boffin

@Justin

How can you imagine that what the US armed forces will actually run would be accessible to anyone but the US armed forces?

The idea here AFAIK is to take the basics already existing in OSS code and adapt them to the needs of the military.

This does not necessarily include the publication of any code written by the military (OK, I guess the FSF would take issue because this would be a breach of the GPL and LGPL... somehow, I cannot really imagine they are going to sue the US armed forces over this issue, though...)

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Gold badge

Re: Ken's two points

"By noting that you'll need your flame retardants, you're admitting that your arguments are a load of crap. You defend yourself by saying that the people who tell you it's a load of shite are merely religious nuts."

Er, no actually, I was merely aware that there *are* people like you.

In fact, I was grateful for the replies from Nìall Tracey and Glen Turner. They avoided all mention of bodily waste but included a helpful explanation of why I was mistaken.

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Silver badge

I hope they can hit the target better than you lot !

The main point here is that the military have recognised that having systems dependent on a commercial OS that WILL be end of life and dropped long before end of life of the system is not good. So say they used Server 2003 as the basis for a system - at some point MS will stop selling licences and so the military will have a stark choice, stop building new boxes, or go through a costly process of adapting and revalidating their custom software.

Since they can take an open system such as Linux and not have to buy licences, they can develop and fix a system - they don't HAVE to change it unless THEY decide they want to. Thus the end user is in control of what they do, not a commercial enterprise with money as the sole motive.

It's not about "Linux good, Windows bad" - it's about having control of your own systems.

Others have mentioned "Windows for Warships". Knowing what I do about procurement cycles and system lifetimes, I can almost guarantee that whatever version of Windows they base the system on will be obsolete before the ship goes to war. If they find a problem with the OS (testing is never going to be 100% perfect) then they'll be having to negotiate with a commercial vendor to provide extended support.

OK, the military will generally be doing that in advance as part of the procurement process (they aren't THAT daft), but it's a serious issue. I know that I've been involved, and one of the questions asked is what guarantees are provided by commercial software vendors over future availability - and sometimes code escrow is demanded lest the vendor of a key component should disappear.

NB - it's not just the software. Hardware obsolescence is a big problem too. For example, components used in military system may well be out of production before the system is finished. And I gather that London Underground even scan eBay in case any bits of "old junk" come up that can provide vital spares for their decades old infrastructure !

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Linux

Linux Wins

There must be many reasons the US military has chosen to invest so much cash in Linux. The Department of Defense is one of the most powerful (the most powerful?) and best budgeted (the biggest budget?) software buyers and developers on the planet. Via US companies they are the world's biggest supplier and manufacturer of weaponry.

That's a lot of Linux based software and the ultimate 'Why choose Linux' report to go with it..even if their software development is restricted to camouflaged versions of Excel the implication is that a linux platform scored highest overall from the list of -

return on investment

speed of development

freedom of development

security

interoperability

usability

reliability

flexibility

fit for purpose

profit making

patriotism (immigrant Torvalds over citizen Gates, US jobs)

learning curve

etc etc etc

Even if they got it wrong (and they have been known to) , from an organization that believes, absolutely, in the need for technical superiority and associated skills (with the conviction they posses these attributes) their choice is supremekly influential. This battle is the turning point in the war and the one the stock market will be changing sides after.

Is 'hippy hacker' concern at Linux becoming the 'Oppenheimer OSS' the reason celebrations are so relatively muted? If so, txs developers for showing this glimmer of emotion winning out over *reason* and would you please code a 'Swords into Ploughshares' switch into the core?

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Anonymous Coward

ABOUT TIME

Took them long enough to realise that Linux will provide them with a controlled, secure, stable code-base on which to build proper defence systems. Proof that Linux is more secure than Windows? Give me a break! Anyone that has taken the time to use them both will after 30 minutes realise that Linux leaves Windows far behind. We use about 300 Ubuntu Linux desktops/notebooks in our business and I can say that we have far less security issues than when we were running Windows (unfortunately we still have around 100 on Windows but will migrate these over the next 12 months).

Let me also back other views expressed here that security was merely one of the factors taken into account in the evaluation process. Yes, I do have inside information on the process and, believe me, it was extensive.

'Linux takes wisdom, foresight and guts.' Quote borrowed from Mike Kovacevich.

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