The ISS Has Ditched Windows Entirely -- For Linux

The United Space Alliance has decided to stop using all Windows computers aboard the ISS, in favour of Linux — to ensure it's systems are "stable and reliable”. Ouch.

The decision will see “dozens of laptops” change from running Windows XP to Debian 6, reports Extreme Tech. There are already Linux systems aboard the ISS, but from this point on Microsoft is banned. Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance has explained that the move to Linux will provide "in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust or adapt, we could."

It's probably a good idea. Back in 2008, a Russian cosmonaut managed to take a laptop to the ISS that spread the W32.Gammima.AG worm to all the other laptops aboard the station. Using Linux should make that impossible. The only hitch might be switching all the current, Windows-based software — for everything from viewing stock inventory to carrying out experiments — to Linux. We just hope they don't use WINE. [Extreme Tech]

Picture: NASA

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Comments

    Well if Windows XP is what they're changing from then it isn't such a big shocker. They need to upgrade anyway- really, really need to. May as well go with something else like Linux, easier for them than probably any other company ever.

    Last edited 11/05/13 3:28 pm

    For a fair comparison they should be comparing Apples with Apples (no pun intended) ie; a 12 years old version of Linux with Windows XP. I get so bored when I hear or read about the problems with Windows. And in most cases its with people that are running old unpatched versions of Windows XP (or pirated ones) that have huge numbers of pirated apps that have overwritten and or modified hundreds of system files!! This is turn makes for a system as stable and virus free as one you would get in the black market in China.

    Windows XP? In space? Incredible! I cannot even remember how it looks like.

      Lots of enterprises and institution's still use XP and Windows 2000 server for compatibility with legacy software.

        I know, but NASA?

          Makes more sense than most companies. NASA has an extreme lifecycle on tech, by necessity. They can't just blast new gear into orbit every time someone comes up with a new OS or piece of gear.

      I used to work for an unspecified government agency that used a Windows OS for flight control of an aircraft. This didn't bother me at all! until I was expected to board these aircraft.

    Wow... For a project like this I would've thought you'd be using something much more flexible/lower level than Windows. I'm surprised it isn't a unix flavour

    Imagine if getting oxygen or not decaying orbit and burning up in the atmospere depended on not getting the blue screen of (literally) death, balls of steel.

    What about iOS on the iSS? Apple maps would probably make sense in 3 dimensions.

      "Commander, we may have to adjust our orbit, turns out there's a giant tear in the space-time continuum in our path above the south Pacific and it'd be pretty bad if we...wait...wait, oh never mind. Damn it, Apple Maps!"

    "Open the pod bay door HAL" becomes an issue when you can't get a Linux driver for it.

      It becomes worse when you realise that HAL is simply another Windows virus!

    Wouldn't it be a lot cheaper to integrate a Linux server, rather that the exorbitant cost of MS Apple Server?

    Year of the GNUnix desktop?
    Pshaw.
    Year of the GNUnix ...SPACE STATION
    mhmm

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