International Space Station switches from Windows to Linux
The United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in association with NASA, has announced that the Windows XP computers aboard the ISS have been switched to Linux. “We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”
This means that “dozens of laptops” will change from running Windows XP to Debian 6. There are already Linux systems aboard the ISS and once the move is completed there will be no more Windows. 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.”
Back in 2008, a Russian cosmonaut brought a laptop aboard with the W32.Gammima.AG worm, which quickly spread to the other laptops on board. Switching to Linux should mean that this could never happen again.
Linux is the scientific community’s operating system of choice according to ExtremeTech. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is controlled by Linux. NASA and SpaceX ground stations use Linux. DNA-sequencing lab technicians use Linux. Really, for applications that require absolute stability, which most scientific experiments are, Linux is the obvious choice.
Now here is Commander Chris Hadfield, who will be returning to Earth soon, performing David Bowie’s Space Oddity while on the ISS.