International Space Station to use Linux on more laptops
United Space Alliance, one of NASA's IT contractors, has migrated several laptop computers used on the International Space Station (ISS) from Windows XP to Debian 6. Apparently, the computers are part of the OpsLAN network which is used to, among other things, log astronauts' movements through the space station, control its on-board cameras and provide astronauts with information about supply stocks and inventories.
"We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable – one that would give us in-house control," says United Space Alliance employee Keith Chuvala in an interview with the Linux Foundation. However, reports by several blogs and technology news web sites that all Windows installations on the ISS were replaced completely seem to be incorrect. Commenting on a report by US technology web site Digital Trends, Chuvala explains: "Yes, we do use Linux on ISS and are expanding its use across our systems. However, we have not, nor will we in the foreseeable future, 'dump' Windows."
Aside from the new Debian notebooks and other machines running Windows, several computers on the ISS have already been using several Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) based distributions such as CERN's and Fermilab's Scientific Linux. According to NASA, the station's systems are controlled by a total of 52 computers, 44 of which are part of the US segment of the station.