International Space Station adopts Debian Linux, drops Windows & Red Hat into airlock

It’s nothing to do with Windows 8 and the lack of a ‘Start’ button (or orb) at all.

But reports from the Linux Foundation confirm that the International Space Station’s (ISS) laptop installation is to drop Windows into the airlock in favour of a new deployment of Linux for its machines.


Manager of the Space Operations Computing (SpOC) for NASA Keith Chuvala is on the record saying, “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. So if we needed to patch, adjust, or adapt, we could.”

Laptops on the International Space Station’s serve a large number of users in groups known as “constellations”…

Previously, some of the Space Station’s machines has run Scientific Linux, a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone.

… the astronauts will now move to using Debian 6 — while Debian 7 is already available, the team will run “one release back” for reasons relating to stability and strength.

Along with this laptop installation, Chuvala’s team is also working on Robonaut (R2).

Designed to take over some of the astronaut’s responsibilities, R2 will be the first humanoid robot in space.

Running on Linux, the robot can be manipulated by onboard astronauts with ground controllers commanding it into position and performing operations.

The Linux Foundation has said that it will help NASA developers ensure that R2 can be a productive addition to the ISS. Still in the fine-tuning phase, R2 will eventually carry out tasks too dangerous or mundane for astronauts in microgravity.

“Things really clicked after we came to understand how Linux views the world, the interconnectedness of how one thing affects another. You need that worldview. I have quite a bit of Linux experience, but to see others who were really getting it, that was exciting,” said Chuvala.

In space, no one can hear you scream at the Windows 8 Metro screen.





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