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FAA Grants RSC Status to Linux-Friendly RTOS 99

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the still-can't-agree-what-real-time-computing-is dept.
BoulderDad writes "LinuxDevices.com is reporting that a proprietary RTOS capable of running Linux binaries has been certified by the FAA as a re-usable software component (RSC). LynuxWorks says LynxOS-178's RSC acceptance will enable greater software reuse among integrators and developers of safety-critical aerospace and defense components."
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FAA Grants RSC Status to Linux-Friendly RTOS

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  • Re:Darn Acronyms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <[ten.frow] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday March 20, 2006 @06:29PM (#14960832)
    It's not just acronyms. It's mixed units. A METAR in North America (Canada, at least) will get you the temperature in degress Celsius, windspeeds in knots, visibility in statute miles, and cloud bases in feet. (We'll leave the altimeter setting as mmHg as a side issue.)

    Of course, TAFs are worse. And lets not forget the shorthand for weather conditions (rain/showers/etc) comes from French.
  • In summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zenst (558964) on Monday March 20, 2006 @06:37PM (#14960867) Homepage Journal
    A non Linux OS that can run Linux software has been approved for use on Aircraft computer systems.

    The Linux applications would also need to be certified but a base OS that can handle realtime input (IE dont lag up mouse movement and your MP3's should glitch ever type of OS realtime) and has library compatibility to Linux enabling it to run applications written for Linux has been approved by the powers that be.

    Now there is a use of an OS were I'd welcome DRM.

    TTFN :)
  • Re:NGTH (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Monday March 20, 2006 @06:40PM (#14960884) Journal
    Actaully, certification is all you really have. To obtain OS-178B is very difficult.

    Microsoft was approached by my company to get OS-178B. Once they looked at what it would entail, they called back a week later and told us that they had a good laugh. In their own words, not even Vista will come close. And XP was not even a consideration.

    Be sure to read the article. This is LynxOS with Linux API on top. That is much easier to do.

    But if you check google, you will find that there are several other companies with OS-178B version of Linux. They are a pain to work with as they are nothing but a stripped down redhat with a few re-written parts. Do you think that before I write code for any of these, that I am going to check over all the code? Not one line. I trust that the FAA and the company that sell these did that already. Why do I do that? Because, I do not have the time to do that and write my code.

    That is why we use certificated OSs in critical areas of the cockpit.
  • Re:NGTH (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:11PM (#14961024) Journal
    Navigational systems are fairly critical things (especially when IFR). I was slightly shocked to see that a friend's Apollo panel mount GPS ran on Windows NT 4.0!
  • Re:Actually. . . (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AusIV (950840) on Monday March 20, 2006 @09:31PM (#14961580)
    No, acronyms are abbreviations that form pronounceable words. Examples are LASER and RADAR.

    Initialisms use the first letters of words. Examples include WTF, OMG, and the things in the article.

    Anagrams are words that are made by rearranging the letters of another word: Clint Eastwood -> Old West Action, Mother in-law -> Woman Hitler.

    There were no acronyms or (intentional) anagrams in the article, just a bunch of initialisms.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:06PM (#14961693)
    LynuxWork's press releases are much more impressive than what they actually deliver. My company is trying to use their 178 OS for one of our products. The current version of the 178 OS does not have Linux ABI compatibility. It doesn't even use ELF binaries, it only runs XCOFF, which hasn't been supported by GCC for years. We're stuck with GnuPro 2.95, and are having lots of performance problems. When they gave us the first delivery, they didn't have the cache enabled! The compiler also didn't align floats properly, resulting in a interrupt and a software routine being called to realign operands for many floating point operations, which brought everything to a crawl. We still have lots of unresolved performance issues.

    The ARINC-653 features are (IMO) poorly implemented. Misconfiguration of 653 interfaces results in the processor resetting, without any meaningful error message, or indication of what the problem may be. A single process crashing in one partition can crash all the processes in that partition, or even the whole OS. We can't get the OS to produce core dumps or stack tracebacks, and are reduced to debugging with printfs.

    Don't get me wrong, this OS may be great when all the bugs are worked out. I just wish we weren't using it until then. I'm sure by the time they give it to Boeing, they'll have all the problems we are fighting with straightened out. If you decide to use LynxOS-178, think carefully, you won't be getting a simple turn-key OS, at least not any time soon.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday March 20, 2006 @10:21PM (#14961735) Journal
    And a little research turns up per-developer pricing, although not the per-unit run-time license cost. That's not actually unreasonable, given the cost of DO-178B Level A documentation, but still. Ouch.

    Note that, because it's a Linux API, the bulk of the development can be done on Linux platforms WITHOUT per-developer licenses.

    You'd need occasional testing against the real OS by someone "sitting in a licensed seat" - to check the behavior under the real OS's scheduling regime and detect reliance on missing or divergent features. And of course you'd have to hammer on it ifn licensed seats (and real or excelently hardware modeled aircraft devices) for final test. But if the licenses are sufficiently dear you concevably might end up ahead. (You wouldn't need per-seat licenses for initial prototyping work, either.)

    (The "reliability tested in later" nature of such an effort wouldn't be an extra burden if machines connected to prototype hardware or timing-accurate models of them also aren't available at all seats all the time.)

    A lot of software might not need close modeling thoughout development to get right.
  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:07PM (#14961884) Homepage Journal
    It's when the plane becomes overcrowded and the OOM Killer starts deleting passengers that take too much room that you might have to be concerned. Or selinux is enabled and the pilot doesn't have the right security label for the brakes...


    Back to the LynxOS stuff, though. If LynxOS can run Linux binaries, then people can develop on Linux and run under LynxOS. (Duh!) As the hardware for development is orders of magnitude more expensive than the development tools, I'm not sure it'll have much short-term impact in that direction. HOWEVER, it may result in top-of-the-line developers for aviation software migrating to Linux for basic development, which may pull some more of the commercial sector in that direction, as those developers HAVE to have money to burn. It may also result in bug reports from a new set of power-users, as the additional stresses reveal problems that more conventional usage isn't exposing. That may lead to improvements in Linux that wouldn't otherwise occur.


    It would be nice if LynxOS could do the same thing SGI and IBM did eight to ten years ago, now, which is to release kernel code fragments that people could experiment with and adapt into Linux or one of the BSDs. (Yes, they both did filesystems too, but I was thinking more of SGI's OB1 code release - an open-source set of Orange Book B1 security modules. I don't believe anyone ever used the code, which I think was stupid, but I feel confident that enough people learned from it that the security enhancements in Linux and the BSDs today are further along than they would have been.)


    It would also be nice if the few aviation electronics companies that produced Linux drivers either updated them (Linux 2.2 is old and wasn't the most stable series anyway) or they should Open Source them. If nobody can use the drivers as they are, it's pointless to have them on the website. If the drivers are free downloads anyway, it's impossible for the company to make a loss if someone were to produce a driver that worked better. And if someone DID produce a driver that worked better, the company might sell more hardware (either with a big stack of indemnities, or a higher pricetag to cover the re-certification).

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