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FAA Grants RSC Status to Linux-Friendly RTOS 99

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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  • OMFG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:04PM (#14960665)
    That's a lot of acronyms!
  • NGTH (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kawahee ( 901497 )
    The article says it allows for better integration into mission critical applications. However, I don't see this happening.

    Realistically, mission-critical developers aren't going to trust code written by the public, certified or not. There's no responsibility to the developers if something goes wrong with that code.
    • Re:NGTH (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:13PM (#14960725)
      Of course you don't trust it. That's why you review the code and make sure it looks okay.

      Even that can be a whole lot cheaper than writing it yourself.
    • Re:NGTH (Score:3, Informative)

      by Valar ( 167606 )
      You know, there is an actual vendor selling this, right? As in, there is a company that sells it, that you could go to if something goes wrong.
      • Re:NGTH (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fly ( 18255 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:29PM (#14960835) Homepage
        I think he must be referring to the applications, not the OS itsef. LynxOS is not Linux. It's proprietary real-time OS that can run Linux applications. The LynxOS itself is backed by the vendor, and it's pretty good from what I hear. However, the applications built on it depend on the skill of the application developers, not the OS vendor.
    • Re:NGTH (Score:2, Informative)

      I hope that you weren't implying that LynxOS-178 was "written by the public" -- the summary and the article were both indicated that LynxOS is a proprietary RTOS capable of running binaries compiled for Linux. Despite the name (LynuxWorks), the system is not derived from Linux in any way.
      • Re:NGTH (Score:3, Informative)

        by WindBourne ( 631190 )
        Derived? No. Use the same code that Linux uses? Yes. The core kernel is mostly their work. But the API and all the supporting tools are mostly from GNU/Linux.
    • Oh give me a break. The code is right there. It can be reviewed unencumbered. This anti-Linux bigotry just gets goofier by the minute.
      • So, what code do you review? And what kernel version? And what happens when there's the next big kernel version jump? How many people and how much time does it take to review all that code?

        The advantage of an RTOS like LynxOS or Green Hills Integerity, or VxWorks, is that it just works, sure that price sounds pretty big, but compare it to the time of digging through all the code yourself. It is possible to get a version of Linux that could pass DO-178B certification, but it's something else entirerly to
    • Re:NGTH (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:40PM (#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 )
        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!
        • by sadr ( 88903 )
          Handheld and panel mount GPS systems are typically not certified for use in aircraft. They may be used to "aid situational awareness" but are not to be used to navigate the aircraft.

          Everyone does, but they're not certified.
          • Re:NGTH (Score:3, Informative)

            by PPGMD ( 679725 )
            Huh? Ghee thats why we have GPS approaches?

            Just about anything permanently mounted to an aircraft requires FAA approval, most early GPSs were not IFR approved, but now almost all panel mount GPSs have certification for enroute navigation, and many have approval for approach use (on GPS approaches).

            I know this for a fact because I had a field inspector yelling at me about a camera mount until I showed him that it was removable, and not a hazard to flight.

            The FAA
            We're not happy, until you're not happy.

            • Re:NGTH (Score:4, Informative)

              by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @09:11PM (#14961246) Journal
              FAA Aproval is nothing. There are various classes and certifications of instrumentations. I am a developer, so I do not really get into all that stuff, but here is the general breakdown;
              • Class A; a laptop that you carry with aviation equipment or a GPS.
              • Class B; an instrument that is IN the dashboard. But all it gets is POWER. It is not allowed to interact with anything else.
              • Class C; In the dash and ability to read the data from the aircraft bus; that is it can display the status of the aircraft.
              • Class D/E; in the dash, and not only reads, but writes data on the bus; that is it can be used for control.
              If anybody else has the real scoop, go for broke on it.
            • by sadr ( 88903 )
              You are correct. If it is actually panel mounted, and not "removable", it will be certified to some degree. It maybe just be for "situational awareness" and not connected to any kind of flight guidance or be certified for GPS approaches or even WAAS.

              I'm just more familiar with the "handheld" units (Frequently semi-permanently mounted) that aren't certified at all.

              And something running NT4.0? *shiver*

            • Umm, i have a GPS enabled/radio autopilot installed on my boat. It says right on it "not a navigational system" "it is up to the user to ensure proper charts and navigation is being followed"

              The strange thing is that the reciever and controlers are certified for aviation use with the same warnings. Supposedly this system can be used to control small aircraft with a little different hardware and hookup. Ohh yea, and suprisingly it is reletivly cheap. The control unit and recievers cost around $5,000 us to bu
              • Thats because your unit wasn't IFR certified. There are plenty of GPSs with that label, all aviation oriented handhelds should have that label, along with many of the early GPSs.

                The aircraft I fly had a duel Garmin 530 outfit with TCAS, certified for both ILS Cat I and GPS Enroute, and Approaches.

        • That is just one part of a total system. Keep in mind that the nav. part that you saw was not connected into anything. All it did was have a self contained GPS and displayed a moving map. To be able to touch ANYTHING beyond the power of an aircraft, requires an OS178B cert. OS. Right now, the company that I work at owns their market (about 98% of all aviation navigation; guess who). Currently, we have a great deal of windows products. But we are in the process of moving them into the cockpit. So we are usin
        • TomTom GO series run on linux - they boot it off the SD card in the case of the Go300 and Go500. Google for "opentom" for a team of people who are rolling their own images.
      • That is why we use certificated OSs in critical areas of the cockpit.

        Famous last words.
    • Realistically, mission-critical developers aren't going to trust code written by the public, certified or not. There's no responsibility to the developers if something goes wrong with that code.

      Let's think about this for a second. Would you rather ride in a plane that has the autopilot running on Windows or Linux?

      Somehow the fact that MSFT has the money to pay off my weeping family does not inspire me to trust them more. It's not who writes the code, it's who certifies the code if something goes wron

      • No one would ever design a critical flight system for commerical aviation based on windows. Thats why they make DO-178B'able OSs :)
      • How about neither? The certification mentioned in the article is used for mission-critical applications. Windows doesn't have it, Linux doesn't have it. Proprietary OS's power stuff like that.
    • As others have mentioned, this is a proprietary OS that supports the Linux ABI, not any version of Linux.

      I've developed and shipped software certified to DO-178B level A on a likewise certified OS (on two different aircraft), and I can state categorically that no widely-used general purpose OS will ever be certified to that level. The requirements are just way too stringent to apply to anything that wasn't developed from the ground up with the intent of achieving certification. For level A software for

  • Oh, great. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Roadkill ( 731328 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:13PM (#14960731)
    /dev/altimiter not found
    GE-xxxx: scsi2: AEN: WARNING: SMART threshold exceeded: Engine #3
    Kernel panic: defect on /dev/wing/left - printer on fire?
    • This is why I use Gentoo. Just a simple "emerge -u left-wing no-engine-fire", wait for it to compile... ...{long wait for compile to finish, even with my riced out os} ... ... problem fixed.
    • 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

  • Does that the plane will crash when the engine control unit auto shuts down the engines due to a seg fault?
  • Acronym overload (Score:3, Informative)

    by Life700MB ( 930032 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:17PM (#14960750)

    * FAA [google.com].
    * RTOS [google.com]

    Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, $7.95
  • In summary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zenst ( 558964 )
    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 :)
    • Holy run-on confusing sentence with garbled wording and random nonsensical DRM reference with strange out of place parenthesis (that just serve to confuse the sentence even more) in the middle of the already long and mangled run-on, batman!
  • Acronyms (Score:2, Funny)

    by Digitus1337 ( 671442 )
    I for one welcome our new acronym... OL's.
  • And pricing... (Score:4, Informative)

    by sadr ( 88903 ) <skg@sadr.com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @08:50PM (#14961176)
    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.
    Price and Availability
    In addition to the LynxOS-178 kernel, the offering also includes a complete artifacts package for the kernel and user library, DO-178B required documentation, code coverage test suites and analysis for 100% modified condition/decision coverage of the kernel and libraries, a full suite of standards-based development tools, and support. The company will also soon release the industry's first commercial-off-the-shelf certifiable TCP/IP stack. Development seats, including the LynxOS-178 kernel and one year of priority support, start at $18,000.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday March 20, 2006 @11:21PM (#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.
      • I haven't investigated this product, but I think this is "per developer", not a floating seat license.

        Realistically, when the time comes to do debugging, you wouldn't want fewer seats than developers anyway.

        And you're not really running on a PC here. You'd almost certainly be running on proprietary hardware, hooked up to special power supplies, with bizarre aviation hardware interfaces. Each target box might run a substantial fraction of $18k.

        And to be honest, the cost of generating DO-178B Level A docume
    • IIRC, compared to other aviation & avionics software, that's a bargain. The support there is probably a significant portion of that cost too. Still, peanuts compared to the cost of a coder's time in the aviation industry. I'm not IN the avionics industry, but I know several people that work for a couple such companies.
  • "FAA Grants RSC Status to Linux-Friendly RTOS"

    What'd they do to make Return of the Sith more friendly to Linux users? ltsbr -rf?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 fl
  • LynuxWorks? Yes, I'm sure that's a complete, good faith coincidence... How am I supposed to pronounce that without saying Linux? I don't like the use of confusion here.
  • Some OS that's able to run Linux binaries might be (rightly) judged as showing that Linux is something to be taken seriously, but I really don't see how this feature makes it "friendly" to Linux. It's a bit like saying Microsoft was being "friendly" to Netscape with the release of Internet Explorer.
  • no USB in lynx (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    lynxOS did not have drivers for USB the last time i worked with it

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