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U.S. Military Drones Are Going to Start Running on Linux

Illustration for article titled U.S. Military Drones Are Going to Start Running on Linux

Raytheon is making a bold move: it's dumping the proprietary operating system Solaris in favor of Linux for the control systems of its U.S. military drones.

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According to a May 2nd Avionics Intelligence report, Raytheon entered into a $15.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy earlier this month to upgrade their control systems to Linux. The first vehicle to be upgraded will be the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter, pictured above.

The switch is supposed to make for a more intuitive control system and should make future software upgrades more straightforward—saving money in the long term. Still, it's a an impressive amount of trust to place in an open source OS project, and a move that will likely irk Oracle, the developers of Solaris.

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In fact, in October 2013 Oracle published a white paper arguing that open source software is unacceptably risky for military applications. Clearly, the U.S. Military and Raytheon disagree. [Linux Gizmos, The Register]

Image by Raytheon

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DISCUSSION

SO we face two main issues, on one side you have open source. Which has over the past 20 years proven to be less secure. Yes some script kids will argue differently. But in the real world has not had a successful track record. On the other side you have Oracle, which has a tendency to use the cheapest labor force available, allowing code to be developed in countries that have had a long history of not actually being interested in our security. Now if the are using a Linux kernel running an in house managed distro, with tight control over the introduction of libraries that may be risky. That could be a different story. But the article does not expand on that.