US Army struggles with Windows to Linux overhaul

The greatest penguin migration of all time


In multiple media reports over the past two weeks, the US Army has professed its love for the penguin. The Army eventually intends to move from a Windows-based infrastructure over to Linux for its new, roughly $200bn weapons program.

But the Army has largely been prepping new Linux-friendly weapons, vehicles, and devices before the completion of a software network to connect them to its existing Windows-based infrastructure — or blithely, putting the chariot before the warhorse.

When the Army began development of its next-gen hardware (dubbed Future Combat Systems, or FCS), they turned to Boeing and SAIC to develop the operating system rather than basing the software on its established Blue Force Tracking.

Blue Force is a Windows-based satellite tracking system designed by Boeing rival Northrop Grumman. It was used in combat in Afghanistan in 2002 and later in Iraq. Both the development of the FCS project and Blue Force are currently being funded at the same time. In 2008 the Army budgeted $3.1bn to the FCS program and $624m for Blue Force Tracking.

And while it seems both systems are being embraced by the Army, Boeing's OS and Blue Force may not share the sentiments with each other. FCS is going Linux.

"Boeing and the Army said they chose not to use Microsoft's proprietary software because they didn't want to be beholden to the company," reports The Washington Post. "Instead, they chose to develop a Linux-based operating system based on publicly available code."

That potentially presents a major problem for the first brigade of Linux-based FCS vehicles expected to be introduced in 2015. Linux-based systems have a limited ability to communicate with Microsoft-based systems. And interoperability issues aren't something you want to deal with in a war zone.

According to the US Army online pub, Defense News, they'll first try to patch things up using Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

"Red Hat 5 will link Linux with Microsoft and allow FCS forces to link with other brigade combat teams," an Army official told Defense News. "This will be an interim solution because over the long haul, eventually all of the Army's networks will be Linux-based."

For a long-haul migration from Microsoft to Linux — the Army doesn't seem to be so sure what it will do. So they're bringing some 70 programmers, engineers and other IT professionals to Washington to brainstorm in four "Battle Command" summits.

The first two summits were held in September and November, with two upcoming sessions in February and April. According to Defense News, the Army says there has been "progress" in outlining time lines for the integration.

Works for us. ®

Correction:

Defense News is a part of an independent media organization that covers various aspects of the armed forces. We apologize for the error.


Other stories you might like

  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    We'll see you around the Block

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022