I acknowledge that the title for this blog posting is an intriguing concept but I thought it would get your attention better than the official project name – Submarine Command System Next Generation (SMCS NG).
Windows for Submarines is the programme undertaken by the Royal Navy and BAE Systems to equip the nuclear-propelled and nuclear-armed warship fleet with a Windows-based command system. The transition to the Windows for Submarines command system on HMS Vigilant, a Trident nuclear missile submarine, was completed in just 18 days.
The Windows for Submarines programme is an example of one of the many areas where Microsoft works in partnership with the MOD to ensure that our products have the resilience, security and communications efficiency required to operate effectively in challenging military environments.
Posted by Ian
The thought of any OS that is used on everyday computers in a nuclear sub is frightening. It doesn't matter if it's Linux, Windows, or Mac. They all have problems with crashing, security holes, and not to mention, are all for profit. (yes even Linux) You may not pay for the software but imagine what the bill would be for support on a nuclear sub when it's under 800ft of water and it decides to crash.
In any case, I would not take "18 days" as a good result, but as an uncertain outcome. Military projects , should receive a more appropriate advice. If I were consulted on such an issue, I examine two solutions:
1) use the Minix, for its stable architecture for embedded systems and a paradigm of microkernel, reducing the gaps and doing a fast reboot of components that failed [to learn more about Minix, please use your favorite search engine]
2) Plan9, on his idea "everything is a file", the fast allocation of resources through an network for heavy calculations or navigation systems more accurate, and that also applies a semi-microkernel. You can imagine a scenario like this: the submarine have an network [connected or not] of
of different processors [arm, intel, etc] and the calculation of a target is taking too long, using plan9 you can "open" the idle proccessors creating
and instant cluster and making your calculation a lot faster. [to learn more about Plan9, use your favorite search engine ]
LOL watch the nuclear reactor blow up when they get a Blue Screen of Death and end the world
Oh - my - god. The world better be prepared to duck & cover. Often.
Sorry, but security holes in the Linux kernel? I'm sure that's true on SOME planet.
The point for MICROSOFT is to make money. The point of the Royal Navy is to defend the country. Unix's/Linux's security and reliability has been tried, tested and proven time and time again: Microsoft may have 90% of the market share, but Linux runs 90% of the internet, including Google, MySpace, FaceBook and other very popular websites.
Not only does Linux run a lot of the internet, but some Linux distributions have been specifically designed to:
Turn a computer into a dedicated firewall (which is *obviously* proof of its insecurity. </sarc>);
Run hospital life support systems;
(more recently) aid communications between the police on handheld devices in England;
Run, calculate and display results of the LHC;
etc. etc. etc.
If you haven't noticed, Linux isn't affected by the Economy: Microsoft is. That's because Microsoft is driven by profit: profit stops, the company rolls over and chokes to death. Linux is a not-for-profit project; it is added to and improved by volunteers. MILLIONS of volunteers. More volunteers then Microsoft has employees. Bugs in the Linux source code are fixed in weeks, or even days; Bugs in Windows source code is fixed in months, by comparison.
And lets not forget, because Linux is a not-for-profit project, whether its successful or not doesn't depend on the number of people that use it: it depends on whether it does the job for the person/organisation using it. Seeing as the person/organisation using it is often the person/organisation changing the source to suite their specific needs, it very often is successful. Whether Windows is successful or not isn't determined by whether it works, whether it does a specific task or whether it runs on specific hardware, it's determined by whether it makes Microsoft money, therefore it isn't specifically built, there aren't thousands of different distributions designed to do a specific task each, and the company paying Microsoft to use its operating system isn't allowed to change it: in this case, if they want Windows to do a specific task such as fire missiles or take data from radar scanners and translate it into digital output, the Navy would have to fork out more of the tax payer's money to pay Microsoft (or some other company) to do that.
there are large patent infrigements and security holes in the kernel.
In Russia, someone has just obtained a patent for Smileys
:) Sue me :P
Microsoft gives out tons of FUD about this, and only very stupid people give support. They could no longer succeed pursuing this avenue than they have done many times before - the truth is that Patent law needs revising.
I am fairly unaware of security holes in my computer - I have no signs of intrusion, and not a single byte of software running that I didn't intentionally install myself.
Microsoft are using a 'dock-like' method of launching software in 'cloud' - isn't that patented by Apple? Microsoft patented 'super user login for admin tasks' - hasn't that been going on from the first days of Unix?
Stop talking crap and behaving like an idiot. Grow up.
My original blog posting on Windows for Submarines seems to have caused a bit of a stramash in the blogosphere.
Can you provide a link to an article highlighting the security holes in the latest Linux kernel? I'm curious.
I've once worked on a military project (not in the UK though), which required reliable realtime systems. At some point some ministry "IT people" appeared and reviewed the equipment and asked some questions. One of them was "Why don't you just use Windows 95?" Really, they asked that stupid question. Ideal customer for a greedy seller is a stupid one. It's a shame though when idiots can decide what means are to be used for the national security. I'm all for home-brewed or customized OSS solution (no, that does not necessarily mean that you have to give away your source code to the whole world).
One thing that really irritates me about this sort of thing is the amount of Public Money poured into this project, with no benefit to the average user.
The submarines will be running Windows 2000, and due to the nature of the project, and the fact that the UK will be paying Microsoft top-dollar for the software and support, Microsoft will be obliged to provide security updates for this Operating System until it is retired.
However, these security fixes will NOT be released to the public past Microsoft's published deadline of mid-2010, due to stubborn marketing concerns.
I've never been in love with any Microsoft Operating system; they just don't really have that kind of fan support. But i don't mind Windows 2000; I legally own several machines which have a Windows 2000 COA label, so i don't need to pay the Windows Tax (TM) on these. However, the lack of support from Microsoft and other vendors is already starting to irritate me.
Microsoft could do the decent thing and issue rollup patches to the public from time-to-time after the 2010 deadline, but since when have they acted in the interests of their users in this way?
I posted a reply earlier, in which I noted the conflict between code quality and profit, plus indicated my disdain for the UK government relying upon foreign, closed source software. Reading the subsequent replies, I think some people have taken the wrong focus from my comments. So, let me clarify some points.
First of all, I never advocated the use of Linux. I deliberately didn't even use the term, “open source”. Instead, what I did say is that the UK government should have access to the source, which is a very different statement. The use of open source software is one way of achieving access; as such Linux or any other open source OS might fit the bill, provided it meets other engineering objectives. An alternative to open-source would be the special licensing of otherwise closed-source code. Yet another approach might be to develop the code in house. There are many alternatives, thus it is naive to take my comments as being pro-Linux. The reader should have instead understood that I am in favor of due diligence, good engineering and sensible, cost effective and secure solutions. This neither specifically includes nor precludes Linux. However, the tenet of my argument should preclude the use of Windows, which was my original point.
Secondly, although I never advocated the use of Linux specifically, I will redress what I feel is a common misconception and one that is repeated often above. Neither Windows nor Linux, nor any other operating system are without fault. Engaging in a flame-war about the relative security of the various alternatives is largely futile unless an objective measurement of each can be made. It is this point that leads us to an important difference between Windows and those alternatives for which the source is available; whereas the latter can actually be analyzed by the UK Government for security vulnerabilities, the former (Windows) cannot.
Lastly, I think some people have a very narrow view of what is or is not capitalistic. My company is very definitely a for-profit organization. As a frequent government contractor, we take on plenty of work that is either “firm-fixed price” or “cost plus” in nature. In both cases, we will always have specific deliverables in terms of functionality, for a given price. Moreover, the Government has oversight on what we can reasonably charge as direct labour rates and overhead. These types of contract are exactly what I expect are applied to hardware vendors on government programs too. Contrary to an earlier comment, which drew inference of not-for-profit hardware vendors, these mechanisms are entirely consistent with capitalistic ideals – no-body is working for potatoes here. The important point is that both mechanisms allow us to pay our staff and overhead and perhaps make a little extra for disbursement to shareholders, whilst the government gets control over the technical road map of future features and the quality thereof. By contrast, when you buy into a large, proprietary, closed-source consumer system, and especially foreign ones, you pay a fixed fee that includes substantial and infinitely variable profit, with no forward guarantees or other control on the technical road map or quality.
As a final comment, and as an analogy to the problem of infinitely inflatable profit margins, I would ask the US readers amongst us to comment on whether they perceive that the current nature of their health system is at odds with the goal of providing affordable health care for all. At the same I would ask the UK readers to comment, (whilst carefully remembering that all such systems must be marginally underfunded by design as a supply-demand control mechanism), whether doctors and nurses in the UK receive salaries or potatoes?
...and a directed reply to Denzilot...
Sounds like you guys had a tough time of it. You have my sympathy. However, without intending to offend, a software that is so error prone cannot be considered as a high quality product by any measure.
A modern Windows installation might be preferable to your difficult experience on the Vangard class of submarines, many years ago. Nevertheless, when looking forward to the future, the yardstick that we use to ensure quality standards are met cannot be that of previous failure. As much as experience is essential, it is also often true that yesterday's answers have nothing to do with today's questions.
So much for Windows security..
Seems like the article mentions the Fujitsu hardware, but mysteriously fails to mention Windows OS
Read this, about the viral infection of NavyStar system: http://www.itpro.co.uk/609550/royal-navy-systems-hit-by-computer-virus
Now go look at at the diagram shown on page 10 of http://www.cesg.gov.uk/products_services/iacs/cc_and_itsec/media/certreps/CRP230.pdf. Note in particular the box in the lower bottom of the diagram, with the words "NavyStar PC's with Windows XP".
There certainly needs to be a high level of trust between the government (MOD) and their supplier to adopt a closed source system. In although I'm very much a *nix fan and have used Solaris, Irix and Linux, I'm constantly amazed at the MS bashing that goes on with *unix fans.
In general I think a far more important factor are the individuals implementing and configuring a system and their skills and not the choice of operating system that matters. Of course this is a generalization - sometimes *unix is demonstrably better and on other occasions MS Windows.