Is your code fast? Ours goes 17,000 miles per hour!
Recent articles on the International Space Station (ISS) have mentioned that the astronauts on board will be issued laptop computers (called "PGSCs") running Win95. In fact, the Space Shuttle astronauts already have laptops, but they must frequently be rebooted. This creates an opportunity for GNU/Linux; GNU/Linux can free the astronauts from Win95 crashes. Imagine the sound bites: "At least our GNU/Linux laptops don't crash all the time."
LEAP is a project to port to GNU/Linux those applications that the astronauts use on their laptops, so that each astronaut has a choice of operating systems. We know that several of the astronauts already use GNU/Linux at home, and would appreciate being able to use it "at work" too.
GNU/Linux has already flown in orbit, both in experiment modules and on an IBM ThinkPad. It will certainly be built into at least some experiments flown on the ISS. This project is meant to extend its benefits to the astronauts themselves, garner favorable publicity for freed software from high- (very high-!) profile users, liberate those NASA programs, and have some fun.
NOTE: This project is "on hold" until somebody can get some coöperation from NASA or ESA personnel. If you know anybody there with any resposibility for the ISS, pester them to come forward. If we can get a copy of the software, we can duplicate it and improve on it in short order, and post it. There will be no reason not to switch, then. (Certainly it would be foolish for them to try to run MSExchange there, which they seem to be planning!)
NEW This from comp.risks 19.74:
NASA has had problems with Computer Virus contamination in the past. In October 1997 NASA spread a Macro Virus (which infects MS Office products such as MS Word wordprocessor) from Houston to Moscow, and infected the workstations that are used for Mir spacestation ground control including daily communications with the Mir Crew. While the on-board computers on the Mir spacestation were not infected, the laptop used by the American astronaut was.Draw your own conclusions.
We now have a separate discussion mailing list; see below.
We have some logo submissions to look at.
Official documents are now in HTML and PDF.
We have had a report that the latest plan for officially sanctioned OS on the ISS laptops is not Win95, it is Solaris 2.6. This is good news for us. Why?
- Current laptops are 486's.
- The current 486's haven't the oomph to run Solarix.
- Mission software really should be ported and tested in shuttle missions before the ISS becomes habitable.
- The best porting target consistent with eventual execution on Solarix laptops, given current hardware, is GNU/Linux.
- After running GNU/Linux the astronauts may well find they prefer it over Solarix for its low resource demands and better integration with laptop hardware. (Does Solarix support APM, PCMCIA, and IrDA?)
- In any case, code can remain portable between GNU/Linux and Solarix.
- NASA should be more open to porting help, now that they need the ports for official reasons.
We now have lots of information about the software, the hardware, the people who make decisions about them, and the people who make them work. Note: please don't pester these people; they know about us and will get in touch when they're ready to. (See also the other pages below.)
For now, we're just getting set up. We need volunteers:
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subscribe leap(Never fear, this is and will remain a low-volume list.) Once you're on the list, please introduce yourself, and tell us what you're good at. Project announcements will appear on this main list. If you want to participate in discussions about LEAP, we have another list. To subscribe to it, add the line
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We can put GNU/Linux in (permanent) orbit!