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Solaris deposed as US drone-ware, replaced by Linux administration

Death from above brought to you by the happy, peaceful world of open source

Hey, Linux fans: a high-profile, colossal, global outfit is about to dump a proprietary operating system and replace it with Linux in a very, very, demanding application that literally involves life and death situations.

We've known this for a while actually, since 2012 to be precise, as that is when the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River in Maryland first announced it was keen on Linux-powered software to control the Northrop Grumman MQ-8. The "Fire Scout", as it is also known, is an unmanned helicopter said to offer “unprecedented situation awareness and precision targeting support” and capable of carrying Hellfire and/or laser-guided missiles..

We now learn, thanks to an Avionics Intelligence report, that Linux not only got the gig but displaced Solaris. The swap is billed as enabling development of a more intuitive system and easier future software upgrades. Presumably for more accurate delivery of death from above.

The move to Linux will irk Oracle for two reasons. Firstly, any vendor hates to lose a customer anywhere. But Oracle also, in October 2013, published a white paper arguing that open source software represents unacceptable risk in military applications. That effort seems not to have won it many friends by the Patuxent River. ®

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