U.S. Navy turns to Linux to run its drone fleet

Discussion in 'Other Operating Systems' started by antipody, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. antipody

    antipody Member

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    U.S. Navy turns to Linux to run its drone fleet

    Geez... quite a vote of confidence from a security POV I guess...
     
  2. IACSecurity

    IACSecurity Member

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    How cool are those little helicopters :)
     
  3. GooSE

    GooSE New Member

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    BSD would have been a better choice :leet:
     
  4. CaptainBlame

    CaptainBlame Member

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    True but it's unmanned, so not mission critical ;)
     
  5. IACSecurity

    IACSecurity Member

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    The other day I read that no one uses BSD anymore anyway, using Linux is more modern and cool (hence they they have modern and cool helicopters).

    If they used BSD the helicopters would look more like this:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. ewok85

    ewok85 Member

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    I'd love to know more about their UAV's in general. I've been messing around with my own little dinky remote control quadcopter, and it doesn't take much to fly or control it -

    [​IMG]

    This is the Ardupilot Mega, a "pro-quality IMU autopilot based on the Arduino Mega platform, which can turn any RC vehicle into a fully autonomous Unmanned Aerial (or Ground) Vehicle".

    Fully autonomous, includes GPS and can very easily add a camera for real time video feeds. If you had access, you could easily add satellite uplinks and control and monitor it from anywhere in the world.

    If amateurs can get their hands on this, what exactly is the military using I wonder...
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  7. Mac

    Mac Member

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    2012 - Year of the Linux Desktop Warfare Systems?
     
  8. lithos

    lithos Member

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    "Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don't know what the hell they want and will drive you up a wall before they break either your heart or a more exposed part of your anatomy." - Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, Lockheed Skunk Works engineer.

    Maybe every other software vendor just told them to fuck off, or went broke...
     
  9. stmok

    stmok Member

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    Look up Northrop Grumman MQ-8B. That's the drone in question.

    This is an armed version of a drone that has been in service since 2002...Armed as in Hellfire anti-tank missiles and laser-guided rockets. (Its similar in layout to the unguided rocket pods you'll see on Apache or Cobra attack helicopters, but its more expensive and accurate. Still far lower cost than firing off a Hellfire missile.)

    Probably something similar, but modified to satisfy various mil-spec standards. The US military tends to have a hard-on for Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology.

    For example:

    The real-time systems in military hardware are often equipped with advanced hardware memory protection and secure partitions for each sub-system. Unlike your typical consumer OS, the memory system is designed to offer guaranteed functionality. Stuff doesn't slow down or lock-up if it runs out of memory. It just limits and re-allocates resources. It doesn't allow you to do stupid things like you can with your desktop/notebook system. So they have scheduling protection. Components are expressly written for one purpose and not allowed to do anything else. Kernel has its own memory stack. And there's another one for a user process. Memory-based attacks don't happen with these systems like they do on consumer ones. No buffer/stack/heap overflow related vulnerabilities.

    ...On-top of all this, it needs to be robust. So platform itself has to undergo testing through NSA's National Information Assurance Program (NIAP) lab. ie: They have extremely intelligent people who's job is to hack the crap out of it in order to guarantee specific stringent standards and certifications.

    So when a drone falls into enemy hands (like the RQ-170 Sentinel that did in Iran); one will only be able to read maintenance logs and nothing more. They won't be able to get into the Classified-rated stuff...Which is exactly what happened when Iran bragged about knowing where the drone had been in terms of maintenance activities! :lol: Anyone familiar with military systems will laugh at propaganda! :D

    I don't quite agree with that statement :lol: ...Mainly because I know the US Army has been using Red Hat Linux since 2007. (They are Red Hat's single biggest customer...All funded by the American taxpayer!)

    The USAF is switching over to Linux for its drone's ground control system, because the Windows-based ones became infected with malware in Sept 2011. (The GCS doesn't actually fly the drone. That's a separate system for obvious redundancy reasons. Its for management of missions, etc.)

    Look at the following unclassified slides...

    The centre display is the user interface part of the GCS. It's Windows-based.
    [​IMG]

    It's a two-person team, as they rotate between flying and watching things from a tactical perspective. (Drone missions go for hours.)

    They're upgrading the solution to wide-screen displays and transitioning to a Linux-based GCS.
    [​IMG]


    For the US Navy's MQ-8B Fire Scout program, a custom version of Linux is being used for the Tactical Control System. The TCS is for mission planning, data link communications, surveillance imagery processing, etc. The contractor (Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems), also did a scaled-down prototype version using Solaris 8 on laptops.

    The OS on the drone itself is likely to be using something like Green Hills's INTEGRITY Real-Time OS. A known and thoroughly tested solution for mission critical applications like used in military systems.

    ...Interestingly, Green Hills Software doesn't like Linux for its open source nature. :Paranoid:
    => http://eetimes.com/electronics-news/4048562/Green-Hills-calls-Linux-insecure-for-defense
     
  10. Moki

    Moki Member

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  11. Swathe

    Swathe (Banned or Deleted)

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    I have always wondered whether there would be a direct correlation between the increase in adoption of linux by government/military agencies and the increase of malicious software/viruses etc exploiting vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel.

    Also I assume they will have to make changes to the kernel to run on their particular equipment, of all the work they carry out I wonder how much will be open sourced.
     
  12. j3ll0

    j3ll0 Member

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    Theo had that falling out with DARPA what, about a decade ago? Got OpenBSD's funding pulled?

    .
     
  13. brad81

    brad81 Member

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    I cannot remember, but wasn't it the US Navy (or USAF) who used Linux PS3 clusters a while back??
     
  14. f3n1x

    f3n1x Member

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    Wasn't that the saddam government because the US wouldn't sell them any powerful computers (fearing they'd be used for uranium enrichment).
     
  15. SpudBoy

    SpudBoy Member

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    i'm pretty sure there was an embargo on selling/shipping PS2s to them for this reason.

    was a while ago though so my memory may be a little off.
     
  16. lithos

    lithos Member

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  17. ewok85

    ewok85 Member

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    Thanks stmok! Fascinating stuff :)
     
  18. phreeky82

    phreeky82 Member

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    So no more selling aircraft to other countries and not providing the source code? :D (yeah right)
     
  19. stmok

    stmok Member

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    They don't give the source code out to their closed source systems anyway! They only allow technology sharing in specific cases, and it must be approved by Congress. All an overseas customer can do is provide incentive to encourage the sharing. (What value/contribution are you willing to offer in return for them opening up their technology to you?)

    As a result, when you see us buy planes for our RAAF, we don't have access to specific things like the core avionics and flight system software. Its still closed off to us. I do recall that we've had to hack and reverse engineer something in our legacy Hornets to better address a problem that is specific to our usage of the plane.

    Sometimes, US can make compromises. In the case of the Israeli version of the upcoming F-35, they're allowing certain Israeli avionics to replace the original ones. So they've implemented a plug-in architecture for the F-35I model. (Kind of like web browser extension framework to allow for new features to the browser.) ...The core avionics architecture are still off limits. Its the same with our F-35 order for the RAAF.

    Even if they use open source, it'll be configured in a non-standard way, with strict usage policies and guidelines...They still abide by the GPL, but use their closed-source applications on-top of a Linux based system. (Of course, they've got to get things tested beforehand, like via NSA's NIAP lab.) ...They don't just blindly download a distro and install it on a system willy-nilly. It has to go through mountains of paperwork, audits, testing, and restricted to certain security levels of use.


    For military planes, they often use a proprietary, closed system they've built themselves or acquired via a contractor who has a reputation for a robust OS. Its usually coded in C++ or Ada programming language. For example, the original software in the F-22 was in Ada. This is being transitioned to C++. While the F-35 software was written in C++ from the start. (This is mainly because there's more people with C++ experience than Ada. And the US Govt having lifted their mandatory Ada requirement.)
     
  20. phreeky82

    phreeky82 Member

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    It was just a joke.

    Though TBH I doubt they'll even bother abiding by the GPL, providing the source code for the OS on top of which everything runs would be unwise.

    edit: A bit of clarification - in reality nobody is going to call them on the GPL license thing, so why bother abiding by it?
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012

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