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In Case You Missed It: Linux In Space!

Date/Time Permalink: 05/30/13 01:26:00 pm
Category: General

I know I certainly didn't see this story get nearly enough exposure: Robert Rose of the ambitious (to say the least) private enterprise space program SpaceX says he uses Linux software throughout its technical base. In fact, he was a Slackware slackie as far back as 1994 (hardcore former Slackware bros represent!) Hey, he even quotes Fred Brooks!

Putting aside my considerable skepticism at the SpaceX project's feasibility, I think it's a notch in Linux's belt to be so thoroughly trusted with space hardware. And a heck of a lot more notable than a sticker on a racecar (yes, I'll never get tired of beating up con artists, even when said cons have moved on to fake cancer schemes).

And now a digression. If all you came here for was the SpaceX story, adios!

I came upon this month-old news by way of this hours-old post comparing the Linux kernel favorably to the moon landing in terms of notable human achievements. Well, yeah, I do agree that Linux and the moon-landing at least belong in the same top-ten.

But I would raise the following points:

#1 The initial space program did a lot to shape our current computer industry. Inventions born out of necessity in reaching the moon later came down to Earth to power our desktops and smartphones. So really, Linux (and Unix and all software) at least has some debt of gratitude to the space programs of the past.

#2 When people are grousing that "we don't do big things anymore", they're talking about the United States. Linux was started by a Finnish programmer; most of worldwide Linux adoption as well as Linux development has happened outside the US. Here, watch what comes up when I Google "government adopts Linux" in quotes:

Notice anyone big missing from the party?

What US-based Linux adoption there has been has mostly been the product of corporations that are also multinational. There's no Yankee Doodle playing when Linux boots, bub.

Sure, we know that other countries are going on into the Jetsons age while the US will stay in the Flintstones era. We figured that out when we started learning feet and pounds and quarts in school. Or when we compare our Internet speeds with our international peers. Or, heck, when we see pictures of infrastructure in European plus-sign-flagged countries while we're lucky if we can drive a whole truck over an American bridge.

We got into the space race in the first place because of Commie paranoia. I sometimes wish the US would catch the same fever over Netherlands Socialism paranoia, because, by God, that would be somebody to beat!

Anyway, Linux in space, yay for the computer geeks of all nations. In spite of Microsoft... an AMERICAN software corporation.

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