I can't imagine that they would be using Microsoft Windows-based systems. No way. I highly DO NOT recommend it.
And exactly how many large Windows deployments do you have under your belt, or even deployments period?
A UNIX system is much much more reliable than any NT, Win2000, XP out there. I would be running Solaris, AIX, or even HP-UX (considering the really high cost for commercial UNIX).
Actually that statement is both true and untrue. A well admined Unix system is more reliable than Windows because of the way it's built. With the exception of kernel upgrades, you can apply all patches to *nix system without a reboot because it has better process management, thus allowing well admined *nix systems run practically forever.
But it isn't bullet proof if an admin isn't watching over it, there are hundreds of exploits out there, for the various *nix systems, but the affect generally particular modules, so people look at them and say "That's an Apache exploit," instead when an IIS exploit most simple say, "It's an Windows exploit."
And one other note about time, UNIX systems even have built-in UTC Clock.
Umm so does Windows, you simply set the computer to UTC
time, and tell it the proper time zone.
So why would a function as critical as air traffic control be using an operating system that is any less reliable or vulnerable to hacking? It just doesn't make sense.
How's 100% uptime (from a usability standpoint, we can have up to 5 servers down in many of my installations and still handle full load)?
Aircraft computers use embedded OSs with their own codebase. Even if they were based on something like Linux they are very stripped down.
If anyone is running Linux, they aren't tell anyone because I don't see any GPL code on any of the major avionics manufactures websites.
We have many large UNIX machines with thousands of days of uptime.
I know of NT
4 systems that are at thousand days of uptime. There are even some NT
3.51 systems that may have passed the two thousand mark. There might be some Windows 2000 systems with a thousand days, but it would be just barely since it's only been just over 4 years since release.
Yes it is. Its a fully implemented BSD system that does just happen to have a pretty interface. It's worlds more advanced than Windows, although its certainly not as highly featured as some of the big UNIX platforms.
Actually it has the features but it doesn't use them. Most OS
X updates require a reboot, since they don't seem to trust the OS
to kill and restart the processes correctly. And why would they go OS
X (when they have to customize it anyway) instead they can go payment free with FreeBSD or OpenBSD.
Edit: Also OS X is BSD based it's not BSD, they still run a Mac kernel, they simply use BSD code for IO and memory management.
In aircraft certification, there are several levels of software. Level A for the most critical functions and Level E for the least. It is unacceptable to use level E systems to even monitor level A systems. There are NO level A functions controlled by a Windows operating system. It just seems crazy to essentially use what is equivalent to Level E software to provide air traffic control. I'm not saying that I know what ATC uses, but I do know what is used on aircraft.
Actually there are some facilities that use Windows. In critical roles even like the radio system. Someone above posted that their terminals run in Windows. A well admined Windows system, is very stable and secure (on the lines of 99-100%).
Couldn't the information be used by someone to compromise or "hack" into the ATC system?
Yes and no. Depends on the firewall, user settings, and exploits available. During the hack week a couple of years back, our company had a grand total of 4 hacks, two were root exploits on Linux dedicated servers (both rented by the same guy, the idiot never applied any patches since we handed the machines over). The other two were on our shared hosting Windows boxes. The log file clearly shows how they got in, they guess the password, and since those accounts (they can turn on and off the security lockout with out FTP system) didn't have the lockout on, the hackers were free to keep on guessing the passwords until they guessed the right one.
[Edited 2004-11-01 01:11:55]
[Edited 2004-11-01 01:14:27]
At worst, you screw up and die.