wardialer
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ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:57 am

What operating system does the ATC use?? Do they use Linux, UNIX, or Windows-based ???
 
wardialer
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ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:03 am

Something weird happened here to my post. So if its a double Im sorry.

What operating system does the ATC use on there computer systems? Is it UNIX, Linux, or Windows-based???
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 3:58 am

I would put my money on Unix for some and some closed source for others (OS/400, S/390...)

For newer systems, Linux and Windows. But these systems are very much altered from their original incarnations. To start with, anything non-essential is stripped out.
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MrFord
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:13 am

I know that for NavCan, here in Canada, they use a brand new system based on Windows NT/2000 OS that run on a Pentium II-class PC.

Some computers run on Linux too, as most of the servers. It looks like a relativly standard Gigabit Ethernet network, but with a lot more redundancy than your normal NT network !

Here's some interesting links about those systems :

Integrated Information Display System (IIDS) - Extended Computer Display System (EXCDS)

http://www.navcanada.ca/contentdefinitionfiles/TechnologySolutions/products/IIDS/excds/IIDS-EXCDSen.pdf


Gander Automated Air Traffic System (GAATS)

http://www.navcanada.ca/contentdefinitionfiles/TechnologySolutions/products/StandAlone/gaats/GAATSen.pdf


Converging Runway Display Aid (CRDA)/Visual Aircraft Spacing Tool (VAST)

http://www.navcanada.ca/contentdefinitionfiles/TechnologySolutions/products/StandAlone/vast/CRDA-VASTen.pdf


Northern Airspace Display System (NADS)

http://www.navcanada.ca/contentdefinitionfiles/TechnologySolutions/products/StandAlone/nads/NADSen.pdf


Scheduling and Sequencing System (SASS)

http://www.navcanada.ca/contentdefinitionfiles/TechnologySolutions/products/StandAlone/sass/SASSen.pdf


You can check at http://www.navcanada.ca/NavCanada.asp?Language=en&Content=ContentDefinitionFilesTechnologySolutionsproductsdefault.xml, this is where I found those brochures, you'll also find a great demonstration of the CRDA/VAST system used at YYC for simultaneous convergent runway usage.
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OPNLguy
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:13 am

Check this out.... Maybe if you know which computers, you'll know which OS...

http://www.faa.gov/apa/pr/pr.cfm?id=706
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PPGMD
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:41 am

At LAX they are using at least one Windows 95 box. At least that's what took out their radio system.
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wardialer
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OS Type

Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:23 am

But what are they running as far as storing Clearance Delivery, flight plans, Time of Departures, and that sort of thing???

Would they be running a UNIX-like system such as HP-UX, Solaris, or BSD???

GREAT INFO HERE.
 
mNeo
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:46 am

i belive i have seen pics of ATC towers having windows based systems. it would seem more logical for them to have a DOS based product as it will run better on slower machines.
also i would have to say that those systems are old (95) because of the uncomplexity of the software.
i think that Unix or Linux would be a little too complicated to operate if something happened to the computer compared to just about everyone knowing how to reboot windows.
You have to remember that ATC systems are not anything complicated that requires XP with a P4 system. most of them are pretty simple with non-complicated graphics. and dont compile expensive amout of info.

BTW i really dont know what they use im just making anm educated guess
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 5:57 am

Regarding http://www.faa.gov/apa/pr/pr.cfm?id=706


An IBM RISC 6000, model H-50 computer.

Nowadays known as IBM eserver pSeries, these can run AIX (IBM flavor of Unix) or Linux.


The new G3, a System/390 computer,

Nowadays known as IBM eserver zSeries, these can run zOS (formerly S/390) or Linux.

h

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
videns
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 7:07 am

Back in 1996 I met a guy that wrote ATC code for a living. This was for the EZE tower in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I seem to recall that the system was running UNIX, but I might be wrong...
Is the software written for these systems custom written code, or is there an off-the-shelf software that airports can buy? If so, does the software get customized for the airport that it's going to be running for? What about certification of the software and/or systems?
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PPGMD
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 7:18 am

Videns,

It depends, LM has off the shelf systems that can be installed fairly cheaply (well compared the the billions that the FAA wastes away with little results). But for upgrading systems like we are doing in the US it should be pretty custom, but not quite on an airport to airport basis though.

Edit: That's LM, I hate this stupid forum acronym software

[Edited 2004-10-25 00:19:18]
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Contact_tower
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:53 am

Here in Norway the AFTN interface use OS2 (which is crap btw), but apart from that, it's pretty much Windows XP Pro. Edit. on systems newer then 3 years.

I work TWR/APP, and if I want to i can actually minimize the radar software, and get into the Windows inviroment.
We have tought of a good way to scare the shite out of our boss the next time the CAA is on inspection: Minimize the radar software on the director scope (seldom used), and launch Windows Pinball!!!!!

I'm afraid both him and the inspectors would have a fit!  Big grin

(More on that radar system here: http://www.terma.com/page.dsp?page=381 TERADS-TWR illustration taken by yours truly! )
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:56 am

OS2 (which is crap btw),

From a useability standpoint, I would agree. But OS/2 was a very stable offering and is still in use today by many banks.

I think with XP Pro you are only thinking of the client side (the thing in front of you). The server side uses other stuff. XP could not handle ATC servers.
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CWUPilot
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 12:10 pm

Here's the official answer from the tour of Seattle's ARTCC:

All Air Route Traffic Control Centers were using a UNIX based system however they are now gradually being replaced with a Windows based system. They all must use the same system in order to work with eachother. Air Traffic Control Towers and TRACONs are a different story.
"The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work."
 
Contact_tower
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:03 pm

"I think with XP Pro you are only thinking of the client side (the thing in front of you). The server side uses other stuff. XP could not handle ATC servers."

Correct, however, the local servers for the radar system runs a microsoft server OS thingy. The server side consist of 2 servers, or "RAFTS". Just off the shelf servers, with some specialist interfaces to the radar extractors/trackers.
The system we run is by noe means demanding on the computer hardware/software, and do not need much computing power.

As for the OS2 beeing stable, it's actually (in the real life operational inviroment) the source of MUCH MORE problems then the various Windows platforms.

True, when the system was aquired in the mid 90s, it was better then all MS products. According to the techs at the central AFTN hub, the OS2 is source of much grief, in part because of the problems the systems has when interfacing with other systems.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:46 pm

As for the OS2 beeing stable, it's actually (in the real life operational inviroment) the source of MUCH MORE problems then the various Windows platforms.

Yes, well, I should have said "WAS a stable offering". It's 10 years old and most any system that old on a microcomputer platform will age. At the time, I'm sure it was great. Byt Windows surpassed it years and years ago.


microsoft server OS thingy.

LOL Big grin Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 I would guess.
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PPGMD
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Tue Oct 26, 2004 12:35 am

We have tought of a good way to scare the shite out of our boss the next time the CAA is on inspection: Minimize the radar software on the director scope (seldom used), and launch Windows Pinball!!!!!

I would have solitaire running. Big grin
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fanoftristars
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Oct 27, 2004 6:41 am

God help us if Windows XP was running our ATC!

"The program 'Air Traffic Control' has unexpectedly quit. Would you like to send an error report to Microsoft?"

Now if they really wanted to get ATC rolling, they'd buy them all G5 iMacs with OSX! lol
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PPGMD
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Oct 27, 2004 7:08 am

That would only pop up if they allowed the XP computer to become spy ware infected, or they did a crappy programming job on the software package.

Windows XP is pretty damn stable when it's well deployed. I can get 60 days plus (rarely go more than that because I like to keep my patches up to date). But a non-internet connected computer should be able to run damn near forever if the application that they are running is programmed well.

Edit:

And as I noted the LAX radio system is run on a Windows 95 computer. The only ill effect that they seem to have is that they have to reboot it monthly (the kernel has a bug, where it WILL stop working at 49.7 days, it's been patched, the FAA never applied it).

[Edited 2004-10-27 00:10:02]
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F9Widebody
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Oct 27, 2004 7:32 am

God help us if Windows XP was running our ATC!

"The program 'Air Traffic Control' has unexpectedly quit. Would you like to send an error report to Microsoft?"

Now if they really wanted to get ATC rolling, they'd buy them all G5 iMacs with OSX! lol


Yes, and spend millions in the process.  Insane

[Edited 2004-10-27 00:32:42]
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MrFord
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sun Oct 31, 2004 10:21 am

I saw an article a year ago about uptime performance of different OSes and, for all you M$ haters, they got a Win2000 Server box running Web services running for a whopping 2 years and still running strong.

No Service Packs, no patches, nothing, just the original Win2k installation, and it never rebooted since that. Talk about stability hehe.

The main problem with IBM OS/2 wasn't that much about it's stability, but the fact that about every error conducted to a complete system lockup. The beauty of NT or UNIX systems is the possibility of shutting down a faulty program without affecting the OS.

MacOS X may be great, just not designed to handle those kind of tasks. It's made to be pretty  Smile and run graphic softwares. Why bother to write a program for OSX when you can use BSD or Linux and write it in x86, and run it on much less expensive hardware...
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stealthpilot
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sun Oct 31, 2004 11:14 am

Hmmmmm I would feel more comfortable with a non windows machine running something as important as ATC.!!!!!
(Sorry for the windows bashing, just an opinion….. Smile )
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wardialer
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sun Oct 31, 2004 4:31 pm

I can't imagine that they would be using Microsoft Windows-based systems. No way. I highly DO NOT recommend it.

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).

Do not trust Windows and never will. Sorry but thats the fact.

And one other note about time, UNIX systems even have built-in UTC Clock.

And one more final note here: Yes its true, that Windows NT/Windows 2000 are a bit more stable than WindowsXP systems.

[Edited 2004-10-31 08:33:43]
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sun Oct 31, 2004 10:46 pm

Do not trust Windows and never will. Sorry but thats the fact.

If you ensure that the installation is clean and secured (no user can install progs and so on) Windows 2000/XP is very stable. If you make a custom build of Windows XP with most of the stuff stripped out it becomes very very stable.

I don't really see how you can clump NT and 2000 together, and separate XP. XP and 2000 are much closer to each other than NT (4). If nothing else, the scheduler has closer similarities.

Yes Unix is very stable, but it's also quite costly since the vendors charge through the nose for it and the hardware.

As MrFord says, Windows can be extremely stable. As with all OSs, it's about correct installation and usage. Most people have a rather bad view of Windows but these people also install and uninstall 100 programs over a few years, then expect the system to work as normal.


Finally, the point is not the stability of individual workstations less relevant than the resilience of the entire ATC system that counts.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
airplay
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sun Oct 31, 2004 11:00 pm

I don't know the answer for sure either, but I'm having a hard time believing that critical ATC functions would be relying on Windows based operating systems.

Aircraft systems that are considered "critical" must use software and operating systems that meet the appropriate level of reliability and I have yet to see ANY microsoft operating system to be installed in such applications.

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.

I don't think this question will ever be answered on this forum. For one thing, we haven't heard from anyone in the know, and even if we did, it is really a question of security. It would be irresponsible to reveal details of the ATC system such as the operating system(s) of various equipment. The information could easily be used for other than innocent purposes.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sun Oct 31, 2004 11:40 pm

I don't know the answer for sure either, but I'm having a hard time believing that critical ATC functions would be relying on Windows based operating systems.

Aircraft systems that are considered "critical" must use software and operating systems that meet the appropriate level of reliability and I have yet to see ANY microsoft operating system to be installed in such applications.



First of all, ATC computers are not aircraft systems.

Aircraft computers use embedded OSs with their own codebase. Even if they were based on something like Linux they are very stripped down.


If you want examples of mission critial systems on Windows:
- Plenty of banks use Windows for trading systems. Downtime here can mean losses of millions of dollars a minute. Granted, we're not talking lives here, but these kinds of sums mean no downtime is tolerated.
- Plenty of ATMs run Windows. Surely a bank would want these to work properly?
- Read this. http://www.aviationtoday.com/cgi/av/show_mag.cgi?pub=av&mon=0201&file=0201atc.htm. It says "Windows Based" further down.



As I have also said before, individual computer stability becomes less relevant in critical environments. Online failover between systems ensures that even if one system fails, this will be unnoticeable to the users. Oh, and if Unix systems were so bulletproof, why do are mission critical Unix systems still built with failover capability?

The only systems which are routinely built as singles in mission critical environments are mainframes such as the IBM zSeries boxes, and even here there is multiple physical redundancy inside the box. Also, virtual OSs can fail over between each other.


I don't think this question will ever be answered on this forum. For one thing, we haven't heard from anyone in the know, and even if we did, it is really a question of security. It would be irresponsible to reveal details of the ATC system such as the operating system(s) of various equipment. The information could easily be used for other than innocent purposes.

So if I know some details of an ATC system, it's a risk? How does my knowledge of the OS and some stuff allow me to compromise the system exactly?

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
gigneil
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Nov 01, 2004 3:16 am

I can get 60 days plus (rarely go more than that because I like to keep my patches up to date).

We have many large UNIX machines with thousands of days of uptime.

MacOS X may be great, just not designed to handle those kind of tasks.

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.

N
 
airplay
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Nov 01, 2004 3:22 am

First of all, ATC computers are not aircraft systems.

No shit sherlock...but if so much effort is put into critical aircraft systems to make them safe, they why have a "weak link"? When ATC tells me to turn heading 180, how can I be sure I'm not being directed into traffic when they are using essentially the same operating system that is among the most vulnerable to corruption?

In aircraft certification, there are several levels of software. Level A for the most critical functions and Level E for the least. It is unnacceptable to use level E systems to even monitor level A systems. There are NO level A functions contorlled 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.

So if I know some details of an ATC system, it's a risk? How does my knowledge of the OS and some stuff allow me to compromise the system exactly?

Couldn't the information be used by someone to compromise or "hack" into the ATC system?
 
PPGMD
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:06 am

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]
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:34 am

PPGMD has it right. It's not the OS. It's the installation and the administration that make the difference.

Windows can be very secure and very stable. It all depends on how you treat it.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
gigneil
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:24 am

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.


Incorrect. It runs a Mach kernel, which is a more portable version of the main BSD tree. Clearly, its been extended by Apple to offer better hardware support for their products.

Mach kernels have been used to provide multiplatform support for BSD for many years by a variety of vendors. Its popular for embedded systems.

The entire rest of the underlying subsystems are synced to FreeBSD 5.0 with some Apple optimizations.

It is a full and complete UNIX operating system.

Windows can be very secure and very stable. It all depends on how you treat it.

Windows can only be very secure and very stable at significant added cost. Many major corporations, including FedEx, are trying to replace it even on the desktop.

N
 
PPGMD
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:08 am

Windows can only be very secure and very stable at significant added cost. Many major corporations, including FedEx, are trying to replace it even on the desktop.

Many places have attempted replacing Windows on the desktop, most are back to windows within a year. There was a bid last year locally to replace Windows on all the local government computers, just two weeks ago, the just put out a RFQ, to go back to Windows.

Many of my clients are ones that have failed SAP, Oracle, and other deployments, I come in using Microsoft software (in particular Solomon), and have a successful deployment in a matter of weeks. Now the difference may be is that I concentrate on Windows. I know Linux and BSD quite well, I just simply concentrate on one suite of software and deploy it well.
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:55 am

As PPGMD says.

Making ANY system extremely reliable is expensive, regardless of OS. Sure, mainframes and their OSs are very stable (MTBF is over 25 years on an IBM zSeries) but look at the cost. Same for proprietary Unix systems (IBM pSeries, Sun).

It's quite simple. More stable=more costly. And once you start chasing those last few nines (99.999% and so on) the cost shoots waaay up.

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
dreamer
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:30 am

Airplay is right,

Way behind the scenes you will find the real computer systems that will never fail. I know that in Norway there is a system that runs +99,999% uptime. I also know teh system is not made locally here, and is installed in other contries. I must admit I am not sure about the details, but here goes:

The system keeps track of all airplanes over Norway and feeds its information to all ATC. I have been told that if the system fails all airplanes would have to be grounded within a certain time.

The server is a HP Nonstop server formerly known as Tandem Nonstop Himalay. Currently the Nonstop servers run most of the ATMs in the world, majority of the stock exchanges like NYSE and nasdaq, creditcards like Mastercard, Barclaycard and Visa. Sure there are Windows/unix systems at the branch office, but their on-line real-time main system is hardly ever a Windows based system. They are either Nonstop, or Unix or OpenVMS.

If you are a AOL customer, you and 24million other users are accessing the Nonstop server for email. Do you think there is any other system that can handle that size/volume? Or what about SABRE, the worlds larges air reservation system? It is also a Nonstop server coupled with Linux, there you get the best of both worlds. I could mention many more mission critical systems that DO NOT RUN on Windows, like 911, another happy Nonstop customer.
http://h20223.www2.hp.com/nonstopcomputing/cache/76385-0-0-0-121.aspx click the link for general info if you want
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:42 am

They are either Nonstop, or Unix or OpenVMS

Let's not forget IBM zSeries mainframes or iSeries minis (formerly AS/400)  Big grin


The main reasons the backend systems do not run on Windows is not really stability- Don't get me wrong, it would definitely enter the equation if purchasing were done today, but it's not the main reason.
- Scalability - Until very recently, Windows and the Intel Architecture did not scale that much. If you wanted 16+ CPUs, you had to look somewhere else.
- Legacy - Ten years ago, Windows was not an enterprise class product. Many of these systems have a long legacy, and were built to run on mainframes and Minis.

I think the acceptance of Windows will increase in this space, but we're nowhere near the point where it's the obvious choice for very large mission-critical systems. Clients are another matter, since it doesn't matter if some of them are down. Also on clients, useability and graphical features become important. These are not focus areas on larger systems.
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gigneil
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:27 pm

I think the acceptance of Windows will increase in this space

I don't. The thing you're missing out on is that those machines are specifically optimized for transaction processing. They're relatively low-frequency but high-bandwidth machines that don't go particularly fast but maintain their performance even under extremely high load.

Many of the transaction oriented machines (like the Stratus and the Himalaya) still don't even run UNIX because they just don't want to wate the cycles on the overhead. They run very thin operating systems and don't have many bells and whistles.

Windows will never break into this space. Its too insecure, too unreliable, and too overhead intensive.

Yes yes, if you treat windows well it will treat you will, but I could whip it out and pee all over a Himalaya and it wouldn't drop a single transaction. Windows will simply never run on hardware that reliable.


Windows goes on volume hardware. Expendable, discardable machines in medium critical applications that can afford a hardware swap.


N
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:50 pm

Ever heard of Windows 2003 Server Web Edition? A stripped down version of Windows 2003. And there are embedded editions of Windows. All optimized for transactional processing.


Windows will never break into this space. Its too insecure, too unreliable, and too overhead intensive.

Plenty of competitors have underestimated the power of Microsoft as it tries to enter new spaces. If they want in, they get in, even if it takes years.

Customers want Windows (or think they want it) because Microsoft is good at telling them that. And Microsoft is working very hard to make it an enterprise class product with things like virtual server and WSRM, as well as better scalability. These bits are still in their infancy, but the 'softies are patient.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
videns
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:33 pm

This is maybe a little bit off-topic, but what worries me most is software written by I certain company... Rockwell.
One of the things I do for a living is programming industrial user interfaces... Allen Bradley Panel View and Panel View Plus interfaces.
Rockwell writes the windows based software to program these touch panels, and it is hands-down THE worst software I have ever used. Not only is it not user-friendly (which I'm used to, because of the industry I work in), but it's got bug after bug after bug after bug... Depending on what you do, you might, or might not be able to accomplish your task... It depends a lot on the system, and your own computer (in my case a laptop that runs a whole bunch of other software). When the new Panel View Plus came out, they discontinued the old Panel View "Classic" touchpanels, and it took formatting my machine and installing everything from scratch for the software not to crash... Maybe understandable, as the machine had been in use for a while...
Later, Microsoft came up with Service Pack 2.
3 Weeks later I got a fax from Rockwell saying I shouldn't install it (which I already had) because it wasn't compatible with their software...

I've been venting about Rockwell too much, but my main issue is, don't they write a LOT of software for aircraft?
Even the Space Shuttle is Rockwell... (Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming them for the accidents)...
It's just that since using their software, I got a little nervous about their coding capabilities... And Rockwell's software runs on commercial airliners... I just hope the team that writes code for aircraft has their act together...
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dreamer
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:25 pm

Starlionblue, Gigneil,
You are right, there are only two systems that can compete in that world, IBM syplex and Nonstop Himalay.

There is still miles away before windows ever can be used in the main computer room of mission critical, highload and highgrowth. However they still rule in the office and as members of the the total solution due to its price performance.

Even Microsoft will tell you than once your system passes a certain size, they will not recommend windows as the main OS.

No system can scale linear beyond a few cpus, and after 16 there is little gain, except Nonstop which will scale to more that 4000 cpus!
still dreaming after all these years
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:57 pm

I definitely agree that Windows is not there today for large backends. I'm just saying who knows about the future...

And yes of course scaling linearly (on the same bus) above around 8 CPUs is not a good idea.


As for Rockwell software, you can just hope the airliner stuff is written better  Big grin As far as I know, no aircraft (but a few rockets) has yet gone down due to a software glitch, so we're probably fine.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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fanoftristars
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:37 pm

I can't believe the level of intelligence we have here in this forum. It amazes me. I was mostly joking about Mac OSX for ATC, but since we're on the subject, if I were to compare operating systems, Windows XP is like Chevy... Built tough, get's the job done, but not necessarily that reliable. Mac OSX is a Lexus... Beautiful, fast, and very reliable. (did I mention beautiful?)

Proudly posted from an iBook running Mac OSX  Smile
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Starlionblue
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Thu Nov 04, 2004 9:57 pm

Well, some of us work in this field for a living  Big grin For example, I'm a Sales Engineer at a company in CPU Workload Management software and I used to work at IBM in server sales.

So I have these discussions a lot.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
beowulf
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Fri Nov 05, 2004 11:37 pm

Hi everybody,

OS/2 was a very good system. The servers and PCs we ran on OS/2 worked like a charm.

As for Windows system, I think they might be using an old NT. I forgot which version of Windows NT it is, but there is one which runs extremely stable and is often used for critical applications.

Nick
 
gigneil
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sat Nov 06, 2004 1:31 am

OS/2 really was quite fabulous, but IBM was never very good at marketing it.

If I'm not mistaken, Delta uses a fair bit of OS/2.

N
 
wardialer
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sat Nov 06, 2004 3:12 am

I would like to know what NORAD uses for their radar based machines. Does anyone know?

At LAX probably their using HP-UX 10 commercial UNIX, but I dont really have a clue. But I want to say this to all, Windows is not very stable OS to use when dealing with crititcal procedures like Air Traffic. No way. Im sorry, I dont like to bash Windows out here, but its not a good idea. UNIX like I mentioned either HP-UX or Solaris would be ideal.

And ATMs do not use Windows, they use UNIX. But inside the banks, they use Windows 2000 instead of XP.
 
PPGMD
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sat Nov 06, 2004 3:46 am

At LAX probably their using HP-UX 10 commercial UNIX, but I dont really have a clue.

Then it would probably surprise you that Windows 95 is used to be used as a server for their Radio system (they have now upgraded to Windows 2000). Windows is a very stable system when treated properly. You can have 100% uptime, if they are setup properly with failover clusters, and good hardware.

And ATMs do not use Windows, they use UNIX. But inside the banks, they use Windows 2000 instead of XP.

Actually a few are using Windows XP embedded for the ATMs. And most banks have already upgraded (or in process) to upgrading to Windows XP on the desktop level, and Server 2003.
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wardialer
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:39 pm

Does anybody know what NORAD systems use?
 
Woodreau
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sat Nov 06, 2004 7:31 pm

Couldn't tell you about NORAD, but the computers that we use on Navy ships (and on AEGIS ships) are the AN/UYK-7, AN/UYK-43/44, AN/UYK-20 computers, these were all designed and developed before Windows ever was a twinkle in a developer's eyes. These computers are great space heaters BTW. When the temperatures in the computer room gets above 70-74 degrees and starts getting in the 80-90 degree range, the computers don't do very well.

The Navy is on it's way to using COTS components (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) for the display and other systems, but the computers are running specialized purpose written software (probably Unix based) for their functions. The SPY-1 radar itself is a separate "computer" it does it's own processing and ID functions before it passes the info on to the Command and Decision system that we humans use to visually process and do our own ID functions and make our decisions.

From there we can give engagement orders to the weapon systems which can be a separate computer running another piece of software on certain ships, but it can also be a separate application that's running on the same computer, but the interaction is through the same interface that we use for C&D. The weapons computer figures out the fire control solution, we hold onto the "pickle" for weapons release consent and the scheduler figures out when the missiles needs to be launched and in which order the targets are engaged. And we watch on the CCTV to see the missile leave the launcher, etc...

The radar display consoles themselves are getting replaced by a generic emulator which emulates "legacy" console displays if the decision is made to replace the ship's CIC consoles. But the only thing that runs Windows on ships is the ship's IT-21 LAN (servers and clients). I haven't delved into in Radio/Comm as they might have some pieces of equipment that run Windows NT/2000.

We can interface and get a datalink picture anywhere on the ship from the displays in CIC from a Windows computer on the ship's LAN with a piece of software called C2PC which was written by the Marine Corps, but it's interfacing with the Link-16/JTIDS, Link-11, and GCCS data terminals and not the display computers themselves. We only see the tracks, land, ship, or air tracks and track history, and not radar video.

Usually in CIC nowadays, we'll have our huge blue display screen where we can see the JTIDS/Link-16/Link-11 tracks and local radar tracks simultaneously and headsets to talk on the radios and with each other, and now a separate computer running Windows NT/2000 client with six million different Microsoft Chat windows tiled to talk on different chat rooms to the Air Force, Army, and other Navy strike groups, and whoever else is out there. And then another computer with different chat rooms up to "chat" to other coalition forces.

As far as Comms and Data transmission go, I do think there probably is some Windows based components out there, as comms aren't stovepiped anymore into a particular transmission path. There is a box which determines what needs to go out and it determines what's the best way to get that information out, whether out LOS radio, UHF satellite, SHF satellite, or some other transmission path. But it's dependent on ship equipment configuration.

Not really on the topic of ATC computers, but hopefully can give some insight on NORAD computers... as i suspect they're probably the same.

[Edited 2004-11-06 11:38:41]
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Ryan h
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RE: ATC Computers? What Operating System They Use?

Sat Nov 06, 2004 10:06 pm

ATC running under windows worries me a bit.

I could imagine with a plane on final approach and then suddenly the computer crashes with the blue screen of death.

If operating systems were airlines.
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Contact_tower
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RE: Waddington

Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:27 pm

I have worked with several ATC systems in Norway and Sweden, and the majority was Windows NT and later on XP based. I have as all controllers experienced failures of equipment at some point, and it has never been due to the operating system. Windows have a low failure rate when treated correctly (described above), but that cannot be said about much of the systems that the radar systems interface with.

I have experienced total loss of radar 3 times, once was failure of the power supply to the radar head, second failure of radar-turntable drive train, and third; The allways popular JCB vs signalcable = Blank screen.........

Our back up system (Nova9002) is not running windows, but som purpose built shite, and the system is utter crap. (Not just due to the OS Big grin )

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