TORONTO – Computers aboard the International Space Station have switched from the Windows operating system in favour of Linux.
The United Space Alliance – the company responsible for managing the computer systems aboard the station – has switched “dozens of laptops” that were previously running Windows XP to Debian 6 OS.
In a blow to Windows, Keith Chuvala of the United Space Alliance noted that the switch was made in order to ensure improved reliability.
“We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable,” said Chuvala in a release from Linux Foundation.
Chuvala also notes that Linux will allow more in-house control to adapt the OS to fit the ISS’s needs.
“As far as we know, after this transition, there won’t be a single computer aboard the ISS that runs Windows,” read a report by Extreme Tech.
Ditching Windows aboard the ISS may have been a long time coming.
In August of 2008 some of the station’s computers were infected by the Gammina.AG. Virus. It’s believed that an astronaut carrying an infected USB or flash drive brought the virus into orbit, infecting multiple computers onboard.
The Gammina.AG. virus, first detected in 2007, was designed to steal login information for online gaming sites.
Though NASA said that the virus posed no harm to the station’s control systems, the virus was described as a nuisance.
Linux is widely regarded as a stable OS and is commonly used in the scientific community. For example, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, runs on Linux.