US Navy rejects Windows for Linux

The US Navy decided to drop Windows operating system and switch to Linux. Guess why?


US Navy took this lesson as a virus which infected Windows operating system on the U.S. Air Force’s drone control system.The consequences of a drone or fighter plane suffering from a computer virus while armed could be dangerously dangerous and it was in time that US Navy could learn from their experience and migrate to safer computer environment.

This move is going to bring a 28 million dollar contract to the Linux community. The US Department of Defense (DoD) is going to release a New Official memo on Open Source Software-(OSS) Clarifying Guidelines Regarding Open Source Software. Thius could be released anytime of DOD Website. This new memo counters misconceptions and misinterpretations about OSS and is very positive.

The US Navy nuclear submarine fleet already runs on Linux. The US Army is the single largest install base for Red Hat Linux. In April 2006, the US Federal Aviation Administration completed migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and saved 15 million dollars.

Pakistan is using open source software in public schools and colleges and hopes to migrate to Linux eventually. The French Parliament has switched to using Ubuntu on desktop PCs. The Federal Employment Office of Germany has migrated 13,000 public workstations to OpenSuse. Czech Post migrated to Novell Linux in 2005. Cuba is migrating to Linux Nova. Brazil uses PC Conectado, a program utilizing Linux.

Why Linux?

Recently Flame and Stuxnet viruses were in news for taking advantage of Windows operating system and infecting the computers. Linux and Unix-like operating systems are resistant to these kind of attacks, which lure the victim to open a .doc or .pdf attachment with infection. This is because they have been designed from the ground up with security as a primary goal, rather than having attempts at creating security added on later as an afterthought.

This is because, to attack a Linux system the hacker needs the admin facilities and the system don’t run as admin/root by default. An “infected user” will not be able to disrupt other users or “the system. Root accounts, prompt patching of security holes, and a heterogeneous mixture of software make Linux a much more difficult target when developing malware. Ubuntu and other distributions already verify that every package that is installed is signed by the correct provider.

Another reason is that, the source code being open, any change in it gets reported fast and so, security patches are introduced soon. It is much more difficult to create malware that can successfully attack Linux systems over a longer time period.

“There are about 60,000 viruses known for Windows, 40 or so for the Macintosh, about 5 for commercial Unix versions, and perhaps 40 for Linux. Most of the Windows viruses are not important, but many hundreds have caused widespread damage. Two or three of the Macintosh viruses were widespread enough to be of importance. None of the Unix or Linux viruses became widespread – most were confined to the laboratory.”- Dr. Nic Peeling and Dr Julian Satchell hase said in Analysis of the Impact of Open Source Software.

The Linux Malware page at Wikipedia says “Linux is vulnerable to malware that tricks the user into installing it through social engineering”. A Linux computer that’s improperly configured, can take a beating from malware, hackers, and the like. Popular builds like those from Ubuntu, are distributed pre-locked down and are much safe. A low-level bug, a buffer overflow or other issue is exploitable. But users can’t catch a virus by email or downloading malware from the Internet, contrary to “Windows users”. Linux will protect them from their own stupidity. (view source)

In order to safeguard information from virus attacks, many governments and institutions have started to shift to Linux. Linux has always been known as more sturdy and resistant to attacks from virus. Its adoption by the US Navy would make ways for others to follow.


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