U.S. Navy's warship of the future runs Linux

Credit: NAVY

I attended college at LSU, and our library had one computer that ran Linux. So I know there’s some truth to the following statement: many people grew up never learning how to use a Linux operating system. I’m among them. The first time I sat down at that thing, that thing read like ancient Greek to me. The U.S. Navy, though, seems to have a firm grasp of the operating system. In fact, it’s using Linux to power its new warship, the USS Zumwalt, which has missiles. And guns; robot guns. Wonderful!

Using Linux allows all the systems throughout the ship to be universal. In the past, specific systems were built for specific weapons, which isn’t exactly the pinnacle of efficiency. But with protected servers, now every station runs on the same basic OS. The $3.5 billion ship is a floating data center, powered by off-the-shelf hardware and the Linux operating system. Back in the day, off-the-shelf hardware couldn't be used on warships. The aftershocks from firing a ship’s weapons would violently shake the hardware, breaking it. Thus, it all needed to be made much stronger, an expensive and time-consuming process.

Instead of making the hardware stronger, the Zumwalt made the server room stronger. The fortified room protects said servers, which run RedHat Linux. The rooms, called Electronic Modular Enclosures, are 35 feet long, eight feet high, 12 feet wide and, contain water cooling systems, electromagnetic shielding, and an awful lot of vibration damping. Zumwalt’s got 16 of ‘em. All this hardware allows the ship to be run from afar. The guns, missile systems and engines are automated. In fact, its guns don’t even have a mount for gunners, as they'll be totally operated from the operations center or from off the ship.

Take a look at the photos below of the ship being prepped.

Via Ars Technica

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