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Posted: 12/22/2005 6:48:39 PM EDT
from:blogs.zdnet.com/Murphy/index.php?p=490

U.S. Navy orders Bill Gates to install SPARC/Solaris with Sun Rays

Posted by Paul Murphy @ 3:39 am



Between now and Dec 30th, inclusive, I plan to blog only every second work day unless, of course, something of unusual interest crops up.

In keeping with Mr. Editor Person's interest in top ten lists, the six entries this will produce will have a common theme: "2005: the missing headlines".

Since I only have a few picked out, some suggestions would be welcome. Here are the rules:

the headline has to be true and relevant to IT
and everything you would assume from the headline has to be false.
Now, for example, my headline today is really pretty cool because it's completely true on the surface -but not quite so if you look a bit more closely.

Here's the deal:

On February 20, 2000 Bill Gates (yes, that Bill Gates) used his Cascade Investment LLC to buy 8% of Newport News Shipbuilding, a group that makes surface ships for the navy.


last week, Bob Brewin, writing for FCW.com under the title Navy opts for thin-client systems on-board ships reported:


Bob Stephenson, chief technology officer for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence operations at Spawar, said the Navy plans to use the thin-client systems from Sun Microsystems on all major surface ships in the fleet.

Thin clients will be installed on 160 vessels, Stephenson said.

Sun Rays aren't actually thin clients but the conclusion is obvious anyway: a shipyard, in which Bill Gates invested a bunch of money, will be installing SPARC/Solaris systems with Sun Rays - as promised in my headline.

Unfortunately, there's a lot more to this story, some of it very serious. Fundamentally the Newport News purchase seems to have been part of a backroom deal done to clean up some of the consequences of another dirty deal entirely: done during the spring of 1997 to get Windows NT into the Navy.
(Note: Windows NT is no longer used (ie. is not NMCI compliant). The Navy is using Windows 2000 )

Here's most of a report on one consequence of that effort:



The Aegis missile cruiser, USS Yorktown, experienced some software glitches with its new PC systems running Windows NT last year. To be exact, the U.S. Navy had to tow the ship back to port.

The ship was part of a pilot program to install PCs to reduce manpower, maintenance and costs. However last September, after some "bad data" was fed into the system, the ship was crippled during maneuvers because of massive system failures.

According to Government Computer News, a database overflow caused the ship's propulsion system to fail. "We are putting equipment in the engine room that we cannot maintain and, when it fails, results in a critical failure," said Anthony DiGiorgio, a civilian engineer with the Atlantic Fleet Technical Support Center in Norfolk.

According to DiGiorgio, it took two days of pier-side maintenance to fix the problem. In a GCN interview, DiGiorgio was critical of using Windows NT on a Navy ship. DiGiorgio, who has worked on Navy ships for the past 26 years said, "Using Windows NT, which is known to have some failure modes, on a warship is similar to hoping that luck will be in our favor."

The military has typically relied on UNIX based systems for computing, however in March of 1997, both Pacific and Atlantic fleets selected NT 4.0 as the standard OS for both networks and PCs. Ron Redman, deputy technical director of the Fleet Introduction Division of the Aegis Program Executive Office, said there have been numerous software failures associated with NT aboard the Yorktown.

Bottom line: it took the Navy five years to get back to the future, but on the positive side it didn't takes Gates that long to get out: he more than doubled his money when Northrop Grumman bought Newport News for about $2.6 billion in 2001.

--------------------------
Edited to Add: I am no fan of Microsoft. And frankly I am of the opinion that the DON would have been better served by using Open Sourceware and making their own modifications as deemed necessary for Security as well as bug fixes.

Link Posted: 12/22/2005 7:05:52 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 7:08:46 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/22/2005 7:12:33 PM EDT by dport]
Considering last year I was in the Persian Gulf with USS YORKTOWN I doubt the veracity of this report.

ETA: It's late. Just reviewed it again. There is too much BS to even start going through. Maybe tomorrow.

ETA2: Just reread this. I'm convinced this is a perfect example of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 8:03:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/22/2005 8:03:49 PM EDT by TheSneak]

Originally Posted By dport:
Considering last year I was in the Persian Gulf with USS YORKTOWN I doubt the veracity of this report.

ETA: It's late. Just reviewed it again. There is too much BS to even start going through. Maybe tomorrow.

ETA2: Just reread this. I'm convinced this is a perfect example of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.



Last year the ship was probably working fine. This would seem to be an old article, since the dead in the water incident happened in 1997

www.gcn.com/17_17/news/33727-1.html
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 8:08:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/22/2005 8:13:08 PM EDT by Andreuha]
At least our SUBS aren't running on Windows.
Jeez, with all this cost and corner-cutting in all the wrong places, it's amazing more problems don't happen. To think a company like Microsoft can't afford a few measly million to develop a clean proprietary software to run these systems.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 8:17:01 PM EDT
The Navy would be better off with open source if they had an Army of coders, but they don't. With Sun they can spec what they want and have Sun write it for Solaris.

But I guess I don't really follow my own advice. I retired my 4 year old Sun box at home last year because it's so damn slow. I built a PC and installed Slackware. My uptime requirements are a lot more relaxed than the Navy, though.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 8:18:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Andreuha:
At least our SUBS aren't running on Windows.
Jeez, with all this cost and corner-cutting in all the wrong places, it's amazing more problems don't happen. To think a company like Microsoft can't afford a few measly million to develop a clean proprietary software to run these systems.



They can afford it easily, and they could do it if they needed to, but they don't. Backroom deals are a lot easier apparently.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 9:35:40 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
I intend to press at least one of them into service as a virtually bugproof internet machine. There are practically no worms, trojans, or viruses out there that have any clue what to do in a Solaris machine.

CJ



Oh boy. Whoever told you that needs to be flogged. That's about as misinformed and dangerous as it could possibly be. But then again, I'm only a professional in that particular field and have been doing it for about 20 years for a meaninful percentage of the major Wall Street firms.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 7:42:51 AM EDT
The problem is that with Proprietary Software, the DoD does NOT have access to the source code, documentation, bugbase, etc.

It has to rely upon the Software Manufacturer for all White Box Testing (and bug fixes).

In the old days the DoD would create its own software frequently using its own languages (ie. ADA). resulting in a great deal of expense, coupled with Hardware it frequently resulted in a product that was orders of magnitude obsolete by commercial standards.

With Acquisition Reform and doing away with Mil-Stds the pendulum swung the other way and now the DoD is obsessed with using COTs wherever applicable.

Which is just swell, but it raises other issues.
An inability to handle obsolescence of Hardware COTs items in an cost effective manner.
An inability to control source code, and make modifications that are deemed necessary.
An inability to access support for COTs Software for Legacy Hardware Items (your Firmware, Device Drivers, etc.)
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 7:57:30 AM EDT
And in more current news.

John Lehman resigns as Secretary of the Navy
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:01:25 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
And in more current news.

John Lehman resigns as Secretary of the Navy



Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:02:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BoreSighted:

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
I intend to press at least one of them into service as a virtually bugproof internet machine. There are practically no worms, trojans, or viruses out there that have any clue what to do in a Solaris machine.

CJ



Oh boy. Whoever told you that needs to be flogged. That's about as misinformed and dangerous as it could possibly be. But then again, I'm only a professional in that particular field and have been doing it for about 20 years for a meaninful percentage of the major Wall Street firms.



But it's still far superior to any sort of 'security' a Windows based machine will provide.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:02:17 AM EDT


What the Navy REALLY needs to do is fix the NMCI system.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:02:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
And in more current news.

John Lehman resigns as Secretary of the Navy



The Federal Computer Weekly the article referances was published 12 December, 2005. So I don't see how terribly old the story is.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:03:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By go3:

Originally Posted By BoreSighted:

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
I intend to press at least one of them into service as a virtually bugproof internet machine. There are practically no worms, trojans, or viruses out there that have any clue what to do in a Solaris machine.

CJ



Oh boy. Whoever told you that needs to be flogged. That's about as misinformed and dangerous as it could possibly be. But then again, I'm only a professional in that particular field and have been doing it for about 20 years for a meaninful percentage of the major Wall Street firms.



But it's still far superior to any sort of 'security' a Windows based machine will provide.



And an F-ton more powerful.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:14:14 AM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:


What the Navy REALLY needs to do is fix the NMCI system.



NMCI and EDS blows. Though it is a little nicer if you have an S&T seat.

What really chaps me is only using S/W listed in DADMS (otherwise it's
a long approval process)

Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:19:42 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/23/2005 8:21:09 AM EDT by Max_Mike]

Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
And in more current news.

John Lehman resigns as Secretary of the Navy



The Federal Computer Weekly the article referances was published 12 December, 2005. So I don't see how terribly old the story is.





YOU POSTED A HEADLINE FROM A STINKING BLOG

Which was quite frankly childish bullshit…

Contrary to the title Bill Gates is not doing anything admitted by the author himself.


Now, for example, my headline today is really pretty cool because it's completely true on the surface -but not quite so if you look a bit more closely.


“really pretty cool”

This is what happen we a mildly dull geek gets a blog, a stale story by someone who thinks he is clever when he ain’t written with the writing style of a 11 year old girl… I bet this guy is a blast at a party, I also bet he would not have a date.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:29:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
And in more current news.

John Lehman resigns as Secretary of the Navy



The Federal Computer Weekly the article referances was published 12 December, 2005. So I don't see how terribly old the story is.





YOU POSTED A HEADLINE FROM A STINKING BLOG

Which was quite frankly childish bullshit…

Contrary to the title Bill Gates is not doing anything admitted by the author himself.


Now, for example, my headline today is really pretty cool because it's completely true on the surface -but not quite so if you look a bit more closely.


“really pretty cool”

This is what happen we a mildly dull geek gets a blog, a stale story by someone who thinks he is clever when he ain’t written with the writing style of a 11 year old girl… I bet this guy is a blast at a party, I also bet he would not have a date.



YOU may want to double check screen names before you post something in all caps.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:38:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By HarryStone:
The Navy would be better off with open source if they had an Army of coders, but they don't. With Sun they can spec what they want and have Sun write it for Solaris.




But wouldn't an Army of coders in the Navy actually be a Marine Corps of coders?


Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:43:12 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Bostonterrier97:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
What the Navy REALLY needs to do is fix the NMCI system.


NMCI and EDS blows. Though it is a little nicer if you have an S&T seat.

For once, you'll get no arguments with that statement. NMCI sucks more than I even imagined while I was at sea. I dealt with it briefly when I rolled ashore, but for the last year I've been on a "tactical" network untouched by EDS. Even with the problems we have, I'm going to miss it. I have to go on a full-blown NMCI system when I re-deploy, with first.last@service.mil account. Plus EDS has taken over SIPR, but can't actually support all the users that need it. USS 2nd Ship had SIPR maintained by FC's (ex-DS types) instead of IT's, and that was the best deal I've ever had.

As for Windows NT/2k/whatever, for networks it's fine; but for C2 stuff I'd prefer the Unix-based. C2PC is ok though.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 8:46:00 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SlimHazy:

Originally Posted By Bostonterrier97:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
What the Navy REALLY needs to do is fix the NMCI system.


NMCI and EDS blows. Though it is a little nicer if you have an S&T seat.

For once, you'll get no arguments with that statement. NMCI sucks more than I even imagined while I was at sea. I dealt with it briefly when I rolled ashore, but for the last year I've been on a "tactical" network untouched by EDS. Even with the problems we have, I'm going to miss it. I have to go on a full-blown NMCI system when I re-deploy, with first.last@service.mil account. Plus EDS has taken over SIPR, but can't actually support all the users that need it. USS 2nd Ship had SIPR maintained by FC's (ex-DS types) instead of IT's, and that was the best deal I've ever had.

As for Windows NT/2k/whatever, for networks it's fine; but for C2 stuff I'd prefer the Unix-based. C2PC is ok though.



The great thing is that with a Solaris thin client solution you can still run Windows apps via Citrix.
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 9:01:40 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 9:12:42 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Paul:
I also find it hard to belive that there wouldn't be manual controls on the systems like navigation, steering, and engine plant. I worked on the beta of a Windows NT "glass cockpit" where several hundred thousand dollars worth of electro-mechanical indicators were replaced with $3000 up-armored touch displays. They used redundant NT servers, UPS systems, displays, and networks. The only bug that was bad enough to really cause problems is that if one of the two servers locked up/crashed the second would take over but not sound a failure alarm. Simple tweak. We went through the normal calibration issues and other minor beta bugs.

There were 12 displays placed on the navigation and flag bridges and additional displays on the un-rep con area, CO's at sea cabin, and Navigator's cabin. We left analog displays on the helm and un-repleshment con as back-ups and a third layer of redundancy.

In analog I trust.



I don't know why you wouldn't trust M$.

Pic
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 9:33:17 AM EDT


PC based automation
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 10:38:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
It's very tough to fault the mission critical reliability of Solaris on Sparc platforms. Meanwhile....when did Windows first come out? They have YET to make a SINGLE version of Windows that even comes
near the stability of even the buggiest UNIX kernels.

I just picked up an Ultra 10 and an Ultra 5 for free. I intend to press at least one of them into service as a virtually bugproof internet machine. There are practically no worms, trojans, or viruses out there that have any clue what to do in a Solaris machine.

CJ



My openbsd machine has been up for 1 year. Before that, it was up for 2 years, and the only reason I had to reboot it was to upgrade the hardware and replace a faulty UPS battery!

Link Posted: 12/23/2005 12:52:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HarryStone:

Originally Posted By Andreuha:
At least our SUBS aren't running on Windows.
Jeez, with all this cost and corner-cutting in all the wrong places, it's amazing more problems don't happen. To think a company like Microsoft can't afford a few measly million to develop a clean proprietary software to run these systems.



They can afford it easily, and they could do it if they needed to, but they don't. Backroom deals are a lot easier apparently.



Sarcasm, my freind.
I know that Microsoft can buy a relatively small country with the moneies it has
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 12:56:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/23/2005 1:05:56 PM EDT by dport]
Alright, I have the time between work and family in town for the holidays.

This blog and the person who quoted it did a horrible job of framing the argument.

#1 The USS YORKTOWN was the first ship to incorporate "Smart Ship" technology. It had to be towed into port in 1997, the year it came out of the yards after getting this revolutionary conversion. The whole system is "one of" meaning it has never been used on another ship. However, the concept, not the same execution, has extended to other ships. It is my understanding that while there was a network, NT based, that was used for the ship's controls it was not extended to the weapons systems. The USS YORKTOWN completed numerous counter-drug deployments, and its final deployment was in 2004 when she was deployed to the Persian Gulf. USS TICONDEROGA also got a "Smart Ship" install, but it was not the system installed on YORKTOWN.

#2 Windows NT was/is used aboard ships with the IT21 system. IT21 does not control anything, it is used for administrative functions. My understanding, and it has been a couple of years since I was assigned to a ship with IT21, is IT21 is being phased out with Windows 2000 and the NMCI system.

#3 Even when we had IT21 and Windows NT, the weapons and ship's control systems were NOT NT based.
I highly suggest taking anything posted by the OP with a HUGE grain of salt.
ETA
LINK
Link Posted: 12/23/2005 1:06:42 PM EDT
.
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