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Which Government Agencies are *nix-Friendly?

Cliff posted about 13 years ago | from the borg-free-zones dept.

United States 351

payneLess asks: "I have noticed since the Sept. 11 attacks, there is renewed emphasis on beefing up the nation's military, law enforcement and intelligence-gathering capabilities. Presumably, some of the dollars to accomplish this will go to improving their information systems and recruiting quality IT people, which with the slow economy might present some rewarding opportunities. Since I know many .gov and .mil geeks read Slashdot, my question is, besides NASA, are there any agencies that doing cool things with Linux or BSD? Aside from the NSA's security-enhanced Linux project and DARPA throwing a bunch of cash at NAI Labs to develop Trusted BSD, is anybody actually using *nix on a wide scale for day-to-day tasks? One of the reasons I left DoD a few years ago for the private sector was because nobody seemed interested in thinking outside the box and everyone was perfectly content letting the vendors and contractors ram Microsoft, Solaris, and other proprietary stuff down their throats, nor was there any institutional interest in changing over to open source."

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fp (-1)

insomniac (33758) | about 13 years ago | (#2407815)

aw yea

Re:fp (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | about 13 years ago | (#2407857)

fucking shit fuc fucking shitj dsfb

That FP was totally mine.

Re:fp (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | about 13 years ago | (#2407871)

Dude, I left you on point. Where were you?!?

It's alright, there's sure to be more articles soon.

Not many, I'm afraid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407825)

Most government agencies don't use open source products because they're so insecure and the good majority of cracked boxes out there are running Linux. That's certainly not something I'd want to introduce into the corporate element, and definitely not if I was working for the government!

Re:Not many, I'm afraid (2, Insightful)

crazyprogrammer (412543) | about 13 years ago | (#2407845)

Most government agencies don't use open source products because they're meant to be used by people who know what they are doing on a computer and the good majority of cracked boxes out there are running Windows. That's certainly not something I'd want to introduce into the corporate element, and definitely not if I was working for the government!

Re:Not many, I'm afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407945)

You're totally high.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

LinuxIsForAssholes (527253) | about 13 years ago | (#2407826)

1st post Jerk AssHead

Re:FP (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | about 13 years ago | (#2407882)

Hey, nice try dipshit. Mad pr0pZ for not being an AC though, better luck next time...



TRoLLaXoR (181585) | about 13 years ago | (#2407827)

Believe it or not, the majority of Slashdot readers are male, aged 12 to 24, are computer literate or computer proficient, introverted, and homosexual. Slashdot creator and self-avowed homosexual Rob Malda, who, in 1997 in his Holland, Michigan dorm, was running a gay singles' list, had the following to say:

"If I hadn't had Slashdot when I was coming out, I don't know what would have happened. There would have been no one to connect with, no twinks to share my rage with, no bears to gain knowledge from. Slashdot was the ultimate gay hookup and for that reason alone am I thankful I created it years ago."

Obviously, Slashdot serves more than the "tech community" it purports to cater to. In 1999, Slashdot hired then-Wired columnist Jon Katz, another openly gay literary genius. Sporting blue hair and multiple facial piercings, the angst-ridden Katz expresses in his writings are clearly visible in real life. "I'd found a home, with Rob [...] Wired was too straight, but at Slashdot I fit right in."

Finally, in early 2000, public homosexual and Nazi censor Michael Sims joined the Slashdot orgy crew. "I wanted to introduce goat sex and a lot of non-Slashdot, homosexual, erect male penises to the group," said Sims, "so ESR got involved with donkey dicks and we all like to suck each other off." Without Rob Malda, Michael Sims would be nothing except an aggravated gay male without a place to call home.

"Slashdot is definitely the place to be gay" concluded Sims.

"Definitely the place to be gay."

Re:URGENT *** PLEASE READ *** UNIX FRIENDLY *** (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407892)

And the judges award:





oooooohhh, he has to be disappointed with those scores. A definite setback for the troll team.

Jim, he did so well in the trials. What happened here?

Well Pat, he gave it a good shot, but you could tell his heart really wasn't in it. His performance looked tired. We will have to look at some future performances to see if he can recover from this setback. Unfortunately, the judges often look for originality, and I didn't see anything here that we haven't seen before.

Thanks, Jim. We now take you to synchronized trolling with TrollMastah. TrollMastah?

We know it's you, Hemos!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408069)

sticking up for your boyfriends eh? Well, that's pretty noble I suppose. I guess you have faith of the heart after all.

It's been a long long road...

AC lobster


Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | about 13 years ago | (#2407898)

You rule.

Re:URGENT *** PLEASE READ *** UNIX FRIENDLY *** (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407933)

Congratulations, you have won my ebay auction [] !!!

I settle for 2nd. (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | about 13 years ago | (#2407828)

I hope.

Heh (1, Funny)

czardonic (526710) | about 13 years ago | (#2407830)

Grasping at the public sector straw, are we?

LBL Uses them (2, Informative)

Gaijin42 (317411) | about 13 years ago | (#2407833)

Lawrence berkely labs uses unix extensively for simulation. Particle accelerator simulation and weather simulation are huge there. Its running on a nice speedy cray. No Linux tho :)

How about Charles Barkley? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408093)

how about your toilet? how about your dildo? Is there anything you fuckers won't attempt to rape with linux?????/

It's not *nix per se... (2, Informative)

Red Aardvark House (523181) | about 13 years ago | (#2407863)

But it's Open Source:

The DoD does use StarOffice []

It's cross platform, so they can still run Windows, etc. and use it.

What? (-1, Flamebait)

Quasar1999 (520073) | about 13 years ago | (#2407866)

Why would the military want to use external software? They custom create most of their critical software, including OS and apps/utils inhouse. Anything that isn't critical, will probably be cheaper to go with Solaris, or VxWorks, or something else that is supported, and less of a security risk than linux or windows. Both of which have loads of problems, and are popular with the public, thus more people have knowledge on how to circumvent its security.

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

Coz (178857) | about 13 years ago | (#2407925)

Create their own? Are you still back in the 60s?

The applications, sure, they write quite a few of those - not a whole heck of a lot of demand for some of the stuff they do. BUT, the name of the game for the last decade has been COTS (Consumer Off-The-Shelf) integration - find things on the market and glue 'em together to do the job the gov't wants done.

They DO like having someone at the other end of a support contract that they can yell at, so the free software world hasn't penetrated as much as it could have, but I can't remember the last time I saw a government-specific OS that wasn't running on government-specific hardware, and those get rarer every day.

Re:What? (1)

marcovje (205102) | about 13 years ago | (#2407931)

I'd expect the military to see through "security through obscurity".

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408092)

I'd expect them to know what that phrase actually means. Optimistic of me, I know.

Re:What? (0, Troll)

Drizzten (459420) | about 13 years ago | (#2407947)

Speaking of "critical" software, I thought I once read somewhere that the two big chip makers didn't make x86 chips that were supposed to be used in critical situations such as hospital life support. Might that also hamper the adoption of the *nixes, since the hardware is harder to come by?

I think you're confused... (4, Informative)

ObligatoryUserName (126027) | about 13 years ago | (#2407948)

Of course the military uses external software. It's my understanding that the Navy has even standardized on NT. I really haven't heard of any branch custom creating OSes that they then widely depoly, though I could be wrong.

If I recall correctly, there was even a notable Navy incident a few years back due to buggy Microsoft software... ah here it is: Navy Smartship "crashes" while running NT. []

Re:I think you're confused... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408101)

If I recall correctly, there was even a notable Navy incident a few years back due to buggy Microsoft software... ah here it is: Navy Smartship "crashes" while running NT. []

The publisher of the original article that broke the story later admitted that it was based upon "early speculation", their words not mine.

The actual incident aboard a test platform, not an operational ship, let a naive server corrupt it's down database and naive clients responsible for various jobs crashed when bad data was supplied to them. These client applications were required to operate equipment. The OS was not involved and using a different OS would not have changed anything.

From the people on board the ship and who actually worked on the software: tml

"Others insist that NT was not the culprit. According to Lieutenant Commander Roderick Fraser, who was the chief engineer on board the ship at the time of the incident, the fault was with certain applications that were developed by CAE Electronics in Leesburg, Va. As Harvey McKelvey, former director of navy programs for CAE, admits, "If you want to put a stick in anybody's eye, it should be in ours." But McKelvey adds that the crash would not have happened if the navy had been using a production version of the CAE software, which he asserts has safeguards to prevent the type of failure that occurred".

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407995)

How can the post above be "insightful" ? The reliance of both the Navy (see: IT-21 and Admiral Archie Clemins) and the Air Force on Microsoft products (NT, Office, and Exchange) as their standard system is well known and discussed here on Slashdot.

Are you smoking crack? (2, Informative)

grendelkhan (168481) | about 13 years ago | (#2408043)

Even in the days of ballooning military budgets, DoD systems RARELY used a custom OS. Do you realize the manhours it takes to do something like that??

Having been a wage slave (read: enlisted) for the DoD for the last 13 years, I've never used a customized OS, and I'm in Intel! Currently, my day-to-day OS is WinNT, and we just installed an NT network to replace our beloved VAX cluster running VMS. Before that, I've worked on Sun, SGI and HP boxen, using lots of custom written apps, but always using the native OS to get basic jobs done.

Never post here again, you stupid bitch!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408108)

God damn it, you take your hat off when you talk about unix. And I don't mean eunichs, bahahahahah hoo no no not that. Unix. Look into it, you fucking bastard!!!!!!!!! It is our lifeblood!!!!!

It might be specious but. . . (1)

jiheison (468171) | about 13 years ago | (#2407875)

I would imagine that many governmental types, particularly in security, would see "open Source" as antithetical to their mission of keeping secrets.

While it may be true that society is better off with full disclosure, this is certainly not our governments attitude about much of anything.

Re:It might be specious but. . . (3, Informative)

MacGabhain (198888) | about 13 years ago | (#2407918)

NSA uses Linux, as is reported here quite regularly. They're about as secretive as you can get.

Re:It might be specious but. . . (1)

jiheison (468171) | about 13 years ago | (#2407970)

Well if the NSA says it, it must be true.

But seriously, I was merely saying that while Linux may be very good at security, from an ideological standpoint it is likely to see resistance.

Re:It might be specious but. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407977)

Why is society better off with full disclosure? There are secrets (military, intelligence, etc.) that need to be kept.

NT for Army Special Forces (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407878)

There was this army commander on CNN being interviewed about US capabilities in AF. He said something like "this thing can pinpoint locations, monitor troop movement, traffic triply encrypted both directions..." then he went on "like everything else, they're vulnerable to virus and the sort" HAHAHAHAH!

Mod this up for the AC will ya. True story. someone please confirm!

Re:NT for Army Special Forces (2, Interesting)

Noxxus (259942) | about 13 years ago | (#2407997)

I believe it was a Marine field grade officer in a tactical operations center last week on MSNBC, IIRC. The American and British Marines were training at the mountain warfare center in the Sierras in California, and the TOC personnel had an assortment of laptops running Windoze with their sitmaps and such on them.

None (-1)

egg troll (515396) | about 13 years ago | (#2407879)

OpenSource is unAmerican. I would write my Congressman if any of our blessed Agencies used that communist software, especially when the economy is hurting. We need to support American [] software [] companies [] in this time of great national crisis. Thank you, and God bless.

Please Hack Me (0, Troll)

Renraku (518261) | about 13 years ago | (#2407883)

*nix OSes for a collection of people that have enough trouble keeping Windows boxen secure would be like putting a blind man in charge of watching security cameras to make sure no one is trying to get in. Or putting someone that is quadrapalegic in the position of a life guard...

Re:Please Hack Me (2)

Ghoser777 (113623) | about 13 years ago | (#2408030)

I think it would be easier for them to keep a secure OS if they had hundreds of independent, free contractors working on the OS and there isn't some monopolistic company controlling the OS while coding buggy software that is easy to hack.

If a person who wants to do in the gov't finds a bug, I bet some non-antigov't people in the open source community will be able to find the same thing.


National Library of Medicine (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407884)

The NLM (part of the National Institutes of Health) uses Solaris extensively. And all the free software available (GNU utils, Perl code, Python code, MySQL, etc.) helps keep taxpayer costs way down.

The German Government is (4, Informative)

friday2k (205692) | about 13 years ago | (#2407886)

a mixture of Linux and Windows but with a strong movement towards open source software. See also this story [] . The German Government nevertheless signed a large contract with Microsoft for future upgrades and deliverables (see here [] for a German article on that). One of the driving forces behind the open source movement has been the BSI [] , the german government agency for security in information technology (again Website is in German). They support open standards especially for security sensitive applications.

seems to go project by project (2, Informative)

jptxs (95600) | about 13 years ago | (#2407888)

I've worked with a lot of gov/mil sites as a vendor and they seemed to always have a very mixed bag. The funding goes project by project and the decisions are made that way too it seems. So I'd say there are going to be patches in every branch willing to look at this and patches that would feel threatened by it. Just like anywhere else... =]

Unix yes, Linux/BSD not really (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407889)

Every major research division I've seen in the government has some pretty hefty machines running Unix on them. But I can't think of any doing serious work on Linux and only a couple that use a BSD variant. Mostly it's Solaris, TRU-64, HP-UX, VMS, AIX, OS/390, etc- the older rooted and commercial Unices.

Re:Unix yes, Linux/BSD not really (1)

TZ180 (514951) | about 13 years ago | (#2407953)

Last time I check, BSD was Unix.

Another question about gov't agencies... (-1)

Patrick Bateman (175284) | about 13 years ago | (#2407890)

Which are friendly to Beowulf clusters?

Dept. of Commerce uses Unix (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407891)

I work at a division of the D.O.C., and I will say that we use both Unix and Linux (HP-UX in particular) for all kinds of servers, though most of the desktops (well, not *mine*) are NT/2000.

Education (2, Informative)

Methuseus (468642) | about 13 years ago | (#2407896)

I've attended two community colelges and one university here in Illinois. All three use a form of *nix (I'm not sure which) to handle logins and email. The CS department of the university, as well, uses Solaris as its OS for higher level C, C++, Java, etc classes.

Re:Education (2)

Ghoser777 (113623) | about 13 years ago | (#2408014)

Considering that their email serves are called ux1 through ux13 at the U of I, I'd assume they are HP-UX servers. The webmal server is running NT 4.0 (according to netcraft).

Now if only the public labs were running a varient of Unix, we'd be set (OS X may come in the near future, but until Office runs on any other *nix, the PCs will pretty much always be running windows).


And netcraft says..... (4, Informative)

nizo (81281) | about 13 years ago | (#2407902)

According to netcraft's September stats 36.53% of the .gov websites were running MS IIS and 31.92% were running Apache, go here [] for further details. Interestingly there don't appear to be stats for .gov sites prior to last month (it looks like they just started polling .gov sites perhaps? Only 3581 were polled). I wonder what those numbers will look like one year from now.

Linux use at USACERL (5, Informative)

dlapine (131282) | about 13 years ago | (#2407903)

The US Army Corps of Engineering,
Engineering Research and Development Center,
Construction Engineering Research Laboratory

(USACERL) used linux in several of its projects during the time I worked there (1996-1998). Linux was used for some workstations, some small networks and the Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) software system.

Not a major development, but enough general and specific use to be noticed. I don't know the current status of linux use at the labs today.

NMCI (4, Interesting)

big_cat79 (156695) | about 13 years ago | (#2407904)

The Department of Navy will become even less *nix friendly with the full deployment of the Navy-Marine Core Intranet (NMCI). This initiative is to standarize all desktops, laptops, and servers to one platform, in this case Windows 2000 and both the servers and the desktops, all of it outsourced to EDS. Outside of tasks that require a *nix box, the choice is actually no choice at all: Dell boxes running Windows 2000.

Re:NMCI (1)

MacGabhain (198888) | about 13 years ago | (#2407929)

Sheesh. So they want their whole department to grind to a halt instead of just one cruiser?

Re:NMCI (5, Interesting)

gmhowell (26755) | about 13 years ago | (#2407930)

A friend of the family works at Navy Intelligence. I had planned on applying there (wanted to get out of healthcare industry) but changed my mind after finding out this information. I don't mind working on Win-boxen. Hell, that's what keeps me busy here at work. But for a few jobs, the Linux boxes are cheaper and work better.

There is no reason to pick Win2k by fiat. The right tool should be picked for the job. I cannot work somewhere where there is NO possiblity of that happening.

As an aside, I also cannot stand my tax dollars being misappropriated in this manner. Yes, my representatives are aware of my feelings.

Re:NMCI (2, Insightful)

Jubedgy (319420) | about 13 years ago | (#2408012)

Well the problem is...most of the (enlisted) guys I've come across have trouble enough getting windows to do what they want. You can't really tell people how to use computers, they have to *know*...otherwise you might see a high incidence of 'rm -rf /' style mistakes going on when someone wants to delete a single file or something.


Re:NMCI (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408035)

Christ almighty.

They make a not-unreasonable decision to standardize on a single OS, and they make a not-unreasonable choice of Win32. In the grand scheme of things, it probably makes sense, since the user-level applications available on linux are not particularly good and there are many fewer linux programmers out there to develop custom software for them.

"Misappropriated tax dollars" "Representative are aware", etc. Christ, you probably yell at cops when they write you speeding tickets and tell them that you're paying their salary.

Re:NMCI (2)

gmhowell (26755) | about 13 years ago | (#2408070)

"Misappropriated tax dollars" "Representative are aware", etc. Christ, you probably yell at cops when they write you speeding tickets and tell them that you're paying their salary.

No, actually, I don't. But I do yell at cops who are speeding w/o lights and siren, cops who run speed traps in absurd areas, cops who impede traffic when making a stop, etc.

Standardizing on a single platform is not necessarily a good goal. Note that this was for their intranets. Why would Win2k and Win2k only be the best choice? Answer: it isn't.

While I didn't vote for Dubya, I do agree with at least one thing he said (paraphrased): we're not giving you back the government's money; we're giving you back your money. Taxes are my money. I'm entirely within my right to demand that it be spent how I feel.

Re:NMCI (Damnit) (2)

gmhowell (26755) | about 13 years ago | (#2408079)

Shit. I just fed the troll. Sorry.

(I actually don't mind feeding trolls with accounts. It's the nameless bastards I have a problem with)

Re:NMCI (1)

haikumaster (467152) | about 13 years ago | (#2408032)

I'm a Navy reservist and know a civilian IT manager for one particular Navy activity and he told me about Win2K and EDS a few monthes ago. He doesn't like it and wishes they could go Unix/Linux. In one week I had 168 viral related email messages in my Navy Outhouse email account...

HUGE Linux rollout (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407908)

I don't know, but I've heard rumors, that the government uses Linux on your momma.

*nix or {Linux,*BSD}? (5, Informative)

devphil (51341) | about 13 years ago | (#2407910)

Your title says *nix, but you seem to be asking specifically about the libre OSes.

The Air Force Research Labs makes heavy use of Solaris, including Trusted Solaris, for internal routing, firewalling, nameservers, etc. (For external talk-to-the-world connections, more task-specific stuff is used instead; I have no idea what it's called and wouldn't tell it here anyhow.)

Most of the Unix sysadmins have at least one Linux box on the desktop.

Engineers who have to use funky or EOL'd hardware often ask about Linux, both because of the source code availability, and because funky hardware eats up about 97% of their budget.

Does that help, or were you thinking along other lines?

In the DoD, it depends on what sector you look at. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407919)

(Posted anonymously to protect my sorry ass)

The DoD are of split minds on the matter. But this, if you understand the workings of the DoD on matters computing, is nothing new.

From a command perspective, especially for daily work, it's supposed to be a Windows World. However, to really understand things, you have to grasp that policy organizations like Air Staff or AFCA (to use an example from the USAF) typically don't provide funding to back their mandates. That's left ot the command, unit, or installation commander-- it's his people, his money, and generally he can do whatever the hell he wants with it by citing "mission requirements."

Again following a USAF example, AFCA and Air Staff decreed years ago that the desktop would be NT4 + Office97, servers would be NT4 server, yea verily, hail and forever, amen. But there are still many many MANY shops out there still running NetWare (previous standard) and Banyan Vines stuff, not to mention the old mainframes (Sperry, anyone?) that have never been decommissioned, mostly because no one will pony up the dough to recode old applications.

Even now, there's two worlds at work. On the one hand, there is the mandate within the USAF to move to Win2K. But there is ALSO a mandate to take ALL current and future USAF applications and webalize them behind a common middleware layer, moving to a portal-based enterprise operation-- including the use of web-based groupware. It doesn't take a genius to see how at odds these two efforts are.

This is relevant because most government agencies are just like the DoD, just in minature. Many simply follow the Department's lead on tech matters. So you can't really ask which government agencies are *NIX-friendly; you have to ask which communities in government agencies are doing *NIX work.

To which, there is no easy answer. 8)

Re:In the DoD, it depends on what sector you look (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408044)

I agree -- this was good commentary.

From the part of the USAF that I've seen, it seems that they've been trying to convert from proprietary "custom built" systems like the mainframes they used to have to civilian "vendor" stuff so that they can upgrade as quickly as the new technology is implented (as opposed to their cold-war philosophy of being the center of technical innovation and developing equipment that is years ahead of the civilian world only to find twenty years later that they're behind with old equipment because it was just too hard to upgade the proprietary stuff).

Thus USAF = Cisco and MS. MS and Cisco have taken the responsability as vendors in case there are "security leaks" and the USAF completely endorses them. Any choice by a installation commander to use anything else makes the responsibility of "security breaches" fall 100% on them where if they chose MS, it would fall on MS. Thus very few commanders choose anything but MS and Cisco and any attempt to pursuade otherwise often falls on deaf ears.

It rather scares me that the USAF is now under the control of vendors, however I feel that somthing is better then nothing.

To give you a perspective of the proprietary to vendor roll-over, up until last year the only text-messaging system that was endorsed by DISA for combat sceanrios was 'STAMPS' -- a proprieatry teletype system dating to the early 70s. Last year DISA rolled out "DMS" (defense messaging system) which is a MS Exchange server. I am saddened that the USAF choose insecure MS products for combat scenarios, however I'm happy that they've AT LEAST finally approved e-mail for combat!

They're having a tough enough time trying to implement technology of the 1990s, never mind mixing in *NIXes that would require extensive training for the admins. I don't forsee any *NIXes permeating the Combat Comm arena anytime soon :(.

If it were the cold war and DoD did not have the vendor philosophy that it has now, I could forsee all types of neat innovation using the Open-Source *NIXes in a proprietary manner (and thus still reamianing the leader in technical innovation), however DISA have given up all motivation to be a technical innovator any more and just wants to try to implement civilian technology that hes been around for years and replace their VERY old proprietary equipment :(.

Re:In the DoD, it depends on what sector you look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408117)

I just left the USAF, where I held a sys admin position that used a SCO System 7 server on the SIPERNET. I had a Linux box on my desk that I used for graphics manipulation on a web site I built for my Squadron. The box was my own. Only NT or 2K is allowed on all USAF computers attached to the LAN.

Everyone I spoke to in IT positions were Windows people and they knew nothing of Unix. The LAN was always down for various reasons. Very fustrating, but not the reason I left.

NSA, I believe (2, Informative)

pjdepasq (214609) | about 13 years ago | (#2407927)

I had a friend who was supposed to be working for/at the NSA on a secure Linux kernel this fall. I don't know anything else about the project, or it's status, but it's clear that the NSA is using *nix.

Re:NSA, I believe (0)

lbalbalba (526209) | about 13 years ago | (#2408096)

Youre right about the project SeLinux or Security Enahnced Linux. Its at
But because this is a research project Im not sure that this proves there actually *using* Unix though...

Tossing in a three-letter-acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407932)

I'm not so sure what it is, but the governement agency "GNU" seems to be pretty unix-friendly. I saw their acronym quite a few times. Looks like they've open-sourced their in-house utils or something.

Several Agencies Use SGI IRIX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407936)

NSA, NOAA, NIH, DOE, etc. are all heavy users of SGI IRIX systems, including some very large (thousand cpu) systems...

LLNL - Lots 'o' Linux and *nix (1)

nufsaid (230318) | about 13 years ago | (#2407937)

At LLNL most serious computing involves unix. In addition, it is quite common for research groups to build their own linux "supercomputers".

It did take a number of years for LLNL to become open to linux as an option. Mostly out of security concerns and support issues.

To find out more about computing at LLNL, check out:

Fermi borrowed their setup from God (3, Informative)

boinger (4618) | about 13 years ago | (#2407940)

I interviewed at Fermi [] a few months ago and got a tour of a few of their cold rooms.*drool* *wipe* *wipe*

Rows of Origin machines churning away...tape rooms with robot arms zipping about faster than you can figure out what they're doing...Linux everywhere you was heaven. I was dizzy with envy. Alas, they didn't pay enough to make the commute worth it - they're about 45 minutes out on I-55 (non-rush hour) and I like living downtown.

NIST-ITL (2, Informative)

caesar-auf-nihil (513828) | about 13 years ago | (#2407941)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the US Dept. of Commerce, is very Unix and Linux friendly, especially in the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL).

While the majority of personal PCs used by researchers at NIST are Windows based, Linux and Unix get used for computer modeling applications of all types, and Linux is used quite a bit by ITL. While I was at NIST, there was talk of a standard PC for all of NIST, and the ITL folks were stating that the software should be open-source and not Windows based. I don't know what happened with their request, as I left before the "standard" NIST PC came to be. I suspect though that it was Windows-based so the rest of NIST would not have to learn a bunch of new, basic software.

Umm... isn't Solaris a *nix? (3, Flamebait)

throx (42621) | about 13 years ago | (#2407946)

One of the reasons I left DoD a few years ago for the private sector was because nobody seemed interested in thinking outside the box and everyone was perfectly content letting the vendors and contractors ram Microsoft, Solaris, and other proprietary stuff down their throats...

Last I looked Solaris was part of *nix, as were many other "proprietary stuff". If you really mean Linux or BSD then you shouldn't use the term *nix.

To answer what I assume was the original question, perhaps they have considered Linux and xBSD but just haven't found a compelling reason to spend the money to migrate? Free software doesn't necessarily mean cheaper in the short or long term much as the average /. person would wish it to be so.

Re:Umm... isn't Solaris a *nix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408057)

I'm a little slow today, what DOES your sig mean?

Fantasy land (1)

big_debacle (413628) | about 13 years ago | (#2407954)

One of the reasons I left DoD a few years ago for the private sector was because nobody seemed interested in thinking outside the box and everyone was perfectly content letting the vendors and contractors ram Microsoft, Solaris, and other proprietary stuff down their throats, nor was there any institutional interest in changing over to open source.

I wish I was financially able or had enough passion to leave a job because they didn't change over to open source or wouldn't "think outside the box". I'm content to earn a living, knowing that there will be things that I don't like or agree with. I'll save my moral stands for something that matters.

Re:Fantasy land (5, Interesting)

Philbert Desenex (219355) | about 13 years ago | (#2407999)

I wish I was financially able or had enough passion to leave a job because they didn't change over to open source or wouldn't "think outside the box". I'm content to earn a living, knowing that there will be things that I don't like or agree with. I'll save my moral stands for something that matters.

I left a company in '95 that was switching to All MSFT, All The Time. If you think about the state of the MSFT world at the time (WfWG, Windows 3.11, NT 3.51), it made sense. Manager types seemed to believe that NT 3.51 would be cheaper/easier/more productive/have zero defects/shove fried chicked under their drooling chins. The rather different reality made me think twice. Did I want to get caught between Manager Expectations and Shitty NT reality? No. Also, working with Windows was substantially less fun than working with SunOS/Solaris. I quit. That company became little more than an MSFT reseller - they never did anything interesting, and they finally disappeared.

Moving to a company that uses Unix and open source stuff isn't a matter of principal - it's a matter of survival. Remember: your NT certification expires in December, you'll have to get W2K or XP certification at a great cost. In two years, your XP certification will expire and you'll have to get YP certification, again, at great cost.

Re:Fantasy land (1)

weeble (50918) | about 13 years ago | (#2408115)

Microsoft has been proven to be a criminal organisation in the US. It is currently under investigation throughout Europe for criminal activity.

If this is not enough for your Morals, what is?

By working with MS products, easing the ability for companies to find engineers you are endorsing MS.

I myself cannot condone that.

Mac (3, Insightful)

Washizu (220337) | about 13 years ago | (#2407955)

I did a project during college at the National Institute of Health [] and it seemed to me that 90% of the people there used Macs. I know it is proprietary, but I thought I'd mention it since Macs weren't mentioned in the news.


Navy linux (2, Informative)

aghman (303312) | about 13 years ago | (#2407958)

I work for a D.o.D. contractor, and we have been porting a lot of our *nix software over to PC's running Linux.
While Linux isn't used for any critical systems (neither is NT/2000), it is being adopted for many other types of systems (instruction, etc).

We do most of our development on Linux machines, although we are forced to use Windows boxes to do administrative junk (#@$! Outlook!)

National Science Foundation acknowledges Linux (2, Informative)

call -151 (230520) | about 13 years ago | (#2407959)

I don't know about the inside, but as someone who deals with the NSF from the outside applying for and getting grants, they understand that most academic scientists are using Linux/Unix etc. So they do give pointers for tools for linux to get things into the acceptable formats (TeX, dvi, Postscript, pdf) for submissions and so on. I mostly deal with fastlane [] their electronic grant submission/reviewing system and it now accepts things in lots of formats, as explained here [] There was a time a few years ago when they were requiring PDF and the Linux tools for genereating PDF were not mature- I ended up helping tons of people with getting things into the right shape for them by moving stuff over to a Mac, TeXing it there, including all fonts, using Acrobat (blegh) but that was the only reasonable option at the time.


ViMaster (230867) | about 13 years ago | (#2407960)

The Navy's AEGIS system runs on HPUX.

Overall, I can't complain. (2, Funny)

nix (13674) | about 13 years ago | (#2407961)

I've had the typical sort of experiences with customs and the DMV. And, the US Postal service has given me a few headaches. But otherwise I'd say that I usually get pretty friendly treatment.

Thanks for asking,


Is somebody a little bitter? (4, Interesting)

scott1853 (194884) | about 13 years ago | (#2407969)

"One of the reasons I left DoD a few years ago for the private sector was because nobody seemed interested in thinking outside the box"

Since when does the use of open source software equate to "thinking outside the box"? I would think that government agencies have more important criteria for a system than "can we play with the source code?".

If they need some new software, they're not going to hop on over to freshmeat. They're going to decide the function of the software. Then they're going to hire somebody to design a system that accomplishes that exact task. I'm sure there's instances on needing to maintain or upgrade software in the government, but all that means is that they need to be in possession of the source code, the code doesn't need to be sitting on source forge though.

If you did work at the DoD (which I have not), I would think that you'd realize that their use for software is to accomplish a specific task, and it's not for having fun, or sticking it to MS.

BTW, Taco, do you guys have a clapper installed on the db server or what?

Wright Patterson Air Force (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407975)

Wright Patterson Air Force [] in Dayton, Ohio runs: SCO, AIX, RedHat, SuSe, and damn near everything thing else.

Army uses Unix flavors (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2407978)

I had the opportunity to serve with a Field Artillery unit at Fort Hood. They use several fire direction control systems (Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATADS) and others)that are based on Unix. They really wouldn't let me touch it too much to dig around in it, but it looked like Sun. The camoflauging done to make the GUI look like MS Windows was amazing though. To a casual user, it would be difficult to tell that it was not a Windows OS.

heh check this.... (2, Interesting)

ShinGouki (12500) | about 13 years ago | (#2407986)

from the comp/sci employment page at the NSA (

It's been said that the systems environment we offer is a veritable fantasyland for computer science, with vast networks that manipulate huge volumes of data and accomplish information analysis at mind-boggling speeds.

Consider acres of hardware
software years ahead of current commercial technology
microprocessor-based advances
over-the-horizon supercomputers
leading-edge activities in programming, signals (including analog control), GUI's, AI, neural nets, information security, the design and implementation of encryption algorithms, and far beyond.

now, if only the headhunters could come up with a pitch like that...

Your friendly Post Office (2, Informative)

alfredo (18243) | about 13 years ago | (#2408001)

They use QNX for the letter sorting machines, and some optical scanners use Linux Some Vax is also used. some NT is used, for networking, and WebObjects is used for the intranet.

The non essential tasks are done on Windows 95. The supervisors are the lucky ones to use the Windows machines.

After four months the supervisor still hasn't figured out how to change the "You Suck" message that crawls across his screen saver , nor can he figure out how to put the taskbar back on on the bottom of the screen.

Comic books and super heroes (2)

Graymalkin (13732) | about 13 years ago | (#2408003)

This isn't exactly wide roll-out but my town has a pretty big Unix backend on nearly all of the city's systems. There's several big rooms filled with old Sun machines and if you go to the court offices every secretary has an X terminal on their desk (though they usually have a Windows PC as well). Besides city government and the courts I'm sure there's a bit more Unix usage but I haven't seen it personally. Though none of these are free and so you don't see them as real Unicies but oh well.

The Illuminati uses WinME (-1)

Dead Fart Warrior (525970) | about 13 years ago | (#2408008)

Me and my friends at the Illuminati use WinME. You see, the illuminati is so bored controlling the world, we've created a little chaos to get life bouncy again.

Now me and the illuminati are going back to playing tidly-winks and watching moesha.

Roblimo and *nix in the Government. Zing! (2)

Sarcasmooo! (267601) | about 13 years ago | (#2408010)

This is slightly on topic; it's something that made me laugh and I'm reminded of it anytime I hear of this subject. The short description; a response on Declan's politechbot [] to "Citizens Against Government Waste", an MS-funded 'grassroots organization' (pfft), from Roblimo. He made an observation that's been made before; that the Government would save a lot of money if they weren't paying for Windows licenses. I'd just never imagined it could be made at such a perfect moment, to such a perfect audience as a farcical group of Washington watchdogs who claim that their struggle for an end to the MS antitrust case is only part of their desire to combat Government waste. And of course the icing on the cake is that CAGW never replied. Anyway, here's CAGW's original press release [] and here's Roblimo's response [] .

USDA - Rural Utilities Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408015)

Is currently migrating all of their legacy apps to Java based web apps (WebSphere/DB2). RUS handles all loan management for USDA, it's a truly huge effort that seems to be going reasonably well. RH 6.2 is the platform (because IBM officially supports it and everyone has heard of it). Still using Win NT 4 for desktops, however.

Unix at PPPL (5, Informative)

jspaleta (136955) | about 13 years ago | (#2408016)

Most of the big iron at DoE's PPPL is running linux.

Here's the run down:

We have a linux cluster running a high resolution display wall for large scale simulation presentations (and to play quake3 on ;-> 400Mhz processors i think).

One general purpose linux cluster (16 dual process machines of the 800 Mhz vintage)
There are several dual processor alphas running linux as stand-alone servers....A lot of the scientific computational stuff happens on these....think fortran

There are 2 or 3 intel based clusters (32 or 64 dual processor 1.7 GHz machines per cluster) in the works...and another one just to run the TRANSP code that I can't play on is operational...mutter grumble

The lab got part of a big computing grant from NFS i think to drasticly expand its computing I'd imagine a large (100+ node) linux cluster is in the works for PPPL as well

On the more mundane side of things....
I just got a linux box up and running with 5 ics645 digitizer boards (32 channels 2.5 Mhz per channel) to be used as the main data aquisition computer for MRX....if more PCI DAQ equipment becomes available for linux, I'd imagine a lot of the smaller experiments at the lab would jump to linux.

There was also talk of replacing alot of the old er desktop pc and xterminals with stripped down linux thin-clients....but I dont think that's gonna fly.

It's hard for me to keep up with the specifics since I'm just a user....
The point is most if not all the scientific computing power at PPPL will be on Linux in the near future. The desktop space at the lab is firmly in the hands of the large mac user base right now.

Funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408017)

As it stands right now where I work, we can't use Win/2K in a classified area (DOD Secret, or beyond) because it has "too many security holes"...

So we are stuck installing NT4/sp6 on the machines because "most of the holes have been patched".


Friggin DOD.

Of course, remember that these are typically standalone machines, in a soundproof/EMI-proof alarmed room, a large combination lock on the door, and badge-swipe/PIN# access... and the hard drives are removable and locked in a safe (another combination lock) when an "unclear" person is in the room (or the room is empty)...

... yah.. Win/2k will be more unsafe than NT4 in this case, huh?

Even on networked machines, this is still the same case. c'mon, everybody who has access to the room has been cleared for the project and is supposed to be "trusted"... no outside connections, just a small network in a sealed area. But its still a problem... "NT4 is safer than Win/2k".

US Army Corps of Engineers (2, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 13 years ago | (#2408024)

runs their financial database on Oracle 8i I think it was. It runs on Solaris OS. As far as email is there any unix solution that can rival exchange? And I mean have an integrated address book so users won't have to hunt down and remember email addresses.

Interpretation of question. (3, Funny)

pi_rules (123171) | about 13 years ago | (#2408042)

I've got mad Linux skills and would like a cushy government job. Since the dot-com bust I'm sunk and haven't been able to find a job in months. I know the NSA uses Linux but I applied there and they laughed at me so I need some place else that has lower requirements. Like, if I can use 'vi' people will be uber-impressed.

If you took the above seriously... don't.

Landwarrior (1)

alen (225700) | about 13 years ago | (#2408050)

The army's landwarrior runs on win2k. Personally my experience with win2k is it's been extremely stable. Close to rivaling our solaris based firewall.

not much in Virginia? (1)

stego (146071) | about 13 years ago | (#2408052)

I used to work for a company that makes money as a Seat Management partner for the state of VA. What this means is that the company does something similar to leasing equipment to the state. This company is one of 4 or so 'approved vendors'. Each vendor offers a set number of packages, each standardized around offerings from Dell or Gateway or Compaq. To my knowledge they all ship w/ Windows, tho some would go out w/ a totally blank disk. These include servers, all of which at the time were NT 4. This was pushed by the Republicans Governor's office, but didn't seem to be taken too fondly by the different departments.

FROM [] - " a program that bundles a desktop PC and a suite of necessary support options for Virginia agencies and institutions. Your organization can transfer the responsibility of supporting the life cycle of desktop computers and servers, in exchange for a nominal fixed "per seat" fee. This fee includes: a new PC every 1, 2, or 3 years, project management, initial desktop rollout plan, configuration, installation, user orientation on new PC, maintenance, asset management, disposal and technology refresh, plus optional services."

Does this scare anyone else?

Non-Techie in the DOD (2, Insightful)

thryllkill (52874) | about 13 years ago | (#2408054)

Here is a little problem. A vast majority of DOD computer users are exactly what you have in the civilian private sector, not very computer literate people who are just trying to get their job done, admin type people. In my relatively short time in the military (USAF) I would have to say that Admin people out number just about any other career field there is (the AF version of the MOS is called the Career field). I don't mean the admin career field is that huge, but every shop, weather they have an actual IM troop or not does have an admin section of some sort, and like the rest of the world the Admins run windows.

As far as security is concerned when I asked if I could set up a small SuSe file server for my users the Comm Squadron told me that we were expressly forbidden to run Linux on the network.

Linux in Govt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408064)

I work at a NOAA branch; everything in our department here is almost 100% Linux, with one or two sysadmins for Windows systems.

Of course, we also do software development. And what's better to develop on than Linux?

Linux used in Military Simulation (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408094)

Look for ModSAF, OneSAF, JCATS, JANUS to start. Also have seen some cool stuff like the ODT that consists of several Linux PCs. This is an omnidirectional treadmill with a soldier walking around a virtual environment wearing a HMD and shooting things. This of course interfaces with all the simulation stuff including full scale mock up tanks, Bradleys and HMMWV (mostly SGI based). Oh yeah and interfaces to real C4I systems (C4I Gateway -Linux) so someone in an excercise wouldnt know what is real and what is simulated. The real C4I systems are a mix of Solaris Sparc (ABCS systems: MCS, AFATDS, CSSCS, AMDWS, ASAS, IMETS, etc), Solaris Intel (FBCB2), and NT ("Lite" versions of most of the ABCS systems running on laptops). FBCB2 has been ported to Linux (or at least EBC) by Mitre, who also developed the C4I gateway. Mitre looks like it might be a good place to work. Check out

MEPS: Military Entrance Processing Station (0)

0vi_king (514106) | about 13 years ago | (#2408095)

When I was attempting to join the ARMY I noticed the computer desktops had a pastel and very UNIX-like look to them.'s CDE!

It was refreshing to see something other than that nasty green color or the silly win95 clouds and tiresome icons you see in the EVERY other office.

It was also nice to see that office workers can be just as inept with UNIX as they can with Windows. Where is that darn icon?!? have to click it It's so strange to see people working with computers apparently hating them for whatever reasons. But hey....I hate working with lots of other maybe I understand the resistance.

I didn't ask the guy what they were running on the backend....because...well, he seemed 'Upset'.

Gov't and trusted OSs (1)

5skin (472855) | about 13 years ago | (#2408114)

The government is just starting to realize that they will probably get more assurance about their operating systems if those systems are source-available. Note that the program funding NAI is funding several other open source security projects, such as Sardonix ( and tools for advanced code analysis (

The government has been interested in commercially-viable B-level secure operating systems for a long time, and, believe it or not, they are starting to see Darwin as the most viable candidate. Apple is willing to ship an OS with built-in mandatory access control primitives to every consumer (off by default), if the open source community performs such enhancements to the kernel. They've even started a consortium for promoting this goal (STOS; Secure Trusted OS). Several government agencies, including the NSA, are members of this consortium, and I would expect to see them funding several promising projects.

Sounds like a great reason to leave a job (2)

tmark (230091) | about 13 years ago | (#2408120)

Let me see if I understand this, one of the reasons you left the DoD is because they couldn't come around to running a free OS ? I wonder what your job there must have been, such that you decided you just could not work there unless you ran Linux - did they hire you as an Open-source evangelist ? When you accepted the position did you think the DoD was hiring you to convert them over to Linux, instead of, say, doing some other job ? What exactly was your job title such that running Linux was so crucial to your job satisfaction there ? And what about that slashdot story where a few office workers were loudly and roundly ridiculed because they just couldn't be productive on Linux ? Why isn't this story just as ridiculous ?

NIH is *nix friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2408133)

I work at NIH (which is technically part of HHS). I use Irix and Solaris daily (along with Mac and occasionally various flavors of Windows when it can't be avoided). Our lab's web server is a Linux box, and we're currently gearing up to try running some of our calculations on a Linux cluster.
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