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Logs: computer woes
posted on January 15, 2002
log entries (1)

Mark Shuttleworth:

Today was the first ISS computer interfaces practical. There are a series of computer systems that run the ISS. There are the core, critical functions, sort of like the 'brain stem', and then there are more peripheral functions that run on less reliable systems. One of the more interesting lectures was the one where it was explained that the three core computer systems that were designed to run in triplicate as a multiple-redundant backup with hot failover proved so problematic that they now just run the thing on one computer. OK. Actually, that makes sense, as it's quick enough to switch to a second computer if the prime fails, and things tend either to happen slowly or kill you quickly, anyhow.

One of the core computer that has crew interfaces runs on a 386 and boots a version of DOS when you turn it on. That one has a nice clean UI that is pretty straightforward to navigate once you have an overview of the ISS systems. That's the base control station. Then there are the laptops, which can be plugged into any network port and used to control more high-level behaviour. Such as turning lights on and off. It's unusual to have to navigate three sets of menus and icons, and then to execute a command like 'IS_ONTBCVETT' to turn on a lightbulb. But that's how it works. Certainly, it's the most expensive lightswitch I've ever seen!
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June 02, 2002:Logs: The Afronaut has landed
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