18 July 2008

NASA Uses Ubuntu

Two weekends ago was the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I went along with some friends including Crimsun/Dan Chen and Kevin Cole. Usually, the Folklife Festival features 2 countries and a state. Due to NASA's 50th anniversary, though, they got one of the country spots this year. The other areas represented were Bhutan and Texas.

So, we walked over toward NASA's area, and I stopped to read a big sign. As I was reading the paragraphs, Dan walks over, looks at the photo of a woman in front of a projector, and goes "that's gnome-terminal!" Sure enough, gnome-terminal is minimized in the bottom panel. Kevin then came over and asked what we were looking at. Dan told him, and then said he didn't know what GNOME it was or the distro, but perhaps it was Sun's odd version of GNOME. Kevin, being a long-time Red Hat admin, declared that it looked like the old Red Hat GNOME theme, then pointed at the software update icon to prove his point.

Next, we walked over to where this robot was climbing a wall. We were watching it, and Dan asked if I thought the guy with the laptop on the other side was controlling it. I ran around to look, and, lo and behold, he was running Ubuntu! So, I ran back around to Dan and went "he's using Ubuntu!" "OK, but is he controlling it?" "No, just watching a webcam attached to it." He and I walked back over behind the guy to look. I pointed out the little bit of the heron you could see at the bottom of the screen, and he said "yep, it's Hardy." Then he added, "look what else he's running." "What?" "Compiz. You can see the shadows on the panels." I then wondered aloud what terminal emulator was in use. I pointed out that the lack of menubar disqualified gnome-terminal, but perhaps terminator? I also suggested it could be xterm. Dan leaned over trying to see, but then he said, "your eyes are better than mine. Is the font anti-aliased?" This resulted in me leaning way over the velvet rope, over the NASA guy's shoulder, scrutinizing his screen and announcing, loudly, "nope, not anti-aliased! It's xterm!" I'm sure everyone else was rather confused. We tried to get a picture of it with our friend Merge's iPhone, but it turns out you have to do extra stuff to make the iPhone save photos rather than just acting as a freeze frame, so I now lack proof, but Dan and Kevin's brains have matching memories, so it's true.


5 comments:

Daniƫl said...

Very cool! :)

Dimitris Symeonidis said...

Way cool! Just a comment: you can disable the menubar in gnome-terminal (I know I do)...

MrCorey said...

Apparently, NASA uses Linux a lot. I forget where I heard this, but it was in an interview (perhaps a podcast) with someone from NASA. They said that they use their own customized version of Red Hat to do the "heavy lifting" in clusters. The employees can install anything they want on their own machines and they have all chosen some distro of Linux as time went by. Cool.

SEJeff said...

Thats very cool. On a somewhat related yet not so much note... If you ever go into a Coffeebean & Tealeaf coffee shop, they have these lcd tv screens with current news / fun facts. We got to see one reboot and it runs Fedora.

Foster Grant said...

I'm not surprised it looked like Red Hat's version of GNOME. NASA uses the "first-generation" Red Hat derivatives --- RHEL, CentOS and Fedora --- almost exclusively for their servers.