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Linux Warriors
Jamais Cascio, 28 Oct 03
Linux -- the open source poster child -- is becoming increasingly popular in the American military. The notorious insecurity and relative instability of Windows can be somewhat more than an annoyance on the battlefield. Linux holds up better under adverse conditions, and can be found embedded in a growing number of small devices. The latest application of Linux on the battlefield is the Army's "Land Warrior" project, intended to define the capabilities, equipment and tactics of the 21st century soldier. Linux will be the OS of choice for the "Commander's Digital Assistant" package, which allows the field commander to coordinate troops, movement, and intelligence. According to an article in the National Defense Magazine, this is part of a larger move to Linux in the Army. CDA Program Manager Lt. Col. Dave Gallop is quoted as saying, “Evidence shows that Linux is more stable. We are moving in general to where the Army is going, to Linux-based OS."

Peer-to-peer, distributed systems aren't just the tools of protesters and activists. The American military has been aggressively pursuing emerging collaborative technologies to help soldiers make flexible, well-informed judgments about battlespace conditions and goals. Each soldier is conceived of as part of a system of units, real-time intelligence sources (such as unmanned aerial vehicles and "smart dust"), both relying on and contributing to "operational topsight." It's useful to recognize that, whatever advantage swarming protesters have at the moment, the military and police forces are also beginning to go emergent, too.

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