Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2017


Interview with Gerolf Ziegenhain
Using Linux in Air Traffic Control. Hardware and Operating System Platforms

Photo of Gerolf Ziegenhain

Gerolf Ziegenhain will give a talk about Using Linux in Air Traffic Control. Hardware and Operating System Platforms at FOSDEM 2017.

Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Since I had my first Linux installed in the early 1990s I have been interested in operating systems and hardware. My first English book was “The C Programming Language” in that time. I studied physics with a focus on computational physics, got a PhD on simulation of metal deformations, for which I received an award. At DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH I am responsible for the Linux and Hardware Platform development and maintenance.

Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

How can open source software and safety critical systems work together? In a brief overview we explain the challenges, technical and non-technical ones, we have faced getting to the modular platforms. A good understanding of both the world of open source software and structured software engineering is essential to understand, tackle and then overcome the challenges (i.e. software maintenance during a prolonged lifecycle).

Q: What do you hope to accomplish by giving this talk? What do you expect?

With the coarse overview of the interfaces between both worlds that I give in this talk I want to enhance the understanding of quality requirements of a mission-critical system in the open source community. With scientific methods, a good overview of software development processes and a little common sense I am sure the overall quality of open source software can be increased even more. I hope I can arouse interest in software development processes for enhanced quality.

Q: What does DFS GmbH use Linux for? And what were the reasons to rely on Linux?

DFS GmbH relies on Linux for its core air traffic control systems. We have successfully managed to standardize a highly reliable, modular operating system and hardware platform at DFS.

Q: What does the platform for the air traffic control systems at DFS GmbH look like? What were the reasons for these platform choices?

The Linux Competence and Service Center (LCSC) provides centralized knowledge and solutions for all Linux operating systems used in the DFS. We have created a modular hardware platform at DFS comprising server and client hardware solutions for various products in our core business. Based on a common set of requirements documents, managed centrally in the DFS hardware board, we have various frame contracts with hardware suppliers. The operating system platform comprises two enterprise Linux distributions and includes air traffic control specific features for deployment, monitoring and configuration. Besides increased quality of the solutions the main reason for these platforms choices was cutting costs.

Q: What challenges did you encounter when using Linux for the air traffic control systems at DFS GmbH? What approaches did you take and why? Which ones did work out in the long end?

We will cover a broad range of aspects ranging from hardware lifecycles, application lifecycles, regulations, deployment solutions, user acceptance, cost cutting and testing in the talk.

Q: Have you enjoyed previous FOSDEM editions?

In the last few years we have attended mostly all FOSDEMs. We believe FOSDEM is a great chance to meet developers active in the open source community. Our developers attend FOSDEM to learn about new technologies and collect ideas in the Linux domain.

Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License

This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License.