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Android Goes To the Battlefield

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-the-terminator-kind dept.

The Military 128

wiseandroid writes "Google's mobile operating system Android has won plenty of adherents among cellphone makers and gadget manufacturers since its 2007 debut. Now defense contractor Raytheon is preparing it for a more urgent mission: saving lives in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Using Android software tools, Raytheon engineers have built a basic application for military personnel that combines maps with a buddy list. Raytheon calls the entire framework the Raytheon Android Tactical System, or RATS for short. Mark Bigham, a vice president of business development in Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems unit, says the company selected Android because its open source nature made developing applications easy."

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128 comments

First post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857325)

<insightful comment here>

Re:First post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857339)

I hope it fails on these babykillers, and they all die.

Re:First post (-1, Offtopic)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860239)

Sounds like your mama should have drowned you while you were still a puppy. Better that she had just been spayed. Now, just crawl off and die quietly.

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857369)

I always wanted to kill with multitouch from anywhere!

Saving lives?? (3, Insightful)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857385)

Why do breathless writers always say "saving lives" when they refer to military applications? They're about taking lives. Just taking different ones.

Re:Saving lives?? (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857427)

Why do breathless writers always say "saving lives" when they refer to military applications? They're about taking lives. Just taking different ones.

The lives they're saving are on our side. Also, this article isn't talking about Android being used as a weapon.

Re:Saving lives?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857543)

this article isn't talking about Android being used as a weapon

... provided that you have a very narrow idea of what a weapon is.

Re:Saving lives?? (1, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857603)

The lives they're saving are on our side.
Our "side"? Imperial stormtroopers
Their "side"? Mothers, children and helpless villagers, "inconveniently located" on top of something we want to steal.

Re:Saving lives?? (2, Informative)

IDtheTarget (1055608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858025)

The lives they're saving are on our side. Our "side"? Imperial stormtroopers Their "side"? Mothers, children and helpless villagers, "inconveniently located" on top of something we want to steal.

Ahem. As one of those "Imperial stormtroopers", I'd ask you if you've ever deployed overseas to see what really happens over there. In the Army we call CNN "Pravda [wikipedia.org]". Because their reporting has the same relationship to the truth that the old USSR paper did. I deployed to Iraq for a year. I didn't kill anybody, and our unit helped to build schools and hospitals. But that doesn't help CNN's political agenda, so they never reported it, though we had a CNN reporter embedded for about a week.

Re:Saving lives?? (0, Flamebait)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858081)

Sure. The Wehrmacht mission always looks good - compared to the Waffen SS.

Hope you had fun avoiding the White Phosphorus and DU war-crimes in Fallujah.

Re:Saving lives?? (3, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858131)

The fact that you consider CNN "Pravda" is disconcerting. I suspect there's a bit of indoctrination going on in the Army. How many of those who enlist had actually heard of Pravda until they joined the military?

Besides, CNN was quite the cheerleader when the Iraq war started and didn't do their job of keeping the government honest.

Of course, the sacrifices that men and women like you made are real and we appreciate it. We just hate to see your valor wasted on an unnecessary war.

Re:Saving lives?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29858371)

How many of those who enlist had actually heard of Pravda until they joined the military?

I've never served in the military and I've heard of it. Perhaps some people aren't as fucking ignorant as you and the asshats you hang out with?

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860173)

Have you ever watched JayWalking? They probably cut out all the people who knew the answers, but there's a lot of people who don't know less obscure stuff than the name of a Russian Newspaper.

Many of today's rank-and-file soldiers were still in diapers when the original Pravda shut down in 1991.

Re:Saving lives?? (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860361)

"The fact that you consider CNN "Pravda" is disconcerting. I suspect there's a bit of indoctrination going on in the Army."

Old Navy here. Naturally, I can't speak for the Army - but we had our own opinions of the newspapers. They seldom reported anything the way it was. When we made the papers, each paper put it's own spin on things, sometimes to the point that the story was simply untrue. Left leaning newspapers generally try to make us look bad, right leaning newspapers try to make us all look like heros. The fact is, we were just doing our jobs, and sometimes the job was dangerous and unpleasant. The single time we made the news, when all the papers got things near right, was the reporting on Beirut City, 1978. Everyone agreed that things were confused, and that statement was more accurate than any other statement ever made about any of our missions.

No "indoctrination" is needed if some grunt tells us that he calls a liberal paper the Pravda. He sees what is happening with his own eyes, and the paper reports something different - he needs no help drawing his own conclusions.

Re:Saving lives?? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860799)

Ahem. As one of those "Imperial stormtroopers", I'd ask you if you've ever deployed overseas to see what really happens over there. In the Army we call CNN "Pravda [wikipedia.org]". Because their reporting has the same relationship to the truth that the old USSR paper did. I deployed to Iraq for a year. I didn't kill anybody, and our unit helped to build schools and hospitals.

Good for you!

That is indeed the way to win the peace, and I'm happy to hear about it. Thanks.

Nevertheless, the fact is, the Army actually does kill people, you know.

Re:Saving lives?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29858311)

Fuck 'em all, they're only wogs.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Scyber (539694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859409)

So what exactly is in Afghanistan and Pakistan that we want to steal?

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859963)

Natural gas.

Pipeline routes that we can control in the "Great Game" to exclude global power from China, Russia and/or India.

Global Opium and Heroin trade (Afghan opium production, which fell under Taliban rule has rocketed 1000% since the placement of 'coalition troops').

Don't believe it? That's because you didn't closely follow DoD and CIA ops in Laos and Cambodia - nor see the documented history continue through Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860107)

Do we need an exact single reason? Just making billions and billions from the industrial military complex is enough reason for some to keep wanting war.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860299)

The bit about "inconveniently located" I can understand in Iraq. Afghanistan? Not so much.

As for mothers, children, and helpless villagers - give it a break. We went into Afghanistan on a legitimate mission, and I think we are justified in almost everything we've done there. We ain't killing women and children, and those adult male villagers aren't so very helpless as you might think. Men seldom are.

The Taliban should have handed over their Al Queda buddies when the US asked for them, and we wouldn't BE in Afghanistan. As you point out, there isn't much to steal from them. Some goats, some poppies, lots of rocks. The Soviets took an ass whipping from the Afghani, and it's still possible for them to hand us the same kind of ass whipping. Not likely, but possible.

And, it's about time that the Pak's army has moved on the Taliban. After 8 years, though, the Talibani are firmly entrenched in the far north of the country. Morons - huddled hiding in their cities and bases for eight long years, and they only move when the Taliban starts hitting them on their own bases.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857799)

Also, this article isn't talking about Android being used as a weapon.

In the military (and in prison), even a toothbrush and a bar of soap can be be used as a weapon.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Storchei (723338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858939)

In my opinion, you should ask yourself a couple of things such as:

1) What is the motivation behind the war in Pakistan/Afganistan?
(oil and other resources FOR the US)

2) Why is there a war there?
(because of the US empire and they greed for natural resources)

3) Who really is the invader in those lands?


MobileTatsu-NJG, defend the killing in other countries is the same as defend terrorist attacks or killings in your own country. In my opinion your hands write faster than your brain thinks.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859323)

Unless you look at the fact and realize that the country of Afghanistan's innocent people were being help hostage and terrorized by what can only be described as gangsters, terrorists and organized crime bosses. Not saying the US doesn't have other motives for helping restore order to the country but to say the US just invade for the sake of resources is unfounded (please show me evidence that we have taken any natural resource at below market price). So to the point of your #3: who really is invading? Should the international community stand around and watch while innocent people are controlled by ruthless gangs? What is more responsible? Is watching a murder happen and doing nothing better than trying to stop that murder?

Maybe you should think about things a bit more as well. Things aren't as clear cut as you make them seem.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Storchei (723338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859993)

You'll always be able to find an excuse! So will your enemy.

please show me evidence that we have taken any natural resource at below market price

Sure.. neither gun manufacturers and military companies gain anything.. They do it on behalf of the nation..

Should the international community stand around and watch while innocent people are controlled by ruthless gangs?

Of course not. Instead, should innocent people be murdered because of the possibility of ruthless gangs to take control?

One thing is to agree with the Afghanistan war, other thing is to believe it's on behalf of people wellness. I found this last hilarious and quite naive. How about Cuba or Guantanamo, among many other places? Aren't those controlled by ruthless gangs?

In more than one way what you're saying is contradicted by US actions, there is no other evidence required.

What you call the "international community" is US business associates. They will always agree as long as it does not represent any harm for them.

Instead of finding excuses for war there should be found excuses for peace. This is absolutely utopian, of course.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860215)

It all makes sense now. You are from Argentina. I was offering middle ground. Explaining why everything is not as black and white as you are painting it. You are shoving your black/white opinion down everyone's throat without even thinking about reality.

Certain American companies are gaining business from the efforts in the middle east that is true. They are NOT gaining it by stealing or unfairly taking anything from any country in the middle east. In fact its quite opposite. The American taxpayer is paying for the renovations in the middle east. I don't see you worried about the taxpayers that are being forced to pay for the rebuilding of the country. The net transaction is a loss for the US. That hardly seems like a good reason for the US to want to do it. Take it how you want to, because I know you wont change your mind, but please realize that this shit is all gray area. Also, nearly all your arguments are riddled with ad hominem fallacies.

Have fun living in a fantasy Utopian world... the one where communism works, prisons aren't needed and everyone is happy. The rest of us live in a reality where people must be controlled by force or they will become the controlling force.

The only question is who that force is and how compassionate they are. You can argue that the gang rule was better for Afghanistan if you want, and maybe you are right, but your other arguments fall into the realm of fallacies and fantasy.

Re:Saving lives?? (2, Insightful)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857443)

It's more patriotic. people like feeling good about themselves, and "Killing foreigners" isn't as patriotic of soldiers as "saving lives".

Re:Saving lives?? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857457)

Don't forget the "fight for freedom" which means ours and not theirs.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857569)

I think Iraqis enjoy quite a bit more freedom today than they did under Saddam.

Re:Saving lives?? (3, Interesting)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857773)

I think Iraqis enjoy quite a bit more freedom today than they did under Saddam.

Having visited Iraq now and then during the war and "post" war period, I disagree. People almost invariably say they lost more than they gained. They used to have limited political freedom. Now they can't leave the house without worrying about getting shot.

Re:Saving lives?? (1, Insightful)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858751)

The difference here is that people are afraid of terrorist groups however and not their government. I'm quite sure that the new Iraqi government won't feed you feet-first into an industrial grinder for saying that you think the current head of state is full of shit. Yes, there is a huge terrorist problem in Iraq now, maybe larger than Saddam's state terrorism, true, but it's outlaws doing it and not a "lawful" government.

Re:Saving lives?? (3, Insightful)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858809)

This is a fascinating distinction for people halfway around the planet to debate about in online forums.

For the people in Iraq who just want to live their lives in peace, it's not really that salient on a day-to-day basis. What matters to them is that their existence is orders of magnitude more perilous post-invasion than it was in the Saddam days.

Re:Saving lives?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29859251)

So if the government is defined as "whoever the people are the most afraid of" Iraq is now ruled by terrorists.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859269)

I'm sure as they get put 'feet-first into an industrial grinder' they will go "Oh thank god, you aren't my local MP. That would have sucked" right before they scream their lungs out and die.

~_~ God this is as bad as in the olden days. Sure we killed 2/3rds of the populace and they will likely not survive the winter, they have god now, and with love and fear in their hearts a couple of them might go to heaven. Except democracy doesn't even promise heaven, just that maybe 50years from now the country might be a bit more stable.

Re:Saving lives?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857801)

This is the exception to the rule.

Re:Saving lives?? (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860419)

I'm most certainly not a liberal or a neocon - but you've sampled the Koo-Aid. The fact is, life in Iraq was much more stable under Saddam than it is today. Immeasurably more stable. You really should find some articles about the bookstores in Iraq. What happened to them epitomizes what has happened throughout Iraq.

Yeah, Saddam was an evil sumbitch, and he deserved to die, but he was a stabilizing force, no matter how much we disliked him. IMHO, pure arrogance on the part of a neocon president forced the military to invade Iraq.

Re:Saving lives?? Better acronym derived from ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857733)

Raytheon Android Tactical Force Urban Command & Kontrol

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

muzicman (1148101) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857911)

Maybe they are referring to the lives of the soldiers who are to be using this software. But obviously their lives don't count as they are just soldiers aren't they.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857973)

Maybe they are referring to the lives of the soldiers who are to be using this software. But obviously their lives don't count as they are just soldiers aren't they.

It's quite obvious that's who they are referring to. But effective soldiers kill a lot more people on the other side. Lives are not, in the balance, being saved -- unless the device somehow brings the conflict to a very rapid close. It may or may not be a good thing, but it's a fact.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857951)

Why do breathless writers always say "saving lives" when they refer to military applications?

Honestly, I have not noticed this trend at all. This is the first instance, in fact.

Re:Saving lives?? (4, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858191)

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858479)

He also said something about fixed fortifications and stupidity and yet managed to get bogged down by undermanned third-rate forts on the rear-guard of the Maginot line. I wouldn't exactly quote him for anything related to military matters. Bombast, bluster and looking like a pimp, maybe. After all, he was a cavalry officer who derided dragoons around ww1.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859713)

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

A quote by Gen. George S. Patton. Likely the most over-hyped military leader in all of US Military History. The only thing he was particularly good at was PR. He's a completely mediocre commander otherwise.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Storchei (723338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858833)

I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU!! Even if we compare the number of people killed by the US against the number of people (soldiers and others) killed by the so called "evil" countries, the statistics is at least worrying! To me it seems the US wants to improve the killing of enemy people, make it more efficient (and cheaper) using technology. No further comments

The system backend ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29859275)

is known as RATS ARSE.

Re:Saving lives?? (1)

Osurak (1013927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860365)

Why do breathless writers always say "saving lives" when they refer to military applications? They're about taking lives. Just taking different ones.

Probably for the same reason it's called the "Department of Defense" rather than the "Department of War"

Re:Saving lives?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860765)

Same thing as "Secretary of Defense". The title used to be "Secretary of War". It is just a matter of doublespeak. Downsizing and rightsizing fall in the same category.

acronym (2, Funny)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857393)

You would think ARTS would be a more psychologically pleasing acronym than RATS, but what do I know, I'm just a code monkey...

Re:acronym (1)

funkyloki (648436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857893)

I think that Raytheon, the company behind the product might want to have their name first, rather than the Android name.

Re:acronym (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860463)

Uhhh - we are talking about the MILITARY. RATS is far more appealing than ARTS. ARTS is something we might expect to find at Berkeley or Oakland. It sounds gay. RATS, on the other hand, inspire fear in people everywhere. RATS are dangerous in a variety of ways.

You should ask some soldiers, sailors, and veterans what their nicknames are. I served with guys knows as Scurvey, and Spaz - no one ever got a cute nickname. If you tried to give him one, he'd break your nose and convince you differently.

ARTS. This ain't the girl scouts we are talking about.

Enemies List? (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857401)

I wonder if they have an enemies list to complement the buddies list. Tactical systems are funny like that. You have users of the application -- the enemy combatants -- who don't really want to be users of your application.

From the Minitruth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857423)

Raytheon is preparing it for a more urgent mission: saving lives in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That's right, our military are there to SAVE lives, like the red cross. They're not in the business of taking lives like the brutal killers of Eurasia^WEastasia.

Limited Distribution Benefits (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857433)

Android apps don't have to pass through a central app store to get widely distributed to a set of Android phones. So the military can limit distribution of the apps. They could even distribute an Android OS distro with a crypto key that is bonded to that phone's serial#, which is needed by any app to run or even to decompress/decrypt from the distribution package, so military apps can't be used or inspected outside the military's own phones.

Is there any way to do something like that on iPhones? Like at least just developing an app that doesn't get run through Apple at all (signing or uploaded to the App Store), but is just an install package downloadable from a website (perhaps with a password) and installable on a phone, perhaps with an unlock code. AFAICT, that's all locked out by Apple's iPhone architecture. Has anyone figured out how to do "distributed distribution", without needing Apple at the center of all of it? On iPhones that aren't jailbroken, just the stock iPhones that anyone can have?

DOD app. Re:Limited Distribution Benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857593)

Android apps don't have to pass through a central app store to get widely distributed to a set of Android phones. ... Is there any way to do something like that on iPhones?

Uh, this is the Department of Defense.. They have a budget of two thirds of a trillion dollars [defenselink.mil]. Do you think they could modify an iPhone if they wanted to?

Re:DOD app. Re:Limited Distribution Benefits (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857703)

No. Because that would violate the law, alienate Apple (which is a major US corp, with all the politics and kickbacks that implies) which works on projects with DoD, and very likely result in a lawsuit that could set precedents against the DoD (not to mention consume some of that big budget without either its defense or its contractor kickback results) that pushed it away from some grey areas where it already does so (ie. violate the DMCA), and probably create trouble with congressmembers who are paid by the intellectual property industry to protect closed IP from tinkering by anyone.

Or they could just do it on Android, without any of that hassle.

However, if the DoD has done it, then that would be exactly the answer to my question. So if you really know anything about the DoD's ability to do such a thing, try answering the question instead of posting some anonymous snotty answer that doesn't answer anything.

Re:DOD app. Re:Limited Distribution Benefits (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857859)

They have a budget of two thirds of a trillion dollars.

That you know about... The other two thirds is off the books.

Re:DOD app. Re:Limited Distribution Benefits (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858469)

Uh, this is the Department of Defense.. They have a budget of two thirds of a trillion dollars.

They spent that on three toiliet seats.

Actually, that's unfair. It was three toilet seats and ten hammers.

Re:Limited Distribution Benefits (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857831)

Is there any way to do something like that on iPhones?

Evidently, the iPod touch is already providing popular service to US troops in Iraq.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/194623 [newsweek.com]

Admittedly - that article's for translation software. It may not directly answer your question about military / restricted apps for the iPhone - but it seems to lay the foundation in that the DoD is already pretty okey-dokey with the use of these devices by the troops.

Re:Limited Distribution Benefits (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859515)

They could even distribute an Android OS distro with a crypto key that is bonded to that phone's serial#, which is needed by any app to run or even to decompress/decrypt from the distribution package, so military apps can't be used or inspected outside the military's own phones.

If you want to encrypt an app so it can't be opened without the proper key, you can just encrypt it with ANYTHING. PGP seems the best candidate. You don't need any special hardware or software configuration.

If you, instead, expect an application to determine the environment it is running in, and decide whether or not it is a valid device... That is called DRM, and it is both theoretically and practically impossible.

Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857497)

Is there any way for contributors to the free software movement to block use of their software by military contractors?

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (4, Insightful)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857577)

Is there any way for contributors to the free software movement to block use of their software by military contractors?

That would be contrary to the goals of the GPL, which aims to grant freedom to use the software for any purpose and to modify it to achieve those purposes. You'd need to use a different license to achieve your aims.

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (4, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858159)

If you shoot a projectile that contains embedded GPL'd code do you have to provide the victim with a copy of the code since there was a "distribution"?

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29859315)

Only if he asks you for the code afterwards. In other words, don't miss.

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29859719)

If you shoot a projectile that contains embedded GPL'd code do you have to provide the victim with a copy of the code since there was a "distribution"?

Silly question -- the Geneva Conventions prohibit anything viral in a warhead.

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860279)

Geneva conventions? What part of "you are free to use the program for any purpose" don't you understand?

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857599)

The US's wars right now are not a very good example, but sometimes wars ARE about saving lives and helping people, not just about mobilizing one's political base, handing money to VP's friends, grabbing oil and avenging daddy's rep.

Yes and No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857621)

Use words and modify your license, or write your own license from scratch, all depends on if the code is really yours or not or which license you start out with, etc. Varies widely. It maybe wouldn't block them, but if you found out they took it you could sue them.

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857983)

Is there any way for contributors to the free software movement to block use of their software by military contractors?

OK - so you want to restrict military contractors from using Linux, anything GNU and any other F/OSS?

Did you just wake up?

Re:Can GPL'd software contributors block this? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860297)

If the military in my country relied on proprietary software written by a foreign corporation I would be very afraid for my country.

I'll wait for the field trials (2, Interesting)

iron spartan (1192553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857535)

It sounds good, but then again so did Land Warrior.

I can see it being useful in an urban environment, but can see a lot of issues with it in the mountains of Afghanistan. First being connectivity. Relying on a cell network in a 3rd world country doesn't seem like all that good of an idea. Getting a reliable signal in the mountains is hard as it is. It would be very bad for a unit to get used to using this system, and then get somewhere that it no longer works.

Second problem is EM signature. Cell phones broadcast as long as they are on. In urban areas, with lots of cell phones this isn't all that big of deal. In areas with very low populations, a cell phone being on can easily give away a platoons position. Frequency hoping helps with this on regular military radios and cell phones can't do this.

Re:I'll wait for the field trials (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857645)

Frequency hoping helps with this on regular military radios and cell phones can't do this.

What's that, "I hope this frequency hasn't been compromised"? Anyway, aren't CDMA phones spread-spectrum? It'll work in the USA! Er, wait...

Re:I'll wait for the field trials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857921)

Android is not limited to and does not imply usage of current civilian cell phone tech. Nothing keeps them from designing an android-device that communicates over some military tech. Also, they could build it with strong cache capacity, or somehow have the unit keep all the data and rely on communications only for updates.

You do have a point: relying on cell networks on the field is not exactly the best idea, since an attack on the cell's tower would compromise your communications. Mesh networks or satellite-based may be better for that purpose.

I do not believe this man! (0, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857545)

Mark Bigham, a vice president of business development in Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems unit, says the company selected Android because its open-source nature made developing applications easy." (emphasis mine)

If that was the case, then Open Source systems would have more applications than closed source counterparts. But this is hardly the case.

In addition, I see far more substandard, half-baked software on "open" systems than closed ones. What's going on?

An example: Open Source OO.o is still as buggy and a pain to use on its Open source native OS (read Linux), though it runs and feels better on closed source Windows. This is after a decade of development. Do not tell me OO.o does not have resources. I just do not understand this argument.

Re:I do not believe this man! (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857653)

Mark Bigham, a vice president of business development in Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems unit, says the company selected Android because its open-source nature made developing applications easy." (emphasis mine)

If that was the case, then Open Source systems would have more applications than closed source counterparts. But this is hardly the case.

They do. I'm sure you'll find a dozen office suites even if you are not counting forks.

In addition, I see far more substandard, half-baked software on "open" systems than closed ones. What's going on?

What is going on is that companies have a separate testing department (read: separate people) and software (such as litmus) to support the process. Open-Source projects partially don't have the man-months to fix all bugs. Sometimes they just stop developing after they solved their use case and disregard others (in the worst case this means the program is accessible for people who have coded in it).

An example: Open Source OO.o is still as buggy and a pain to use on its Open source native OS (read Linux), though it runs and feels better on closed source Windows. This is after a decade of development. Do not tell me OO.o does not have resources. I just do not understand this argument.

That has to do with the compiler. Windows generally runs faster than Linux because of better optimization. Linux subsystems are partially holding up by having a simple architecture and being written in C (daemons, GNOME, ...), but this is not true for all packages (e.g. OOo).

Still, the man has a point: you simply can not do the things you can on Open OSes on closed OSes. For example, you always have the source as a last-resort documentation on how to use a API.

Is Android really robust enough for this? (1)

Rough3dg3 (1372837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857561)

My concern is that this type of software application is too generally available. There is a reason why governments around the world use custom created software for their major military projects. Don't get me wrong, if a widely available technology can be used to aid in conflicts then I am all for it but I would suggest that putting trust in software that wasn't designed with a military purpose in mind is a dangerous mindset for people to get in.

Re:Is Android really robust enough for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857667)

Governments are free to spend half of the money they would normally spend on custom created software to audit and debug the Android codebase. I'm sure the Open Handset Alliance will be happy to incorporate the changelists.

Re:Is Android really robust enough for this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857755)

No - it is not. The day my life depends on Android is the day I call my wife and kid and tell them Goodbye for the last time. Having been in tactical situations, I can tell you that you'll pick up a stone and throw it if you have to, so no question that any tool that will provide you with information in a void thereof is welcome, and and weapon that will prevent loss of life is welcome (to the extend possible - no intention of starting a political debate here). But the fact is that Android is too unreliable, and the information and system could be compromised. So if this becomes part of a strategic initiative, and hence a target for the adversary, it's just one more thing I need to carry - which I don't need. This is not an opinion, this is based on lack of certifications like CC or other formal methods. Why they chose Android is more likely because 1) Marketing (don't kid yourself into thinking that does not happen in the military) 2) The developers and PMs wanted to add it to their resumes and/or 3) They did not want to pay the outrageous per-seat development licenses of the more appropriate systems and go through the longer dev cycle with more expensive engineers (read $$$).

But not really. (3, Interesting)

transiit (33489) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857699)

This is an article based on a Raytheon press release. What hardware does said application run on? Even the article suggested there's no established contract yet.

I like the idea that open source/free software is getting more traction in this area, but no platform, no contract suggestes this is just fluff. Whether or not your bullshit meter started twitching that they've been working on this for two years is up to you.

Bonus BS points that they throw in the "Oh, and it could also be a biometric scanner". Feature creep comes early.

Hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860641)

This is an article based on a Raytheon press release. What hardware does said application run on? Even the article suggested there's no established contract yet.

Looks like they're using T-Mobile.

http://www.raytheon.com/newsroom/rtnwcm/groups/public/documents/image/rtn_iis_rats_graphic.jpg

"Saving" lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29857719)

Fuck Ratheon.

That is all.

Android Validation (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857767)

Android's been getting a lot of tech press lately. I'm not sure who that press impacts - and while we're smarmy about the new Droid ad, I'm not sure who that's impacting either - the existing Android faithful or a new market.

Now Forbes - the darling of investors and managers - is telling that audience that a major defense contractor with an iconic American name in electronics has selected Android.

To top it off, the follow-on links given to Forbes readers are:

Motorola CEO Talks Android [forbes.com]

Google's Android To Invade Homes [forbes.com]

I think that this one story just did a lot to validate Android as mainstream-ready to corporate America - and that it's good for personal use, too (second tagged story alone).

Anyway - those are just my ideas. I don't really know what the inflection points for new tech-product demand are - I'm one of those clowns that tends to adopt any new tech as soon as reasonably practical - if not before.

Maybe I'm romanticizing - but I seem to recall a lot of stories about soldiers getting GPS units from home back in Desert Storm, sent by parents buying them from Radio Shack. I think that that really raised awareness and GPS units proliferated and prices dropped.

Re:Android Validation (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857833)

Well, you sure never hear of iPhones being used like this. Whether it's Androids open source or the multitasking that's triggered it I don't know, but I do get the feeling we'll be hearing a lot more off-handset application stories in the future.

Re:Android Validation (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29857909)

Re:Android Validation (1)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858567)

And the Slashdot article mentioning it - http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/20/2312233 [slashdot.org]

Software developers and the US Department of Defense are developing military software for iPods that enables soldiers to display aerial video from drones and have teleconferences with intelligence agents halfway across the globe. Snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan now use a "ballistics calculator" called BulletFlight, made by the Florida firm Knight's Armament for the iPod Touch and iPhone. Army researchers are developing applications to turn an iPod into a remote control for a bomb-disposal robot (tilting the iPod steers the robot). In Sudan, American military observers are using iPods to learn the appropriate etiquette for interacting with tribal leaders.'

"Defense contractor" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29858001)

... is marketing bullshit.

What is a US provider of "defense" doing abroad, instead of defending the US?

Re:"Defense contractor" (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29858051)

What is a US provider of "defense" doing abroad, instead of defending the US?

I think that this all has something to do with the name change from the War Department to the Department of Defense.

Re:"Defense contractor" (1)

lordandmaker (960504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860493)

Defending american soldiers?

Exactly why those soldiers need defending (and whether they should) is open to some debate.

Does it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29858047)

...run Android?

NorthLockRayGoog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29858491)

Great, now Google is one step from being a defense contractor.
That's the one thing about open source/open architecture; although it's great that anyone can write apps for the android, sometimes "anyone" includes defense contractors and the military...

Re:NorthLockRayGoog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860337)

They install Windows for Warships and people call them idiots. They go with open systems and people hate that too.

Well, at least they're used to people taking shots at them.

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