Linux powers AR-15 rifle targeting system

Today in Open Source: Linux powers an AR-15 rifle. Plus: How to dual boot Ubuntu Touch and Android, and why Valve picked Debian instead of Ubuntu

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Android, Debian

Linux powers an AR-15 rifle
Ars Technica has a fascinating article about how Linux powers an AR-15 rifle targeting system.

At CES, the company showed Hutchinson a new “precision guided firearm” in an AR-15 form factor. The gun combines a TI OMAP processor and its sensors to produce the same kind of assisted aiming Hutchinson first saw in an unwieldy bolt-action hunting rifle.

In the video above, Hutchinson talks about Tracking Point’s response to potential controversy, the differences between models, and new military and paramilitary uses that could open up now that the precision guided firearm is more like what those groups actually use.

Linux AR-15 Rifle
Image credit: Tracking Point

More at Ars Technica

A few days back I posted a story about a crock-pot powered by Linux, but I had no idea that Linux is also used for firearms targeting systems. What an interesting application for an operating system.

I have an AR-15 and it's a very fun gun to shoot. It's light-weight, with little recoil and is quite comfortable to hold. However, my AR-15 doesn't even have a scope on it. I can't imagine how much easier it would be to shoot long range targets with a Linux-powered targeting system like the one mentioned in the article.

The price of these rifles isn't cheap though, I checked the Tracking Point announcement and they seem to start at $9950. Wow. My AR-15 only cost me about $1200 or so. Getting one with such an advanced targeting system certainly isn't going to be cheap.

Linux just keeps proliferating in device after device. Just when I think I've seen it all, some new device pops up and I'm left amazed at how Linux is being used in so many different industries.

Dual boot Ubuntu Touch and Android on Nexus
OMG! Ubuntu! features a walk-through on how to dual boot Android and Ubuntu Touch on Nexus phones.

Trying Ubuntu Touch on your smartphone or tablet was made much easier recently with the launch of a new dual-boot mode, enabling Canonical’s mobile OS to be installed alongside Android.

 
Image credit: OMG! Ubuntu!

More at OMG! Ubuntu!

I don't have a Nexus phone so I can't try this, but please post in the comments if you've tried it. I'm curious to know how well it works, and if you enjoy dual booting Android and Ubuntu Touch.

Valve uses Debian instead of Ubuntu for legal reasons
OMG! Ubuntu! also thinks that Valve picked Debian for SteamOS instead of Ubuntu for legal reasons and to save money.

Valve invested considerable resources, manpower and money to bring the Steam desktop client to Linux, using Ubuntu as the reference platform. Even now, Ubuntu remains the only Linux distribution listed as ‘officially supported’ on the Steam website.

So what happened to stop Valve from ripening further such a fruitful relationship? Putting aside the more elaborate (and loaded) allegations made by some (‘They hated Mir!‘, ‘They hated Unity!‘, ‘They hated Mark Shuttleworth’s new Beard!‘) are two more prosaic explanations from more level-headed sources.

Legal Issues
Saving Cash

More at OMG! Ubuntu!

Frankly, I was relieved when I found out that Valve had based SteamOS on Debian instead of Ubuntu. Saving cash and avoiding any legal headaches are just icing on the cake, and they show that Valve is a very shrewd company indeed.

It would not have made much sense for them to tie themselves to Ubuntu when Debian was available instead. And I doubt many SteamOS users will be aware of what it is based on. They're in it for the games, and that's what will decide the success or failure of SteamOS.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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