[mythtv-users] Virgin Atlantic also uses Linux PVR on flights

Andrew Morley Andrew at teabreak.fsnet.co.uk
Wed Sep 19 21:25:47 UTC 2007

A couple of years ago, when I used to frequently use Virgin Atlantic 
I discovered their in-flight systems run Linux.  Here's what I wrote 
at the time (on-board the aircraft), to my colleague who had 
suggested to Virgin that they open up the source of the V:port system 
to on-board hackers to fix the (then many) bugs....

Here's the really important news for you
3133t h4ck3r5.:  I managed to crash the v:port client and get it to reveal
that it runs Linux.  So Dave's idea of opening up the source to v:port
isn't totally unreasonable.  I was not, however, able to open up a shell
and gain root access (how the hell would I type commands?).  Neither was I
able to access the aircraft control systems and fly the plane from my seat,
you'll be surprised to hear!

Crashing v:port.

It seems to involve playing space invaders and exiting in mid-game.  It
seems to be necessary to have advanced further than the first 'boss ship'
stage in the game.  You then exit the game.  The screen then goes blank
while the normal is supposed to load.  I pressed some keys while this was
happening - don't know if this was significant.

Anyway, it gets into a state where most controls don't work, except for
volume, brightness and, oddly ch +/-.  The latter (which normally seems to
do nothing) switches through different video channels!

This is rather interesting as it suggests to me that rather than streaming
the video over ethernet (like MythTV), there may be some other way in which
video gets to the client - possibly without involving the CPU.  (Seeing how
the processor struggles with space invaders suggests that the CPU isn't
terribly powerful).

After a little while in this state (a watchdog timeout?  A process
watcher?), the display changes to "Loading entertainment system".  This
persists for a while and then (another watchdog times out?) the screen
flickers and.....

Tux appears (that's the Linux penguin) and a normal Linux boot process
happens with text scrolling up.  Sadly I can't read fast enough to give you
a blow-by-blow account of the process, but the last command seems to be

Next (presumably once 'airsurf' loads) a progress bar marches across the
screen, incredibly slowly while it loads the main app, fonts and
configuration.  Once all that has happened, the normal gui appears,
inviting me to choose my language.

I managed to make it reboot twice, but I didn't have the patience to do it
again.  The ch +/- keys being active mode is particularly worth exploring.

BTW when I wasn't crashing it, I watched "Nighty-night" a BBC comedy series
- Among the most sick comedy I have ever watched.

The time on those long trips to Japan just flew by!
Andrew Morley | Cambridge, | Email: ABMorley
------------- | England.   | ------ @iee.org

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