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

Calvin Harrigan charrig_mythtv at bellsouth.net
Thu Sep 20 16:31:39 UTC 2007

Yan Seiner wrote:
> Andrew Morley wrote:
>> 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....
> I think all the Airbuses use linux for its in-flight video system.
>> 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
>> "./airsurf".
>> 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!
> Interesting.  I was too busy watching my kids on those long flights from 
> PDX to NRT (entertainment is watching a 7 and 9 year old on a 11 hour 
> flight in sardine class....)
> But I do remember seeing the tux go by when they disconnected from the gate.

Agreed, I remember seeing a half booted entertainment system on delta as 
well.  Seemed it was dual-core.  DOuble penguins.  :-)

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