Genesis Software engineers design, manufacture and customise computer equipment connected to radar receivers for research institutions and universities. The radars measure wind speed and meteor flux and these scientific radar systems are exported around the world.

This blog is not about radars or weather science, but the interesting fact is that FreeBSD is the operating system of choice for Adelaide company Genesis Software’s radar systems. FreeBSD has been used ever since research and development on the radars began eight years ago.

Computerworld Australia has interviewed software and network engineer Daniel O’Connor about the use of FreeBSD as their system of choice.

These are some interesting quotes from the article:

Some systems rely on modem access for connectivity and FreeBSD allows us to log in remotely. It’s very stable and we’ve had boxes up for more than two years. It’s free so you can experiment with it and it’s easy to develop for. We’ve used FreeBSD from the beginning since about 1996 and it has served us well.

There are other companies that make research radars but we’re probably unique worldwide. The software we develop gets information from the receivers and processes it. It’s also used for monitoring the systems. Skiymet meteor radar measures thousands of meteors every day.

Most radars can be configured via the command line or a GUI application but most of it is network administration which the customers don’t need to touch. We’re working on a more sophisticated version which will mark the beginning of automatic configuration.

Genesis Software also takes advantage FreeBSD’s “ports” system for software updates:

The radars might dial up once or twice a day and for updates we use a subset of the ports tree and make a customer release tree.

Internally, Genesis Software uses FreeBSD for network services including mail and file serving with developers using it on their workstations:

It’s effective, secure, easy to set up, and has lots of software available. It’s a mistake to trim everything to ‘one size fits all’ which is the same thing as Microsoft. The more diverse systems are, the less likely you are to end up with the monoculture effect where one virus wipes out your whole office. It doesn’t matter what choice it is but just one is not good.

Read the whole article here