Green Hills Releases White Paper: Free Software is Just Too Expensive

5/14/2004 - Dan O'Dowd, Green Hills Software founder and CEO, issued his fourth white paper on the risks posed by the use of the Linux operating system in U.S. defense systems, “Linux in Defense: Free Software is Just Too Expensive” ( “Many people are under the misconception that Linux is free, or at least cheap,” said O’Dowd. “But the true cost of using Linux in defense systems is far higher than the cost of using proprietary operating systems like Green Hills Software’s INTEGRITY operating system.

“It is a common misconception that Linux is ‘free,’ so it will save the government money. In fact, the leading embedded Linux vendor charges more per developer per year for support than it costs to license our ‘proprietary’ INTEGRITY operating system, including support! Since this Linux vendor claims to be growing rapidly, it proves that embedded Linux users are finding that supporting embedded Linux in-house costs even more than obtaining commercial support.

“Linux also increases development costs by increasing development time. Embedded Linux developers’ biggest complaint about Linux is the poor quality of embedded Linux software development tools. By what standards are these developers rating Linux tools? By the standards of commercial software development tools for proprietary operating systems. The poor quality of Linux software development tools slows down software development. Since the primary cost of software development is the cost of the developers, increasing development time increases the cost of using Linux proportionately.

“In addition, Linux increases the cost of manufacturing a defense system. Linux requires significantly more memory and is significantly slower than proprietary alternatives like the INTEGRITY operating system. This means that a defense system using Linux must employ more memory and a faster, more expensive processor, increasing hardware costs. These additional costs often far exceed the entire cost of licensing a product, such as the INTEGRITY operating system.

“There are many critical security bugs found in Linux every year. As soon as a new critical security vulnerability is announced on a public website, every Linux system in the world is vulnerable to attack by any foreign intelligence agency or terrorist monitoring the website. Every announcement of a critical Linux security vulnerability will create a national security emergency until every affected defense system can be patched.

“Patching security holes is an expensive nightmare for the suppliers of embedded computer-based defense systems. If Linux is burned into ROM or flash memory in a missile, a bomb, or a tank, the system will have to be recalled to the factory or technicians will have to be deployed into the field at great cost to retrofit every system. If these systems are deployed in a war zone, soldiers under fire are going to be very unhappy when you take away their weapons or defenses to patch security holes. Systems that are buried underground, or under the sea, or in space, or in foreign countries will be especially difficult and expensive to recall and retrofit.

Linux is probably the most expensive operating system being considered for critical defense systems. It not only costs far more to acquire and support Linux than Green Hills Software’s INTEGRITY operating system, but using Linux also substantially increases manufacturing and development costs. Worst of all, there are no consistently profitable commercial embedded Linux vendors that can be depended on for long-term support. Anyone choosing Linux for a defense system must be prepared for the enormous expense of supporting an orphaned Linux variant in-house indefinitely.”

The final Linux Security white paper in the series, “Linux in Defense: An Urgent Threat to National Security,” will be published on May 17. It explains why Linux poses an urgent and immediate threat to U.S. national security and why its spread through defense systems must be stopped. Prior white papers and articles are archived at

About Green Hills Software
Founded in 1982, Green Hills Software, Inc. is the technology leader for real-time operating systems and software development tools for 32- and 64-bit embedded systems. Our royalty-free velOSity microkernel, INTEGRITY RTOS, C/C++ compilers, MULTI and AdaMULTI Integrated Development Environments and TimeMachine debugger, offer a complete development solution that addresses both deeply embedded and high-reliability applications. Green Hills Software is headquartered in Santa Barbara, CA, with European headquarters in the United Kingdom.

Green Hills Software, the Green Hills logo, MULTI, INTEGRITY, velOSity, AdaMULTI and TimeMachine are trademarks or registered trademarks of Green Hills Software, Inc. in the U.S. and/or internationally.

North American Sales Contact:
Green Hills Software, Inc.
30 West Sola Street,
Santa Barbara, CA 93101,
Tel: 805-965-6044
Fax: 805-965-6343

International Sales Contact:
Green Hills Software Ltd.
Dolphin House, St. Peter Street
Winchester Hampshire SO23 8BW,
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1962 829820
Fax: +44 (0)1962 890300

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