Petter Reinholdtsen

Debian used in the subway info screens in Oslo, Norway
2nd March 2018

Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover my operating system of choice, Debian, was used in the info screens on the subway stations. While passing Nydalen subway station in Oslo, Norway, I discovered the info screen booting with some text scrolling. I was not quick enough with my camera to be able to record a video of the scrolling boot screen, but I did get a photo from when the boot got stuck with a corrupt file system:

[photo of subway info screen]

While I am happy to see Debian used more places, some details of the content on the screen worries me.

The image show the version booting is 'Debian GNU/Linux lenny/sid', indicating that this is based on code taken from Debian Unstable/Sid after Debian Etch (version 4) was released 2007-04-08 and before Debian Lenny (version 5) was released 2009-02-14. Since Lenny Debian has released version 6 (Squeeze) 2011-02-06, 7 (Wheezy) 2013-05-04, 8 (Jessie) 2015-04-25 and 9 (Stretch) 2017-06-15, according to a Debian version history on Wikpedia. This mean the system is running around 10 year old code, with no security fixes from the vendor for many years.

This is not the first time I discover the Oslo subway company, Ruter, running outdated software. In 2012, I discovered the ticket vending machines were running Windows 2000, and this was still the case in 2016. Given the response from the responsible people in 2016, I would assume the machines are still running unpatched Windows 2000. Thus, an unpatched Debian setup come as no surprise.

The photo is made available under the license terms Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution International (CC BY 4.0).

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Tags: english, ruter.

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