Defence ramps up Linux cluster development

The penguin keeps the nation secure

The Department of Defence is developing additional software components for an existing multi-channel, multi-processor Linux cluster used as an RF test system.

The Secure Communications Branch (SCB) of the Command Control Communications and Intelligence Division (C3ID) conducts research and development in RF surveillance technologies to enhance Defence's capabilities.

The SCB has a research program in advanced multi-channel RF processing systems for the defence community. As part of this technology development, both divisions are developing a multi-channel, multi-processor Linux cluster RF test-bed for the Special Systems Laboratory (SSL) to develop and test algorithms, antenna array configurations, and processing.

The contract is for a software engineer in developing these services on a full-time basis for 840 hours at Edinburgh in South Australia.

According to tender documents, the software engineer will perform work related to developing additional control processes and porting C3ID developed algorithms onto the Linux cluster and, in addition, assist in the development of the software for remotely-controlled test systems at remote sites.

"The developed software modules and processes must integrate into the existing data pipelined and message passing framework contained within the test bed's software architecture," according to the department.

Linux and open source software is used widely within Defence, but it has been less than forthcoming in publicizing it.

Specific development requirements include porting Matlab, Labview and C coded multi-channel processing algorithms into an equivalent GNU C coded format on the Linux server clusters, and adapt and develop the existing test bed software architecture to assist in the production of multiple remote-controlled operational systems.

This will require the addition of remote operation capability, including data compression and decompression capability, standalone operation, and additional data logging extraction tools; refining and testing the process architecture and control framework on the core Linux processing cluster suitable for remote operation; and assistance in the development of GUI interfaces for demonstration of real-time processing.

"In particular, develop compatible GUI interfaces on Linux and Windows platforms, suitable for both local control and remote operation over limited bandwidth links," according to Defence.

The person must be an Australian citizen, have a degree in computer science or engineering, pass "top secret caveat" security clearance, and have experience developing software for Linux clusters and TCP networks.

Also, the contractor will be expected to work as an "integrated member" with SCB staff, with continued close liaison ongoing throughout the contract period.

The Commonwealth will provide to the contractor with a Linux or Windows PC workstation for the duration of the contract, appropriate GNU C compilers, test bed hardware, existing test bed C code, Matlab and Labview, and secure facilities for contractor to work, within 203 Labs at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

Subject to the satisfactory performance, and at its sole discretion, Defence may extend the term of the contract for a further period of 800 hours.

"In order to maintain continuity of personnel the contract should be tied to the individuals involved in supplying the software engineering services," according to tender documents. "This will prevent a steady stream of people rotating through the position where none have a full appreciation of the project needs."

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