MITRAC runs on Windows 3? :)

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Telcontar

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I don't know whether this is the sad state of the industry, or whether someone at Bombardier has a sick sense of humour. One of the photos of MITRAC shown in an RAIB report (R072012, page 30), presumed to be on a 377/5, clearly displays Windows 3-style buttons complete with focus ring (which you don't need on a touch screen) and the vintage Windows system font.

Now, admittedly, CTL3D/CTL3Dv2 buttons were cute, but no-one would deliberately use that style in any modern software, surely? It always instils a pang of dread in me when I see allegedly modern, 32-bit programs still using the old 16-bit control libraries. I didn't think we ran our trains off the same crashy, steaming pile that I left behind many a year ago.

Here's hoping MITRAC runs on Windows NT 3.51 embedded …
 
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asylumxl

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It's used as, supposedly, it's very reliable and stable. Plus (more importantly) the cost of the license is lower for such an old version.

A Linux based solution would be a winner in my opinion.
 

Cherry_Picker

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I don't know much about the software side of things, but I can say I have been working with MITRAC fitted rolling stock for ten years and have never known it to crash. A fitter might tell you otherwise as he/she has deeper interactions with the system but from a drivers point of view it is perfectly fine.
 

Telcontar

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I'm just curious what they're doing to leave it resembling Windows 3. Was it touchscreen when it used CTL3D/CTL3Dv2 libraries for real, or did you have a trackball back then? If it really is Windows, that means that some driver somewhere must have had a BSOD ;)
 

WatcherZero

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Could be NT 3.51.

Touchscreen workstations at my fathers work place used them a couple of decades back, the Win3.1 style focus makes for easier touchscreen as you dont have to be so accurate.
 

Skoodle

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I drive 378s and it's never crashed for me. In the extremely unlikely event that it did crash then we can of course bypass it. I'd rather have a simple looking menu system that does the job rather than fancy menus that took an age! (Not that it doesn't already take an age as it is! ;) )

I'll ask a Bombarider fitter at the depot when I'm next in and see what it is.
 

starrymarkb

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You'll often find old versions of Windows in such systems, all the bugs have been worked out and there is a large body of knowledge with regard to preventing issues and so they are pretty much rock solid (unlike the newer versions of Windows), also Windows 3 has a much smaller footprint (a few MB as opposed to Windows 7's many GB) and lower CPU requirements*.


*A lot of embedded systems have very small processors, for example the A320 only has a few MHz of processing power (IIRC they run 8086 processors to a design that was already 10 years old when the aircraft first flew!)
 
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rf_ioliver

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These systems are generally embedded (or specific purpose) and working in saftey-critical environments. The need for certification and to keep the systems as simple as possible to facilitate the checks that saftey-critical systems overrides doing anything complex.

One poster asked about 32 bit vs 16 bit libraries - there is absolutely no advantage to using 32bit over 16bit for the kinds of applications here. Probably even the choice of 16bit was made by the underlying processor and architecture, which if 8088/8086 based is a given. Actually there is a big market in "old" 8bit processors such as Z80 etc for such systems because of their mechanism resiliance, maturity of libraries, simplicity of programming and debugging and power consumption.

For most tasks you can think of very, very little processing power is required - even for computing things as aircraft trajectories, the algorithms are relatively simple.

Also, the processor running the user-interface is probably then connected to various bits of external hardware that do the real work. On those systems you'll probably find "exotic" hard real-time operating systems such as VxWorks, OSE etc.

Airbus BTW tended to use 80186 processors because of the additional IO circuitry.

t.

Ian
 

WatcherZero

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Also for example in high radiation environments older processors are better because they have larger etching processes. Modern processors with nanometer etching are much more vulnerable to a stray radiation interaction causing momementary bridging/electron tunneling and causing an unseen math error.
 

tbtc

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I drive 378s and it's never crashed for me. In the extremely unlikely event that it did crash then we can of course bypass it. I'd rather have a simple looking menu system that does the job rather than fancy menus that took an age!
It wouldn't surprise me; best to keep the system as simple as possible.
These systems are generally embedded (or specific purpose) and working in saftey-critical environments. The need for certification and to keep the systems as simple as possible to facilitate the checks that saftey-critical systems overrides doing anything complex.

One poster asked about 32 bit vs 16 bit libraries - there is absolutely no advantage to using 32bit over 16bit for the kinds of applications here. Probably even the choice of 16bit was made by the underlying processor and architecture, which if 8088/8086 based is a given. Actually there is a big market in "old" 8bit processors such as Z80 etc for such systems because of their mechanism resiliance, maturity of libraries, simplicity of programming and debugging and power consumption.

For most tasks you can think of very, very little processing power is required - even for computing things as aircraft trajectories, the algorithms are relatively simple
Agreed - the fewer things a system is capable of, the fewer things that can go wrong. Simpler the better (even if the technology is older than many posters on here)
 

fgwrich

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Some interesting answers on here i'll have to admit - just hope we can continue to build rolling stock with matching operating systems though!

And sorry, but ive just had this come into my head - the sound of the Windows shutting down sound coming over the PA system, with this program has a problem and needs to close / restart. Do you want to send a report? :lol:
 
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Believe earlier 377's do indeed operate on Windows 3.1, whereas the 377/5's are on Windows 98 (I think) - know you do see a Windows screen when auxing on, never had a blue screen of death yet however!
 

westcoaster

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Believe earlier 377's do indeed operate on Windows 3.1, whereas the 377/5's are on Windows 98 (I think) - know you do see a Windows screen when auxing on, never had a blue screen of death yet however!
Never seen the windows logo, just the black screen with bombardier on it, the /2's and /5's run on different versions and are not compaterble in service.
 

D365

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@westcoaster: I thought the compatibility issues between 377/2s and /5s had been ironed out? Software upgrade or something, I think.

As I remember reading before, Class 350s and 360s use Windoze 3.1, 377/5s W98 (no certain about other 377s, I believe they had software updates). 379s run a custom build of Linux (YES!).
 

westcoaster

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@westcoaster: I thought the compatibility issues between 377/2s and /5s had been ironed out? Software upgrade or something, I think.

As I remember reading before, Class 350s and 360s use Windoze 3.1, 377/5s W98 (no certain about other 377s, I believe they had software updates). 379s run a custom build of Linux (YES!).
Ummm coming to think about it the 3 /2's may have been upgraded to the /5's software, but the /2's are not allowed to work with a /5 in service.
 

DXMachina

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It was previously stated on this forum - cant remember by whom - that all early Bombardier EMUs use Windows NT3.51, which in appearance terms is alike Windows 3.1 (same icons and shell) but in technical maturity is far far better
 

aformeruser

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Believe earlier 377's do indeed operate on Windows 3.1, whereas the 377/5's are on Windows 98 (I think) - know you do see a Windows screen when auxing on, never had a blue screen of death yet however!
That only tends to occur on newer versions of Windows, Vista is probably the worst for it.

I wonder if CSRE will look at running their units off a Raspberry Pi. :lol:
 

Crossover

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It isn't in the slightest weird that MITRAC runs on an old Windows system - as others have said, they tend to be more stable and take less power to run (processing and otherwise)

You will find a lot of bank ATM's are similar - the one I used to use a lot when I was at uni ran on Windows 98 (I saw it boot up a few times and blue screen a few times) - with these, it could also be partly that security threats are lower too, as no-one uses them, people aren't attacking them (or trying to) the same.

I have once been on one of those sightseeing wheels (smaller and more mobile London Eye types) - when we got in, we were greeted to the Windows XP startup tune and on getting out, to the Windows XP shut down tune....not what I wanted to hear!

To bring it back to railways for a while, the older TPE self-service machines run Windows XP (again, I have seen one that has crashed and they have had to reboot it) - the one I saw was running on a Dell Optiplex GX series (possibly up to a 620), which explains why they are so awfully slow compared to the new card only ones (this is Dewsbury I refer to, mainly)

I have also seen a mobile Coffee Nation machine stop working when they were doing an advertisement/free coffee day at uni last year - it was rebooted to try and make it work again and what was it running...the one and only...Windows Vista...say no more!!!!!!
 

Telcontar

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It isn't in the slightest weird that MITRAC runs on an old Windows system - as others have said, they tend to be more stable and take less power to run (processing and otherwise)
You must work for Specsavers' Rose Tint Dept. You'll find few people who would recommend 16-bit and 9x versions of Windows for their world-renowned reliability and stability. That's why I considered (as has been tentatively confirmed) Windows NT 3.51, which is the same underlying system as current versions of Windows, but back then it resembled Windows 3.1. (Raymond Chen notes that Windows NT originally had only asynchronous I/O, but MS bowed to the pressure of lazy developers who refused to write proper software.)

You will find a lot of bank ATM's are similar …
… in crashing, yes. That's why Public Computer Errors exists, and why it's full of bluescreens. Still, there's Mac crashes and failures there now.

Embedded isn't the way to go either: my favourite of their new crop is a segfault on a credit card reader!

Screw computers, let's resurrect the Class 210.
 
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danielnez1

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As far as I'm aware, some ATMs still use OS/2 Warp and OS/2 is still used by some companies for mission critical purposes.

Linux does appear to be gaining traction in the embedded market, wich is a good thing considering how abysmal Windows CE is!
 

pendolino

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I've had Windows screens when auxing on a 377, but mostly the B&W Bombardier screen. I can only think of one occasion when MITRAC crashed - when it rebooted, the first thing that ran was chkdsk funnily enough.

I've heard people say that the reason that 377s run Win 95 or a similar vintage is that the data recorders require a version of DOS that later versions of Windows don't have. No idea how true that is though.
 

jon0844

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If they're hard disk based, doesn't that run the risk of causing problems over time? Could the new trains come with SSD drives? I can't imagine there being much need for a lot of storage space on them.
 

danielnez1

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I've had Windows screens when auxing on a 377, but mostly the B&W Bombardier screen. I can only think of one occasion when MITRAC crashed - when it rebooted, the first thing that ran was chkdsk funnily enough.

I've heard people say that the reason that 377s run Win 95 or a similar vintage is that the data recorders require a version of DOS that later versions of Windows don't have. No idea how true that is though.
Windows NT (including 2000/XP/Vista/7) have a MS-DOS emulator that doesn't offer 100% compatibility with all DOS applications such as ones expecting direct access to hardware, memory hacks etc. As others have pointed out, the Windows NT family is not DOS based (it's based on a OS called VMS and OS/2).

Windows 9x and Me on the other hand are a rather nasty hack running on top of DOS so therefore have far better DOS application support.

If they're hard disk based, doesn't that run the risk of causing problems over time? Could the new trains come with SSD drives? I can't imagine there being much need for a lot of storage space on them.
SSD's can wear out if they are heavily used (though new designs are far more robust) and are more expensive then conventional hard drives. I'm sure they will replace standard hard drives over time though.
 
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jon0844

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I am sure that lifespan is a lot longer and it's not going to be affected by the variations in temperature (or vibrations) than I am sure a train can be subjected to.

The prices have also plummeted in the last year or so, and there's not that much difference in price if you only need a 32 or 64GB drive (probably more than enough).

Now, I suppose the kit is probably well protected, but I still think SSD would improve reliability in the long run.
 

whhistle

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It's used as, supposedly, it's very reliable and stable. Plus (more importantly) the cost of the license is lower for such an old version.
This.
Older systems are much less complicated. If you need a system to run a simple MS-Dos style program, why have a huge system like Windows 7 when Windows 95 would be much more appropriate.
 
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