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A safety critical Linux DO-178B compliant. Safety considerations in Linux system and equipment certification

Luca Recchia, MBDA Systems, Italy
Christian Di Biagio, MBDA Systems, Italy
Francesco Rogo, Finmeccanica, Italy
Fabrizio Batino, MBDA Systems, Italy

The goal of Safety Engineering is to make “safety” a safety-critical system that is potentially dangerous. The common safety criteria are based on the hazards identifying and the generation of additional requirements to eliminate or reduce the risk of hazards. In the “safety” industrial sectors the systems (including software) are certified according to a common standard to ensure the respect of safety requirements. Linux operating system is in widespread use in industrial contexts, and in the last years there was even more interest in using Linux for safety related systems. This paper aims to describe a project experience regarding the development of a safety Linux DO-178B compliant. This work describes the use of the GNU/Linux operating system on real safety-critical systems.

The context was the development of a European research project which aims to deliver a new generation Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle. FINX-RTOS (a Gentoo based distribution managed by Finmeccanica) have been customised to satisfy Design Assurance Level D requirements. Like other Linux, FINX is “open source” so its source code was available for the reverse engineering operations needed for DO-178B certification at level D as "software previously developed". Moreover such Linux OS guarantees real-time performance needed (PREEMPT_RT patch applied) and was quite easy to realize a safety “all in RAM” operating system.

To make a long story short, on April 2012 FIN.X-RTOS was declared compliant after the last Stage Of Involvement meeting: “The Software Review 4 (SR4) audit for the FIN.X-RTOS CSCI ensures that final compliance to all the DO-178B level D objectives has been achieved and all open items have been addressed.” as stated by the Technical Quality.

This paper describes technical solutions, quality assurance evidences, test suite and artefacts needed to address project needs and reach the final compliance to DO-178B.