Skip to comments.'Blue Screen of Death' on Oil Rig's Computer ( Deepwater Horizon Oilspill )
Posted on 07/24/2010 10:30:38 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Testifying at a federal hearing on Friday, the chief electronics technician told of numerous instances of a "Blue Screen of Death" on the computer system responsible for monitoring and controlling drilling. The largest oil spill in American history may be due to a simple computer glitch.
The machine had been locking up for months, Williams said, producing what he and others on the crew called a "blue screen of death." "It would just turn blue. You'd have no data coming through," Williams said today, according to the New York Times' story. With the computer frozen, the driller would not have access to crucial data about what was going on in the well.
(Excerpt) Read more at hardocp.com ...
Paging Bill Gates, Please pick up the blue courtesy phone. Bill Gates, paging Bill Gates.....
Don’t these geniuses have an IT department?
You can’t rely on Windows as a true real-time operating system. Same is true for the Apple OSes.
They need QNX or the like. Maybe then they would have saved billions of dollars.
I guess this means they’ll have to hold Microsoft, all the engineers who participated in Windows development, the integrator and the software developer all CRIMINALLY and FINANCIALLY liable.
While I am no MS fan, is Windows the only OS that throws a blue screen when things go wrong?
Should’ve used Unix or Linux.
running OS2 or NT5.0
Unix OS’s don’t crash like that. The software the UNIX OS is currently running might crash, but usually the OS stays up.
Someone didn’t understand the term “mission critical” when out shopping for software.
I felt this way about MS way before this ever happened.
From The Times-Picayune:
About five weeks before the accident, Williams was called to check on a computer system in the drill shack that was constantly on the fritz. Williams said the software was chronically bad, leaving a "blue screen of death" on the driller's interface and often causing the driller to lose crucial data about what was going on in the well. Once, when the Deepwater Horizon was drilling a different well, the computer froze up and the rig took a kick of natural gas while the driller was looking at "erroneous data," Williams said.
Discussion on Today's TOD says the computer was running a Windows NT system...which is very much out of date .
Not aware whether Windows still supplies any kind of maintenance for it.
It took a bunch of people not doing the job for this to happen.
..well, you can blame it on the blue of death, or you can blame it on the Lee Harvey Oswald, but the real problem originates w/the greasy geezers on the grassy knoll......
Fairly un-humorous as a “blue screen of death” actually caused several deaths.
They should have used a MAC.
No where in here does it talk about this being related to the oil spill.
But Obama will use this as an excuse to nationalize the software industry.
If it's a high-vibration environment, that can wreck havoc on hard drives and connectors.
Bingo, thanks for pointing that out, these animals are a cancer that only lives to kill.
Sounds like that whole rig was a clusterf$ck. Disabled gas sensor, broken BOP, failing computer systems - the BP admins was INSISTED that the contractors press on with the drilling regardless should be tried for murder.
>>You cant rely on Windows as a true real-time operating system. Same is true for the Apple OSes.
Of course you can. Wonderware, Intellution, WinCC all run fine under Windows. I run a large SCADA system (1600 RTUs) that controls the utilities in 3 counties and never have a BSOD.
I can speak about Linux and Solaris. When things go utterly, horribly wrong in those operating systems, the error messages generally appear in white or gray text on a black background (in character mode).
The Linux error messages from the kernel are sometimes written in a lighthearted manner starting with the string, ``Oops'' followed by a stack trace showing the low-level details of what actually caused the kernel panic.
In every case I've encountered (rare those have been), it has always been due to a hardware component misbehaving such as a dodgy memory module or an unrecoverable I/O error on a hard drive.
From todays Coast Guard hearing testimony it sounds like the "A, B and C chairs all had problems with the BSOD" In other words they ran Microsoft Windows NT and the computers would crash and blue screen.
The last version of Microsoft NT was released in 1996. I work in IT so I see lots of old hardware and software but I can think of much more stable platforms to run such critical systems on. Anyone want to comment about what rigs usually use for OS on the chair computers. Mike Williams testified that if all chairs failed then the only option was abandon ship.
I can think of several OS's that I would trust about 1000X more than NT to run in such a critical job. Yes they would have to port and probably rewrite some software. I have had machines I managed that ran continuously for over 3 years, and got worked hard. Definitely not running NT.
Yes. Windows is the only OS which has an OS level crash often known as the blue screen of death. All NIX OS’s, including OS X for Mac, has process stops which do not crash the entire OS with a blue screen. This is a result of the fact that Windows is a layered OS built upon the original 8086 legacy architecture.
While the modern Windows OSs are deep and wide in their scope, the primary reason they are sometimes called “Bloated” is to retain backwards compatibility, the memory addressing systems just append code for each level of the improved design, each time, each upgrade, layer upon layer, call after call, until the OS cannot even keep track of where what process began or where the return calls need to go... then the whole house of cards comes down.... BSOD!
All NIX code has a very tiny and robust OS kernel that orders all the other apps, processes and devices around. if any of them, misbehave, the kernel closes them and restarts them, assigning them to new memory slots.
Over simplified, but that’s the general difference.
And loss of power doesn't affect a slide rule if you have a flashlight.
I’m no fan of Microsoft Windows (Slackware since ‘96), but this sounds like classic toss the blame around to see what sticks.
Slide rules rule!
Ha ha ha ha someone used it to watch porn and it got a virus!
I agree with you. The implications for this disaster go much further than most realize.
Good thing computers were invented, or we’d never have been able to drill for oil.
Take a look at the follow two links:
Windows CE is a real-time OS, but not any other version of Windows. The foundation of Windows is not good enough for real-time, but it can go a long time without crashing.
You don’t want Windows to run your car’s electronics. Period.
More than likely it’s something related to the computer itself and not the OS. I’ve done countless installs of Windows for myself and for others and every BSOD I’ve encountered was the fault of a attached piece of hardware, a peripheral or faulty memory stick or the motherboard itself.
They had other problems.
I hate to say it but the only OS I have ever used that was bulletproof (or as close as it gets) was OS/370 (now zOS).
If lives are on the line, that should be the choice.
There are millions of machines out there just chugging along on old outdated software... many of them likely still in mission critical situations. not surprising considering the range of applications that NT has been a platform of choice for years, from banking to journalism, from the military to ‘adult’ stuff.
It don’t get no worse than ‘Hard drive not found’ (a generic paraphrase of a message that makes the tummy go.. unngh)
Abort, Blow it up or ReDrill?
heckuva dialog box
I should also add that even poorly coded third party software will cause BSOD’s. Of all the computer I have owned over the years, the BSOD’s I have had were caused by third party software and devices like the CD-ROM and the memory sticks.
For an industrial control computer it's not smart to willy nilly do a reboot.
What is a SCADA system?
High vibration, and high ELECTRO-MAGNETIC DISTURBANCES.
There are some huge motors and generators on that rig.
Yes, I am aware of that. I've also run across instances when an error in Windows occurs, you have no recourse but to reboot and when you do, you encounter a BIOS "BOOT DISK FAILURE" error. The only way around that is to pull the power cord from the power socket and wait one minute to allow the electrical charge to drain out of the motherboard. (on most motherboards, there is a green LED lamp that burns out telling you there is no more power going through the motherboard).
I’ve been running a SUSE Linux server continuously for the last 5 years without a crash, the only time I’ve had to restart it was after some doofus cut the power with a backhoe two years ago, and that was a safe shutdown on backup power.
Watch for a story by the DoomsDay crowd that a computer operator on the Deep horizon responded to the BSOD message and choose “Blow it up”...
At a company I worked for, they kept having problems with the CRT Screens getting distorted.
After having several (on different floors) getting the same problem, I noticed something.
All of them were located near the elevator shaft.