March 24, 2019

Linux at the BBC


  • October 29, 1999
  • By Damion Yates

I'm sure you have heard of the BBC and will be aware of its long history in technical innovation, as the corporation invented NICAM and was among the first to offer high quality PAL colour television.

The BBC is making pioneering moves in the world of digital media with its digital terrestrial TV system. We are encoding existing and new channels to about 5 megabits per second each in MPEG, and transmitting over normal broadcast frequencies. This means we can fit several channels onto the air where there used to be one, plus allow much more flexibility with new interactive services on the same bandwidth.

My team is responsible for the support of the BBC's Unix systems, used for serving web pages, realmedia and now this new digital text service. We all use Linux at home when on call at night (to some degree) to support this. I personally have FreeBSD, Solaris-x86 and Linux, but rarely leave Linux.

The BBC's General IT teams use Linux all over the internal network. A number of content producers are starting to use Linux rather than Windows/Mac, but this is mainly those producing interactive Website elements such as perl CGI scripts.

In this article I'll look at some of the BBC's practical applications of Linux and why we use Linux rather than alternatives.

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