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Song Airlines' Linux-based distributed media system

Ryan Block, @ryan
Song Airlines

We recently took a trip on Song Airlines, who last year made some waves when they fitted their planes with a Linux-based distributed in-flight multimedia system. It's kind of nice to know that such a trimmed-down airline spared no expense on a system that, judging by its use, was obviously top-grade. And what a fine thing it is to have when you don't have a laptop or book with you. Man, even if you do have a laptop or book, it's a pretty enticing distraction.

We dug up some information on the system for you, and we were even lucky enough to grab some shots of the system while the flight attendant staff were looking the other direction. But since we weren't about to get tackled like terrorists to get 'em, forgive us if they're not the best quality.

More about the system

Song Airlines outfitted their fleet of 36 Boeing 757 jets with Matsushita Avionics Systems (MAS) Corp.?s eFX systems, a pretty advanced all-digital networked mulitmedia/data distribution system. It apparently has a whole host of features, though some of which were not yet available on the flight we took. Those features included:

  • iXplor, enhanced GPS tracking with display accuracy of one square meter, moving map program with zoom capabilities and point of interest information

  • Network features, such as in-seat Internet connectivity, SMS/email messaging, in-flight shopping and purchase capabilities

  • Streamed MP3 audio via passenger-created playlists from in-flight library

  • Connecting gate information displayed directly (and presumably contextually) on the in-seat video monitors.

But it did have some good stuff:

  • 24 channels of live, all-digital, DISH Network TV for free

  • Locally broadcast/streamed MP3 audio programming

  • Interactive networked trivia game

Ready for the shots?

Song Airlines
We got a few of these shots, but this one came out the best. On the panel are the following unlabeled connections: two USB ports, contrast up/down buttons, and what appeared to be two 1/8th-inch stereo headphone jacks. Here?s what everything actually says:
On screen
Main Menu

Center (content area)
Two yes/no buttons
?System ready for your selection?

Right panel
Seat Reset [very tempting!]

Ethernet port
Gigabit ethernet port
Maint only

Red switch on the right
IFE master power on/off
[IFE stands for in-flight entertainment]

Song Airlines
Those of you who use Linux may recognize that pointer.

Song Airlines
Listing of channels.

Song Airlines
Shot of the music trivia game intro screen; sorry no in-game shots, was too busy aquiring the 3rd highest score of all time! Boo-ya! Seat 5A foreva!

Song Airlines
Not the best in-flight GPS system (Virgin Atlantic?s is pretty hype) but pretty decent; can?t wait to see iXplor.

Song Airlines
In case you wanted to know what happens when DISH goes out in the middle of the night due to weather conditions.

Song Airlines
Unfortunately the streaming MP3 radio didn?t display song information, but we?re hoping they?ll hook that up sooner than later.

Safe travels!

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