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Congress Endorses Open Source For Military

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the because-it's-better-that's-why dept.

Software 145

A draft defense authorizing act in Congress includes wording plugging open source software. It seems both cost and software security were considerations. This is an important victory for open source. "It's rare to see a concept as technical as open-source software in a federal funding bill. But the House's proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (H.R. 5658) includes language that calls for military services to consider open-source software when procuring manned or unmanned aerial vehicles."

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Old News (1)

DougF (1117261) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166775)

Open Source is already in use on a number of newer platforms, nothing new here.

Re:Old News (3, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166811)

The House's proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 is new, and it's what TFA is about.

Re:Old News (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25166969)

This is a win for Open Source, the US Military, and the US Taxpayers (and the chicoms financing our massive debts). The military has a good relationship with open source, so this seems like a logical extension -- GNU ADA was financed by the DoD and I know for a fact they use a lot of OpenBSD servers. Also, most military women trim their bush or shave it outright.

Re:Old News (3, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167463)


Also, most military women trim their bush or shave it outright.

Ah, you're confusing Open Source with Open Sores.

Re:Old News (4, Interesting)

DougF (1117261) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167625)

Wrong, TFA is about open source software, something the services have been working on for years. The F-35 has open source software for the displays, the Navy CIO has already endorsed open source software, the Army is incoporating it into the Land Warrior program, etc. Congress (and by extension /. by posting this) is behind the power curve, hence my original point stands, it's Old News.

And, who modded this guy informative?

Re:Old News (5, Insightful)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166899)

There was never anything actually preventing Government developers from considering Open Source previously. This will simply remind some Dev Managers that the option exists, even though their actual developers have probably been using it for years. The side effects of this bill will most likely bring out Microsoft's and other proprietary software house's lobbyists out of the woodwork. They've only painted another target.

Re:Old News (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167533)

Yes, and it will probably give them leverage when negotiating with those vendors.

Re:Old News (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25168377)

Only to a limited sense. The US Government tends to contract many software solutions to the big defense contractors. Those contractors have already been using open source software as part of their solutions. All this does is reaffirm the option of allowing it as a component.

Software vendors will now need ways to differentiate their offerings to those who provide solutions to US Government agencies. I imagine we'll see more "partnerships" (not that they don't happen now) that will influence solutions. I can't count the number of projects I've worked on where as a developer you say "open source product A would work great" but the manager says "we're using commercial product B". Many trade studies we use internally often lack open source solutions too unfortunately.

Mij

Re:Old News (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 6 years ago | (#25169349)

There was plenty preventing the use of open source. There was a desire to have MS Windows and MS Office no matter what, because that's what the users knew. There were political motivations. There was also this pervasive thinking that "you get what you pay for", therefore commercial software was inherently superior to freely available open source. Free software really throws government budgeting folks for a loop, and they will actually demand commercial software seemingly just so that they have expenses to track. It's rather funny and sad to see their forms imply that software costs money. They would come up with all manner of excuses. MS is an American company and good patriots should buy American. And it's good for our economy. Also, American is more secure because there aren't any foreign employees to insert malicious software into the code. This of course conveniently ignores that there are plenty of American programmers who might do that, and that American companies hire foreigners and farm out work internationally. Then there was the argument that having the source be open was itself inherently insecure. Or they'd dig up some government regulations or directives that say they have to use software that meets certain standards (such as EAL4), and the only thing certified is this commercial stuff that they happen to like, and they're really really sorry they can't use open source, but rules are rules. Problems, such as what to do if a vendor folds and orphans a bunch of expensive software, were ignored. There was very much a double standard in force. Lobbyists had many angles to work, and hardly needed to come up with justifications themselves with all the reasons the government was eager to hand them.

Re:Old News (5, Interesting)

moose_hp (179683) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167753)

From a non-USA point of view, I think this is a great step for open source solutions, but more for software in general.

It's been know that whatever the US military puts their hands on, that can grow to a great size. The whole Arpanet->Internet analogy may or may not be flawed for this. A lot of innovation comes from military funded projects.

The open source model is a great source (no pun intended) of innovation and combining those two points could lead to a massive step forward.

/PersonalOpinion

Green Hills is unafraid (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166801)

Face it, when you need a real time operating system, Linux is not the choice of a new generation.

Information servers, fancy GUI update stuff, maybe. Missiles and flight control systems, not so much.

Re:Green Hills is unafraid (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25167069)

I work together with people that work with real-time control systems (mostly for particle physics data aquisition, ALICE detector at CERN). They say "OS? Linux, of-cource! WxWorks is not much used, to much hassle)

Notably, ALICE has a lot of "onboard" Linux computers (with onboard FPGA's I think). This is possible in this experiment, as the radiation levels are much lower than ATLAS and CMS - but there is much more data per collision, so they need fast and smart triggers as close to the metal as possible.

Re:Green Hills is unafraid (2, Informative)

Waste55 (1003084) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167231)

Agreed. Even in the commercial and space world Greenhills RTOS is one of the most widely used since it is flight certified already.

Re:Green Hills is unafraid (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25167261)

Linux is not the choice of a new generation.

Posting anonymously...

I know of at least one embedded real time platform that fly's using none of the cruft from GHS or VxWorks. This platform leverages GCC for compilation and GDB for debugging.

I know of another embedded real time platform that is used in military communications that DOES use GHS cruft.

The most compelling evidence that I know of not to rely on GHS... there were software bugs in it that were discovered, isolated, and patched under the support agreements. There have been no such bugs in the GNU tools that have needed outside influence to fix.

Re:Green Hills is unafraid (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168069)

FWIW, A lot of the stuff I'm seeing lately for RT is LynxOS. I guess they have a linux compatibility layer ala AIX, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc.

Re:Green Hills is unafraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25167977)

Yes, it is. My old company just ditched Green Hills. My friend who designs guidance systems for missiles also just ditched Green Hills.

Re:Green Hills is unafraid (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25168483)

Posting anonymously for various reasons...

From where I sit, Greenhills isn't used that much in missile or flight guidance systems for defense or space applications. The most common systems nowadays seem to be Windriver's VxWorks (mostly legacy) and embedded Linux (mostly new applications).

-MG

Satellites, Helicopters, Nuclear Fusion Reactors (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168939)

I know many examples that use Linux - it is my job. I also know many projects that are over budget and under performing that use VxWorks.

authoriation ??? (0, Offtopic)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166807)

Kood we get our edditors some speelchuckers pleez?

Seriously, this is just getting sad.

Cheers

Re:authoriation ??? (2, Funny)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166925)

Their about on par with CNET editors actually. Though I'm not saying that is good news...

Re:authoriation ??? (2, Funny)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166943)

*sigh* Their = They're

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

Victor_0x53h (1164907) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167033)

Grammar masochist?

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167691)

Maybe a bit. It's not 100% voluntary though.

Re:authoriation ??? (0, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167571)

Their does NOT equal They're.
I ahve no idea why you would tell people that incorrect information.

Perhaps you meant:
"I should have put they're instead of their at the beginning of that sentence."

Hey, I can be pedantic.

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167723)

Hey, I can be pedantic.

Should I expect anything less? :)

If you're going to do it, do it right! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168531)

"I ahve no idea ..."

Did you perhaps mean 'have'?.....Hmmm???

"Hey, I can be pedantic."

No comment.

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166971)

Their about on par with CNET editors actually. Though I'm not saying that is good news...

And, in fairness, in actual printed newspapers I frequently cringe at the atrocious spelling and grammar I see.

Doesn't mean I'm in favor of it.

And, I don't know about the rest of you, but Firefox is spell-checking as I fill in forms, so it's not like it's tough to get some help.

Cheers

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167061)

It's been getting worse lately. A lot of papers are cutting back, and the first people to go are copy editors. That's why the spelling and grammar of the average newspaper has been declining into "USA Today"-like territory.

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167653)

I'm not quite sure why this was labeled as flamebait. It wasn't meant that way... I'm just rather sad that the state of editing in general (not just Slashdot) has slipped to such a great degree. I regularly find and cringe at overlooked spelling and MAJOR grammatical errors in all sorts of media. I find that seeing them in fiction books is the worst though, as it really interrupts the story. It's almost as if an M-80 went off in the same room or something.

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167409)

Oh, stop it... they're using the VxWorks spellchecker. It's very real time, and very fast.

Re:authoriation ??? (1)

n0dna (939092) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167999)

Just because it's not a real word doesn't mean it's not spelled right.

*g*

Nice to see (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166847)

that government is realizing that security through obscurity is not a good plan.

Re:Nice to see (5, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166907)

My guess is what you have here is a good indication that some company had enough money to fund a lobbyist to push for this to help them in the future since they use FOSS in their product. Not new insight or greater education on the part of law makers.

I wondered about that (2, Interesting)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167811)

My guess is what you have here is a good indication that some company had enough money to fund a lobbyist to push for this to help them in the future since they use FOSS in their product. That could be, it is still a very good thing.

Re:Nice to see (2, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166979)

No, they are probably realising that $700 needs to come from somewhere so they might as well use open source software instead of buying licenses.

Re:Nice to see (2, Informative)

moose_hp (179683) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167801)

Open source != Free (as in "free beer") licenses

Re:Nice to see (2, Insightful)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168887)

not likely. $700 is practically nothing. ever see how much money the military spends on printer cartridges? it's more likely that OSS is easier to switch vendors later on without getting locked into an expensive position.

Re:Nice to see (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25169053)

No, they are probably realising that $700 needs to come from somewhere so they might as well use open source software instead of buying licenses.

Except that the kind of software in the bill in question is rarely licensed - it's tactical software, not admin software. Specialized tactical software is usually purchased outright. (Not to mention that the Federal Government undoubtedly gets significant discounts from vendors for per seat licenses and support.)
 
That being said, there's much less here than meets the eye. Like many other extremely specialized problem domains, there almost certainly isn't any FOSS to be considered for use. This goes double since this almost certainly is an embedded system, not a PC, with the operating hardware, computer hardware, OS, and applications tightly bound and integrated. (In the systems like this I worked on while I was in the Navy, the line between OS and application was a wide grey area - in some ways they were virtually the same.)

Re:Nice to see (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168111)

>that government is realizing that security through obscurity is not a good plan.

Yep, intelligent bombs and cruise-missiles for the masses.

Re:Nice to see (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168859)

Is that something new? What makes you think that the government used to think security by obscurity was a good plan?

oh boy (-1)

cornercuttin (1199799) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166905)

yay! oss for the government! there goes my job.

first, i have to worry about my job getting shipped to India. now it is great to know that the gov't will want me to release the software i write. our small business is gonna make it, i promise!

Re:oh boy (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167113)

now it is great to know that the gov't will want me to release the software i write.

First, that's not what TFA (or even the summary) says. Second, there are a lot of companies writing, documenting, and using open source software. Open source <> "no profit".

our small business is gonna make it, i promise!

I wouldn't exactly call your business "small", Mr Ballmer! ;)

Re:oh boy (2, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167249)

We'll see what happens to his small business after the BSA [bsa.org] raids and trashes his outfit because he used 2 pirated copies of Windows unwittingly installed by the Geek Squad tech who fixed his computers.

Hmm, the BSA vs. the military(yes, they use a LOT of Windows boxes and cannot possibly keep track of all those licenses) would be an amusing cage match.

Re:oh boy (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167595)

Two organization enter..one with heavy firepower.
Yes, I would enjoy watching that.

Cage is poor choice (1)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168107)

Two organization enter..one with heavy firepower.
Yes, I would enjoy watching that.

Not if you're at a cage match. Watching it on television should be safe, but a cage is too porous for heavy firepower.

Re:oh boy (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167617)

enterprise level licensing is a wonderful thing.

Re:oh boy (1)

bds1986 (1268378) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167807)

I'll put money on the BSA, all the way. The military may have nukes, but I hear cockroaches can survive a nuclear exchange.

Re:oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25168459)

Large defense contractors have enterprise level licensing for all windows products. We can install as many copies of whatever we want on as many boxes as we want. That said i do almost all my dev work on a CentOS machine.

A BSA style raid would be interesting to watch. We have Armed security that doesnt put up with a lot of BS. And their jobs are on the line if they let some in who's not suppose to be there so the snow job crab the BSA tries to pull most of the time just wouldnt work.

And if they tried to force their way in. We always need live fire testing subjects.

Re:oh boy (1)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167835)

I wouldn't exactly call your business "small", Mr Ballmer! ;)

Actually flying chairs are still very much a niche market I'm afraid.

Re:oh boy (2, Funny)

exley (221867) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167171)

Yeah, 'cause that's what this is about -- the government FORCING open source. Try to at least read TFS. And maybe you just need to cut a few more corners before you don't have to worry about your job going to India!

Re:oh boy (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167425)

If you are in the software business, and that is your best attempt at understanding TFA and OSS in general, you don't need to worry; your business is already doomed ;-)

new clause? (2, Interesting)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166915)

I wonder if this will cause new clauses in gpl terms similar to commercial usage clauses preventing the support of any millitary, etc?

Re:new clause? (2, Interesting)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167011)

>>I wonder if this will cause new clauses in gpl terms similar to commercial usage clauses preventing the support of any millitary, etc?

I doubt it.
The FSF will be more interested in the other side having the same access.
Freedom for all, even your enemies.

Re:new clause? (4, Informative)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167607)

Considering that would violate the OSI guidelines (and contradict the GPL FAQ), probably not.

Re:new clause? (2, Informative)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168031)

There are no commercial usage clauses in any version of the GPL. The OSI and FSF agree that free or open source licenses, respectively, should never have any sort of usage clause in them. Richard Stallman has publicly encouraged everybody to find ways to profit off free software.

There are terms in some free and open source licenses that make certain business models impractical, but nothing that would restrict any area of use.

Re:new clause? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168201)

The OSI and FSF agree that free or open source licenses, respectively, should never have any sort of usage clause in them. Richard Stallman has publicly encouraged everybody to find ways to profit off free software.

The Affero GPL has usage clauses and is endorsed by the FSF.

Re:new clause? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168821)

The OSI and FSF agree that free or open source licenses, respectively, should never have any sort of usage clause in them. Richard Stallman has publicly encouraged everybody to find ways to profit off free software.

Profit is not everything. My little project [virtual-estates.net] may be for sale, but I will not sell to anyone owning a Che Guevara T-shirt, for example.

Enjoy it while it lasts. (2, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166921)

You can be sure that Microsoft and other proprietary companies will be fighting tooth and nail to remove this provision.

Re:Enjoy it while it lasts. (3, Interesting)

qw(name) (718245) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167283)

I seriously doubt that. Open source software has been used to develop military systems for many years now on the contractor side.

Re:Enjoy it while it lasts. (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167515)

> Open source software has been used to develop military
> systems for many years now on the contractor side.

Right on. Just as an example, we set up CougaarForge [cougaar.org] for a DARPA project back in 2003. 'Twas good times.

Victory for open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25166929)

It's a half battle where only proprietary software is trying to win.

It's like saying "victory for the earthquake" if an earthquake destroys a building that was supposed to resist.

Just when you need it (1)

CSFFlame (761318) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166939)

Anyone here even realize you don't have an app installed that you really want? Joker@Aspen20:~$ sudo apt-get install IFF Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done E: Couldn't find package IFF Joker@Aspen20:~$ sudo apt-get install flares Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done E: Couldn't find package flares Joker@Aspen20:~$ sudo eject You may now remove the cd Joker@Aspen20:~$ aghfaurgsdasf bash: aghfaurgsdasf: command not found

GPL'd software (3, Insightful)

DodgeRules (854165) | more than 6 years ago | (#25166981)

If the Government uses open source code that is under the GPL license, and modifies it to include some security or other feature that is considered to be under the umbrella of "National Security", are they required to provide the source code to terrorists so they can attempt to crack it?

Re:GPL'd software (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167083)

Well, given that security through obscurity is a doomed strategy, would that be so bad?

Re:GPL'd software (5, Informative)

Flying Scotsman (1255778) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167155)

are they required to provide the source code to terrorists so they can attempt to crack it?

From my understanding of the GPL, this would only be true if the government is distributing the modified binaries to the terrorists. If the changes are internal-use only, there isn't a GPL conflict by not distributing the modified source.

Re:GPL'd software (1)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 6 years ago | (#25169163)

From my understanding of the GPL, this would only be true if the government is distributing the modified binaries to the terrorists. If the changes are internal-use only, there isn't a GPL conflict by not distributing the modified source.

I'm sure that they will be "distributing modified binaries to terrorists" at about 500 MPH :)

If they drop a smart bomb on someone that uses open source software in its circuitry, I'm guessing that's much like running GPL code on your webserver, and considered internal use only. Now if they use code under the Affero GPL [fsf.org] , that could be interesting!

Re:GPL'd software (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167157)

This is a big deal with FOSS code in the military sector. Whoever leverages the code (read is familiar with the license) is not the person who "owns" the code, nor is likely even remotely influential about its release. Essentially anything that binds you to contribute modifications back to the community is right out. It isn't the contractor's code to release, it isn't truely the military's code to release (although they have procedures for it), it is the taxpayers' code. Because of that there is a bunch of beauracracy protecting you the taxpayer against misuse of what you paid for by interests that wish to harm you(foreign hostile governments) and those that wish to make undue financial gain on the investment of the taxpayers (commercial or even non-profit entities).

Re:GPL'd software (2, Informative)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167465)

"Essentially anything that binds you to contribute modifications back to the community is right out."

So the GPL is a perfectly viable option, then ...

Re:GPL'd software (5, Funny)

NtroP (649992) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167185)

If the Government uses open source code that is under the GPL license, and modifies it to include some security or other feature that is considered to be under the umbrella of "National Security", are they required to provide the source code to terrorists so they can attempt to crack it?

Depends. If my company uses OSS in an internal application, I don't have to release the changes back to the public. But, if my company were to distribute a product that uses it we'd have to provide source code.

I'm assuming that the military would not have to release source code in UAV's because they tend to get those products back and therefore it would be an internal product or application. They'd have to release the source for any bombs or missiles though because they are delivering that product to the public.

Re:GPL'd software (5, Funny)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167285)

Easy. Just tape the listing to the front of the bomb.

Re:GPL'd software (3, Funny)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168049)

"EULA toward enemy"

Re:GPL'd software (3, Funny)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167513)

"They'd have to release the source for any bombs or missiles though because they are delivering that product to the public."

You must work at Microsoft. Destroying someone is not considered to be analogous to "delivering a product" to someone anywhere else on the planet as far as I am aware ;-)

Re:GPL'd software (2, Funny)

Ioldanach (88584) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167525)

I'm assuming that the military would not have to release source code in UAV's because they tend to get those products back and therefore it would be an internal product or application. They'd have to release the source for any bombs or missiles though because they are delivering that product to the public.

No, you're mistaken. The source for bombs or missles is part of the delivery system, much like the source code in a UPS driver's tablet computer, it is not intended to be consumed by the public. The applicable software is effectively removed from the system upon successful delivery.

Re:GPL'd software (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168989)

Oh, man, you just made me snort my Coke. I'll use that story at the next SDR where someone asks about the GPL!

Re:GPL'd software (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167627)

No, in fact if the change a version of Linux and claim they can't release it for national security, then they wouldn't release that.

Not really a problem.

Re:GPL'd software (2, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168905)

Only if they redistribute their modified version.

And no, distributing it internally within the military does not count as distribution.

Re:GPL'd software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25169293)

This also raises the question of what constitutes "distribution". Say an organization I'm part of, like the military, distributes to me some GPLed software they've modified. This may be a settled question already, but what other than the possibility of the organization being annoyed prevents me from demanding the source?

The real question (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25166985)

The real question is what company is trying to sell UAVs to the government, and is offering open source. My guess is one of the small Israeli companies managed to get this put in the appropriations bill to help them.

They'll probably come up with a way to mess it up (3, Insightful)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167217)

In order to try saving money, they'll probably do something really stupid that will end up costing them money.
Like setup a Linux environment, and realize they have some old, critical, archaic, crappy piece of software that only runs on Windows NT.
So they'll get some virutualization software inorder to run Windows on their new Linux servers in order to get that old app running.
So they'll virtualize a bunch of old NT boxes, only to find out app doesn't work well when running on virtualized Windows.
So then they have to install new Server 2008 boxes to run the old app, only to find out the old version of that app won't run on Windows versions newer than NT 3.5.
So now they pay millions for a new version of said critical app.
Then they realized the new version of the app has a Linux version.
Then some figures out that the old app could have run under WINE.

Re:They'll probably come up with a way to mess it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25167923)

You've obviously escaped from the same Defense contracting shop I did. Don't divulge the secrets of how government contracting works... they'll come after us!

Re:They'll probably come up with a way to mess it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25168303)

From my experience, the way it would work is that if it is a COTS product, they would already have the latest or close to latest version running. Usually at least the 2003/2005 version if not the 2008 version. If it is a internally developed app or an app developed by contractors for the military only, they will keep said boxes running as is until they can convert it to work on the new system. They already have the boxes and software licenses, why wouldn't they be used. The military is not as dumb as people think. Or at least not the lower ranks where the real work is being done.

In other news (5, Funny)

rgo (986711) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167225)

Microsoft reacted signing a 10 year collaboration agreement with Al Qaeda. Together, they will develop WMD...



Windows Media player Deluxe.

Geneva convention. (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168697)

Microsoft {...} will develop WMD {...} Windows Media player Deluxe.

I'm sure this will probably infringe several parts of the Geneva convention about "cruel and inhumane treatments".

Open Flaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25167341)

Well, this will allow the US to implement Open Warfare worldwide

technical? (2, Insightful)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167517)

It's rare to see a concept as technical as open-source software in a federal funding bill.

Open Source is a legal and business concept. You'd hope that a few hundred lawyers would be able to figure that one out.

Re:technical? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25169117)

It's rare to see a concept as technical as open-source software in a federal funding bill.

Open Source is a legal and business concept. You'd hope that a few hundred lawyers would be able to figure that one out.

I'm guessing the editors/writers (and maybe readers) of Government Computer News don't get out much. Federal funding and appropriations bills routinely address technical issues in the manner they do here.

Clarifications on Military Open Source (5, Informative)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167545)

I already see some misunderstanding in other threads in this conversation. (a) people say the military won't give back the changes they make to GPL software. (b) people say that because it is GPL, the "bad guys" will get it.

For the first point, the GPL does not require changes to be merged back into the main development area. It allows (and encourages) projects to FORK the source code into new projects when different applications are desired. This keeps the original projects clean from "feature creep" and gives the different (competing) development teams control of their own development. The limitation that the GPL imposes is that if an organization wants to DISTRIBUTE the executable versions of their software, they would need to include an offer to distribute the source as well. Since it is not in the US military's interest to distribute their software, there is no real concern of (b) the "bad guys" getting the software.

In that vain, the "bad guys" would have access to the baseline version if they can figure out what software has been forked into military applications. If the US military is foolish enough to operate this using defaults that are hackable, then it serves them right. I personally think that they are more qualified than that.

A last concern is (c) THIS IS BEING FUNDED BY TAXPAYER MONEY AND IT SHOULD BE OWNED BY THE TAXPAYERS. This is false. I mean, the funding does come from taxes, but the public has no more of a claim for software that is developed for military applications using FOSS software than they do over the software, hardware, and designs of any other piece of military equipment ever designed. These instruments are created for the purpose of providing national security. If the designs were made public, then security WOULD be compromised. Ergo, in the interests of national security it's important for that information to be kept private.

Final point, the GPR (Government Purpose Rights) license. This is a thinly veiled government source license that I have seen the military force on subcontractors in recent years to force Boeing, Lockheed, and all the rest to "play nice". The GPR license is a requirement on contracts so that the government gains the right to send software developed by Lockheed over to Boeing for further analysis. Believe it or not, frequently in legacy codebases you see "Proprietary of XYZ Corporation" and for the most part the government tries to acknowledge these rights. However, they realize that many things are developed over and over again by different companies because they are prevented from leveraging off of each others work (at the cost of the taxpayers). It is encouraging, therefore, to see the government prevent this with GPR.

Re:Clarifications on Military Open Source (3, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#25169217)

More to the point is that military developments almost without fail make it into the public if they have a significant public use. Flight, radar, medicine, etc. Hell, the military has probably had the best return on investment of any government run endeavor. So many people bitch about the military, but it was military members that were first putting their lives at risk testing things like supersonic aircraft and space travel. Guess who had the joy of being the human guinea pigs for things like the Anthrax vaccines.

If you really wanna bitch DARPA will take their internet and go home...

Been using GNU/Linux for years... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#25167929)

DoD and DND has been using Linux for many years. Nuff sed.

It's an election year gimmick (2, Insightful)

sgtsquid (1372843) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168003)

I don't know about the other services, but the Army has been using FOSS for years, especially Linux. They already have UAVs running embedded Linux, and they have worked for years, successfully, I might add, to make their web sites compatible with different platforms. I have been using Linux as my primary OS since 2000 and never had any problem using an Army site. This is just so some Congress Critters can court the geek vote by claiming to push FOSS in an environment where it is already widely used. There was never any obstacle to FOSS in the DOD and they have adopted it very enthusiastically without any "authorization" from Congress.

What about GPL compliance for guided munitions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25168073)

To comply with the GPL they'll be required to include the source code for GPL'd firmware components of smart bombs.

What should they do? Tape CD's of source code to the side? Or wrap each one with a sheet of paper offering to supply the code for a reasonable handling fee?

This is a double-edged victory (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168083)

I look at this and wonder why open-source has to be specifically endorsed by congress for the military to consider it. The military should consider technologies based on their merits. Does Congress need to pass a bill that endorses C++ applications, or closed-source applications? Military and government have used open source software for years with things like SE Linux. I won't complain about the text being in there, but it is indicative of the wrong mind set.

Mostly inteligence - not code (2, Informative)

srobtjones (1316979) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168161)

If you read the bill - as I have for the past 15 minutes - you wil learn that most of it is about "open source intelligence", which gets discussed as ways to gather info from publicly-available sources: websites, chat rooms, etc.

Open source software code is also included, but does not appear to be the main focus. Additionally, I would expect that for national security reasons, the govt. may slurp open source tools into their mix, but I would not expect them to share much. I do believe they may be exempt from most license issues due to national security regs and such, at least in some situations.

Re:Mostly inteligence - not code (3, Insightful)

ChrisA90278 (905188) | more than 6 years ago | (#25169019)

Just one counter example: selinux came from the NSA. A pretty big "give back".
http://www.nsa.gov/selinux/ [nsa.gov]

There is a LOT of government written code available. In fact many of the biggest and most complex free software systems were developed and given away by the US government. It's just that they typically do not write word processors and games so your typical home user does not see it.

I can think of many examples most from the areas of science and enginerring. Here is one
http://www.nec2.org/nec_hist.txt [nec2.org]

congress (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168349)

not a second too late...

hah! (1)

s2jcpete (989386) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168725)

About time. I did some contract work in DC a couple of years back. I watched as they threw down 200k in Weblogic licenses when JBoss would have worked instead. They didn't care because it wasn't their money.

.gov and .mil were FIRST users of Open Source (2, Insightful)

ChrisA90278 (905188) | more than 6 years ago | (#25168841)

Most all the software I develop goes to the US government, mostly the DoD. I've been using Open Source for well over 20 years now. I don't think it was called "open source" back then but still much of it was.

You have to remember that government contractors and universities had access to the Internet starting back in the late 1970's and were on USNET long before there was a web.

I'm certain that the government and military were the second users of open source universities being the first users. Only after the web got popular did open source spread out into the rest of the world.

This is news...why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25168903)

I've been a Defense Contractor (go ahead, boo and hiss) for 10 years now. We've used open source software as much as possible for a whole salvo of reasons:

-cut costs
-well investigated software from security/reliability standpoint
-good community support for any additional development

Most often the deliverables I turn over to the customer at the end of the contract.

We have language in many of our contracts specifically calling out for the use of Open Source software whenever possible. I'm baffled as to why this is a surprise. Do people really believe that the DoD is a bunch of crew-cut sporting generals barking orders with cigars hanging out of their mouths?

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