Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Should Obama Give Stimulus To Open Source?

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the more-money-please dept.

Government 525

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder posits a deeper relationship between government and open source than was proposed in last week's open letter to Obama calling for broader open source adoption: economic stimulus. Since software vendors urged the president to go open source last week, security companies 'have raised scary points about vulnerabilities in open source,' suggesting they could step in to help secure an open source switch. Rather than opt for this kind of security through obscurity, Snyder argues in favor of earmarking funds for open source development to instead ensure security through transparency. 'Once the government expands its use and support of open source, venture money — which is drying up in the current recession — would again start flowing to those small companies, allowing them to hire or rehire some of the tens of thousands of unemployed IT workers,' he argues."

cancel ×

525 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

oh god no (4, Insightful)

tritonman (998572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927595)

That's like an ANTI-Stimulus to us software developers trying to make a living.

Re:oh god no (5, Funny)

Jrabbit05 (943335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927603)

get a job hippy.

Re:oh god no (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927801)

That's like an ANTI-Stimulus to us software developers trying to make a living.

Why do you fear people giving away code? You do realize that there's an infinite amount of code to be written that people will pay for if they have the money, right?

You may not realize it but I'm certain open source has made you personally a better developer in some way shape or form. I know it's helped me, there would have been no entry point into my fascination with coding without it.

It's not a screw or be screwed world out there, buddy.

Re:oh god no (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928281)

It's not a screw or be screwed world out there, buddy.

You clearly have not dealt with the upper echelons of American business.

Re:oh god no (1, Insightful)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928335)

Why do you fear people giving away code?

I have no problem with people donating their time and code.

However, when I am given no choice but to pay them for it, it's no longer charity, it's socialism.

Re:oh god no (3, Insightful)

cab15625 (710956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928489)

And how is that different from being forced to pay for closed source development? At least if you are force to pay for open source development, you won't have to pay again in order to reap the benefits of the development. If the stimulus money only goes to closed source, you'll have to pay again to buy the software before you see any immediate benefit. All the costs of socialism with none of the benefits. If you really are opposed to this on such idealistic grounds, then you should be opposed to the entire concept of a stimulus package.

Re:oh god no (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928245)

Get over it. You CAN in fact get paid to work with and develop on open source platforms daily.

Your statement shows your ignorance of what open source is.

Re:oh god no (0, Troll)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928493)

Could you please show me the job offers to work on open source? I'll give you a day to find something and then check back on my post.

Re:oh god no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928681)

Follow these steps:

1. Pick an open source language.

2. Visit craigslist. Type in open source language into searchbox then add the word "open source"

3. If you do not find anything. Try another city/language and continue from step 1 or step 2.

Re:oh god no (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928577)

Long Live the Empire!

The Day my company realizes they can get half-baked tools for free (ie. open office), my salary will get cut alongside it. People believe technology is expensive, which helps keep my salary up. If they thought all software should be downloadable from anywhere, my salary will suffer, I guarantee it.

Selfish? probably. Do i care? nope.

Re:oh god no (5, Insightful)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928409)

That's like an ANTI-Stimulus to us software developers trying to make a living.

Get used to it. The stimulus (and, it seems, many of the Obama administration's policies) are designed to reward failure. Not that he started that trend - the big wall street bailout (TARP #1) rewarded all the banks that were failing, too.

Just as an example, the stimulus provides tax breaks to workers that amounts to about $8 a week, while providing $25 a week more for unemployment compensation payments. The failing auto industry got billions as soon as the Dems took over, and they're now at the door asking for more.

Obama's mortgage assistance program will reward people that are significantly behind in their mortgage payments. There will be no incentives for people that are on time, or for people interested in buying foreclosed properties. It's good to reduce the number of foreclosures happening, but it doesn't do anything to help move families into those foreclosed houses that are now sitting empty.

Maybe you should look into health care information systems, I hear there will be a lot of jobs there, soon. You may have to learn to program with something other than Visual Studio, though, because I imagine the new Health Information Network will use a lot of open source software.

Re:oh god no (3, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928727)

There will be no incentives for people that are on time...

Is not honor reward enough? Doing the right thing is its own reward.

Re:oh god no (2, Insightful)

geordie_loz (624942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928555)

Isn't the premise that money spent by the tax-payer to stimulate the economy should provide a return on investment to the tax-payer. So tax-payer pays for software development, software developer spends money and stimulates economy, software developer gives resultant software, not just the compiled, but the source, free to use in whatever way possible.

This seems far more reasonable than the tax-payer pays for software to be developed, gets nothing, or possibly some single version of some software.. Then a few years down the line the tax-payer needs to pay for the sofware they paid to be written yet again for version 2...

Re:oh god no (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928673)

this is going to cost me karma... As a software developer myself I recognize the contribution that open source makes to our commercial products (directly or indirectly as part of our development environment). Commercial software makes a lot of sense in specialized applications- built for specific clients, games (file under work of art), etc. Open source helps drive the software world- it doesn't stagnate it and it certainly is helping create more jobs in the field than it is taking away. so, in short. SHUT UP.

No. (3, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927597)

No. Why? Because open source isn't typically a large lobbying group.

Next.

Re:No. (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927823)

That's the right answer to the wrong question.

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927925)

Agreed. That's the answer to "Will Obama give stimulus to open source?" rather than the question posed by the headline.

As far as whether Obama should or not, I don't personally think it's the job of governments to support open source software financially. The way I see it, OSS is recession-proof. It will get developed whether there is money or not. Most OSS developers are willing to work now to earn rewards later.

Re:No. (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928001)

We would disagree. Look at what Project LiMux has done for Munich. While more code is good, quality code that stands the test of time and reuse is still better. Core components are ageless, and there's so much to be done. Subsidy is a reality-- we all have to eat.

Re:No. (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928527)

Subsidy is a reality-- we all have to eat.

I wish the world worked that way around me. In Miami, there are guys that spend 8 hours a day, 6 months a year standing on street corners with hand out for a "subsidy" - they certainly look hungry. I got to know a couple of them who worked near my home for over 10 years - they'd summer up north and winter in Miami, they had a well funded recreational substance consumption hobby, most years they'd clear well over $100K in off the books income.

Unfortunately, I think that easily available subsidy leads more to that kind of behavior and less to highly socially integrated people who are productive because otherwise they'd be bored.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928339)

I don't personally think it's the job of governments to support open source software financially.

I do! I do!

Am I the only one here who can see how the "free market" capitalism we have in the US is just a dodge by rich folk to make sure there's plenty of cheap labor? How they hang out this little gold ring of "success" to a large group of workers, who will buy into it like a lotto ticket, hoping that they'll be the one developer in 1,410,295 who will get venture capital so they can buy a BMW before the rug gets pulled and they're back coding for a conglomerate? Make you feel like you're some sort of filthy loser of questionable sexual ethic if you decide that having Universal Health Care is better than someone watching his child or wife die because they can't afford the medical procedure? Or that people shouldn't get medical care because they're unemployed or part-time workers? Terms like "European Socialism" are used to make you feel dirty and queer if you believe labor unions are good things that helped make a strong middle class in the US. Forget the fact that Germany, who has some of the strongest labor rights laws in the world also is the number one exporter in the world (almost 300% more exports than China). Forget the fact that even our sainted Founding Fathers had to borrow money from the French so they could fight the British and create the United States. Forget that all the "stimulus packages" and TARP bailouts together just about add up to the cost of the Iraq War and nobody was saying how the government spending all that money on the Iraq War was going to bankrupt our grandchildren and create another Great Depression. Government spending on War? No Problem! Government spending on citizens? Get away from me you dirty commie!

You dumb fucks who work 65 hours a week for management that hates you and would suck your blood from your body if it could make an extra .5% quarterly profit and you STILL can't afford to pay the full balance on your credit cards, but as long as you've got that 52" 1080p tv that you're renting from Visa you think you're on top of the world. Just don't let any of that horrible European-style Socialism infect our hallowed shores that were won with genocide against the Seminole so that we could expand slavery, make more of that cotton money and increase our power in the World, so that we could pave a way for the Cold War, Ronald Reagan and 25 cent an hour labor from funny-looking little dark people. We wouldn't want to live like those craven Swedish after all, who for all we know have reverted to eating each other because their horrible "European-style Socialism" was such a terrible failure.

Of course there should be government investment in OSS development, you stupid fucks.

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928511)

Of course there should be government investment in OSS development, you stupid fucks.

All that ranting! You could have just said "I don't understand the difference between an economic stimulus and an investment". It would have been much shorter.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928661)

You really, really need to let people subscribe to your newletter.

Re:No. (1)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928697)

Then it's time to end the conservative nanny state. just like the sig says.

Re:No. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928701)

Your rant is entirely based off of a socialist viewpoint. I'm sorry to be the one to inform you of this, but the US is not a socialist country, we're a free market republic with a representative democracy. Many of us here feel this is the best system to give us the kinds of freedoms and levels of innovation we are known for.

If you would prefer a more socialized system, you're welcome to emigrate to [insert favorite socialist country here] rather than try to undermine our government with your retarded ideas.

I don't mean to be rude.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928703)

I don't mean to be rude.... but..... WHAT... THE... FS*K... IS WRONG WITH YOU, KID!?!? Are you a commie sent here to disperse propaganda on behalf of the Obama Socialists Team? (I'm being serious).

Re:No. (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928301)

Because open source isn't typically a large lobbying group.

That's the right answer to the wrong question.

I'd say instead that's the wrong view on a very important question.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928151)

YES YES YES

Re:No. (1)

Clever7Devil (985356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928157)

I agree that it's foolish to believe that the government is going to throw money at an industry that many lobbyists will be telling them is "bad for business".

The real pitch should be as such:

Open source software is auditable for security

The talent exists to make it whatever you need it to be

The TCO of any supported OSS product is lower than the alternative

By utilizing OSS in the public sector you create jobs in both while contributing to the wealth of the nation through technological advance.

OSS is not beholden to the hardware manufacturers. This means that by using OSS you can upgrade hardware based on internal needs. As it stands now, all proprietary software follows the lead of the closed source OS providers, forcing you to upgrade software AND hardware based on their schedule.

There's so much more to be said, but you see my point. OSS is an industry that can say, "we can save you money while allowing you to create more jobs for middle-class Americans and increase your information security."

Re:No. (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928581)

By utilizing OSS in the public sector you create jobs in both

I have a hard time getting my head around this one - the creators of OSS software don't typically have paying jobs per-se, unless they're subsidized by some entity that wants their product... so, are you asking government to start employing software developers directly? As a software developer, I wouldn't be very happy to work at civil servant pay-scales.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928427)

First he should stop funding both sides of war [thenews.com.pk] . That should save a hell of lot of money and save our economy.

I thought it sold itself... (0)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927629)

If FOSS is A: better than the alternative and B: less expensive than the alternative then why would it need taxpayer handouts?

Besides, how many FOSS lobbyists are there in Washington?

Re:I thought it sold itself... (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927971)

You seem to be believing the "rational consumer" theory of economics. Please wake up to reality.

Re:I thought it sold itself... (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928467)

You seem to be believing the "rational consumer" theory of economics. Please wake up to reality.

Reality is that Walmart and McDonald's are doing really well in our depressed economy. So there seems to be something to it.

I've heard that line before (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928237)

If FOSS is A: better than the alternative and B: less expensive than the alternative then why would it need taxpayer handouts?

That's the line Microsoft trots out anytime there's a hearing about giving preference to FOSS software. MS says there doesn't need to be any preference. You made a good point about FOSS lobbyists, I'd add that FOSS doesn't have marketing budget, either. No reps wining and dining the execs, calling state legislators and reminding them how much money they're getting from proprietary software, no rides with Ballmer in the private jet.

It may take a mandate or at least a preference to get FOSS in the door. If it's a preference, then I can see legions of MS reps sending out boilerplate justification packages complete with TCO and ROI documentation that MS paid for.

So, yeah, it may take some government money and a preference to FOSS to break that marketing barrier. Hey, this is our money they're spending.

Qualified no. (2, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927631)


Probably not. The best things to do are twofold. Firstly, ensure a level playing field by mandating open and free formats, protocols and standards for all government operations. That's what Open Source really needs to compete and it's a good thing from the point of view of openness of information, maintenance and future-proofing anyway. The second thing that the government should probably do is to bloody well start doing things in-house again. None of this outsourcing to massive corporations that spend 90% of the money on managerial salaries and bonuses and

Ogg converter boxes? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927787)

Firstly, ensure a level playing field by mandating open and free formats, protocols and standards for all government operations.

How is that anywhere close to possible? Digital TV, for instance, uses MPEG-2 video and Dolby Digital audio, the same non-free patented formats used in DVD-Video. Or would you have the U.S. government splurge on another round of coupons for converter boxes that can do Theora and Vorbis?

Re:Ogg converter boxes? (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927895)

Remove software patents ?

Re:Ogg converter boxes? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927967)

Hopefully government workers aren't watching TV when they're at work.

How about this: All government documents should be in an open, well documented format. This way software vendors can compete for government contracts on level ground. Including Microsoft, who should be competing on features, not lock-in.

Re:Qualified no. (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928725)

Firstly, ensure a level playing field by mandating open and free formats, protocols and standards for all government operations.

In this case stating "level playing field" and "mandating" don't match. If you are mandating open/free formats then you are kicking out of play any group that uses closed/pay formats. While you may be happy about this setup it negates your "level playing field". A better way to go is to mandate 1) Compatibility, and 2) Cheapest AND Best product wins. THat is hard to determine. Rating cost is one thing, but rating "best" is another thing and more subjective.

You mean to Redhat, Novell and IBM? (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927643)

Hell no!!!

hey hey hey... (1)

cb88 (1410145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927763)

leave red hat out of it :-) at least they haven't joined the dark side

Sounds good (2, Interesting)

MisterSquirrel (1023517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927645)

This is a great idea... If nothing else, it might help induce certain monopolies to become more competitive and re-focus on creating better software, rather than spending its resources trying to crush its opponents.

And, as much as I would resist the government getting involved in standards-making and enforcement, it wouldn't be out of line for them to exert themselves toward making sure certain monopolies don't subvert the existing independent standards-making bodies through bribery and infiltration.

Re:Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927743)

While I dislike the large monopolies as much as the next freedom loving individual, there is no greater monopoly than government. Our taking taxpayer money will make us less competitive in the long run.

Open source doesn't need the money, and the taxpayer will thank us not to take it.

Re:Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927947)

Actually, quite a lot of open-source software was produced by taxpayer funded projects.

Re:Sounds good (1)

God of Lemmings (455435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927899)

This is a great idea... If nothing else, it might help induce certain monopolies to become more competitive and re-focus on creating better software, rather than spending its resources trying to crush its opponents.

I have to agree with the competition thing, but it also goes deeper. It would allow my employer to open source some of our projects, continue working on them, and then make money off of the support contracts.

For me, it would mean I would still have a job next month.

Great Idea (4, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927691)

The open source movement is exactly what should be funded. Create a grant application program for open source projects.

I had an argument with a microsoftie a while ago, who was convinced that open source was destroying the software industry. I countered that all it was doing was creating a rich infrastructure on top of which other industry could be built.

The open source infrastructure is a national (international) treasure that, by making infrastructure basically free, like roads and bridges, makes other projects that would have been too big and expensive to develop from scratch, almost trivial to develop.

Re:Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927811)

The open source infrastructure is a national (international) treasure that, by making infrastructure basically free

But that's COMMUNIST, big-government, tax-and-spend thinking! You are a pinko liberal!

(That's okay, so am I.)

Re:Great Idea (4, Insightful)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927963)

But how do you give money to the open source? Most probably some companies will get the money, and if they're companies, they already have some money. The problem I see is that in order to really stimulate the movement, you'd need to send each little bloke who wrote ten lines of code $5. That wouldn't help of course, because I actually believe this OSS stimulus is a dumb thing, but it would actually give money to the open source movement. Not to some "open source" companies.

It's like with helping the poor. If you want to help, give the money to the poor. Not to some charity funds which will, or will not spend the money wisely.

Re:Great Idea (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928075)

Free software needs real hardware to run on, test on, host the project on, etc. Grants for amazon S3 space or a shot in the arm to sourceforge to bring back/update the compile farm would be nice.

Re:Great Idea (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928647)

The open source movement is exactly what should be funded

They are numbnuts: http://www.nsf.gov/news/index.jsp?prio_area=5 [nsf.gov]
For those to lazy to click a link

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." With an annual budget of about $6.06 billion, we are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

Funny, I said pretty much the same thing to my (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927699)

Funny, I said pretty much the same thing to my last hooker. She said, show me the money !!

Show you the money? (0, Offtopic)

joshsnow (551754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927833)

now if she had said, "show me the money shot" i would have had some sympathy.

Re:Funny, I said pretty much the same thing to my (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928413)

That's what you get for stiffing her the last time, cheapskate!

There is no such thing as "Open Source" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927703)

See:

    http://2038bug.com/free-software.html

"State of Free and Open Source Software 2008 - A summary of the misgivings of the industry"

Not gonna happen (4, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927713)

1: You don't create jobs by adding unfair competition to struggling companies(how can companies compete with someone getting guaranteed money with no need to turn a profit?)

2: I'm pretty sure there are international laws in place which don't look too kindly on this.

Re:Not gonna happen (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927739)

You don't create jobs by adding unfair competition to struggling companies(how can companies compete with someone getting guaranteed money with no need to turn a profit?)

Sounds like the best argument I've heard for letting GM and Chrysler fail. Hardly seems fair to Ford, Honda, VW, etc that their competitors are being rewarded for failure.

Re:Not gonna happen (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927783)

"Sounds like the best argument I've heard for letting GM and Chrysler fail. Hardly seems fair to Ford, Honda, VW, etc that their competitors are being rewarded for failure."

At this point, I can't imagine why those companies wouldn't want to go into bankruptcy at this point.

It would allow them to finally shake off all the stupid union contracts that have been smothering them for decades, and rendering them unable to really compete with the world market.

Re:Not gonna happen (1)

Giometrix (932993) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928257)

You don't create jobs by adding unfair competition to struggling companies(how can companies compete with someone getting guaranteed money with no need to turn a profit?)

Sounds like the best argument I've heard for letting GM and Chrysler fail. Hardly seems fair to Ford, Honda, VW, etc that their competitors are being rewarded for failure.

I believe that those companies want GM and Chrysler to get saved because not saving them would put suppliers out of business. Honda, Toyota, etc. use many of the same suppliers as GM. Without those suppliers, it will be very costly for them to restore operations in the US.

Re:Not gonna happen (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927769)

and how about....

3: if your idea is so damn good, risk your own damn money.

Every single one of the VC driven tech booms have crashed hard because 75% of the crap is raging garbage.

Got a good idea? Then sell your home and your cars to finance it, then when it's operational look to get more investors and generate capitol the normal way. Every single VC startup I have been a part of or seen close up are nothing more than a "buddy's clubhouse" where they waste money on stupid crap and dont really use their windfall of money for the real task at hand. If you have a personal investment into the company then you will work hard to make it succeed.

If you got your beer idea on a napkin that you convinced some moron to give you $800,000 to start doing, you're gonna screw off and try to play "rich guy" until the money runs out.

The LAST thing we need is to start handing out lottery money to people with "ideas".

Re:Not gonna happen (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927857)

True but you could get some decent results with small buisness grants and low interest loans.
Handing people a sack of money isn't the way to go but making those investments just a little less risky would be a good thing.

Not a handout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927991)

(how can companies compete with someone getting guaranteed money with no need to turn a profit?)

Think of it as a government contract. They give you money, and you develop free software for them. This isn't a tax cut handout, this is public works.

Lobbyists will win... (2, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927715)

The fools in Washington are led around by their nose (and their peckers) by lobbying dollars. Open source in the government is never going to happen...especially with "quality" vendors like Diebold and SAIC jumping in to "fix things."

Re: If at First You Don't Succeed (1)

slas6654 (996022) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927937)

Lobby for money, lobby for money, and lobby again...

Open Source + Lots of money = Slavery. (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927759)

Well not quite as far but it will devalue the work of software developers and put money in the wrong hands.

Open Source at least the GNU variation of it, doesn't value the creators of the work, and assumes their time making such device is such a joy that a job well done is pay enough per say. Sure you can make money off of supporting your code consulting services etc... But the value as a developer is reduced (As there are people who just want to code, and eat, but not run small consulting businesses or deal with people saying I want X or Y etc...) By putting a Dollar Price tag on this I could see companies firing their full time developers and pay table scraps to many Open Source Developers (Which would make you wished they outsourced to India) to get their code done. Then pay the real bucks to full time people who will support and consult the product.

Without the money for Open Source most companies yea they will stay closed source but they will be paying software developers more to make the software. So that will be more money going in the Middle of the economy so it can Trickle Up and Down and a lot faster too.

But putting large funds for Open Source will mean companies who really don't care about software will get a lot of money pay some open source developers pocket change and state they are open source and keep the rest of the money for themselves.

Republicans they want to tax the rich less even at a loss of services.

Democrats want to tax the rich more for services that have so many rules and loopholes that only the rich are able to get resources to correctly apply for.

It reminds me a 5/6 years ago My state had a grant for "small" tech companies to funding for education for their employees so my boss tried to sign me up for .NET, CISCO, and/or Red Hat certification training. The first time it was rejected because they wanted more detail on each of the training, the second time it was rejected because they were Out of State classes (We live near the border of other states and you will actually travel a lot further to the In State classes. But every it gets rejected for some reason or an other we had to go back and redo everything as class schedules changed and pricing as well we had to find different classes all every time. We later gave it up as the process of getting funding for these classes cost more then just going for the class itself.
And who got these grants the large consulting firms (as many large consulting firm is often technically a small business as they are usually under 100 employees) Who have the resources to do all the legwork over and over again as it would benefit hundred workers not 3.

Re:Open Source + Lots of money = Slavery. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928343)

Open Source at least the GNU variation of it, doesn't value the creators of the work, and assumes their time making such device is such a joy that a job well done is pay enough per say.

Sigh. Not this again. Are you pretending not to know that most large scale, serious FOSS development is done by *paid* developers at large companies like IBM, Novell, Sun etc?

Oh, and it's 'per se' not 'per say'. It's Latin, and has nothing to do with the word 'say'.

Re:Open Source + Lots of money = Slavery. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928517)

I am sure that the people at the various companies like RedHat, Novell, IBM, will be angry to hear that they will not be getting any more money, because the work is joy enough.

Umm, no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927773)

No, Obama should do what presidents are supposed to do: manage government. This stimulus crap is just that... crap. The only people that are going to benefit from the stimulus are the politicians and the people they are in bed with.

Buy American (5, Funny)

joshsnow (551754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927793)

Dear Mr President, You really should be buying American products in order to stimulate economic recovery in the United States of America. May I take this opportunity to remond you that MICROSOFT is an AMERICAN CORPORATION! BUY AMERICAN! BUY AMERICAN! We love you, Mr President Sincerely, Steve Ballmer

Re:Buy American (1)

deKernel (65640) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927887)

Though I do get you are being sarcastic here, you are correct that this is one of the best ways for the US economy to get out the slump. We need to keep the money within the US economy. The only problem is that it would cut throat of many other countries, but I am not sure if that can be avoided because somebody has to pay the price for the US trade imbalances.

Re:Buy American (2, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928587)

If the U.S. government starts a policy of "Buy American", it will start a trade war. A trade war at this time will start the Great Depression II. A trade war is what started the Great Depression the first time (Smoot-Hawley Act).

Terrible Idea (1)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927799)

If government money were given to open-source projects, there would be several issues which could cause big problems.
First of all, the big idea behind a lot of open source projects is that anyone can download the source code and contribute. How do you decide who gets how much of this government money? This aspect already prevents many OSS projects from going closed-source because it is nearly impossible to gather together all members of the development community to agree on legal terms (or you just give some developers the finger and illegally drive off with their products). I can see how there may be exceptions, but surely you can see my point. Secondly, a government-funded OSS development team would basically become a government software company, competing directly with commercial developers trying to make a living in these rough times. To me, this seems wrong on many levels. But, since it's not really happening, I'm not gonna get worked up about it.

Re:Terrible Idea (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927969)

I'd have to agree.
Open source is fantastic but it doesn't mesh well with that kind of setup.

I wouldn't say the open source community should get nothing though.
Perhaps treat it like a particularly social minded club that does charity work.

Yes! (1, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927805)

For most businesses, the cost of software represents a substantial portion of their cost structure. With open source software, the businesses will be better able to retain employees, which will strengthen the economy.

The beauty of open source software is that its value to society far exceeds the cost of the effort consumed by creating it. While it does require a fixed, up-front effort, the payoff is limited only by the number of people able to use such software. Contrast this with the closed source model, in which, in an effort to maximize vendor profit, always leaves out those unable or unwilling to pay.

Most Americans work in low-margin business - doing things like agriculture, retail, etc... - providing the goods and services necessary for civilized life. It is these businesses for which the cost of software means the difference between laying off, and retaining employees. Funding OSS development is like giving them an interest-free loan which never has to be repaid. But better yet, the benefit to the economy as a whole far exceeds the cost of creating OSS.

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928181)

Your argument is not convincing because it can be applied to any property a business has to rent or buy.

For example, a business that maintains an office or store has to rent or buy a location to do business. That's a large, ongoing expense. Here's what happens if I substitute in your paragraphs:

For most businesses, the cost of an office represents a substantial portion of their cost structure. With a free office, the businesses will be better able to retain employees, which will strengthen the economy.

The beauty of a free office is that its value to society far exceeds the cost of the effort consumed by creating it. While it does require a fixed, up-front effort, the payoff is limited only by the number of people able to use the office. Contrast this with the pay for office model, in which, in an effort to maximize vendor profit, always leaves out those unable or unwilling to pay.

Most Americans work in low-margin business - doing things like agriculture, retail, etc... - providing the goods and services necessary for civilized life. It is these businesses for which the cost of an office means the difference between laying off, and retaining employees. Funding office development is like giving them an interest-free loan which never has to be repaid. But better yet, the benefit to the economy as a whole far exceeds the cost of creating free offices.

no GIVING (1, Insightful)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927819)

He should determine what's in the best interest of the contry and set policies based on that. I'm sick of people talking about how Washington GIVES to this group or that group. If we need to stimulate the economy, the result is that certain groups will receive money. The result is the same, but the mindset of "Washington GIVES" vs. "Washington does what's in the best interest of the country" is very different. The main problems with the stimulus is that much of it was about GIVING to certain groups then justifying how it would stimulate the economy rather than figuring out what will best stimulate the economy then figuring out where to spend the money.

Open source in a closed environment (2, Funny)

hardihoot (1044510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927829)

Bureau of Open Source Software Technology: 80% of funds received

This bureau will consist of individuals attending seminars in the Bahamas and Hawaii to determine the best Open Source methods. Limo's will of course be required in all travel modes to ensure a comfortable atmosphere when deciding upon Open Source issues.

  • Office of Environmental Impact of Open Source Technology: 10% of funds received
  • Office of Open Source Technology Public Awareness: 5% of funds received
  • Office of Feeling Good about Open Source Technology: 4% of funds received
  • Open Source Develpment and Implementation: 1% of funds received

Result: Except for the Office of Open Source Technology, everyone will continue using existing vendors because there was no funding available to migrate all the databaes and custom applications to the Open Source format.

Not Until I Get My Free House and Car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927841)

Obama promised me a house and car, I WANT THEM NOW.

Signed,

An Obama Voter

Short answer (1)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927939)

No

Not with my tax dollars!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26927943)

Come on people. Get a clue. All Obama is doing is borrowing from future generations. This country is drowning in debt, yet we want more "stimulus" aka pork barrel projects? We need to cut back on spending period, not continue to spend until the dollar is worth nil and the Chinese and Middle Eastern banks own the US.

The US economy is crumbling, and giving away dollars willy-nilly is a big part of it.

I pay my taxes, I'm saving for my kids' college, and I'm living within my means. This deficit spending, borrowing money for every little project, HAS to stop. Pay off the debt now!

Good Lord No! (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927959)

Give money to people for Open Source and you'll have a ton of shitty projects designed solely to get money from the Government.

Most of the rest of the projects will be companies claiming free money for projects they would have paid for in-house, but they could get the government to pay for a portion of it instead. The projects won't be useful to anyone else, and especially won't be useful without the in-house project that goes with it.

And no, GPL'ing all the government-funded software isn't the answer, either. At the very least, the companies will just find a way around that license.

Re:Good Lord No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928501)

Well, I don't really think that the govt. should be doing ANY of this spending, but I suppose I'd rather see some money coming in to ESTABLISHED open source projects than some of the other ways it is being wasted.

Obama, get your hands out of my wallet!

Stimulus? (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927979)

All economists agree that government spending is important during times of contraction, as it helps to make up the shortfall in the economy from the side of the consumer, and helps "stimulate" the economy. Another advantage of government spending is that it's usually an investment in infrastructure that will last many decades and provide a platform for future growth in the economy.

      However, the United States has not taken advantage of the good times. They have failed to reduce their debt during those times- and in fact have increased it to record proportions. Not only that, but they have not even managed to maintain their infrastructure. This is at both the state and federal level. So we went INTO this mess already up to our ears in debt.

      People fail to understand that every dollar the US prints reduces the real value of all the other dollars that currently exist by a tiny fraction - because after all, fiat currency is only hard to forge pieces of paper. Once the shared belief in the value of that worthless piece of paper is destroyed, it will quickly return to its intrinsic value - ZERO. Ask Mugabe.

      Printing trillions of dollars at a time when you are already close to 60 trillion (when you count social security) in debt, and the WORLD GDP is only 150 trillion, will destroy the currency in short order. The US can't afford to bail ANYONE out - they are too deep in debt already. Yet the political temptation to appear to "do something" is too strong - despite the fact that it's already too late. The "stimulus" is currently designed to put almost $300BN back into the pockets of the consumer in the form of tax relief [recovery.gov] - consumers that are already deep in debt. That 300BN will disappear in a couple months, as people pay their overdue credit cards, mortgage payments and utility bills, or buy houses thinking that this is "the bottom" (HAH! The "bottom" will be in 2015 or so, because all bubbles are V shaped and this one started in 1998) - and THEN WHAT?

      Well, $126BN will be spent on infrastructure - great, let's do what FDR did and build, or re-build, interstates. Surely a plan that worked 70 years ago is still valid today, right? So after giving jobs to all the immigrants again (because who ELSE works with a shovel nowadays?), what's left? A few hundred billion to be spent giving cheap drugs to the elderly and other programs to win political points. Oh and NASA is going to get $2BN, so that should cover the fuel for 2 shuttle launches...

      Frankly by the time enough "infrastructure" is built that the government begins to require turbines from GE for their wind farms, or technological equipment for the new "smart grid", we will all be out of a job already, burning money by the bucketful in winter in order to keep warm.

      Oh and don't forget Chrysler and GM's "recovery plan" is to apparently ask the government for more money every quarter.

      America still hasn't woken up and realized that this is not just another "recession". This is the breaking of the previous consumer model, and a complete dissolution of the "American way of life". We can't ALL have SUV's, we can't ALL have big screen TV's, and we can't ALL live in dream houses. Especially not when it's bought on "credit". Well America, the credit has run out.

Re:Stimulus? (3, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928717)

All economists agree that government spending is important during times of contraction, as it helps to make up the shortfall in the economy from the side of the consumer, and helps "stimulate" the economy. Another advantage of government spending is that it's usually an investment in infrastructure that will last many decades and provide a platform for future growth in the economy.

This is patently false. Not all economists agree that government spending is a "good thing" in times of contraction. Here is an economist who argues that it is a bad thing: http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=5408 [capmag.com] He is by the way a staunch conservative/libertarian who tends to support Republican politics (although I have seen him write columns condemning "spend, spend" Republican policies).

Equal opportunities for 'open' and 'closed' source (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927995)

Rather than promote just open or just closed source, I think it would be far more productive if government agencies would be required to consider both open and closed source solutions alongside each other, and then select the best candidate based on 'best-fit' for any given task.

Obama doesn't decide that (1)

YetAnotherProgrammer (1075287) | more than 5 years ago | (#26927999)

The states distribute the funds. The funding is specific on what it is used for. The House of Representatives are really the decision makers there. They are the ones with the power to spend money.

No way (1)

thedarkstorm (468783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928013)

I think the guy has enough problems with fixing our problems in America than to worry about Open Source software.

Yea! And then they can regulate it, too! (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928035)

How? Who knows. Some lobby group somewhere will have an idea. Careful what you wish for...

Barack is good at 'special' stimulation (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928039)

Apparently Barack Obama has been giving his wife some special stimulation [tinyurl.com] . [SFW]

Gayest story of the year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928059)

This wins, hands down, as the gayest slashdot article of the year. Good going to the retards who thought this one up.

yes, he should (1)

Eternal Annoyance (815010) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928083)

But he should hire companies to contribute to specific projects (those project should be of interest to the state in some way). The check over these companies is simple: ask the project about the contributions of said company. If the company is the sole contributer to the project the project should be checked by a different (random) company or a coder hired by the state.

the government should.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928229)

embrace open source

Short answer: NO. (3, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928231)

Obama is an elected official, he is obliged to serve the will of the people of the United States.

To be isolationist about it: this is a stimulus from US taxpayers for the recovery of the US economy. Open Source knows no borders, stimulus into open source will benefit the whole world, not just the US.

To be union-minded about it: open source is a disruptive technology, it destroys established highly profitable service industries and replaces their products with free alternatives. It reduces the scale of the software economy from one that includes compensation for development, sales, marketing, investor returns and support to one that only generates significant revenue in support. In short, open source is a short-term net destroyer of jobs.

To be PAC minded about it: open source doesn't have the deep pockets of the established software industry. There are 25 closed source lobbyists in Washington D.C. for every open source one.

In summary: the American voter doesn't think beyond next week's paycheck, whether or not they can afford the next larger flat-screen TV, or to keep that 4500 sq. ft. McMansion they bought 4 years ago when the balloon payment comes due. Obama is up for re-election, and he has a mandate to make Joe the Plumber happy before November 2012. Investments in Open Source have long-term global returns that are difficult to demonstrate during a 30 second sound-bite on the nightly news. Regardless of how massive that ultimate ROI might be, it's not something that will put Barack back in office in 2012.

Sorry OSS, you are noble, just and worthy, but you've just got no chance of making it on American Idol.

A tentative 'no' (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928235)

Getting the government unhooked from the Microsoft money train would have far-reaching effects in the industry.

First, you have a large segment of the IT world who know nothing outside of the Microsoft way of doing things. Changing up what they're familiar with, and many paid to go to school to learn (hello all you MCSEs), renders many of these people unemployable.

Second, for many government systems, there's a lot of aftermarket products commonly used that will be rendered obsolete. Antivirus, backup, etc. etc.

If Obama's worried about saving or creating jobs, brash action isn't the way to go about it.

Spend money on dragging illegals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928317)

out of their beds and back over the border, and you will do 1000x as good.

Sure the government should use open source and contribute to open source, but they shouldn't just throw money at it.

If we continue with the current plan it won't matter anyway, by this time next year the DOW will be below !000 and we will have 25% inflation. When we are spending $8 on loaf of bread, $12 for a #1 combo at McDonalds, software is going to be the last thing on everyones minds.

already tried that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26928355)

Mitch Kapor's "Chandler" project (or was it Rhapsody? hmmm). Lots of money, lots of objectives (technical, societal, and even some for end users), and several "rock star" developers.

They were profiled by mainstream media on a weekly basis. Somebody even wrote a fawning book about it. The results? Zip.

Then there's Mr. Negroponte's "One Laptop Per Child" project, which is not open source software, but might have similarities to a hypothetical publicly funded OSS project. Again, too many objectives, too many opinions, too many egos. The private sector allocates resources more efficiently (and ruthlessly).

Only in common sense ways (0, Redundant)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928465)

And not with the expenditure of money, at least not through handouts. I have not read and will not RTFA because I can tell you exactly what this piece is inspired by: jealousy. I want my piece of the handout too!

The government should simply mandate the use of open standards, not to include anything invented or bastardized by Microsoft. (That is a redundant statement but it simply must be made.)

I'd rather the government stayed out of this (1)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928539)

Part of the advantage of open source is that they are independent of the corporate world because they are not financially beholden to corporations in the same way a closed source project is.

Taking all that wonderful independence, then making them dependent on the government effectively gives the government influence over these open source projects, which to me takes some of the gleam off of the whole open source movement.

There may very well be a real advantage to having the government make part of the computer infrastructure "free" the same way the government makes roads "free", but for now I'd rather the open source movement be left to its own devices. If a nation becomes dependent on an open source project and that project becomes financially threatened, then sure; that government can prop up that open source project with tax dollars, but until then let's leave it alone.

Geez, I almost sound like one of those libertarian wackos.

I don't think so (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928637)

Open source software seems to be moving along at a good pace all by itself. It doesn't need any help. Give the money to someone who needs it.

Strings attached (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928645)

FOSS (free/open-source software) has been doing fine without government funding so far. Federal money always comes with strings attached. Do you really want Congress (or more likely some low-level, unqualified bureaucrat) meddling in your development project?

Now, funding for the government to migrate to using to FOSS would make a lot of sense to me, but directly funding development? No thanks. I code better without Uncle Same breathing down my neck.

It would make more sense (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26928709)

to think of ways to set aside funds for small businesses; ways that would encourage them to adopt and develop open source software.

We might take the Depression era grants that went to artists to decorate many public spaces as a model. Modest grants to people who work in information technology to create freely redistributable solutions public informatics problems would have several important advantages.

(1) Such a plan maintains a domestic informatics workforce in the face of increased pressure to move jobs to low wage countries. Maintaining and increasing the skills of this workforce will make it attractive for industry to turn to it when the economy improves.

(2) Mandating interoperability with open, non-proprietary standards improves the competitiveness of the domestic IT industry, where businesses are too often driven by premature efforts to create some kind of market niche where they ar protected from competition.

(3) The grants should require that the small businesses have a plant to use the work to increase their capabilities, and particularly favor the development of new kinds of technology or application for technology.

(4) Focusing the stimulus money on small businesses allows technology bets to be spread across a greater variety of approaches; it is less likely to introduce what is in effect central planning into engineering decisions. It is also unlikely to strengthen the hand of one big player against all the others because of its skill at obtaining Federal money.

(5) Low margins and ready sweat equity will encourage greater adoption of free software.

(6) There is already a Federal mechanism for doing this; the Small Business Innovative Research grant program.

SBIR currently pays for mostly a lot of boondoggles, although even boondoggles if they are kept close enough to home can be stimulative. However, with the right requirements placed on grant applications the value created can be maximized -- important if we want to avoid the inflationary effects of stimulation. Favoring free software would mean that nearly any work done in an area results in public value. Even bad or poorly implemented systems contain lessons that can be studied and built upon; when the system is proprietary, those lessons die.

Often the problem with SBIR is that work doesn't really result in something that can be commercialized. Even if the system is good, often people can't market it. So perhaps the most politically effective way to do this is to require that if the developer does not make a commercial success of the software within a fixed period, that it be released under a free license.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>