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New Coalition To Promote OSS To Feds

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the unite-and-conquer dept.

GNU is Not Unix 99

LinuxScribe writes "Red Hat, Mozilla, Novell, Oracle, and Sun are among the 50-plus member Open Source for America coalition that will be officially announced today by Tim O'Reilly at OSCON. The OSA will be a strong advocate for free and open source software, and plans to boost US Federal government support and adoption of FOSS. From their website: 'The mission of OSA is to educate decision makers in the US Federal government about the advantages of using free and open source software; to encourage the Federal agencies to give equal priority to procuring free and open source software in all of their procurement decisions; and generally provide an effective voice to the US Federal government on behalf of the open source software community, private industry, academia, and other non-profits.'"

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99 comments

Trolls, Report In HERE. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780351)

Troll roll call.

Elton John Using the John (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780407)

Or call me UrinalCake for short like my other Homosexual Colored Persons Foundation of America (HCPFA) buddies.

Need a lobbyist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28781053)

By the way, need a lobbyist? Just send in Stallman, he does a great Saint Ignucius routine, just ask him about EMacs virgins.

I heard he tried lobbying the last US government, Condi thought his joke about taking her virginity was really hilarious. Right before she kicked him in the nuts. ;)

I love the troll roll call idea btw. Could Taco just setup a script to always make the first post automatically be a troll roll call, with every post below it automatically modded to -1 Troll (and loving it)?

Re:Trolls, Report In HERE. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28783093)

Suckmi Duong reporting in.

Careful. (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#28780393)

If you get the government too enthused about Free Software they may decide to "help" it.

Re:Careful. (1)

highonv8splash (1054018) | about 5 years ago | (#28780657)

Just like they "helped" the financial industry.

Re:Careful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780849)

dream on, dumbshit. Financial collapse happened because capitalism doesn't work, not because we had too much regulation.

Republicans must be the dumbest motherfuckers on Earth to think that the problem was that the markets weren't free enough.

Re:Careful. (2, Insightful)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 5 years ago | (#28781063)

Financial collapse happened because capitalism doesn't work, not because we had too much regulation.

Correction, it happened precisely because capitalism works. The problem is that capitalism doesn't care about greed, or really any other human condition. That's why we had regulations, but I think that the regulations were relaxed in favor of a self governing policy. The problem is that when you have greedy bastards running the show, they do very little self governing.

Nice try, though.

Re:Careful. (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 5 years ago | (#28781319)

If every capitalist system eventually needs to be brought under control because of human conditions, isn't that kinda the same as capitalism never works? I mean, what you're saying is that it would work fine if people weren't involved. Capitalism is a method of humans interacting together, so if you take out the humans it isn't anything at all.

Re:Careful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28781989)

Perhaps but capitalism doesn't work in the same way that perfect democracies and anarchy don't work either. Regulated capitalism works. Often imperfectly and major mistakes like the recent credit market happen but it works. Like any other human endeavor, we'll have fix and revisit from time to time.

Re:Careful. (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 5 years ago | (#28782859)

If every capitalist system eventually needs to be brought under control because of human conditions, isn't that kinda the same as capitalism never works? I mean, what you're saying is that it would work fine if people weren't involved. Capitalism is a method of humans interacting together, so if you take out the humans it isn't anything at all.

I'm not following your logic. Are you suggesting that control over your own actions, or over man made systems is unnecessary? Perhaps you are instead suggesting that capitalism was supposed to be a system free of controls or regulations?

Capitalism is a form of government, which is a societal regulatory system. So I definitely disagree with your last statement.

Re:Careful. (1)

thrash242 (697169) | about 5 years ago | (#28785061)

Capitalism is a form of government, which is a societal regulatory system.

Capitalism is not a form of government--it is an economic system. The two may or may not be connected, but they're not the same thing.

Re:Careful. (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 5 years ago | (#28799359)

Capitalism is a form of government, which is a societal regulatory system.

Capitalism is not a form of government--it is an economic system. The two may or may not be connected, but they're not the same thing.

Sorry for that, I meant to say democracy but I fell into the trap of mixing up the form of economy with the form of government. La Menita is back in season so at least for a few more months now I should have functional levels of caffeine in my bloodstream :)

Re:Careful. (1)

gtall (79522) | about 5 years ago | (#28782923)

Bullshit, what you call capitalism ain't. You set up a strawman of unrestricted freedom and then attempt to impress us by blowing it down.

The "free" in "free market" refers to freedom of entry and exit. It doesn't mean free to act like rapacious beast. The "free" in "free market" always required law and regulation to constrain people's behavior so that entry and exit remain free.

There was a rage among the psuedo-intellectuals in tenured positions (who discovered Marxism during the 60's) to claim that there were no failed examples of Marxism because it had never been really tried. They conveniently forgot that it was the attempts at producing it which failed. Likewise, your strawman notion of capitalism is also an ideal that will always fail. The problem is your definition...like Marx and Engle's system for Communism. Now lets discuss whether the attempts at "Capitalism" work better than the attempts at Communism.

Re:Careful. (2, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | about 5 years ago | (#28781567)

Greed corrupts; absolute greed corrupts absolutely. Welcome to capitalism, comrade.

Re:Careful. (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 5 years ago | (#28782891)

Greed corrupts; absolute greed corrupts absolutely. Welcome to capitalism, comrade.

You must be naive. Welcome to life, friend.

Re:Careful. (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 years ago | (#28785477)

Which would by definition kinda not be capitalism after all right?

It doesn't matter if the "government" is really the government or not. If anyone's bossing the economy around, it's not capitalism.

Re:Careful. (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 5 years ago | (#28799339)

Which would by definition kinda not be capitalism after all right?

It doesn't matter if the "government" is really the government or not. If anyone's bossing the economy around, it's not capitalism.

No I think that's wrong. Capitalism allows for regulation and restriction. I think you misinterpreted the "restricted" part about government intervention with "prohibited."

Re:Careful. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28781127)

Capitalism works, only not in combination with democracy.

Re:Careful. (3, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 5 years ago | (#28781167)

The Republicans do not think the markets were not free enough to prevent collapse.

They think that they can get more power and money for themselves by promising a freer market.

Just like the Democrats think they can get more power and money for themselves by promising more regulation.

They divided the population neatly in two parts and picked their positions to get more power and money.

Voters must be the dumbest motherfuckers on Earth to think that the major parties have the interests of the people in mind.

Re:Careful. (1)

alexborges (313924) | about 5 years ago | (#28782883)

Now THATS insightful.

Re:Careful. (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 5 years ago | (#28785859)

What the fuck are you talking about? Apparently you haven't paid much attention to history. The democrats have totally bought into Friedmanism just like the republicans. Welcome to America. Clinton was as free market as any republican president has been. In fact, a lot of the finance deregulation occurred under his watch (and the legalization of CDSs). Obama isn't likely to prove much different given what his administration has stated and done to date. Apparently the dumbest motherfuckers on Earth are the ones who actually believe the platitudes espoused by these parties rather than what they actually fucking do.

Re:Careful. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | about 5 years ago | (#28788021)

The democrats have totally bought into Friedmanism just like the republicans. Welcome to America. Clinton was as free market as any republican president has been.

No they didn't. Neither Democrats nor Republicans come close to Milton Friedman [wikipedia.org] in standing for a free market. Both advocate and want government interference in the economy and markets.

Falcon

Re:Careful. (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 5 years ago | (#28788957)

lol...we've deregulated, gone to war, supported brutal dictators, and overturned governments because of Friedmanism and you're going to tell me they don't buy into it? Perhaps Friedman himself would have taken it farther but to deny his influence in modern America is exceptionally naive.

Re:Careful. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | about 5 years ago | (#28809633)

we've deregulated

Deregulated? More like changed regulations not dropped them. Mortgage companies were encouraged to loan to under qualified people. That is to make bigger loans than borrowers were qualified to borrow. Regulations barring redlining [wikipedia.org] were taken too far. As was the Community Reinvestment Act [wikipedia.org] , which was meant to reduce redlining. Yes the Community Reinvestment Act was passed and became law in 1977 but it was changed in 1989, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2005, 2007, and 2008. Two of the mortgage companies that had high mortgage defaults were Fanny Mae [wikipedia.org] and Freddy Mac [wikipedia.org] , and they were created by the federal government.

supported brutal dictators, and overturned governments because of Friedmanism

None of which is true. No matter how many tymes it's told a lie is still a lie. Friedman opposed dictators and coups against democratically elected governments. He believed economic freedom would lead to political freedom but he did not support dictatorships. "Defaming Milton Friedman [britannica.com] " disputes the efforts to discredit Milton Friedman. One such effort, which you allude to here, is his supposed support for Augusto Pinochet [wikipedia.org] the army general who lead the coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende. Friedman never advised Pinochet or accepted money from the regime. Yes he went to Chile, where after he was invited by a private foundation he gave public lectures. He was offered two honorary degrees from Chilean universities which he turned down.

Perhaps Friedman himself would have taken it farther but to deny his influence in modern America is exceptionally naive.

No, what is naive, or passing the blame, is accusing Friedman of the problems caused by governments as well as the overthrow of a democratically elected government. If you want to blame someone for these blame politicians and the US intelligence system. It was Nixon and Kissinger along with the CIA who supported Pinochet. Ford and again Kissinger then supported Indonesian President Suharto's invasion of the independent country of East Timor. Approximately 200,000 East Timorese [gwu.edu] , one third of the population, was massacred afterwards. Neither had anything to do with Milton Friedman, the only thing that mattered was that those being supported was anti-communist.

Milton Friedman on the other hand did support the opening of the bamboo curtain [wikipedia.org] , China. That was the one thing he had in common with Nixon and Ford. He thought a freer economy would lead to freer politics as well.

Falcon

Re:Careful. (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 5 years ago | (#28813017)

Yeah, I remember when I first learned to use google. Listen, you're going to have to actually learn to read books to get the truth rather than from dipshits on the internet. As for Friedman not supporting dictators, etc...sorry but everywhere his students went pain, suffering, and death went with them and they went all over the world (and yes, especially South America). On the surface he of course does not support these things but his progeny tell a completely different story. How fucking stupid do you think he is? Finally, fuck the Community Reinvestment Act. I suppose you've never heard of Glass-Steagall? lol Your knowledge of history is extremely superficial. It's what comes from learning everything from wikipedia and google searches. Please, for the love of god, start reading books.

Re:Careful. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | about 5 years ago | (#28813893)

Yeah, I remember when I first learned to use google. Listen, you're going to have to actually learn to read books to get the truth rather than from dipshits on the internet.

I have read books. I only have a fraction of the books and magazines I've bought but I still have 100 plus books and hundreds more magazines. These books and magazines range from culture to economics to science and technology. I bought Adam Smith's "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [amazon.com] " which I gave to my younger sister as well as "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution [amazon.com] " which is on my bookshelf right behind me. I subscribe to "Reason [reason.com] " magazine and regularly read the "Economist [economist.com] ". Besides reading I've also learned from my family. One of my sister's a Certified Public Accountant [wikipedia.org] who runs her own accounting business. Her husband is a Certified Financial Planner [wikipedia.org] who has run his run business as well as worked as a daytrader.

My family started in the low income bracket, my dad retired as an enlisted airman in the US Air Force. And while my mom raised 3 children she worked her way through a technical school to become a lab tech in a hospital. All three of us children worked our way at least partially through college. My older sister's now a nurse. And not only does my younger sister run her own business she's also a property owner. Among others she owns the apartment building I live in. Now I haven't gotten a Bachelor's degree never mind the PhD I wanted. But that was because of an accident I had while in college. Due to an injury and disability I survived my college degree plans were put on hold. And now I don't know when, or if, I'll be able to start taking classes again. I am hoping though that I can get back to college where I plan to study international business and economics.

On the surface he of course does not support these things but his progeny tell a completely different story.

Yea and all Germans were responsible for Hitler.

I suppose you've never heard of Glass-Steagall?

I know about the Glass-Steagall Act [wikipedia.org] , which created the FDIC and some banking regulations.

Your knowledge of history is extremely superficial. It's what comes from learning everything from wikipedia and google searches.

Your knowledge of me is what is extremely superficial. And on that note I'm ending this.

Falcon

Re:Careful. (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 5 years ago | (#28814847)

So I guess you know that Glass-Steagall was defanged, right? I would classify this under "deregulation".

You're right, I don't know shit about you. That said, I'm glad you're reading stuff buy people like Adam Smith. However, most people don't really know how the world spins. Read something like The Shock Doctrine. It's a bit long, but everything she writes is annotated. I think you will get a better feel for what Friedman stands for after reading that. You can add Confessions of an Economic Hitman as well. Both books go extensively into what Friedman's ideas inspired. Friedman isn't Adam Smith. He's an extreme capitalist who pretty much believes that the ends justify the means. Finally, you're obviously a young guy so good luck to you on getting into school, just don't go studying econ at the University of Chicago...

Friedman isn't Adam Smith (1)

falconwolf (725481) | about 5 years ago | (#28815045)

He's an extreme capitalist who pretty much believes that the ends justify the means

Where does this come from?

Finally, you're obviously a young guy so good luck to you on getting into school, just don't go studying econ at the University of Chicago...

No I'm not. I wish what I know now I knew when I was young. If I could I'd roll back tyme at least 12 years but preferably 30 plus.

just don't go studying econ at the University of Chicago...

I'd rather study under Milton Friedman than others, especially John Maynard Keynes [wikipedia.org] . If not Friedman then perhaps Friedrich Hayek [wikipedia.org] or Ludwig von Mises [wikipedia.org] .

Falcon

Re:Careful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28793471)

I agree, Barack Obama and George W. Bush work for the same people. To believe that there is anything happening in washington nt based on a corporate agenda you are naive.

It might have worked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28782901)

If they had just let those stupid casino investment banks with their insane "products" collapse and go bankrupt instead of bailing them out. And having those same economic snakeoil salesmen in charge of the Fed and Treasury just keeps making it worse. There is no credible reason the taxpayer should be forced to subsidize hedged and derivative gambling bets, nor should the real economy and our money creation be tied in so many ways to that *blatant* casino business. If they want to gamble with their pseudo products, let them, but keep them airgapped from the important economy. We don't bailout gambling losses in vegas for people, we shouldn't bailout to the tune of trillions that wall street casino action either.

Re:Careful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28787371)

Funny how the economic collapse happened in 2007, right after the Dems got Congress, and blossomed to a full scale recession with no bottom in sight after the Presidential inauguration.

Election year 2010 will be a milestone for economic recovery, when control of the US Congress returns to the Republicans, a party that presided over the best economic times the US has ever had, and who have the guts to actually stop spending and start the economy back on track.

Re:Careful. (1)

Xtifr (1323) | about 5 years ago | (#28784401)

If you get the government too enthused about Free Software they may decide to "help" it.

Yeah, unlike industry, which always has all our best interests at heart....

Our best hope is to make sure that nobody uses Free/Libre Software. That way, there's guaranteed to be no bad influences. :)

(Frankly, I don't think SELinux is that bad a result; if more gov't help is along those lines, I think we'll do fine.)

Just what Washington Needs... (1)

happy_place (632005) | about 5 years ago | (#28780395)

Yay! More Lobbyists! Only they won't have any money... cuz they're all free... :) I bet they'll have a lot of success...

Re:Just what Washington Needs... (2, Insightful)

siloko (1133863) | about 5 years ago | (#28780583)

Only they won't have any money . . .

Well a quick scan of revenues on Wikipedia puts the named corporations' annual revenues last year at over USD24 Billion. Small change to you no doubt but probably enough to bend an ear or two in Washington DC.

Re:Just what Washington Needs... (1)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#28781173)

Say what now? More lobbyists? It's not more, it's different lobbyists. The government has no room, physically, for more lobbyists. So don't kid yourself, nowadays when a lobbyist comes in, another lobbyist goes out.

Re:Just what Washington Needs... (1)

jank1887 (815982) | about 5 years ago | (#28781715)

Every agency right now is being asked to do more with less, or at least do the same with less. (even the DoD). When I first proposed a few pieces of FOSS a couple years ago (a PDF creator instead of Adobe product, Octave unless Matlab really needed, Paint.net vs. photoshop, etc.) I got the response "We don't do freeware here." As he said it I envisioned visions (yes, I know) of 3-1/2" floppies full of shareware and viruses being tossed about between friends 15 years ago. Promoting FOSS to the government should be a good thing. Convincing government that supporting development of FOSS would be a better thing (e.g., if I could spend up to 5% of my time helping tweak Elmer or Salome or Octave)

There's a public benefit to generating quality free software. It becomes an established resource for others to use without spending additional capital, thus allowing capital to be spent on other things better focused on their bottom line. Will a few commercial entities suffer? Maybe. Probably. Shouldn't be my concern. It's the commercial sector's job to adapt to the market, not my job to maintain the status quo.

I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780401)

Find an OSS replacement that can do what Active Directory, BitLocker, and Exchange can do, and a lot of companies would jump to it.

Bitlocker != loopback mounted encryption or TrueCrypt. BitLocker has two advantages over standard FDE systems. First, since it uses a TPM chip, it requires no passwords or supervised access at boot time (unless configured explictly to do so). This allows people to log onto a machine as a user, but have no access to other user's items, even if they pull out a recovery CD and reboot the machine. The second BitLocker advantage is that it detects tampering. With existing FDE systems, one can replace binaries with keyloggers, and nobody would notice. BitLocker, the TPM would notice a different value and not return a decryption key.

And TrouSers or tboot is a nice proof of concept, but nowhere near a workable solution that can be used.

Exchange forces companies to use AD, and once a company has an AD infrastructure, there is no point in using OpenLDAP or another directory structure.

Re:I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780569)

>Find an OSS replacement that can do what Active Directory, BitLocker, and Exchange can do, and a lot of companies would jump to it.

Samba 4 can do what Active Directory can do.

OpenChange can do what Exchange can do.

Alfresco can do what Sharepoint can do.

I have never heard of any company using BitLocker.

Re:I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (2, Interesting)

gblackwo (1087063) | about 5 years ago | (#28780701)

Omnicare, one of our nations largest pharmacies which deals with personal information like medical history, billing information, and insurance records uses Bitlocker to secure their laptops.

Re:I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 5 years ago | (#28781141)

Samba 4 is still alpha software - not something someone is going to commit an entire organisation to using.

OpenChange, according to their website, doesn't seem to be an actual solution but more of an implementation of the MAPI protocols in library format. And they also are alpha, with a production class release 'to be announced'.

Alfresco looks good, but lacks integration with any office product (OpenOffice.Org or Microsoft Office), and as such requires a lot of manual work when collaborating on documents held in it.

I'm not touting Microsoft here, but people need to stop googling for alternatives and then proudly holding them as alternatives to proven products in the market place. It decreases credibility when two out of three responses are not even touting *themselves* as production standard.

Re:I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (2, Insightful)

edwardd (127355) | about 5 years ago | (#28780607)

Mod parent up.

These are certainly areas that need improvement, and if garnering government adoption is a goal, they should be addresses. It's not that there are no open source solutions to these problems, it's that they are not yet mature (as is the case with TrouSers and Samba 4) or that they are not as fully integrated. More importantly, the solutions that are available don't have a massive marketing machine behind them.

Just about everything that you can do with closed source software, you can do with open source. The problems are largely around usability and marketing. PHB's go with the "politically safe" choices, government PHB's even more so.

Re:I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (1)

mattcasters (67972) | about 5 years ago | (#28780855)

Yeah, they ought to gather some sort of consortium of open source companies to lobby with the gove... oh wait.

Re:I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (1)

init100 (915886) | about 5 years ago | (#28780821)

With existing FDE systems, one can replace binaries with keyloggers, and nobody would notice. BitLocker, the TPM would notice a different value and not return a decryption key.

How does this work? Does the TPM read the BitLocker binary directly from disk? Or is there any other way that it can make sure that the BitLocker binary hasn't been altered?

Re:I'd like to see some OSS hurdles addressed... (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 years ago | (#28787161)

The TPM boot process works off of "scan the next segment to be loaded and executed, pass the hash to the TPM". The TPM then keeps track of the hash process and when asked to unseal a key, either hands the key over if the cumulative hash matches, or refuses.

The TPM never is an active part of the boot process, it just sits there, accepts hashes, then either hands a key over, or doesn't.

Advantages of this in a FDE system:

Replacing the preboot authorization (PBA) code cannot be done without detection.
The TPM can be configured to ask for a password before unsealing the key. Too many wrong guesses, it will delay longer and longer.
The TPM is shipped disabled, and has to be explicitly enabled in BIOS.
Using a TPM for key storage means a machine boot unattended and can handle multiple users, but booting from other media is prevented. Say two people are sharing a laptop, neither could get at the other's files unless they have root/Administrator access.

Disadvantages:

The chip isn't hardened. A well heeled attacker who has access to a chip fab could probably disassemble the chip and pull out the sealed keys.
An unintended upgrade or change (enabling or disabling Hyper-V) without resealing the new code may result in the TPM not unsealing the key.
Not many machines have TPM chips.
Concerns about "trusted computing" being used for hardware-based DRM.

Truecrypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28781425)

I've heard some fishy things about the authors of Truecrypt - actually, I've heard that the authors of Truecrypt ARE the government. See Crypto AG.

Re:Truecrypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28786703)

This is an argument that comes up from time to time. Consider the two scenarios:

Scenario 1: TrueCrypt is not. Your data is protected, move along.

Scenario 2: TrueCrypt is actually made by the Illuminati. Said group has a delimma on their hands. Should they do anything, in any means to tip their hand that TC has some vulnerability (that none of the many open source reviewers have found), TC will be abandoned. So, even if They (TM) had the ability to get into TC volumes, the information could not be used, unless its some earth shattering intel. Tipping their hand for almost anything but a major D-Day like invasion or massive nuclear attack would result in the loss of this intel avenue.

Non-Profits? (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 5 years ago | (#28780405)

1. Create open source software
2. Promote it to money grubbing politicians
3. ????
4. Non-profit!

Re:Non-Profits? (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | about 5 years ago | (#28780671)

Sell $5,000 Suppoer contracts to the Feds for $25,000 each.

And of course 20% for the warranty.

Re:Non-Profits? (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | about 5 years ago | (#28780927)

In regards to your tag, in looking at the wikipedia entry on transhumanism, it is very interesting that the first issue of h+ the transhumanism magazine bears a striking resemblance to HL2 boxart. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:H%2B_Cover_1.jpg [wikipedia.org] She even looks like Alyx Vance.

It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28780419)

To point out to the feds that if one department actually sponsors the writing of a piece of code, by virtue of it being open source, other branches of the government would be able to take advantage of it in some way. What government is really looking for is platforms to write end to end systems on.

But there is a problem. Government is not about doing a job efficiently, for either political party. It is about spreading the wealth around and bringing bucks to your home state. It's not really wrong, its just how democracy actually is. Republicans say they are against this, but, man, every year the US Senate bought another LPD because they were made in Trent Lotts home state, until now the USA has like almost 20 little aircraft carriers about the same size as the 2 the British operate, and that's on top of its nimitzs. And George W Bush certainly kept Johnson Space Center in Texas rolling...

Now if Microsoft were actually politically smart, they would put federal systems development centers in the northeast. Washington state just isn't well, important enough politically for government work...

They already do (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 years ago | (#28780499)

Now if Microsoft were actually politically smart, they would put federal systems development centers in the northeast. Washington state just isn't well, important enough politically for government work...

Microsoft has a conspicuous office in Reston, VA. They probably have more in the metro DC area. The problem for them is that, as crazy as it may sound, they are just a lemur fighting the 800lb gorillas like Lockheed IT, Northrop Grumman IT, Boeing IT, BAE Systems IS and General Dynamics IT who have significantly larger services groups, clout and connections.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | about 5 years ago | (#28780695)

Washington state just isn't well, important enough politically for government work...

Therein lies the best argument for Cascadian secession ever.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1)

mattcasters (67972) | about 5 years ago | (#28780935)

Government is about spreading the wealth around and bringing bucks to your home state. It's not really wrong, its just how democracy actually is.

Really, is that what democracy is all about? Darned, I was wrong all along!
I thought it was a form of government in which the right to govern is vested in the citizens of a country or a state and exercised through a majority rule.

I also never assumed that there would be some underlying goal to make life better for all, not just a few individuals. However, I did most certainly hope that this would be the case.

What a bummer!

Matt
P.S. OK, OK, I stole that second line from Wikipedia!

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#28781423)

See, there's the theory, and there's the practice. In theory, it works that way in practice. In practice, it doesn't.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780955)

Government is not about doing a job efficiently, for either political party. It is about spreading the wealth around and bringing bucks to your home state. It's not really wrong, its just how democracy actually is.

Not really wrong? I thought government was supposed to be altruistic, not selfish. If self-interest is the driving factor of government, then what exactly makes government better than freedom and free market economics? Under freedom, you've got self-interest. Under government, you've got self-interest, plus an elite class of people holding a special "right" to employ coercion as their means.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#28781245)

until now the USA has like almost 20 little aircraft carriers about the same size as the 2 the British operate

Note: an LPD has an entirely different mission from a carrier. The Nimitz etc. is designed to transport air power anywhere in the world. LPDs and other similar classes are basically troop transports. If you need to provide air superiority, an LPD would be nearly worthless as they don't really carry anything more offensive than a few Harriers. If you need to deliver a few thousand Marines to a beach somewhere, a carrier would be nearly worthless as they're not rigged for transporting that many passengers or hosting the landing craft to put them on the beach.

Not that I don't agree with you about everything else - just nitpicking.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (2, Informative)

unix_geek_512 (810627) | about 5 years ago | (#28782251)

The LPDs are not aircraft carriers nor do they resemble the British carriers, such as the Invincible class.

You were probably thinking of the Tarawa class LHAs and Wasp class LHDs, which do outwardly resemble the Invincible class carriers, however they also have a well deck for landing craft which the British ships do not.

The LHAs and LHDs are primarily designed for amphibious landing operations, their primary mission is to deliver a USMC battalion to shore and support the Marines in combat operations.

The British Invincible-class carriers are light aircraft carriers whose primary mission is to operate Sea Harrier fixed wing V/STOL aircraft and helicopters.

While the US ships operate the AV-8B ( the US version of the Harrier ), V-22 Ospreys and helicopters they are not light aircraft carriers.

The Tarawa class ships are almost twice as big ( about 38,900 tons ) as the British carriers (by displacement) and the Wasps ( about 40,500 tons ) have about twice the displacement of Invincible-class ( about 20,700 tons ).

The Nimitz class super carriers are entirely in a class of their own. The newest Nimitz class carriers displace more than 103,000 tons and can operate up to 90 fixed wing non-V/STOL aircraft ( vs. about 20 aircraft including Harriers and helicopters for the British carriers ).

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 years ago | (#28782377)

Republicans say they are against this, but, man, every year the US Senate bought another LPD because they were made in Trent Lotts home state, until now the USA has like almost 20 little aircraft carriers about the same size as the 2 the British operate, and that's on top of its nimitzs.

Umm... Generally what you say is true, but this is a bad example because an LPD isn't a CV and vice versa. Very different ships for very different jobs.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28787751)

Umm... Generally what you say is true, but this is a bad example because an LPD isn't a CV and vice versa. Very different ships for very different jobs.

I got the LPD and the Wasp mixed up.. I always do. The point of the comparison was really, both the Wasp and the British stuff can operate a few VTOL planes. I think the official british role is ASW but they were pressed quite successfuly into an assault and local air superiority role during the Falklands war.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 years ago | (#28788525)

I got the LPD and the Wasp mixed up.. I always do.

Even if you get the Wasp and an LPD mixed up, my same comment still applies - neither an LPD or an LHD is a CV. Three different ships, three different missions. (Though the missions of the LPD and the LHD are related.)
 

The point of the comparison was really, both the Wasp and the British stuff can operate a few VTOL planes.

Which works so long as your opponent similarly limits himself to a small number of low performance aircraft. If you face an opponent who doesn't... You're in deep, deep shit.
 

I think the official british role is ASW but they were pressed quite successfuly into an assault and local air superiority role during the Falklands war.

Which worked because the Argentinean's were borderline incompetent, and operating at the extreme edge of their range. A very specific set of circumstances and one very, very, dangerous to generalize from.

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28788843)

ok, you've sold me!

Re:It probably wouldn't be a bad thing... (1)

mgblst (80109) | about 5 years ago | (#28790315)

No department would spend money to help another department, it makes no sense for them to do so. Unless there is a directive from higher up, they won't and shouldn't do it.

Where's the FSF? (1)

nsteinme (909988) | about 5 years ago | (#28780451)

Does anyone know why the Free Software Foundation (FSF) isn't on the member list? At first glance I thought it involve the distinction between OSS and FS, but then I found that they include rms's 4 core principles of software freedom. Glad to see Google on the list, though.

Think of this as a concert (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 5 years ago | (#28780519)

All of the companies named form an orchestra, working within the musical system, and playing a capitalistic tune.
In that metaphor, the FSF is a highland bagpipe. Yeah, it's music, but it simply doesn't play well with others.
The FSF plays in one octave with no rests, and literally marches off to its own 4/4 tune, while the rest of the orchestra sits there wondering.

Re:Think of this as a concert (2, Interesting)

nsteinme (909988) | about 5 years ago | (#28780837)

I don't follow. All of these member groups have one or more reasons to promote FOSS. For most of them (e.g. the EFF), it is because they support the core principles of free software. Others (e.g. Google and Redhat) have additional business incentives, such as watching FOSS kill Microsoft (this can't come soon enough for me personally) or Fedora. But the FSF has the same goals as this coalition, and so I was surprised to learn that not only were they not spearheading it, but that they weren't listed as a member at all.

Re:Think of this as a concert (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 5 years ago | (#28782407)

This is only an opinion, but I think the FSF isn't involved because RMS is largely incapable of compromise. While the overall goals of the organization may mesh well with the overall goals of the FSF, if there is even one pillar of the organizations mission statement that fails to meet an FSF standard, or one commercial company involved who has done something "non-free" that RMS disagrees with, chances are the FSF won't play. Strategic compromises with others who share your larger goals, but may agree with you on the details are not in the FSF's makeup. If it's not all free, all the time, by the FSF definition of free, it's not good enough.

Don't get me wrong, fanaticism can move mountains, and the FSF has done a lot over the year to advance their cause simply by pure determination. On the other hand, now that their ideas are starting to squirm toward mainstream acceptance, they might try finding ways to work with others. Ironically the very fanaticism and determination that has gotten them as far as they've come, and may yet see some portion of their platform become a mainstream idea, may very well leave them irrelevant in the world they helped to create.

Re:Think of this as a concert (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | about 5 years ago | (#28780903)

Best bagpipe analogy ever.

Re:Think of this as a concert (1)

jDeepbeep (913892) | about 5 years ago | (#28781501)

Best bagpipe analogy ever.

Indeed. However, due to lack of coffee, I cannot seem to grasp anything less than a car analogy.

Re:Think of this as a concert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28783293)

OK, so imagine that all these companies had their headquarters on the west coast. (Most of them do, but not all of them.) Let's also say that it was the CEOs of these companies doing the lobbying. (Also not true, but work with me.) They would need to get in their cars and drive out to DC. Now they all have different vehicles. The Mozilla guys would be in a compact car. Novell would have something a little nicer. The Google guys would be on a Segway.
Stallman famously does not own a car. (Cars have (closed source) software in them.) No one else wants to let a dirty hippie ride in (by which I mean "stink up") their car.

FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 years ago | (#28780477)

The federal government has no bias against using open source software. There are two major factors that affect it:

1) Someone has to pay to get FOSS put through an evaluation process to be verified for suitability and safety (commercial vendors often pay this or coordinate with a contracting firm). This fee can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it applies to every component that has not been previously approved. If you bring in 5 Java FOSS libraries that haven't been used before, you could be looking at as much as a $3M cost to get them certified.

2) Versions have to be done more carefully. To most federal agencies, KDE 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.1 would be distinct versions each requiring evaluation. Microsoft has an advantage over desktop Linux in that respect since it releases Windows updates every few years, and service packs can be evaluated at everyone's convenience.

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (1)

derspankster (1081309) | about 5 years ago | (#28780587)

Well said.

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780679)

Although I agree with you in the most part, here are a few points of contention:

1) Whatever current vetting process Microsoft et al. has to go through at the moment is what needs to be re-evaluated. It doesn't take a genius to see how far Windows is deployed across government computers. It's also pretty commonly known that although Windows may be "suitable", countless safety issues somehow make it through their verification process.

I don't mind the Feds using Windows (if it's the best and most suitable tool for the job), but I would be hard-pressed to be convinced that out of the box it provides the type of security we should demand from vendors. Remember, this software sees our social security numbers. It loads our legislation information. Anything that forces Windows to be more secure (or) gives incentives to use more secure software is a plus in my book.

2) I agree. It also complicates the matter that Windows hides so much stuff behind the Windows API [wikipedia.org] , where as Linux segments all of those features.

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 5 years ago | (#28781089)

By default, and in virtually all deployments, windows does not comply with various government security rules... Like having no support for AES encryption until very recently (and gov tend to still use old versions) or having unnecessary and excessively complex services (like msrpc and netbios) open...

Whoever audits the system is supposed to flag these issues and if they cant be fixed, detail how they are mitigated (eg firewall the unnecessary ports)... Unfortunately, a lot of people doing this don't even follow the guidelines properly and ignore things like this...

I think any network deployment should include complete details of every function available remotely from the system (ie document the protocols in use and all features they support and wether these features are available with or without authentication)...

Take for example pop3 (which should run over ssl) the only functions available without auth are user and pass (ie functions required to let you authenticate), and a wide variety of other functions are available to users who successfully authenticate.

That way you know exactly what should be happening, and you can build a proper risk profile and setup very strict IDS rules etc..

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (1)

erikdalen (99500) | about 5 years ago | (#28780937)

If you want only a few versions with long support to evaluate it might be better to stick to for example Ubuntu 6.06 LTS & Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. Then you wouldn't have to evaluate a new version every six months.

But sure, it won't beat the ~10 year support period of Windows XP :)

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (2, Insightful)

Nerdposeur (910128) | about 5 years ago | (#28781471)

If you want only a few versions with long support to evaluate it might be better to stick to for example Ubuntu 6.06 LTS & Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. Then you wouldn't have to evaluate a new version every six months. But sure, it won't beat the ~10 year support period of Windows XP :)

I'd bet that if the government wanted 10 years of support for 8.04 and was willing to pay for it, Canonical would jump at the chance. Since each copy is still free, and since any problems and fixes that are discovered can be freely shared among the government's IT staff, it would probably still be much cheaper.

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28780947)

A lot of the evaluation processes actually serve to decrease the security they are trying to promote...
Many products are only accredited in a particular configuration, but that configuration is sometimes not suitable and thus the systems end up running in a different, non accredited configuration...
Updates need to be re-certified, meaning a large lag between a vulnerability being public and the fix actually being deployed.
I know of several products, currently approved by various government bodies, which have serious exploitable vulnerabilities which are either not fixed at all, or only fixed in new versions which haven't been accredited yet.

On the other hand, if you look at a system such as Debian, they will patch vulnerabilities while making the minimum possible changes to code.. Sometimes as simple as adding an extra length check or such, and there should be a fast track process for simple updates like this.

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (1)

implowry (989364) | about 5 years ago | (#28781491)

I've seen it where the government will bring in "contractors" who will write a custom web application with tons of horrible, unaudited code and they won't blink an eye at the cost or the quality.

However if you want to install a new version of something that fixes a security vulnerability or is a free feature upgrade like you suggest with KDE 3.0 to KDE 3.5, good luck.

Apples and oranges (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 years ago | (#28781899)

I've seen it where the government will bring in "contractors" who will write a custom web application with tons of horrible, unaudited code and they won't blink an eye at the cost or the quality.

Most agencies have their own security standards. If they can't meet the bare minimum, then they won't allow those projects to be deployed. When they look at other products their question is simply "is it any good at all?" because they are starting from a position of pure ignorance.

Re:FOSS will have to change to be more competitive (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 5 years ago | (#28782651)

This is an excellent couple of points, and to add to them, vendors that want to use FOSS AND want to have government business need to make more careful choices about their software selection. Case in point:

I work for a government contractor, and we recently took delivery of a network analysis device that shall remain nameless. This device came with Fedora Core 4 on it. I was tasked with doing the security initialization of the device, and I noted that several things needed to be updated on it in order to comply with our security standards (in addition to having oldish versions of lots of software with one minor hole or another, it had an old version of the audit daemon which could do the level of fine grained auditing we need). Of course, because we took delivery of this device from another contractor, I had no support contract (and no idea what level of OS the vendor provided anyway) and FC4 has been out of support for nearly three years. Oh, look, no security updates. In the end we had to get the other contractor to fly in and update the OS to a vendor supported version of FC6 (also out of official support, don't know what'll happen next time we need to update something). The whole thing took months, and I'm still not convinced that we'll be able to use the thing for long before someone decides that it needs some other update I can't get.

All it would have taken would have been for the original vendor to use RHEL, LTS Ubuntu, LTS Debian, or any of half a dozen other distros with a company or large stable organization providing long term support and we could have used the thing in days instead of months. Seriously, why would you use Fedora Core for the OS on your products, knowing that it won't be supported a year later?

Oracle and Sun? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28780481)

I wonder if they're counting Novell and Ximian too...

Re:Oracle and Sun? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 5 years ago | (#28780965)

The acquisition hasn't completed, so they are still 2 separate companies for now..

No support (2, Interesting)

mc1138 (718275) | about 5 years ago | (#28780491)

Title of this reply refers to what an old boss said, not any reality of truth. I worked for a public entity at one point, and the CIO was 110% against any sort of linux or "free" software, based on his notion that these free solutions could offer no support in times of trouble. Despite trying to explain that many larger distro's had enterprise editions that you could in fact get support for, plus a very large community of users that also could help support it, none of this would sway him away from his notion that if you weren't paying through the nose the product just wouldn't be up to standards. What a joke!

Support? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28781137)

Management needs to reconsider the concept of requiring traditional "support". I have seen more than a few problems that elude the offshore/outsourced world of vendor support. In this brave new world where the cheap are led by the stupid, we are technologically "on our own" more often than anyone wants to admit.

But it sure doesn't look that way. One thing that management really likes about Windows is the perception that it can be run by a bunch of newbies backstopped by MS support. Therefore, the IT dept. can be treated like a bunch of newbies. If they quit, they can be replaced with fresh newbies. Management wants to believe that all the money paid for vendor support means that the vendor is doing most of the thinking and the IT staff is doing most of the typing. The mandate for vendor support is not nearly as important as the mandate to keep IT "dumb and cheap".

The perception is that Linux requires smarter people. Those people cost more and mistreating them will have consequences. Even worse, the vendor-centric strategy is shattered. Management is seldom willing to let go of a fantasy.

Re:No support (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 5 years ago | (#28781143)

Yes, i've known a lot of people like this...
The solution is to setup a consultancy company and sell him some free software for an extremely high price (rebrand it if necessary)... He will feel happier because he paid through the nose for it, and you'll feel happier because you just made yourself a tidy sum.

I knew someone who was totally against anything free or anything associated with linux etc, and yet he uses cisco asa firewalls (linux based), vmware esx (linux based), cisco call manager (linux based), some kind of ids which runs linux, ironport spam filters (freebsd based) and probably a lot of other stuff too...

Re:No support (2, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 5 years ago | (#28781539)

You were trying to sell him on the software, he wanted to be sold on the company. Don't say there are distros. Say this one company has a product, and it supports that product like any other company would. You have benefits with open source that you don't with closed, and you can pitch that all you want. Usually when someone doesn't see something that's obvious it's because you aren't presenting it in a way they understand.

Re:No support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28782519)

Two reasons:
1. Money is not a big deal for the people in power. They can ask for cash and blow a few kisses in the air and people will bow down and worship them. You, on the other hand, must grovel for your dinero.
2. Polits are want to form deals that are likely to reward them in return, if you catch my drift.

Re:No support (1)

unix_geek_512 (810627) | about 5 years ago | (#28782549)

That CIO should be tarred and feathered and hung upside down on the steps of the Capitol no pun intended.

Since it's 2009 and we want to be nice and politically correct we'll give him or her a medical exam first.

Re:No support (1)

mc1138 (718275) | about 5 years ago | (#28782699)

Haha don't worry they're already gone, as am I for that matter, but still, he got the boot when new people got put at the top.

Re:No support (1)

helios17 (617082) | about 5 years ago | (#28794679)

I wonder if anyone got Old Boss to read the EULA for any Microsoft Product. Along with all that "support", he is allowing Microsoft or any third party vendor to stomp around inside his computers and networks at their whim. Probably not an issue for Old Boss. Old Boss has long ago sacrificed his freedom for convenience.

Re: No support (1)

twasserman (878174) | about 5 years ago | (#28810939)

I agree that support is a key issue for many commercial and government users even as many of us use the frequently evolving versions of open source products.

There are hundreds of commercial open source vendors that offer open source products with a traditional support/subscription model. These include SugarCRM, Jaspersoft, Zenoss, Groundwork, and many more. (Apologies to the 200+ I have omitted.) The issue here might be more about the vendor than about the support, though the key point may be that the potential buyer doesn't even know that these companies and products exist.

Think about Drupal vs. Acquia. One is a community-based project that is open to everyone at no cost using a forum-based model for support. Acquia was created as a commercial business to provide a supported distribution of Drupal. If you need or want product support, then you can buy that from Acquia; if not, then you can use the community version of Drupal forever.

In the case of MySQL, well over 99% of downloads are unsupported. But they built a successful business by selling commercial licenses and support to companies and governments that wanted that support.

The last example is Ubuntu, where Canonical has released LTS (long-term support) versions as part of their twice-a-year release program. Customers wanting support can install the LTS version and be assured of Canonical support for that version over several years.

Going back to Open Source for America, a key goal there is to get open source considered for adoption in the myriad acquisitions of the thousands of federal agencies. So a big part of the effort is educational -- letting them know where there are high quality open source projects and products that should be considered alongside traditional commercial (proprietary) software.

Linux in Education (1)

micromegas (536234) | about 5 years ago | (#28781281)

We utilize linux terminal services [k12ltsp.org] to create a 2:1 student:productivity workstation ratio at a fraction of the cost of proprietary solutions. Entrenched vendor relationships cost US education systems millions of needlessly spent dollars.

Great - More lobbyists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28781561)

Bah!
If you build it well, they will come.
No need to try to get this horse to drink.

The biggest issue (1)

XB-70 (812342) | about 5 years ago | (#28781623)

Governments

School Systems

Universities

Just think about the resources that could be brought to bear if all three of these groups put the savings they realize from adopting OSS into manpower and financial resources behind developing OSS further. Take, for example, PHP & MySQL. If a complete and very easy to use IDE were created to seamlessly develop Web-based forms, it would transform the speed and quality with which these organizations could develop their web applications. OpenOffice could be the Gold Standard of office suites. Linux could have the premier desktop.

Adoption of OSS software is one thing. Contribution to it is what's needed. So many great ideas are languishing on sourceforge because of a lack of funds and/or manpower to implement them.

Let's try to go further than adoption and focus on creation and collaboration as part of the buy-in to the process. Then we'll see some real results.

Re:The biggest issue (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#28782935)

Just think about the resources that could be brought to bear if all three of these groups put the savings they realize from adopting OSS into manpower and financial resources behind developing OSS further.

They are unlikely to realize substantial, direct short-term savings from adopting OSS; for the off-the-shelf software (things like desktop OS's and basic office software), short-term license savings will probably be consumed by increased support and retraining costs, for new development, open source requirements will probably not decrease the cost of new development.

In the long term, there should be efficiency improvements, but for the most part those aren't going to be redirected into OSS investments (though adopting OSS itself, insofar as those organizations pay for custom software development, will involve OSS investments), they'll be redirected into more funds going into the substantive work the organizations do, or less costs being passed on to students/taxpayers. The benefits to OSS will be the adoption itself, particularly in terms of custom development.

Let's try to go further than adoption and focus on creation and collaboration as part of the buy-in to the process.

For organizations that spend money on custom software, OSS adoption is OSS creation; you don't have to (nor is it usually consistent with the organization's mission to) also redirect "savings" into additional, gratuitous OSS development.

Re:The biggest issue (1)

XB-70 (812342) | about 5 years ago | (#28786723)

You take a reasonable position with your suggestions. I am basing some of my points on the transition by the City of Munich from Microsoft to Linux and Microsoft Office to OpenOffice. A quick search will reveal that the City of Munich has contributed in a very significant way to the OpenOffice community by releasing a very sophisticated document management system - http://www.muenchen.de/Rathaus/dir/limux/wollmux/229499/p_e.html [muenchen.de] . This process occurred in only a few years after the adoption of OSS.

OSS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28783005)

You mean, they want to sell the Feds a OSS Enterprise ?

Canadian Equivalent (1)

deadkennedy (1594629) | about 5 years ago | (#28784421)

I think this is a fantastic idea. Someone needs to show the government what open source software is all about. They aren't going to figure it out for themselves. Just like the Canadian government. We seem to really be falling behind in the information technology department.
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