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White House Website Switches To Open Source

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the what-world-is-this dept.

Government 219

Falc0n writes "WhiteHouse.gov has gone Drupal. After months of planning, says an Obama Administration source, the White House has ditched the proprietary content management system that had been in place since the days of the Bush Administration in favor of the latest version of the open-source Drupal software. Dries Buytaert reflected on this, adding: 'this is a clear sign that governments realize that Open Source does not pose additional risks compared to proprietary software, and furthermore, that by moving away from proprietary software, they are not being locked into a particular technology, and that they can benefit from the innovation that is the result of thousands of developers collaborating on Drupal.'"

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Why CMS (-1, Offtopic)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864037)

I've never understood the need to use some kind of CMS behind websites. It just adds unnecessary weight and complicates things, and always limits what you can do or how you should do it. Why not just code the website completely to begin with?

It's a lot better way to go, even more so for large websites.

Re:Why CMS (2, Insightful)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864055)

Are you a troll, naive or stupid?

A CMS is required if you want content to be updatable by non-programmers, which is almost always a very requirement on larger corporates pages.

A CMS will also allow versioning of content, making it easy to publish new content at specific points in time.

Re:Why CMS (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864109)

Both of those things can be accomplished on your own code too, so thats not really a reason. Maybe you / your coders don't have to do as much work, but then it will limit you to that CMS's features, limitations and ways to do things.

Re:Why CMS (3, Informative)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864145)

Why reinvent the wheel?

Sure, you can program everything from scratch and that might even appeal to you if you're the CEO of a company that sells programming services, but in many cases it makes more sense to use off-the-shelf software (which drupal is - well, off an imaginery shelf where everything is free as long as you give back).

Re:Why CMS (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864159)

Businesses have come to accept the limitations of software, and will often adjust the way they do things to fit in with whatever the software requires, sad but true.

Re:Why CMS (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865001)

It's not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, sometimes it cuts off new and creative ideas. Often, those are bad ideas, and everybody else is doing it the regular way for a reason.

This is especially true when a business is getting outside of its domain. If you're the best bottle-maker or book-binder on the block, do that. But your accounting and web site is almost certain to be identical to any other businesses, and crafting roll-your-own accounting or web management software specialized to your thing is quite likely the wrong thing.

Not always, but I've found too many businesses err on the Not Invented Here side.

Re:Why CMS (3, Insightful)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864165)

do you write you own operating system?

Re:Why CMS (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864203)

Forget the OS - do you reckon he designs and fabricates his own CPUs?

Screw that! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864453)

I make my own fucking ELECTRONS!

Re:Screw that! (1, Redundant)

gander666 (723553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864543)

You too? I thought I was the last one who did...

Re:Screw that! (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865075)

Dude, why are you being so negative?

Re:Why CMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864611)

Yes, I do.

And no drupal is not a solution. Most CMS products are insecure pieces of shit. I would not use a CMS for a high profile target like that. They should be publishing static files with a custom system. Only pages that must be dynamic should be. It's just dumb. Did you guys forget how the web worked before CMSs came around?

Re:Why CMS (4, Informative)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864841)

"Did you guys forget how the web worked before CMSs came around?"

Yes: it did work slower, more expensive and less functional. I even remember why first intranet efforts used to fail: because content stagnated due to the fact that only programers that didn't produce the information in first place were the only ones allowed and/or with the knowledge to modify contents.

"Most CMS products are insecure pieces of shit. I would not use a CMS for a high profile target like that. They should be publishing static files with a custom system. Only pages that must be dynamic should be. It's just dumb?"

You do know you can have your CMS administrative backend opened only to your internal networks so from the Internet all you have access to is an static, pre-cached, read-only version, do you?

Re:Why CMS (4, Informative)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865323)

That's your opinion and just because you have one doesn't make it the correct choice.

In fact, I do remember how the web was before CMS came around. I remember people handing me MS Word documents saved as 150KB+ HTML files. Or having to clean up sections of the corporate site where someone cut-and-pasted from MS Word into the site.

Heck, people made a living off writing software just to clean up the mess. Eliminate clutter in Microsoft Word generated HTML files with the Office 2000 HTML Filter [com.com]

And to Sopssa, He fails to realize that Drupal can be hardened and has the benefit of several years of testing and user feedback unlike a custom system.

I clearly remember the days before CMS and it looked like this.

<html xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40" > <head > <meta name=Title content="This is normal unformatted text" > <meta name=Keywords content="" > <meta http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=utf-8" > <meta name=ProgId content=Word.Document > <meta name=Generator content="Microsoft Word 10" > <meta name=Originator content="Microsoft Word 10" > <link rel=File-List href="WordtoHTML_files/filelist.xml" > <title >This is normal unformatted text </title > <!--[if gte mso 9] > <xml > <o:DocumentProperties > <o:Author >Elizabeth Pyatt </o:Author > <o:Template >Normal </o:Template > <o:LastAuthor >Elizabeth Pyatt </o:LastAuthor > <o:Revision >1 </o:Revision > <o:TotalTime >1 </o:TotalTime > <o:Created >2003-10-22T19:05:00Z </o:Created > <o:LastSaved >2003-10-22T19:06:00Z </o:LastSaved > <o:Pages >1 </o:Pages > <o:Company >ETS </o:Company > <o:Lines >1 </o:Lines > <o:Paragraphs >1 </o:Paragraphs > <o:Version >10.2418 </o:Version > </o:DocumentProperties > </xml > <![endif]-- > <!--[if gte mso 9] > <xml > <w:WordDocument > <w:DisplayHorizontalDrawingGridEvery >0 </w:DisplayHorizontalDrawingGridEvery > <w:DisplayVerticalDrawingGridEvery >0 </w:DisplayVerticalDrawingGridEvery > <w:UseMarginsForDrawingGridOrigin/ > <w:Compatibility > <w:SpaceForUL/ > <w:BalanceSingleByteDoubleByteWidth/ > <w:DoNotLeaveBackslashAlone/ > <w:ULTrailSpace/ > <w:DoNotExpandShiftReturn/ > <w:AdjustLineHeightInTable/ > </w:Compatibility > </w:WordDocument > </xml > <![endif]-- > <style > <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Times New Roman"; panose-1:0 2 2 6 3 5 4 5 2 3; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:0 2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:Palatino; panose-1:0 2 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Palatino;} h3 {mso-style-next:Normal; margin-top:12.0pt; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:3.0pt; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; page-break-after:avoid; mso-outline-level:3; font-size:13.0pt; font-family:Helvetica;} p.MsoBodyText, li.MsoBodyText, div.MsoBodyText {margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Palatino; color:#993366; font-weight:bold;} p.HeaderE, li.HeaderE, div.HeaderE {mso-style-name:HeaderE; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:16.0pt; font-family:Palatino; font-weight:bold;} p.SubHeadE, li.SubHeadE, div.SubHeadE {mso-style-name:SubHeadE; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; text-align:center; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Palatino; font-weight:bold;} p.TitleE, li.TitleE, div.TitleE {mso-style-name:TitleE; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; text-align:center; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:18.0pt; font-family:Palatino; font-variant:small-caps;} p.FigureText, li.FigureText, div.FigureText {mso-style-name:"Figure Text"; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Helvetica; font-weight:bold;} p.RedBold, li.RedBold, div.RedBold {mso-style-name:RedBold; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; 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margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; text-align:center; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:24.0pt; font-family:Arial; font-weight:bold;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} -- > </style > </head > <body bgcolor=white lang=EN-US style='tab-interval:.25in' > <div class=Section1 > <p class=MsoNormal >This is a sample of unformatted normal text </p > </div > </body > </html >

Re:Why CMS (4, Insightful)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864451)

theres alot of good reasons people use cms... and let me try and use your own words... say you wanted a website that looked like cisco's.

In a CMS, (such as drupal)... heres who does what:
1) designer writes a theme for the website (to give it the look)
2) content producers write the pages
3) codes do the bits the cms doesn't already do.

The point is, the CMS gives you alot to begin with without limiting you, sure you could code a website from scratch but something as powerfull as drupal is going to take a long time. You may not need everything drupal does so you can cut that down a bit. But ultimately you'll end up with something that allows people to do their jobs (i.e. content producers to write pages). Drupal CMS is also especially good at being extended (and there are virtually no limits that I can think of). So rather then writing a whole heap of code to do your website, your coders just write what they need to extend the CMS - "dang, drupal doesnt do rsa based two factor auth, we're going to have to code it in" as apposed to "ok, lets get started on coding a website - quick grab 15 people who know architecture".

Re:Why CMS (1)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864811)

Pretty sure noone in the world wants a website that looks like Cisco's. It's the worst site by a major technology company I've ever used. To get to anything I normally have to login 3-4 times because it randomly forgets your logged in, only to find out that what I was trying to get to was just a link back to where I started. And forget trying to download the software my account privileges say I should be entitled to, I always wind up using someone else's account because despite several attempts on Cisco's part to fix it it STILL won't let me. Honestly for the company that practically runs the internet, their website is just shameful.

Re:Why CMS (3, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864513)

So when you write your own code, you've written a CMS. But you just passed one up because it was too heavy-weight...

Re:Why CMS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864629)

You are one dumb motherfucker sopssa. Never forget that.

Re:Why CMS (2, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864793)

"Both of those things can be accomplished on your own code too"

Yes, of course. And do you know how the internal app you developed so to allow non-programmers to update content, so PHBs can review the content prior to go public, so you can version contents and pre stablish the date it will go alive, etc. will be called? It will be called a "Content Management System".

So in the end you won't avoid the CMS you'll just develop your own internal one: reinventing the wheel, at a cost, and probably worse.

Re:Why CMS (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864141)

A better question is why so many practically static web sites use online content management systems. Is it just for convenience? Lack of thought? A life content management system on the server is a serious security liability. Many web sites could just as well use an offline CMS and push the data to the server when an update is made. A typical web server can handle orders of magnitude more visitors when there is only static content. Even if you aggressively cache the CMS output, that still leaves the security aspect. I guess it takes a Slashdotting / Digg effect before most authors realize that having a web site which can't handle 10 concurrent visitors is rather pointless.

Re:Why CMS (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864815)

Are there many static-CMSes (for want of a better term) like that available?

Re:Why CMS (1)

chapstercni (238462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864089)

No reinventing of the wheel.
All kinds of stuff that can be used as is, or modified.
Features, features, features.
Easy separation of presentation / Data.
Workflow.

Re:Why CMS (1)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864091)

Yeah, and since you are at it, instead of generating webpages with a database for, say, 10,000 products, let builds each of them individually. A database always limits what you can do or how you should do it... Great logic.

Re:Why CMS (5, Informative)

jopet (538074) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864113)

Just a few reasons:
* You want to automatically use templates and not replicate formatting code
* You want different people that are not programmers to be able to update different parts of the website; you want to let them do it from their browser in a wysiwyg editor; you want to let them to easily first publish their articles on a staging host and then authorize somebody else to go online with it
* You want to allow commenting, feedback forms, registered users etc.
* You easily want to keep track of versions and revisions of published pages
* You want to automatically index the pages for searches
* You want to easily include dynamic(computed) data into your web pages

Yes, but I don't want Whitehouse.gov doing that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864351)

Yes, but I don't want Whitehouse.gov doing that. Allowing feedback on the high profile website is STUPID and ignorant.

They should have a static website with automatic refreshes from a dynamic back end where uses can edit and publish whatever they like.

They will be hacked, it is just a matter of time.

Re:Yes, but I don't want Whitehouse.gov doing that (4, Insightful)

yelvington (8169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864685)

Yes, but I don't want Whitehouse.gov doing that. Allowing feedback on the high profile website is STUPID and ignorant.

Apparently, allowing feedback attracts the stupid and ignorant.

Re:Why CMS (5, Informative)

Mathiasdm (803983) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864149)

For one, the weight a CMS adds is compensated by all of the code that is already present, all of the plugins that can be added without any trouble, the possibility for non-coders to easily modify website content ...
Especially for large websites, this can dramatically improve how fast you can update and improve your site.
Also, if you don't want to use a CMS, a framework like Django or Ruby on Rails is the way to go. These allow you to program everything yourself, but already have a lot of functionality built-in, to avoid reinventing the wheel.

Re:Why CMS (2, Informative)

mrjohnson (538567) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864849)

Because if I change it, I have to have a service request, check it into svn, build, file a request for change, deploy during a change window, etc. If the users can change content in a CMS, no paperwork required.

Great... (0, Troll)

SigILL (6475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864133)

Now they're locked in to PHP.

Re:Great... (5, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864285)

Now they're locked in to PHP.

It's part of Obama's economic recovery program. Just think how many IT jobs this will create: maintenance, debugging, modifications, and security. Maybe we could have a Slashdot poll on who will pwn the website first. I think it'll be the Chinese as payback for the tariffs on tires.

Re:Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864361)

Just think how many IT jobs this will create: maintenance, debugging, modifications, and security.

I'm thinking more about how many Government employee suicides using PHP will cause ...

Re:Great... (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864393)

Yeah, they should code it with Assembly.

Re:Great... (1)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864315)

Hey, at least it's open source, so it must be a good thing!

High profile target and popular CMS' (3, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864153)

The problem with using Drupal for the White House is that it's a popular CMS and has lots of people looking for exploits and vulnerabilities. The second a proof of concept piece of code or an easy exploit is discovered, a few thousand script kiddies will decend to get their 15 minutes of fame.

I'm not sure how Drupal fares with bugs and patching speed (I know Wordpress seems to get some high profile holes discovered) but even if all vulns are patched before someone takes advantage of it, you're still going to need an admin who's going to be constantly alert to patching it.

I'm not arguing against closed source vs open, more about popular vs obscure.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (1)

arctic19 (1578959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864197)

...you're still going to need an admin who's going to be constantly alert to patching it.

But you would expect that with the WhiteHouse.gov being such a high-profile website

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864215)

You could just as easily turn that argument around and say that because it's a popular CMS and has a lot of people looking through it's code for exploits, it's also a lot more secure than some other more obscure CMS which would have much less reviewed code.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (4, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864281)

that was my reaction. What ever choice the White House made, it would still be a target for malicious hackers.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (0, Troll)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864903)

Is that what we're calling RushBots these days?

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864233)

Such a system should not be exposed. It should be behind a modern firewall, with a solid IPS. With such measures in place script kiddies will find it considerably harder to get their 15 minutes of fame, and even seasoned hackers will have to go to great extra lengts to get there - if they get there at all.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (5, Funny)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864745)

You're right. Block port 80, that'll stop 'em.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (2, Insightful)

Ykant (318168) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865205)

Proper firewalls do more than simply block ports.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (0)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864297)

Drupal really has not been known for its security in the past; try Googling "drupal exploit", and I'm sure most webmasters are familiar with the "morfeus fucking scanner" user-agent that appears in logs from time to time checking for (among other things) active Drupal-related links (admin pages etc) to exploit.

Maybe is has improved since the last time I paid any attention to it, I assume is would have been given an audit before being deployed on a Government website? That would be great for open source; "Open Source Software hacked, Govt website replaced with Goatse, Microsoft says 'I told you so'" ... It would be a media-fueled nightmare of FOSS if this goes wrong.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (5, Informative)

Bozovision (107228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864531)

I think you are misinformed. Morpheus seemed to be targeted at a range of software, including Joomla, but not Drupal: as far as I can see, none of the URL's it scanned are Drupal-based. See http://zeroq.kulando.de/post/2008/08/20/morfeus-fucking-scanner [kulando.de] for example, but there are others out there.

In fact, Drupal has an excellent history of security. We find holes, fix them and issue patches. There is a security mailing list that anyone can sign up to. You will receive mail on the latest security fixes. Your Drupal installation will tell you when components are out of date, and when there are security updates. It will also email you on a regular basis if you don't care to look at your status, or ignore the status message at the top of the page when you log in as an administrator. Drupal will not download and install components without human intervention: components require manual installation.

Just like any software, I'm certain that Drupal has as yet undiscovered exploits. What's important is whether they are found and fixed, and we have a good track record of doing this.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (3, Funny)

yelvington (8169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864621)

If your security beliefs are based on Googling " exploit" I hope you're not in charge of anything important.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864909)

As a receiver of the Drupal security emails, I can tell you the team is very active. There are a lot of community developed Drupal modules, and the security team is well into combing through them. The documentation for writing secure code is easily found and followed. Drupal is quite well done, plain and simple. It's a gem in the FOSS world. And companies like Acquia,where Drupal's original creator can be found, offer support services that include moving a Drupal site into Amazon's cloud. It is worth learning.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (5, Interesting)

Kifoth (980005) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864309)

You're assuming that the site's pages aren't served via a third party 'dumb' caching server, with the actual Drupal server locked down and disconnected from the internet.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (3, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864795)

You're assuming an unusually high level of competence in government IT departments.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864391)

The other side of the coin is that whitehouse.gov is a major target whatever it is running. If they used an obscure CSM there might not be many exploit scripts but the code might easily contain very bad vulnerabilities that black hats would quickly find, because they now have a reason to look at $OBSCURE_CSM.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (5, Informative)

kamelkev (114875) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864447)

I run a fairly high profile drupal site - and this has always been a large concern for us.

Our solution was basically to disable user logins completely. An overwhelming number of the exploits require you to login, so by removing this prerequisite, we basically avoided the problem.

Security isn't exactly a priority for drupal either, it's almost added as an afterthought. To put things in perspective, their login page doesn't even support SSL by default in either drupal 5 or drupal 6. To me that's verging on pathetic.

We were lucky because user logins weren't a core part of our site concept when we implemented the site, but I am now thinking that it might be a good way to go in the future, but I'm mostly petrified of this problem.

On the bright side of things they include a large number of extensions, and things mostly work as advertised, so we found this to be our best option out of all the open source CMSes we tried.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (3, Funny)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864779)

Security isn't exactly a priority for drupal either, it's almost added as an afterthought.

not any more!!

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864473)

well, drupal (so far) has been quite good at patching its own problems...

Modules on the other hand are a different beast (and in some ways the can be a pain with drupal) - some are coded by drupal them selves, some are not so your miliage can vary.

But this is where open source can actually benifit, cause if you do have access to coders (im sure the whitehouse does right?) you can fix it yourself (or at least get a work-around going for a short time).

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864535)

Wait, are you trying to say it might be possible that closed source might be safer than open source in some situation?

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (3, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864569)

Popular OSS products are generally popular for a good reason. Many people find them to be useful. Lots of people looking for exploits on a popular product means that, all things being equal, the more popular product will be more secure, not less, so long as security holes are being attended to by the project's maintainers. If a product is good enough to become popular, that usually means that the product also has people working on it who know what they're doing, and with a lot of interest in a product it means that there's likely to be more interest in contributing improvements. Going with an unfamiliar/poorly known/obscure solution isn't going to help whitehouse.gov. People know about whitehouse.gov, and are going to want to attack it, regardless of what they implement the site in. If it's some obscure solution that few people know about, then you can be sure very quickly people will start to learn about it. So selecting a more obscure solution isn't going to help them out any.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864661)

Didn't most people agree that security through obscurity is bad? If using popular open-source software was so bad, how come so many servers use Linux?

I'd argue it's the exact opposite: by choosing a popular, mature CMS, they're insuring a LOT of the vulnerabilities have been found, exploited and fixed. The major difference between the White House site and Joe Web Dev's site is that the former will probably only upgrade for security fixes and will be very careful with new features, since that's where the bugs and exploits can hide. With good sysadmins, proper security tools and good practices, the site can be very safe. I just don't see them using alpha versions of modules and such.

On the flip side, I'm hopeful that WhiteHouse.org's programmers and sysadmins will also contribute to the codebase with fixes and improvements of their own. This could end up being very beneficial for the Drupal community.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (2, Funny)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864799)

Actually, it's www.whitehouse.gov for the Obama administration. I'll let it slide though; as long as you don't confuse it with whitehouse.com - not linkified for a very special reason....

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864667)

> I'm not arguing against closed source vs open, more about popular vs obscure.

Whatever they use is going to be a high-profile target just because they are using it. Security by obscurity doesn't work for such sites.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (2, Informative)

saltydogdesign (811417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865263)

The advantage to using Drupal for the White House is that it's a popular CMS and has lots of people patching exploits and vulnerabilities. The second a proof of concept piece of code or an easy exploit is discovered, a few thousand developers will descend to get their patches submitted.

As opposed to your homegrown CMS, where you only discover the security holes when 3gotiZt posts pictures of full frontal nudity on the home page of your site.

Re:High profile target and popular CMS' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29865277)

Speaking of Open Source, why the fuck does Slashdot comment thresholding work properly in Internet Explorer but not Firefox or Safari?

Something fishy. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864207)

Ok, Netcraft's history seems to be screwed up, but I can tell you this:

Right after BO was inagurated, I checked the site. It had just switched over from Bush's site to BO's. Netcraft reported that Bush's site had been Apache on Linux, and BO's new site was IIS on MS.

Re:Something fishy. (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864331)

Yeah, but what was the proprietary CMS that was running on Apache/Linux?

In other words, what did they switch from.

Re:Something fishy. (5, Funny)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864385)

In other words, what did they switch from.

They switched from capitalism to communism, silly.

Re:Something fishy. (2, Insightful)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864595)

Maybe the parent wished to be modded as funny. What happened along the years is that CMS products have been turned into commodities. The White House recognized that and switched the investment into the service of updating the contents. Optimizing the way one spends money looks a basic precept of capitalism to me, very American.

Re:Something fishy. (2, Informative)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864847)

Parent was not trying to be modded funny. I am genuinely trying to understand what the previous proprietary CMS was: Vignette? FileNet? Documentum? Stellent?

Re:Something fishy. (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864905)

By parent I meant Rockoon's post. Sorry for not being clear about it. BTW, I'd also like to know what the WH was using before Drupal.

Re:Something fishy. (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865067)

I suspect your memory is a little faulty.

Akamai has been reverse proxying whitehouse.gov for quite some time.

So IIS on linux might have been reported, but all sites akamai proxies for show up as being on linux. See
http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph?site=search.microsoft.com [netcraft.com] for example

of IIS/6.0 on linux.

Cool (0, Troll)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864259)

OK, guys, now everyone should shut up about anything the government does, because it went open-source, right?
*crickets*
Does the Obama administration really think they can buy us off that easily? It's a significant step forward, but I don't think we should bother to praise them in any way.

Re:Cool (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864299)

It's a significant step forward

It's quite a sad state of affairs when moving to one of the most common and widely used back-ends for a website is considered "a significant step forward".

Re:Cool (3, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864399)

"It's quite a sad state of affairs when moving to one of the most common and widely used back-ends for a website is considered "a significant step forward"."

Bullshit - it's not a "step" anywhere.

This is ONE part of the government changing ONE system over to open source. That's it. The whole "since the Bush Administration" comment is a red herring:

a) Drupal only went Open Source in 2001. "Hey, it's time to update the Whitehouse.gov back end, and there's this new cool thing that just got released. It's maintained by a bunch of enthusiasts, and has no support, but I think it's a great idea!" "Perkins, go back to trolling for porn."

b) Does anyone really think the president in ANY administration gives a rats ass about the back-end of the website? Remember, Bush was ridiculed for not even using email, but somehow it's his policy that only proprietary software be used for invisible parts of the website? Likewise, Obama was a lawyer, "community activist", professor, and politician. Which one of those would make him care about this?

I'm more than happy another Open Source effort has been used for a high profile installation. But please - this isn't "Change", or even a policy change, or even an operations change from the White House point of view. This is changing from "Tide" to "Bold" to wash the Presidential underwear.

Re:Cool (3, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864341)

As stated in the article, this wasn't done to earn your praise.

Re:Cool (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864345)

What do you mean "buy us off"? Do you honestly think this is going to get them any real favor? People around here have a way of overestimating the value of open source to the man on the streets or even the geek on the streets for that matter.

Re:Cool (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865103)

Giving praise does not mean you're no longer critical of the government. Governments are like dogs, give praise when they do little things right so they will do bigger things right. Correct them when they do things wrong so they will do them right. This is a small step that could lead to more open source in government, why not tell them you like it and ask for more?

This is a good first step, but I doubt any of us have forgotten/forgiven who is 2 and 3 and the DoJ.

Clearly (2, Interesting)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864275)

this is a clear sign that governments realize that Open Source does not pose additional risks compared to proprietary software

Huh. Now to me, this is a clear sign that they hired a new web guy who happens to have experience with and a preference for Drupal. I don't think there's a necessarily a political statement here.

Re:Clearly (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864423)

The new guy does not get to just through any random software into a government system with no oversight...

Re:Clearly (3, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864437)

Huh. Now to me, this is a clear sign that they hired a new web guy who happens to have experience with and a preference for Drupal. I don't think there's a necessarily a political statement here.

The top of the government and especially the president are HR people first and foremost. They don't do much personally, but act through the agents they select, rely on their judgement and trust them to condense issues of importance for them. Sure, they also get to make some decisions, but they decide based on the information fed to them and the decisions are broad, policy decisions in most cases.

The point is, they didn't make a policy decision that "zomg, F/OSS ftw!", but they hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the guy who hired the web guy and the web guy seems competent enough to pick a F/OSS solution.

Re:Clearly (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864645)

The point is, they didn't make a policy decision that "zomg, F/OSS ftw!"

Sure, that's the way it works in theory. But how do you really know that a PHB looking to leverage some synergies didn't hand down this decision from on high? It's not like the private sector has a monopoly on incompetent management. (Yes, I know this applies equally well and probably moreso to "zomg $PROPRIETARY_SYSTEM ftw!" and even more likely to "zomg $SYSTEM_OWNED_BY_COMPANY_I_OWN_SHARES_IN ftw!")

Oh, the Obamas are so cool now! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864295)

I just wish they'd pull through in their promises of being open as in transparent. I don't give a fuck what they do with their web site but what lobbyists are showing up for the meetings is important to me.

I guess it's hard to be openly honest when it will prove that you're a liar. Obama had the chance to change the way his office works from the ground up and fumbled the ball. Now we're getting the same old same old.

Re:Oh, the Obamas are so cool now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864809)

Well, technically EVERY President had the chance to change the way his office works; you didn't actually think anybody would do it, did you? Granted Obama is better than Bush, but when the bar is set so low that's not really saying much. First and foremost Obama is a politician; therefore, you have to assume that he's going to do the exact opposite of what he says. Liberal or Conservative has nothing to do with it.

PHP based? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864305)

I wish they used something Python based:

def askPresidentQuestion(q):
        if president == "Bush":
                misSpeak()
        elif president == "Obama":
                pass

Just wondering... (2)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864359)

Just out of curiosity, what were they using before?

The friend of my enemy is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864429)

"...and that they can benefit from the innovation that is the result of thousands of developers collaborating on Drupal.'"

All located in countries hostile to the west.

Re:The friend of my enemy is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864663)

Holland (home of Drupal founder Dries Buytaert) is hostile to the West?

Personally, I'd call a country that *doesn't* bust your ass for enjoying a little dope and/or an evening with a hooker pretty damn friendly, but maybe that's just me.

Socialist Software (0, Troll)

KuNgFo0 (519426) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864563)

My first reaction to seeing this article was how long it will take for Fox News and friends to declare open source software as socialist and how comrade Obama has taken jobs away from hard working capitalist programmers. It's really not a stretch given their track record.

Re:Socialist Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864591)

It will be the next breaking news... an other proof that Obama is Communist. After all Bill Gates said something like that about OpenSource software.

Re:Socialist Software (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864639)

My first reaction to seeing this article was how long it will take for Fox News and friends to declare open source software as socialist and how comrade Obama has taken jobs away from hard working capitalist programmers. It's really not a stretch given their track record.

Take a look at the drupal logo. I think this calls for a big investigation to confirm that Obama is an alien!

One step to a post-scarcity future, but just one (0, Troll)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864619)

Yet, even as the White House becomes more efficient and the website costs less to build and operate, this is one more step towards a post-scarcity future that the White House is not otherwise directly engaging, like by promoting a "basic income" for all regardless of whether someone "works":
"Why limited demand means joblessness"
http://www.beyondajoblessrecovery.org/2009/10/03/why-limited-demand-means-joblessness/ [beyondajob...covery.org]
"Summary: Mainstream economics assumes demand for almost anything is infinite. Thus, the theory goes, when human workers get replaced by robots, or better design means less human labor is needed, then there will soon be new jobs making new things; the only issue might be retraining. But, if demand is limited (because the best things in life are free or cheap, and everything you own also owns you), then when people get laid off, the jobs are gone for good, because there is nothing more that anybody wants then is already produced. And people having more time outside of compulsory work would be a good thing, if we more evenly shared the wealth from automation and better design, but we don't -- yet."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income [wikipedia.org]

That's totally wrong. (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864921)

First off, most leaders of the left wing imagine a future where scarcity is the norm, largely because they see the consumption of natural resources by the West as unethical in a larger world view. In their eyes, Americans already have "too much" and therefor should have to make due with less. This faux-conservatism, coupled with the right wing's stupid devotion to "free trade", is the underlying cause of this current economic crisis. It is that people want more stuff, resources are capped by environmental and ideological considerations, so, prices of goods are shooting up and people have less. Demand falls off, and unemployment shoots up. You add in free trade, and take away America's advantage in energy prices and expose our disadvantage in labor, and the country is totally fucked up.

It's pretty simple, actually.

Let's just think this through for a minute. Let's say that instead of having to borrow or raise taxes to have national health care, the USA simply turned around and issued permits to drill in ANWR and off the coasts. Instead of scraping to come up with 900B to pay for it, we would have that money coming in from ANWR alone, without a tax increase. Let's say for a minute that we build nuclear power plants everywhere, and lowered the price of energy to something like the 2 cents per kwh it is to operate a nuclear plant. Everyone would have effectively a 20% raise because of the energy savings not only for themselves but in the cost of every product or service that they buy, and that in turn would lower the price of medicine. If gasoline were a dollar a gallon, and electric bills not more than $20 a month, and food was cheap as well, everyone would feel pretty darned rich. Consumers would spend, tax revenues to the government would go up, and you could have an administration that throws national health care on the table coupled with a modest tax cut.

Bottom line is, regardless of whether you want to have the government doling out the goodies, or get yourself a tax cut, or even a combination of both, the most effective thing the government could do to do that would be to say screw the environmentalists and get cheap energy, no matter what. Energy -is- wealth, and the more wealth you have, the more stuff you can swing.

If everyone felt rich, than putting a national health care plan would be no big deal.

Re:That's totally wrong. (2, Informative)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865223)

Except you completely ignore externalities, systemic risks, and equity, which is what got us in various messes already.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality [wikipedia.org]

Consider the "True cost" of oil from various perspectives:
http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/oil-gas-crude/461 [energyandcapital.com]
"""
Milton Copulus, the head of the National Defense Council Foundation, has a different view. And as the former principal energy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a 12-year member of the National Petroleum Council, a Reagan White House alum, and an advisor to half a dozen U.S. Energy Secretaries, various Secretaries of Defense, and two directors of the CIA, he knows his stuff. After taking into account the direct and indirect costs of oil, the economic costs of oil supply disruption, and military expenditures, he estimates the true cost of oil at a stunning $480 a barrel. That would make the "real" cost of filling up a family sedan about $220, and filling up a large SUV about $325 (when oil was $10 a barrel cheaper than it is now!).
"""

By the way, I've read it takes as much *electricity* to produce a gallon of gas as it would take an electric car to go about the same distance. So, all the external costs of gasoline are totally for nothing energywise.
    http://www.evnut.com/gasoline_oil.htm [evnut.com]
"So I can get 24 miles in my ICE on a gallon of gasoline, or I can get 41 miles (at 300wh/mile) in my RAV4EV just using the energy to refine that gallon. Alternatively - energy use (electricity and natural gas) state wide goes DOWN if a mile in a RAV4EV is substituted for a mile in an ICE!"

Depending on other regions for energy creates a systemic risk. Pipelines are inherently indefensible and so require a police state to protect because one small group could do vast damage to the society by damaging just one oil pipeline. Solar panels on your roof do not require a police state to protect, just regular police; if someone vandalizes them, the entire economy does not collapse.

Concentrating wealth in the hands of a few who control oil companies also creates a wealth dispartity that damages democracy as well as the economy (because few can start small businesses without loans or investments from big organizations). One reason we have oil pipelines instead of solar panels everywhere is that it has been more profitable to a few people to do that, while the rest of us pay huge taxes for a military to defend those pipelines at home and abroad.

I could go on, but basically, you need to look at issues like externalities, systemic risks, and concentration of wealth to see the various ways that markets can and do fail regularly in practice unless they are taxed and regulated. Taxes and regulation have their problems too, of course:
    http://www.capitalismhitsthefan.com/ [capitalismhitsthefan.com]

Ideally, we need to move beyond markets and rationing for most things. So, your enthusiasm is great. You're right that cheap energy would help with a lot of things (as long as it was also relatively clean, inherently safe, and long lasting -- like wind and solar and many other renewables). Ideally, we want an energy infrastructure that is inherently secure, not brittle and requiring now about a trillion dollars a year to secure extrinsically with soldiers and bombs:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power [wikipedia.org]

Still, if all the benefits of cheap energy or any other major innovation go to a few people, then we just have another problem. See Marshall Brain's short story on this:
    http://www.marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm [marshallbrain.com]

You're right that a left that focuses on rationing and scarcity is dysfunctional; that has historically been a problem of the Greens. We need better technology. Here is one US government group working towards that:
    "Sustainable and Lifecycle Information-based Manufacturing"
  http://www.mel.nist.gov/programs/slim.htm [nist.gov]

Praise Jesus! (-1, Troll)

LordThyGod (1465887) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864633)

And then there was light ... this is fucking great! Maybe there is Hope after all. Being a committed pessimistic, I feel the need for some restraint, but goddamit!

There's more to it than your personal preferences (5, Insightful)

yelvington (8169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864641)

If some of the people who post here were as smart as they think they are, they'd figure out:

* Whitehouse.gov is not running Drupal on a ten-dollar shared server at GoDaddy.com.
* Building and maintaining a large, continuously updated website is not something you do in a weekend with Notepad, a giant bag of Cheetos, and a case of diet Coke.
* Any Drupal project of this scale involves layers of extremely high-performance caching and multiple firewalls.
* The site's administrative tools aren't available from the outside. (This is not difficult to implement.)
* Life does not begin and end with your personal favorite programming language, database server, etc., or with the boundaries of your parents' basement.
* Security reports are reports of vulnerabilities that have been fixed, not vulnerabilities that lie in wait to ambush your site. A properly run open-source project has a documented process [drupal.org] for handling security issues.

I don't know any details of the site's technical architecture beyond the obvious, but it's blazingly fast. My bet is that when you hit the site, you're pulling completed pages out of RAM on a customized and hardened Varnish [varnish-cache.com] , but that's just a guess. The HTTP headers identify the server technology as "White House."

Or just a big ass computer. (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864949)

Seriously, when the government starts talking about hosting, they can just throw hardware at it. When you are able to print money, the capital costs of anything are pretty much irrelevant.

Re:Or just a big ass computer. (2, Funny)

saltydogdesign (811417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865307)

I work for the government, and uh, bullshit.

Re:There's more to it than your personal preferenc (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865037)

Building and maintaining a large, continuously updated website is not something you do in a weekend with Notepad, a giant bag of Cheetos, and a case of diet Coke.

You must be new here!

What next? (1)

howardcohen (244367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864679)

Will the White House hold a press conference if Obama switches to Firefox from IE?

Re:What next? (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864831)

Everyone knows he uses Lynx.

Easy answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29865069)

did they hold a press conference when they switched to Drupal? No, then why would they for a browser change. This news was reported by the AP and picked up by other third party sources: no press conference.

Open Source Education IT (2, Interesting)

micromegas (536234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864703)

Hopefully this will drive a push to utilize open source in other aspects of government. Specifically secondary education. School districts across the country are locked in symbiotic dependency to profit driven computing / IT services and systems. Linux offers a robust full service option but gets NO (very little) attention from the department of education. DOE, Please support those of us who are trying to save money with open source in the schools!

patriotic duty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29864787)

As of now, there are 471 pending bugs on the Drupal project. It is your patriotic duty as a geek to go fix some bugs.

Re:patriotic duty (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865089)

It will be interesting to see the first bug report from the White House. With all the layers of security they need, they are undoubtedly going to push Drupal's envelope in some novel ways.

Or maybe we will see evidence of a White House bug stomping party, or contributed code, first. I'm sure that the tech guys at whitehouse.gov will give back to the community somehow.

Is there a way to monitor drupal.org for White House activity? Can we see some "First sighting!" competitions? Or should we look for press releases: "White House fixes 37 bugs; reports 17 new ones"

This could change some things.

Why does FOSS have to be about ideology / cost? (-1, Offtopic)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865083)

I have a center right wing site. It turns on ASP.NET. I am rewriting it for a Linux hosted roll out because it is better. My reasons are thus.

Windows 7 is a better desktop OS, for sure, but, for programmers, Linux is hands down better.

a) You can transplant Linux, but not Windows. I ripped a hard drive out of an Opteron, put it in a Xeon, and booted my Linux right away. All I had to do was google a bit and comment out sbp2 from /etc/modules because my new motherboard did not have firewire support, and any instability was solved. Microsoft can take its TCO numbers and shove it up their ass, as I'm looking at hours of labor to get Windows up and rolling, versus being done for Linux. Meanwhile, the best answer Microsoft has is to do a Windows 7 REINSTALL, meaning that, my data and applications are completely f--- up, and I still have to come up with a goddamned license key for Windows.

b) Linux has built in support for ISOs and DVD burning and every other file system that there is. I do not have google for 80 different spyware tools to get a utility. I can type sudo apt get install and be done with it.

c) Linux comes with every tool imaginable, and has no baked in limits. With Windows, you develop on a desktop and deploy to a server, and the two are different. Linux -is- the server, so its simpler. There are more languages for linux, more evil things you can do to Apache, more off the wall out of the box ways to get things done. Visual Studio is a great product, but its really all there is. It's like a Versaille, a beautiful building for sure, amazing wonder, but no place to take a shit, because the designers thought shitting was bad. Meanwhile, Linux is the land of trailer parks and porta poddies. Might not smell so good, but at least you aren't shitting your pants.

d) bash is still better than powershell. On paper, powershell is better, but only MS could come up with a shell that requires so much fricking typing and looks so ugly.

e) Linux feels faster.

f) And, Linux yes, is cheaper. I paid 0.0000 dollars for an operating system that works to be transplanted and gives me lots of great tools. I have to lay out almost $1000 for Windows + Visual Studio.

It's like, I can be working on my web site on my new computer now, with an OS that's free and asked me to do little to migrate from one machine to another, or I can pay down a bunch more money to get at the data I already had, just because I'm using a new computer with it. I'm not a big socialist. I don't care about the ideology of FOSS, but Windows, you fucking suck!

Seriously, if Linux gets its act together enough to have a vision where your hard drive is transplantable from computer to computer, like it doesn't matter, with tools, data, operating system, preferences, everything, Wndows is dead meat. And Linux now, is getting very close to that.

What was te old CMS (1)

snsh (968808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29865157)

I'd like to know what commercial CMS the white house dropped... Tridion, Interwoven, Fatwire, Windows Notepad? It's kind of weird that's not being mentioned.
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