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NASA To Host Open Source Summit

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the patching-the-space-program dept.

NASA 49

PyroMosh writes "'On March 29 & 30, NASA will host its first Open Source Summit at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. This event will bring together engineers and policy makers across NASA and respected members of the open source community to discuss the challenges with the existing open source policy framework, and propose modifications that would make it easier for NASA to develop, release, and use open source software.' It's nice to see NASA keeping up the spirit of give-and-take that OSS is built around."

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GNU brought to you by NASA? (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457528)

I am hoping NASA starts to develop software. Like the Army did in the 80's.

What we did in the Army. (2)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457584)

Mike Wrote Ping, and did a lot of work on Bind the name server. Doug Wrote the System V libc library that ran on BSD Unix. Doug's Library let us run both BSD code and Sys5 code on the same platform for the first time. There was a lot more, but this is what people may remember.

Re:GNU brought to you by NASA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35457616)

Umm. Anyone heard of Donald Becker?

Re:GNU brought to you by NASA? (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458024)

A guy at nasa wrote the 3c503 and 3c509 linux drivers for a beowulf cluster he built there. Those drivers are in the main kernel now.

Re:GNU brought to you by NASA? (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458092)

NASA has been a huge benefactor to Open Source for decades. They use Red Hat Linux and their engineers write drivers (at least they did early on).

Re:GNU brought to you by NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35458204)

My engineering job at NASA would be impossible without Linux (or at least, impossibly expensive). We use all sorts of distributions - my lab is currently favoring Ubuntu LTS, but we also have experiments running on systems with Fedora, SuSE, CentOS/Red Hat, Debian and a few others. I love how fast and easy it is to configure the newer releases - I spend most of my time doing research on these systems and waste very little time fiddling with settings, which is a complete shift from ten years ago.

Thanks everyone!

BSD would make more sense ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458172)

Actually it would make more sense for NASA to license their software under BSD than GPL. As a taxpayer funded organization they should not be discriminating against commercial organization who are also taxpayers. That said, if you are developing software on your own time and on your own expense then of course you have the right to use whatever license you prefer, restrictive or not. I just think it changes when you are developing software at the taxpayer's expense.

It would also be more consistent with NASA's past efforts. Long ago I recall reading through catalogs of NASA developed software that was being made available to the public including commercial entities, I don't recall any restrictions.

Re:MIT/X11 would make more sense ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35459180)

I've always preferred the MIT/X license over BSD, it fits more nicely into source code header files and says exactly the same thing the BSD license does in four less pages.

Copyright (C) [year] by [copyright holders]

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER
LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM,
OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN
THE SOFTWARE.

Re:MIT/X11 would make more sense ... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35459496)

"Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell"

How are you expected to modify the software in any meaning sense without access to the sources?

Re:MIT/X11 would make more sense ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35460878)

"Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell"

How are you expected to modify the software in any meaning sense without access to the sources?

The text you quote was offered as an example of what appears in the source code files. :-)

Re:MIT/X11 would make more sense ... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468230)

"The text you quote was offered as an example of what appears in the source code files. :-)"

Of course yes, since that's its intended use. But AFAIK, it doesn't mean it can be used for binary distribution, which was my point.

Re:MIT/X11 would make more sense ... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35468260)

"it doesn't mean it can be used for binary distribution, which was my point."

It doesn't mean it *can't* be used for binary distribution, I meant.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35459628)

Because a commercial organization cannot profit from software under a GPL license?

Gov't should not outsource software licensing ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35459790)

Because a commercial organization cannot profit from software under a GPL license?

Because a taxpayer funded government entity should not license its software to others using a license controlled by a non-governmental third party. That third party organization should not be able to exercise any control whatsoever on a taxpayer funded project.

Re:Gov't should not outsource software licensing . (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461496)

The GPL is not controlled by a third party, and it certainty goes not give a third party control over a project. This is pure FUD.

The GPL was written by a third party, just as most software licences are written by lawyers rather than the developer, but this does not mean that the lawyers control the project.

Re:Gov't should not outsource software licensing . (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461728)

The GPL is not controlled by a third party, and it certainty goes not give a third party control over a project. This is pure FUD. The GPL was written by a third party, just as most software licences are written by lawyers rather than the developer, but this does not mean that the lawyers control the project.

The GPL is written by lawyers who are implementing the agenda of the FSF. Once applied the GPL exerts control in that it forces distribution of source, allows removal of DRM, requires distribution of digital signatures validating executables, etc. I am not saying these are inherently bad things, I am saying that a license that does such stuff should not be used for tax payer funded projects. Tax payers who in part paid for this software should be free to use this software in these FSF-prohibited manners.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464478)

Most of the time, no, but his main point is that we shouldn't restrict how they profit from the software at all.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (2)

boojum.cat (150829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35460394)

I work for a US government lab (NIST) and the software I write is freely available and not subject to copyright, by law. I would expect the same rule to apply to NASA. The lack of copyright actually causes a problem for us, because the GPL requires that authors copyright their code so that they can apply the GPL to it. That means that we can't apply the GPL and therefore can't use GPL code. I hope this is the sort of issue that this conference is going to iron out.

  -- Steve

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35460752)

I'm surprised to hear that, since in the arts it's not at all uncommon to use public domain work as part of a copyrighted piece; it doesn't seem like there would be an issue with doing the same with software. Perhaps there is just some legal guidance necessary to clarify that, in which case this conference is long overdue.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

boojum.cat (150829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466664)

I think you have it backwards. It's ok for my code to be used anywhere. The problem is that I can't use other people's GPL'd code in mine, even though mine is being made available even more freely than GPL'd code.

  -- Steve

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

snadrus (930168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35485474)

If the program's exclusively yours, add a dual-license for GPL and use GPL pieces to make a more attractively feature-complete version while allowing free use for your parts only. Nowadays most libs are LGPL & can be used anywhere without transfer of license.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461510)

I understand that your code has to be public domain, but you can mix public domain code with GPL. The FEF's lawyers seem to think you should have no problem:

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLUSGovAdd [gnu.org]

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464050)

The problem is that you can't distribute the whole package.. you can only distribute the NASA/Govt part (sans copyright) and let the end user find the GPLed parts and put it together. Even nicer if we could distribute executable images. Sure we *could* have the lawyers review all the license agreements and figure out a way to release the "derivative work", but that is a lot of work, for which there is no money or resources. There's not a huge number of IP lawyers in NASA ...

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

boojum.cat (150829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466732)

You must be reading that differently than I am, or talking about a different situation. My program is a large app that might benefit from including some GPL code from elsewhere. It's not an "improvement to a GPL program".

  -- Steve

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463518)

I work for a US government lab (NIST) and the software I write is freely available and not subject to copyright, by law.

The US government cannot use US copyright law to enforce its copyright in works created by US government employees on government time. The law does not say that the copyright does not exist: just that the government cannot sue to enforce it. This distincrion is meaningless in most cases but not in this one.

The lack of copyright actually causes a problem for us, because the GPL requires that authors copyright their code so that they can apply the GPL to it. That means that we can't apply the GPL...

Please talk to your legal department. You are quite wrong about this.

and therefore can't use GPL code.

And especially this.

I would expect the same rule to apply to NASA.

NASA, NSA, and the DoD all make extensive use of GPL code and contribute to GPL projects. Please talk to your lawyers about this.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

boojum.cat (150829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35466746)

I hadn't heard that interpretation before. I'll ask about it. Thanks.

  -- Steve

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35460718)

NASA isn't actually capable of licensing their own work, since as a government organization they can't hold copyright. Presumably this conference is about how they interact with other people's work, so license choice would be made by a 3rd party. They could have some input when dealing with their contractors, but that's about it.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461478)

Why is using the GPL "discriminating against commercial organisations"? The GPL gives all taxpayers continued access on equal terms, whereas the BSD license risks someone taking over the market with a single closed source version, stifling competition and effectively getting corporate welfare from the government.

It comes down to politics: GPL if you are pro competitive free markets, BSD if you want corporate welfare and central planning.

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461822)

Why is using the GPL "discriminating against commercial organisations"?

The GPL forces distribution of source, allows removal of DRM, requires distribution of digital signatures validating executables, etc. I am not saying these are inherently bad things, I am saying that a license that does such stuff should not be used for tax payer funded projects. Tax payers who in part paid for this software should be free to use this software in these GPL-prohibited manners.

The GPL gives all taxpayers continued access on equal terms, whereas the BSD license risks someone taking over the market with a single closed source version, stifling competition and effectively getting corporate welfare from the government. It comes down to politics: GPL if you are pro competitive free markets, BSD if you want corporate welfare and central planning.

That is merely FSF dogma, and not very accurate. No one can take over the market with the government written code, that code remains available to all. The only thing a company can keep secret is what they wrote themselves. That is neither corporate welfare nor central planning.

GPL discriminates against commercial organizations (1)

doperative (1958782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463164)

"Actually it would make more sense for NASA to license their software under BSD than GPL. As a taxpayer funded organization they should not be discriminating against commercial organization who are also taxpayers" ..

I don't think so ...

Re:BSD would make more sense ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463544)

As a taxpayer funded organization they should not be discriminating against commercial organization who are also taxpayers

LOL. Corporations don't pay taxes. One they start paying as much percentually as regular people, let's get back to this issue, OK?

Money (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457742)

I wish congress would loosen its purse strings so that NASA can actually develop a proper functional space program. I'd like to see ATHLETE [youtube.com] deployed on the Moon.

BTW, whatever happened to NASA's Cool Robot of the Week? It hasn't been updated since 2003!

Re:Money (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35457882)

BTW, whatever happened to NASA's Cool Robot of the Week? It hasn't been updated since 2003!

Someone probably demanded to stop updating it so we could plug the budget hole with the money saved.

bips/LSI/W+dog/DSF host georgia stone editing(s) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35457878)

additionally, we'd be much more than pleased if you would consider attending any of the scheduled million baby+ play-dates, conscience raisings, baby rescues & many more life loving events,,,, instead of doing & saying almost nothing, or dying. you still have the right to remain silent, so that's good? guaranteed to activate all of our sense(s) at once. see you there? thanks again.

Q; get together & discuss the fake 'weather'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35458148)

eugenics? disarmament? something?

nasa's license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35457912)

...is one of the worst "open source" licenses around.

From fsf.org/licenses :
" The NASA Open Source Agreement, version 1.3, is not a free software license because it includes a provision requiring changes to be your “original creation”. Free software development depends on combining code from third parties, and the NASA license doesn't permit this.

        We urge you not to use this license. In addition, if you are a United States citizen, please write to NASA and call for the use of a truly free software license."

I hope somebody at this "open source" summit will ask Nasa about changing this non-free software license.

Re:nasa's license (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458230)

From fsf.org/licenses :" The NASA Open Source Agreement, version 1.3, is not a free software license because it includes a provision requiring changes to be your “original creation”. Free software development depends on combining code from third parties, and the NASA license doesn't permit this.

Perhaps NASA does not want submitters to introduce a viral license via code they did not author. As an author you have the right to dual license any previously GPL'd code that you may now be submitting to NASA. As someone including the work of GPL'd code written by others you can not dual license. As a tax payer funded organization NASA's code should not be subject to the licensing requirements of someone outside of government.

Re:nasa's license (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458596)

As a tax payer funded organization NASA's code should not be subject to the licensing requirements of someone outside of government.

As a tax payer funded organization, NASA's code should be public domain.

Re:nasa's license (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461690)

You keep repeating variants of the same FUD. NASA's contributions to a GPL licensed work can be public domain, while the work as a whole and the contributions made by others can be GPL. No problem, its in the FSF FAQs I linked to earlier, so if you disagree its your opinion vs that of the FSF's lawyers.

Re:nasa's license (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461854)

You keep repeating variants of the same FUD. NASA's contributions to a GPL licensed work can be public domain, while the work as a whole and the contributions made by others can be GPL. No problem, its in the FSF FAQs I linked to earlier, so if you disagree its your opinion vs that of the FSF's lawyers.

What FUD, we seem to be saying similar things? NASA written code should be unrestricted. If people build upon that in non-NASA projects they are free to fork and license however they want. However the NASA fork should remain unrestricted.

NASA and open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35457976)

I don't suppose many still remember when anything funded with public funds was 'open source', when NASA technology was all available to the entrepreneur, to use, to incorporate, to build upon. Computer technology was, too, in those days, the Dept. of Defense being taxpayer funded.

Get ready for the Microsoft embrace (1)

msisamonopoly (908159) | more than 3 years ago | (#35458654)

My money is on Microsoft jumping all over this with a big embrace that "cannot be refused". And after the embrace will come a slow and painful death.

This is a perfect match (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35458658)

Two entities who have not accomplished anything substantial in 2 decades get together and do what?

Public dollars for open source only! (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35459544)

http://www.pdfernhout.net/open-letter-to-grantmakers-and-donors-on-copyright-policy.html [pdfernhout.net]
"An Open Letter to All Grantmakers and Donors On Copyright And Patent Policy In a Post-Scarcity Society (From around 2001) ... Foundations, other grantmaking agencies handling public tax-exempt dollars, and charitable donors need to consider the implications for their grantmaking or donation policies if they use a now obsolete charitable model of subsidizing proprietary publishing and proprietary research. In order to improve the effectiveness and collaborativeness of the non-profit sector overall, it is suggested these grantmaking organizations and donors move to requiring grantees to make any resulting copyrighted digital materials freely available on the internet, including free licenses granting the right for others to make and redistribute new derivative works without further permission. It is also suggested patents resulting from charitably subsidized research research also be made freely available for general use. The alternative of allowing charitable dollars to result in proprietary copyrights and proprietary patents is corrupting the non-profit sector as it results in a conflict of interest between a non-profit's primary mission of helping humanity through freely sharing knowledge (made possible at little cost by the internet) and a desire to maximize short term revenues through charging licensing fees for access to patents and copyrights. In essence, with the change of publishing and communication economics made possible by the wide spread use of the internet, tax-exempt non-profits have become, perhaps unwittingly, caught up in a new form of "self-dealing", and it is up to donors and grantmakers (and eventually lawmakers) to prevent this by requiring free licensing of results as a condition of their grants and donations. "

I wish I could go there though, but I'm a poor open source developer... :-) It does say something about virtual participation, so maybe I can try that. Virtual is cheaper and also avoids the strip scans and/or groping required to go to CA from NY these days via "aeronautics" technology.

It is unfortunate that more people don't take the implications of abundance made possible by NASA-type technology more seriously (see also Julian Simon), or we might be able to get full body scans when we want them at the doctor's office and also not get them at airports when we don't want them (like when we are no longer worried that people hate us because we support their oppressors because everyoen is afraid there is not enough stuff or energy to go around...) See also, thanks to space age technology:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_parity [wikipedia.org]

Or 21st century enlightenment:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC7ANGMy0yo [youtube.com]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc [youtube.com]
    http://johncr8on.com/projects/21st-century-institutions/ [johncr8on.com]

See also the late James P. Hogan's Voyage From Yesteryear:
      http://www.jamesphogan.com/books/info.php?titleID=29&cmd=summary [jamesphogan.com]

I guess no amount of fancy technology by itself can transcend irony or stupidity:
    http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]

Here are some heterodox economic solutions for our society to embrance as it transitions to greater material abundance by the sort of positive future-oriented thinking NASA does (or did?):
    http://peswiki.com/index.php/OS:Economic_Transformation [peswiki.com]

A past example of NASA's brilliance (during the Carter years), with the roots of self-replicating technology ideas that could bring abundance to the world (or destruction, if we do not move towards an alternative economcis of abundance first):
    http://www.islandone.org/MMSG/aasm/ [islandone.org]

See also some writings I prepared for NASA a decade or so ago in that direction, linked here:
    http://oscomak.net/ [oscomak.net]

Start by open-sourcing the COSMIC Library! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35459648)

COSMIC is a software library created for NASA including programs like NASTRAN
It has NEVER been made generally available.
Start there.

Open-source the FULL COSMIC Library! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35459706)

http://www.openchannelfoundation.org/cosmic/

Worldwind and Worldwind Java: NASA Open Source (1)

taoboy (118003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35460036)

A link to the Java SDK page:

http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/java/ [nasa.gov]

Based on at least this project, I think they already get it...

ARCs Java Pathfinder open source dev since 2005 (1)

refactorator (856252) | more than 3 years ago | (#35461572)

see http://science.slashdot.org/story/05/04/27/1510204/NASA-Goes-SourceForge [slashdot.org]
And this was not just a toss-over-the-fence. Most of the projects on http://babelfish.arc.nasa.gov/trac/jpf [nasa.gov] are actually maintained by external collaborators, and JPF just applied for its 3rd Google Summer of Code participation. With all the domestic and international research collaborations this has been a good success story for NASA.

Not NASA's job (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463512)

The space shuttle is retiring and NASA has no replacement planned. This moronic Open Source summit shows how confused the agency is about its mission and how readily it wastes funds. Those in charge of this boondoggle ought to be fired.
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