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DARPA Publishes Tons of Open Source Code, Data

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the roll-your-own-killdrones dept.

Government 39

An anonymous reader sends this news from The Verge: "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, sponsors a lot of technology through grants to universities and private labs, with projects running the gamut from robots to electroencephalography caps, to software and new programming languages. A lot of that knowledge is open source, but it hasn't always been easy to access. Today, DARPA has responded to requests from the research and development community by publishing the DARPA Open Catalog, a website that aggregates source code and other data for all public DARPA-funded projects." Chris White, DARPA program manager, said, "Making our open source catalog available increases the number of experts who can help quickly develop relevant software for the government. Our hope is that the computer science community will test and evaluate elements of our software and afterward adopt them as either standalone offerings or as components of their products."

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Mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161389)

Can source code be measured in tons?

Re:Mass (4, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about 6 months ago | (#46161431)

Yes [stackexchange.com] , although it's a pretty stupid unit to use for the numbers involved.

Re: Mass (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161437)

Of course, when printed.

Re:Mass (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 6 months ago | (#46161471)

If it's coming from the government, it's usually measured in shit-tons.

Re:Mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161537)

If it's coming from the government, it's usually measured in shit-tons.

Now the release is from the US government - I bet it could be measured in the number of very well disguised NSA backdoors.

Re:Mass (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 6 months ago | (#46161787)

And can be promptly re-written to be "safe"

Re:Mass (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 6 months ago | (#46163321)

With all this talk of "shit-tons" and "back doors" shouldn't we be measuring in "butt loads"?

Re:Mass (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 6 months ago | (#46161995)

And kilo and mega tons. Its the 'bama.

Re:Mass (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#46164623)

Can source code be measured in tons?

Is that Metric or Imperial? We wouldn't want to mess up the conversion....

Re:Mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46164899)

Wouldn't Metric be spelled "tonnes"?

Stuxnet (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161427)

not open-sourced yet?

Re:Stuxnet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161519)

Gave me a chuckle. Nice.

Re:Stuxnet (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | about 6 months ago | (#46162043)

Sure. It was released on the Persian github, closest to those who needed it most.

Good start!! (4, Interesting)

dwheeler (321049) | about 6 months ago | (#46161659)

This is a good start. If "we the people" pay to develop software, then it makes sense to ensure that "we the people" can use it, improve it, and distribute those improvements by default. See http://freethecode.org/ [freethecode.org] for others who think that makes sense too.

The URL http://www.dwheeler.com/govern... [dwheeler.com] has a longer list of software released by US governments (federal, state, or local) as open source software. It even identifies a few meta-lists like this one. I'm sure it's incomplete, but it shows that US governments do release open source software. I'd love to hear of other examples of such software (with URLs that prove that the government paid to develop or improve it).

Re:Good start!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161949)

I work for the Government (and read Slashdot during work). We host everything that works at:
www.gifttutoring.org

Also, the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) has a HUGE OSS presence: http://www.adlnet.org/ [adlnet.org]

Previous projects have contributed to randomization routine, open source oceanographic models, and robotic interactions (Player/Stage).

Everything old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161673)

It used to be that everything the government made was public domain, so more open than open. There was a nice library of this software. Then the law changed. It should be changed back.

Re:Everything old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46162167)

public domain, so more open than open

Until some cunt adds an apostrophe and claims copyright on the whole thing...

I guess "Everything old is new again" should be no problem for you since it sounds like you don't have a solid grasp of even the old concepts.

Crushed by Free Candy Saga II - Taking the Baby (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46161817)

Pre-hacked software!


if ( strcmp( cmd, CMD_INNOCUOUS ) == 0 && user = root ) {
// On innocuous command, Set the user to root.
}
...
printf( pattern, arg1, arg2, etc ); // Where pattern string can be modified by some user action.

// Return pointer on stack may be smashed now, code below may or may not ever run depending on exploit.

In all seriousness, the code will need a huge audit before I'd use it. If any of it requires a special compiler then it's garbage (can't trust the compiler, as Ken Thompson showed). Even if obvious exploits are eliminated, it could still create a series of machine states that trigger firmware or microcode backdoors, etc. True, if your hardware is fucked you've got bigger problems, but what you fail to realize is that above espionage the malware tries even harder to remain undetected, so even if pervasively installed they must be triggered selectively and discreetly. [theatlantic.com] The point isn't to wear a tinfoil hat; The point is why even risk it when there are alternatives?

TL;DR: Is was secret, it is unsafe.

Re: Crushed by Free Candy Saga II - Taking the Bab (1)

jarfil (1341877) | about 6 months ago | (#46161941)

Any code can have backdoors. Any open-source code can be checked in the same way for backdoors. So what's the difference?

Re: Crushed by Free Candy Saga II - Taking the Bab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46165197)

Any code can have backdoors. Any open-source code can be checked in the same way for backdoors. So what's the difference?

AC's incredibly paranoid post was pointing out that completely innocent-looking code may put a given machine into a state that triggers some seemingly unrelated [closed] system into a backdoor state. And one would have no way to check for that in the code given. So your best bet is to destroy your computer and go live off the grid in Antarctica so nobody will spy on you ever.

No Data! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46162071)

On the headline: though one might call publications and code "data", that "term of art" is better applied to things like databases and actual "data"... And I don't see them here--just code and publications.

Sorry for being offtopic, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46162121)

I'm not at my own computer but I'm at one I could log into slashdot on, except it loaded that god damned beta page with only two links: slashdot's front page, and Dice Holdings. Seriously, Dice, did you buy slashdot to kill it?? WTF???

HOW DO I FUCKING LOG IN ON THIS HORRIBLE, ABYSMAL, PIECE OF SHIT INTERFACE???

What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46162323)

DARPA Publishes Tons of Open Source Code, Data

Why does everything think it's so cool to use a comma instead of the word "and" in a headline? Does the printed media even still do it?

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 6 months ago | (#46163255)

I like it

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46164107)

Agreed! It's not grammatically correct either (well, grammar is only proper or improper in the eye of the beholder, but to a reasonable person). Writing is supposed to match speech. Commas indicate a pause. You wouldn't ever say "Darpa publishes tons of open source code [awkward pause] data." And that's exactly how I've always read it in my head when I see these headlines.

As for the reason, I'm pretty sure it's just to save space. An absolutely terrible reason on a website.

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46164315)

&

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46165199)

Personally I think & should be saved for true pairings: Morecambe & Wise, Penn & Teller, fish & chips.

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#46164655)

DARPA Publishes Tons of Open Source Code, Data

Why does everything think it's so cool to use a comma instead of the word "and" in a headline? Does the printed media even still do it?

They save a total of one space over the ampersand even; pretty soon it'll become common practice I bet.

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46165241)

Why not go the whole hog and use a +? Another two spaces saved!

Ooh, I know, any word containing the sequence "ate" could have it replaced with "8."

I should shut up...

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46165275)

Another two spaces saved!

Duh, one.

Re:What is this, a quote from Captain Picard? (1)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 6 months ago | (#46171181)

Actually, it's been common practice for as long as I've lived and that tops half a century.

Without sarcasm, for once... (1)

EQ (28372) | about 6 months ago | (#46164037)

Your tax dollars at work

Public domain? (1)

KC1P (907742) | about 6 months ago | (#46164261)

I seriously don't get how this is possible. Weren't we all told that works by the federal government automatically fall into the public domain (except classified works) since the federal government *can't* hold copyrights? How is having a university create the work with federal money any different from the feds doing it themselves? (It would be a "work for hire" if it *were* copyrightable.) And the whole concept of copyleft licenses depends on copyrights, ironically, so you can't release something under GPL etc. if you don't hold the copyright.

So this all sounds as if we're supposed to be happy about the government actually doing much less than it was supposed to do, or overreaching and doing what it can't do, depending on how you look at it. Every single line of code they've ever written is ours ours ours, no strings attached, unless it's classified.

OK rip me to pieces.

Re:Public domain? (1)

foma84 (2079302) | about 6 months ago | (#46165107)

It's says that the code is 'sponsored' and not 'contracted'.
If the government sponsors a research of yours, you still get the credit and aknowledgement. Should work the same with any kind of project, I guess?

Re:Public domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46165289)

I seriously don't get how this is possible. Weren't we all told that works by the federal government automatically fall into the public domain (except classified works) since the federal government *can't* hold copyrights? How is having a university create the work with federal money any different from the feds doing it themselves? (It would be a "work for hire" if it *were* copyrightable.) And the whole concept of copyleft licenses depends on copyrights, ironically, so you can't release something under GPL etc. if you don't hold the copyright.

So this all sounds as if we're supposed to be happy about the government actually doing much less than it was supposed to do, or overreaching and doing what it can't do, depending on how you look at it. Every single line of code they've ever written is ours ours ours, no strings attached, unless it's classified.

OK rip me to pieces.

These are works done by other groups with some amount of government funding (i.e. not necessarily 100% or even a majority of the funding is coming from DARPA), not by government employees working in government offices using government time. Open source seems like a reasonable compromise to get these groups to actually want to work on this stuff.

Re:Public domain? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 months ago | (#46171695)

Code written by government employees on government time can't be copyrighted (there is an issue for SELinux here, where some new files had GPL headers slapped on them and can't actually be GPL'd because they were written by NSA employees). This is code written by people on DARPA-funded grants working in universities and private companies, so that rule doesn't apply.

I'm currently funded on a DARPA grant, and we release most of our code under BSD or Apache licenses (quite a bit of it is already rolled back into FreeBSD). As I'm a UK citizen working for a UK university, there is no restriction at all on whether I can copyright things, but our contract with DARPA strongly encourages us to release code under permissive licenses.

Note that this is not a new release of code by DARPA, it's just a centralised place for tracking all of the places where DARPA has funded code that's been released as open source.

This is not the code you are looking for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46167653)

I've worked on a few of these projects, and seen and written far more of such code than is really quite wise. (My eyes, my eyes!)

A lot of it, not all, but by far most is well past critical mass. I've gone to folks and said "I need a message whenever you reach state X", they say they can't do it. I look at the code, and they're right. You really can't get there from here.

I mean, bright people and all. Really talented folks! They don't start out trying to write bad code. But deadlines and late nights and constantly changing objectives, often changing radically/drastically more than a dozen times a week (aka many times a day) over a period of months or years, never time to rewrite or refactor, constant insane levels of overtime, it all takes a toll.

So, cool that they're doing it. But I wouldn't count on getting much productively out of it.

American Tax Dollars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46167967)

I'm from Belgium, so I'm all for this, but do any Americans mind that their tax dollars are paying for software that Russians, Chinese, Iranians, etc. can download and use free of charge?

I suppose this thing is hard to open "partially", it just seems strange to me.

Offshore Dev?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46176839)

Browsing a couple of random code repositories listed in their archive-

I noticed alot of Arabic datasets that seem to be created/dev in the Kuwait area...

Is the US outsourcing tech dev to the Arabs, and publicly posting the results?

Or perhaps the US ships developers over to Kuwait to code?

My first guesses seem unlikely.. but it is very very odd data.

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