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German Elections Go Open Source

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the one-small-step-for-the-bundestag dept.

News 159

Get Behind the Mule writes "The Heise news ticker is reporting that the software used by the German government to handle the results of the Bundestag election (that's the national parliament) on September 22nd will be based on open source platforms. The system will be written in Java and deploy Tomcat, JBoss and MySQL, and is being developed by the Berlin software firm IVU (here's their press release), working with the Statisches Bundesamt (the federal statistics office). It's not clear from the announcements whether the source code of the application itself, and not just the servers it runs on, will be publically available. Nevertheless, one is reminded of the argument of Peruvian congressman Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñez (seen recently in Slashdot) that open source software enables citizens of a democracy to see for themselves whether the work of government, such as elections, is conducted as it should be. All of the announcements are in German, so go fish. The software, as described in the announcements, will compute preliminary results (which are announced as soon as possible after the polls close), run plausibility checks, and determine the Bundestag membership as well as distribution of seats to the political parties. It will use web clients for entry of voting data, data import, presentation of results, and preparation of printed results. It will be based on a three-level architecture (apparently standard J2EE) and deploy Enterprise Java Beans."

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WORST EVER TROLL FICTION COMPETITION (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495837)

Mandi's voluptuous curves emphasised the singlemindedness of a Reaganite generation. Her wholesome rump, which would do a farmer proud in even the most competitive Texan meat markets, once again interrupted my field of vision to the birds perching nonchalantly on the roof of the opposite building. Two years, three months, four days and one hour into my job at dotcomrevolution.com, and the word on the seventh floor was that the VC's were about to cut off our air supply. These gulls were my only break from the monotony of BSD server administration, and Mandi had to be punished for her countless intrusive hours at the photocopier.
"Your ass is blocking my view," I mumbled.

"What did you say?" she roared. Well, it was more an angry squeak than a raw. I just had to block out the irritating, high-pitched whine that characterised all Mandi's replies, and my instincts caused my right hand to jump onto the air conditioning knob for the server room, turning it up to full blast.

"You -- that again -- I'll -- the manager!" she continued, her voice drowned out by the healthy whir of the most expensive fans in Christendom. I looked at her and grinned. "I can't think -- that -- noise! Turn -- off now!" She was trying to keep her cool (an act made all the easier by the now exceptional air conditioning), but even a blind man could have felt the heat from her cheeks as they began to turn a rosy red with rage.

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Mandy," I responded. I guess she looked like more of a Dave than a Mandy, her smooth but noticeably dark follicles of facial hair contrasting with her pasty skin under the lifeless fluorescence of office lighting, but she would not have understood the reference anyway.

With that, I turned back to my console and resumed my xtank session. But what was this? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw water begin to drip out of the corner of Mandy's eye, while she was sitting in my assistant's chair. (Well, I called it the assistant's chair, I had not actually had an assistant since late 1999, when I selected him to be the scapegoat for my rather poor backup schedule.)

"Why must you always make fun of me? I'm just trying to do my job," she blubbed. Sitting close to me now, not even $10,000 of Taiwanese ventilation could block out her piercing tone. "Ever since I got this job the guys here have made fun of me for my shape, why can't they just respect me for who I am."

A change of heart that would have made Montgomery Burns proud caused me to stand up and walk over to the wreck. I wanted to explain this rationally to her, in terms of the mating habits of the human male, and the desire for a woman fit for childbearing and housework, but there was no time for that (it was ten minutes to five). "I'm sorry," I uttered, and rested my hand on Mandy's shoulder, fearing a lawsuit.

Mandy stood up, and without hesitation put her arms round me, whispering, "Thank you." I reciprocated, grateful for a secure office lacking in inside windows. Instead of letting go, she squeezed me harder, and her tears began to stain the shoulder of my designer shirt. I motioned to back away, and in doing so my hand slipped downwards, brushing against her behind.

"I'm not so repulsive, am I?" she questioned.

I was racking my brain for a diplomatic response. "I guess there are advantages to looking at you over the gulls and the hypnotising router LEDs," I confessed. "And unlike with the routers, I'm not called out when you break down. And you don't leave a mess on the roof..."

"That's the nicest thing anyone's ever told me," she interrupted. "Do you have a girlfriend?"

(I'm a geek. Do you have a girlfriend? Exactly.)

"I'm, um, er.. I'm playing the field," was my closest attempt at honesty without offending my manhood. "I dont like to deprive others of my attention by focussing too much on one person."

"That's a shame," she said, and then her tone of voice changed completely. "Because I was so hoping to score before next week's lay-off."

"NEXT WEEK?" There was no chance that I would be able to return my home-brewed Beowulf cluster of 'borrowed' workstations so soon, and I had expected at least two week's warning from management. "Oh, and I know about your Beowulf cluster," she whispered, "but I'm sure I can use my special relationship with your boss to make it easier for you to return the equipment. The question is, what can you do for me?"

to be continued...

Re:WORST EVER TROLL FICTION COMPETITION (-1)

The_Fire_Horse (552422) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495858)

HEY - this is a rerun!!!

You cant fool me - I've been itching to see what Mandy does next.

You gotta let us know.... does she do it or not ?

Open Source? More like Openly Racist (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495839)

The Open Source movement, otherwise known as 'Free Software', has been a topic of considerable debate on the Internet's most controversial site. The majority of this debate has centered around the technical merits of the software, with the esteemed editors argueing against adopting Linux by employing the full depth of their considerable intellects, and the other side hurling death threats and similar invective. This has allowed many who would not otherwise receive quality information about Open Source software to be made aware of many of its ramifications, but one issue has been left alone: The overt racism that is deeply embedded in the movement.

Allow me to explain.

Alan Cox; Richard Stallman; Bruce Perens; Wichert Akkerman; Miguel DeIcaza.

What do you see in this list of names? Are there any African-Americans on it? Absolutely not, none of those names sound like one a self-respecting black person would have! No Maurice, no Luther, no Lil' Kim. There are many other lists such as this, you can see one here. Flip through each page, do you see anything other than white faces? Of course you don't, because Open Source and its adherents are ardent racists and they absolutely forbid access to the sacred 'kernel' by any person of color.

Lets look at another list, this time a compendium of the companies using Linux. Are there any black owned companies on that list? Nooooooo. How about these companies? They all have something to do with Open Source software, any of them owned by an African-American? No again. Here is an extensive collection of photographs from a LUG (Linux User Gathering) meeting, more can be viewed at that link. What is odd about these pictures, and every other photograph I have ever seen of a LUG meeting, is that there is not one single black person to be seen, and probably none for miles.

More racist overtones can be found by examining the language of Open Source. They often refer to 'white hat' hackers. These 'white hats' scurry about the Internet doing good, but illegal, acts for their fellow man. In stark contrast we find the 'black hat' hackers. They destroy the good works of others by breaking into systems, stealing data, and generally causing havoc. These two terms reflect the mindset of most Linux developers. White means good, black means bad. Anywhere there is black, there is uncontrollable destruction and lawlessness. Looking further we see black lists that inform other users of 'bad' hardware, Samba, an obvious play on the much hated Little Black Sambo book, Mandrake, which I won't explain except to say that the French are notorious racists. This type is linguistic discrimination is widespread throughout the Open Source culture, lampooned by many of its more popular sites.

It is also a fact that all Unix 'distros' contain a plethora of racist commands with not so hidden symbolism.

It can hardly be coincidence that the prime operating system of choice of the 'open source supremacists' - Linux, features commands which are poorly disguised racist acronyms. For example: 'awk' (All White Klan) , 'sed' (shoot nEgroes dead), 'ln' (lynch negroes), 'rpm' (raical purity mandatory), 'bash' (bring a slave home), 'ps' (persecute sambo), 'mount' (murder or unseat nubians today), 'fsck' (favored supreme Christian klan). I could go on and on about the latent racist symbolism in Linux, but I fear it would take weeks to enumerate every incidence.

Is there a single unix command out there that does not have some hidden racist connotation ? Suffice it to say that the racism pervades Linux like a particularly bad smell. Can you imagine the effect of running such a racist operating system on the impressionable mind ? I don't have to remind you that transmitting subliminal messages is banned in the USA, and yet here we have an operating system that appears to be one enormous submliminal ad for the Klan!

One of the few selling points of Open Source software is that it is available in many different languages. Browsing through the list I see that absolutely none are offered in Swahili, nor Ebonics. Obviously this is done to prevent black people from having access to the kernel. If it weren't for the fact that racism is so blatantly evil I would be impressed by the efforts these Open Sourcers have invested in keeping their little hobby lilly white. It even appears that they hate the Japanese, as some of these self proclaimed hackers defaced a web site with anti-Japanese slogans. Hell, these people even go all the way to Africa (South Africa mind you, better known as White Africa) and the pictures prove that they don't even get close to a black person.

Of course, presenting overwhelming evidence such as this is a bit unfair without some attempt to determine why these Open Sourcers are so racist. Much of the evidence I have collected indicates that their views are so deeply held that they are seldom questioned by the new recruits. This, coupled with the robot-like groupthink that dominates the culture allows the racist mindset to continue to permeate the ranks. Indeed, the Open Source version of a Klan rally, OSDN (known to the world as Open Source Developer's Network, known to insiders as Open Source Denies Negroes) nearly stands up and shouts its racist views on its demographics page. It doesn't mention the black man one single time. Obviously, anyone involved with Open Source doesn't need to be told that the demographic is entirely white, it is a given.

I have a sneaking suspicion as to why their beliefs are so closely held: they are all terrible athletes.

Really. Much like the tragedy at Columbine High School, where two geeks went on a rampage to get back at 'jocks', these adult geeks still bear the emotional scars inflicted upon them due to their lack of athletic ability during their teen years. As African-Americans are well known for their athletic skills, they are an obvious target for the Open Source geeks. As we all know, sports builds character, thus it follows that the lack of sports destroys character. These geeks, locked away in their rooms, munching on stale pizza and Fritos, engage in no character building activities. Further, they interact only with computers and never develop the level of social skill that allows normal people to handle relationships with persons of color.

Contrasted with the closed source, non-geeky software house Microsoft, Open Source has a long, long way to go.

Electionware (2, Funny)

adjensen (58676) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495840)

An interesting concept, to be sure. Were that all of the political process was "open source".

And even though it is written in Java, they'll still likely have their election results sooner than we had ours in 2000 :-)

Re:Electionware (2)

danro (544913) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496008)

Yeah, if someone wants to file a federal lawsuit [findlaw.com] to stop the count (and it still baffles me that a candidate in a supposedly democratic election actually did this), they have to be really quick about it. ;-)
They'll probably only have a window of a few seconds...

Poetic (3, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495842)

There is a certain sense of poetic justness about using OSS as the engine behind a democratic process.

Very good (1)

halfnerd (553515) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495851)

I think this is very positive for open source software. It shows that oss can really be used in critical and important conditions

Re:Very good (-1)

hettb (569863) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495935)

I think this is very positive for open source software. It shows that oss can really be used in critical and important conditions

Wtf are you talking about? The outcome of the election has been decided before hand by Emperor Ernst Günther II. This election is only meant to fool the naive Americans.

Re:Very good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496030)

It shows that oss can really be used in critical and important conditionsSo can windows 95(hell, they use outlook on the us laptops (and sql server on nt?) in the space station), if you want "proof" that it works though you will have to wait until after the election ;-)

Better than Babel? (5, Informative)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495857)

Try the following translator instead of Babelfish.
I think it gives a more readable result, especially as it keeps the paragraph formatting.

http://translator.abacho.de/translate.phtml

Re:Better than Babel? (1, Offtopic)

adamwright (536224) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495977)

[OT] - Abacho translates using "Systran", which is the same engine as Babelfish. I'm not sure if they have a later version, but they should both be of equal quality.

WE'RE ALL GOING TO REGRET THIS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495862)

Jon Katz is going to be on letterman [cbs.com]. Watch the man make bad arguments in real life!

Re:WE'RE ALL GOING TO REGRET THIS (-1)

Serial Troller (556155) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495981)

How do you put a 65,000-line Perl script on television? Wait, you mean Jon Katz isn't just a part of Slashcode?!!?

Pure logic (1)

Spacelord (27899) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495863)

Aside from the usual open source/proprietary
rhetoric, it just seems very logic to me that
you want the system that you use for democratic elections to be as transparent and open as possible.

Is Java safe? (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495937)

Since JVMs can be written by people like Sun with backdoors in them.

Re:Is Java safe? (1)

Andreas Rueckert (138510) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495970)

You could get the sources from Sun and compile the JDK on your own. I'd also prefer something like ORP + the Classpath libs, but unfortunately there are not there at the moment... :-(

Translated version (-1, Flamebait)

Whistler's Mother (539004) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495864)

Election to the Bundestag with open SOURCE With the election to the Bundestag to 22.9.2002 a system the provisional official final result developed with open SOURCE often commodity is to determine. According to data citizen of Berlin of the software enterprise IVU , which could become generally accepted during an advertisement against more than 70 competitors, is based the software on a three-layer architecture, Java components and the data base system MySQL. For the data acquisition and result presentation as well as to the data import and to the print preparation Web Clients come to the employment.

A network is to form of the IVU and the system developed together for the Federal Statistical Office, begun with the national returning officers up to the federal returning officer. First the national returning officers are the results of the constituencies into the system to enter and to the superordinate federal returning officer to convey. Subsequently, the software with consideration of various plausibility checks computes the election results on land and federal level. From the data the system determines the lists of names of the delegates and calculates the allocation of seats of the new Bundestag. ( daa /c't)

Thats makes as much sense as the Open Source Movement itself. When they wake up they will move to .NET

Please review:
.NET beats J2EE response times on Oracle 9i [gotdotnet.com]

Correction (0)

moeffju (114331) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495867)

It is "Statistisches Bundesamt", not "Statisches".

Re:Correction (-1)

Serial Troller (556155) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495968)

I'm sure it is. But this is Slashdot, where our fearless Editors can barely spell such simple English phrases as "than" ("then") and "may be" ("bay be") correctly.

Open? Accountability? (3, Insightful)

Afty0r (263037) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495871)

It's not clear from the announcements whether the source code of the application itself, and not just the servers it runs on, will be publically available. Nevertheless, one is reminded of the argument of Peruvian congressman Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñez (seen recently in Slashdot) that open source software enables citizens of a democracy to see for themselves whether the work of government, such as elections, is conducted as it should be.

It's clear from common sense that if the code to the platform is open source, but not the system itself then there is no way the citizens can see for themselves how the work is being conducted.

Re:Open? Accountability? (1)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495941)

since it is not clear from the announcements, i wouldn't assume they don't completely "open up".

it would be absolutely fantastic when any computer-literate citizen could check out whether the voting system determines the outcome of the elctions in a correct way. therefore, i hope that what you (rightfully) deduce using the common sense approach, does not reflect the real situation.

does any (german) /. have any information on the dgree of "openness" in the "election-application"?

Re:Open? Accountability? (1)

WalterSobchak (193686) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495947)

Good point. However, does that mean that non-open source systems are not accountable? Ah, I see the misunderstanding! In the US, elections are automated. In Germany they are not, so all the system does is number crunch the raw data gathered by the local offices. All it does - afaik - is calculate the parlamentary seats from the votes by the so called "System Niemeyer" [iuscomp.org]

Anyway, to bring my point accross

1) The ballot counting in Germany is still done by hand (which is good, see US elections), so no software at all (opensource or whatever) is involved. You either trust the results, or you don't

2) You need the raw data to verify the system, again regardless of the software used. Now IF you
have the raw data, the you can verify the system, because the algorithem used is public domain. Regardless of open or closed source

So all this is is a little media hoopla, and possibly allows some students to re-use the code for some university elections. But it does - in no way - make elections any more or less accountable.

Alex

Re:Open? Accountability? (3, Interesting)

mpe (36238) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496174)

The ballot counting in Germany is still done by hand (which is good, see US elections), so no software at all (opensource or whatever) is involved. You either trust the results, or you don't

One thing parts of the US have not caught on to is the concept of one ballot paper per election. IIRC some of the voting in the US involves multiple elections on the same physical ballot paper. Which greatly complicates the issue of recounts, there was talk about needing software to work out which ballots were needed for a recount. As opposed to something like "sort out the blue ones".

You need the raw data to verify the system, again regardless of the software used. Now IF you have the raw data, the you can verify the system, because the algorithem used is public domain. Regardless of open or closed source.

But if you don't have the source you can't formally verify that it follows the algorithm. You could end up with something which will give the same results the vast majority of the time.

Re:Open? Accountability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496010)

open source software enables citizens of a democracy to see for themselves whether the work of government, such as elections, is conducted as it should be.


I would argue quite the contary. If the software is open source, it is all the easier for the corrupt to modify the software in their favor, and never release the changes to the public. The rest of the world would be looking at the original source, while the corrupt code is running on the server.

Re:Open? Accountability? (2)

mpe (36238) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496237)

I would argue quite the contary. If the software is open source, it is all the easier for the corrupt to modify the software in their favor, and never release the changes to the public.

In which case it isn't really "open source" in the first place. Anyway elections, at least in democratic parts of the world, often go to great pains to minimise the number of people who have a direct interest in the results conducting the count and to ensure that the entire process is open to the scruitiny of any interested party.

The rest of the world would be looking at the original source, while the corrupt code is running on the server.

Any interested party can quite easily feed the data into their copy of the program. If you have a situation where every candidate and the press get result A and the "official" version comes up with result B then it will be rather obvious what is going on.

Subject Here (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495873)

[notslashdot.org]
CmdrTaco: The inherrant flaw in the system is that people working for free won't be perfect.

CmdrTaco: Dissing someone popyular is a great way to make yourself seem smarter or more important.

CmdrTaco: Linux is better. But these days many people use it 'cuz its cool to be different. Its a fad!

CmdrTaco: people are always suspicious of everything. This is *slashdot*. Everyone is paranoid of everything! I'm paranoid! You're paranoid!

CmdrTaco: Some days I just go home so fucking angry because some dickless wonder with no information and a paranoid fantasty is convinced that I'm the antichrist.,

CmdrTaco: People are mean to me in the comments.

CmdrTaco: we have editors discretion.
CmdrTaco: we abuse it sometimes.
CmdrTaco: else we'd get bored.
QuoteMstr: CmdrTaco: So your own personal amusment is more important than a website read by thousands?
CmdrTaco: Quote:Hell yeah.

CmdrTaco: I want to sell karma.

Distribution to other countries? (3, Insightful)

serps (517783) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495879)

First off, congratulations to the German Government. It's good to see the German people upholding the values of democracy, in ironic counterpoint to the USA :P

The obvious question is this: The German Government now has the software for handling elections; will they now offer that software to the governments of other countries for (free|low cost)?

Re:Distribution to other countries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495890)

Lets hope the mean time between failures is ~1000 years!

Re:Distribution to other countries? (1)

karm13 (538402) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495905)

the biggest part of the software is probably specific for the german election system.
the most standartised characteristic should be that the one who got the most votes wins, and that wouldn't even be the case in a certain other democracy on the other side of the atlantic...

Re:Distribution to other countries? (1)

serps (517783) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495983)

OK, point taken. However, the business logic wouldn't be that hard in any case, elections being fairly simple affairs, unlike air traffic control :)

The point is that it's quite simple to swap out bits of the business logic that doesn't apply (especially if the code is open source). If the German Government can demonstrate that secure, reliable, comparitively inexpensive elections can be done on an open source platform, then other governments may be able to see beyond the Microsoft Solution(tm) and go their own way.

Re:Distribution to other countries? (2)

gerddie (173963) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496472)

the most standartised characteristic should be that the one who got the most votes wins

Which is also not the case in Germany, due to an error in the election rules - see here (german) [wahlrecht.de]

I predict: overload. (2, Insightful)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495883)

I have seen way too many JBoss and Tomcat things jammed, that it makes me ill. Some people use EJBs just to print out "Hello World". Why don't they just use static HTML, and parse those 42 bytes using a custom apache module written in C, so things might keep trolling better. :)

Re:I predict: overload. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495921)

EJB is an overhead for simple stuff, but for systems that are that complex EJB is great.

Re:I predict: overload. (1)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495961)

agreed, I also believe that EJB is good in your toolbox. You just have to first do the boring stuff, analysis, requirements, design, and detailed design. Then if EJB is the tool that it points to, then fine, otherwise. Just pick the tool at correct time, I quess :)

Re:I predict: overload. (2)

Kerg (71582) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496458)

Perhaps because they want a reliable system. No need to reinvent the wheel here, the J2EE platform is available as Open Source.

Whereas... (3, Informative)

Bennn (558883) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495886)

...The UK government jump into bed with M$, having trialed electronic voting for the first time last week. Any bets on a landslide victory for Tony come the next general election? Irrespective of which button the pesky voters actually pushed...

Re:Whereas... (5, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495914)

Actually, mostly Tony Blair himself. Ever noticed how much the guy loves to be in the company of Bill Gates?
In contrast, the german government had a left-swing in the last general elections, and with the leftist green party came a bunch of people into the parliament that had actually heard of or even - gasp - used Linux. Microsoft only realized when the parliament was publicly discussing using Linux for all its computers, and retaliated with massive lobbying, winning at least a compromise.

So this is only the latest event in a number of battles for the european governments.

MySQL? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495888)

Why MySQL? Postgresql would be more reliable surely?

Judging from the amount of posts that Slashdot drops anyway. You need to accurately record every vote, you can't drop 1 in 100,000 even.

Maybe if they are using MySQL 4 with transactions and all the other stuff, then fine. But really, Postgresql is a better match. And preferable is a solution where you can sue someone if it all goes wrong...

Re:MySQL? (2, Insightful)

karm13 (538402) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495953)

as far as i am informed, the ballots will still be counted locally (by hand), and the outcome will be transmitted to a central server, which then calculates which party gets how many seats in the parlament, a complicated process compared to other countries.

Re:MySQL? (-1)

Serial Troller (556155) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495956)

Slashdot doesn't drop posts, they delete posts. They also sell our email addresses to spammers, engage in Satanic heathen Communist anti-American homosexual orgies, and I think they rape little babies for fun and profit, too.

But they don't drop posts.

Re:MySQL? (2)

CynicTheHedgehog (261139) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496033)

MySQL is fairly reliable; the process on our mail server has been up for hundreds of days (and it is a 3.x beta version I believe). We have something like 50,000 E-mail users and it holds up pretty well.

It does occansionally suffer some performance drawbacks due to lack of subselects and row-level locking (Some of which is addressed in the 4.x series, but we're too chicken to upgrade). In this respect, yes, Postgres would be much better. But I can't imagine any seriously complicated queries being used in a simple election process.

Also, probably most importantly, MySQL has (IMO) a better security model than Postgres. That's not to say that MySQL's implementation is better than Postgres' (I doubt it is), but in theory it's great :)

My big question is why use JBoss and Tomcat? Is the former dependent on the latter? What kind of benefit is there in running both?

Re:MySQL? (1)

animaal (183055) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496097)

I think JBoss and Tomcat work well together by design. JBoss handles the EJBs, and Tomcat handles the JSPs.

Re:MySQL? (2)

awol (98751) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496422)

In truth election systems can be complex. The queries associated therewith extremely un-relational which makes an RDBMS a poor choice of implementation.

In 1989, I taught myself C writing an election counting application for the particularly complex system used at my university student union. It was only an exercise and so the count was performed in the traditional fashion, with the continual distribution and redistribution of votes until sufficient candidates had been eliminated to determine the council.

The computer made this process trivial and a count that took upwards of 12 hours by hand for a few thousand votes could be done in the application in seconds (no surprise there). But were I to have used an RDBMS then the number of updates would have been quite horrible and the indexing largely ineffective. Blecch.

Having said that Germany's preferential voting system is pretty trivial so I don't imagine that performance will be any issue regardles of implementation.

Re:MySQL? (3, Informative)

Kerg (71582) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496518)

My big question is why use JBoss and Tomcat?

JBoss implements the whole J2EE platform (including Enterprise JavaBeans, Messaging, Connector Architecture, Management Extensions, etc etc). Tomcat only implements the web layer (servlet & JSPs). JBoss can embed Tomcat as its web tier implementation, although I think using Jetty [mortbay.org] would have been more reliable and better performing choice as a servlet/JSP container.

Re:MySQL? (1)

T-Punkt (90023) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496380)

Well, PostgreSQL would handle overload situations more gracefully, that's for sure.

If you ever waited 15s for a webpage just to have a blank page or error message presented to you, you can be sure the backend of that site is MySQL.

On PHPBuilder there's an Article [phpbuilder.org] about the performance of the two with a real world application (actually, it's sourceforge). It's a little bit old now, but I guess it would look even better for PostreSQL now.

Imagine a concept like this being used in the US (4, Interesting)

dmouritsendk (321667) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495893)

The election results would be prosponed forever, because every single candidate that lost. Have hired a horde of computer scientists to find possible problems with the software being used, that could have effected the results ;)

Re:Imagine a concept like this being used in the U (-1)

Serial Troller (556155) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495943)

Dear God. That was the most misspelled, ungrammatical and incoherent gibberish I've ever seen that got a +3 rating. I can't even follow that mess. What the HELL are you trying to say? The second... "thing" isn't even a sentence...

Re:Imagine a concept like this being used in the U (2)

theolein (316044) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496330)

If the US does move to a standardized electronic voting system proprietry or closed, considering that it is much easier to sue in the US than it is in Germany, I think you would be right in the effect but not in the system.

Are you sure? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495895)

that open source software enables citizens of a democracy to see for themselves whether the work of government, such as elections, is conducted as it should be.

Nice troll.

If you think about it, using OSS doesn't guarantee that nobody is cheating. Sure, you have the sources, but how do you know that the sources you have are the ones actually running on the machine? It's not like they're going to let anybody who wants to reinstall the whole thing.

Yes, it does give you the posibility to check the code to make sure there are no bugs, but it also opens the posibility that anyone with physical access to the machine can install a version of the software which looks the same but has a back door. It used to be that only the original writers had that power, so now you have to trust a lot more people.

So, no, open source software isn't a magic bullet either.

Re:Are you sure? (1)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496289)

Hmmm,

Does that mean that if you write a virus for OSS you need to distribute the source code along with it too?

I can see it now, the virus writer got two years in jail for the virus and 10 years for violating the GPL...

Re:Are you sure? (2)

mpe (36238) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496294)

If you think about it, using OSS doesn't guarantee that nobody is cheating. Sure, you have the sources, but how do you know that the sources you have are the ones actually running on the machine?

Because "you" (being the candidate, the press or any other interested party) can feed the data into a copy of the program. This isn't a program to count ballots it's to assign seats using a proportional representation algorithm. In order to skew the actual count itself would need a massive conspiracy amongst the counters.

Re:Are you sure? (3, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496407)

anyone with physical access to the machine can install a version of the software which looks the same but has a back door. It used to be that only the original writers had that power,

Uh, not true. Tons of software have been backdoored without access to the source code. Just last year at Blackhat Europe, a very bright guy from Australia described in detail a method that could be used to backdoor a running process.

Another win for J2EE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495908)

Another win for J2EE!, Java OSS is looking like it may become more importatnt than C OSS in the not too distant future.

As a German citizen, I am naturally very concerned (-1)

hettb (569863) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495910)

The use of open source software will allow the National Socialists to break into the servers and manipulate the results.

Of course, this is what RMS (being a socialist himself) had in mind when he created the Free Software movement in the 1980s.

We should all fear the Fourth, the Open Source, Reich!

May not release source (4, Insightful)

CDWert (450988) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495915)

They may NOT release the source, and they dont need to.

If they are using OpenSource components, such as the server enviroment application servers etc.
They dont need release the source. People ranting that they MUST release the source, etiher are lost in a fantasy.

If I write an application for counting chicken egg hatching probablity and It runs under Tomcat, JBoss and MySQL I needent release a single thing as long as I dont use any GPL suff in the code I am handling myself.

That said it would be nice if they do, who cares if they dont. A private software company is doing the development, they may or may not have some kind of agreement or future plans for the software being written.

I am getting pretty sick of all the OpenSource neophiles barking they must release the code blah blah blah. I think you are probably a large part of the reason MS calls the GPL viral, and people actually belive them. It isn friggin poison fruit. The other reason MS calls the GPL viral of course is projects like this get sold on building upon OpenSource applications, taking gold from a dragon has a tendency to piss it off a wee bit.

Re:May not release source (2)

JanneM (7445) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495942)

If your egg-hatching probability application is going to be used only within your own organisation, you can include any GPL code you want and not show the source. Only if you distribute the application will you need to release the source.

/Janne

Re:May not release source (2)

CDWert (450988) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495982)

Absolutley true.

I am unsure, if in fact the Govt is considered and orginaization, or if by the act of voting the public is being exposed to its derivative works, a little cloudy this morning.

Guess its all moot since it not like freshmeat exactly has 25 Govt election packages hangning around :)

Re:May not release source (1)

Karora (214807) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496272)

If I write an application for counting chicken egg hatching probablity and It runs under Tomcat, JBoss and MySQL I needent release a single thing as long as I dont use any GPL suff in the code I am handling myself.

In fact it is stronger than that. There is absolutely no reason why they need to release any damn thing at all, regardless of whether they use GPL stuff in the code.

The GPL requirement to make the source code available only means that these people would have to make the source code available to their customer . Hardly likely to be a problem, because the customer is likely to be the one making the decision to release in any case.

Andrew.

Re:May not release source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496485)

You've missed the point.

The argument is that it would be good if they released the source code so that the public could inspect it and verify that the software is doing what it's supposed to. NOT that it's something to do with licensing conditions.

Hmmm (4, Funny)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495918)

"The software will...run plausibility checks"

Hopefully they mean on the votes. If you ran it on the candidate promises you'd have a 95% failure rate!

"Statisches" Bundesamt? (3, Funny)

mczak (575986) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495928)

I guess that should be "Statistisches" Bundesamt. Being a governmental organization, they might not be very dynamic, but to call them "static" is a bit unfair...

Fewer Lines! (3, Funny)

White Roses (211207) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495951)

Gee, if they had done it with .NET, they could have done it with fewer lines of code [gotdotnet.com]!

And left open security holes [newsfactor.com], and been vulnerable to virii [f-secure.com]. But, but, fewer lines of code!

And in other news... (4, Funny)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495957)

In a strange result of the September 2002 general election in Germany caused by an unknown quirk in the software, Linus Torvalds was elected Chancellor, with Richard M. Stallman foreign minister. Thanks to Stallman's diplomatic skills, 104 countries declared war on the recently-renamed GNU/Germany. Film at 11.

Re:And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496477)

Who mods these up?! Newsflash: these OSS story spin-offs are NOT FUNNY. Repeat, NOT FUNNY. This is 12-year-old humor.

Re:And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496531)

Yes they are you bitter cl0wn

Not the only use of OSS in Germany (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495959)

Hi there,
there is more going on in Germany regarding
OSS in government or public institutions :

The german Bundestag (parliament) will put Linux
on its 150 servers. See http://www.heise.de/newsticker/result.xhtml?url=/n ewsticker/data/odi-28.02.02-000/default.shtml&word s=Bundestag%20Linux
(this article is in german language).

Police in Lower Saxony ("Niedersachsen",
Germany's second largest state) plans to use
Linux on 11000 clients as of 2004.
See http://www.heise.de/newsticker/result.xhtml?url=/n ewsticker/data/odi-17.04.02-000/default.shtml&word s=Niedersachsen%20Polizei%20Linux
(again german). There is also a press
announcement about this on the web page of Lower Saxony Police. See http://www.polizei.niedersachsen.de/aktuell/index. html

Unrelated, but maybe also interesting :
Debeka, market leader in private health insurances in Germany already uses Linux
on 3000 clients. See SuSE's web page :
http://www.suse.de/en/press/press_releases/arch ive 01/smartclient.html
(in English)

I would be interested to learn what the situation in the US is with regards to OSS
in public institutions ?

Have a nice day (I guess, noone says this
anymore today ?)
Anonymous Coward

What were they using before? (1)

rainTown (536725) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496001)

My question is what of system were they using before to tabulate election results? ... And what is it about open source that makes it better? Also it would be interesting to know what computerized systems other countries are using to tabulate the results...

OpenSource for german schools (2, Informative)

darkcookie (323852) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496003)

Hi,

my wife is a teacher of a german primary school and there she is a representative for new technologies. So I get all the info-material the school gets from our government for consulting issues ;-)

And, i'm impressed of the OpenSource-activities they do for german schools. For example they support the opensource school-server project [heise.de] of the (IMHO best) german computer magazine c't [heise.de] and have a detailed brochure about the use of open-source software.

darkcookie

Are these guys crazy?! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496013)

MySQL? Isn't the integrity and correctness of elections kind of important?

Yeah, I know they are counted by hand but anyway!

Postgresql is unreliable and less-than-perfect ACID compliant but MySQL is a far bit worse, even with the hacked-in transactions!

Why not buy a really good solid DB solution with rock-hard ACID complicance, it's peanut money in a project like this anyway.

Re:Are these guys crazy?! (1)

theolein (316044) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496049)

Perhaps because if there is a problem in the election results, people will be able to see where it went wrong unlike with some other companies.

And how, pray tell, would that happen? (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496233)

are you gonna pull the latest MYSQL code from CVS and take a few minutes to find the off-by-one error which allowed the illegal-but-still-kicking Nazi party to swing the election? Please.

Re:And how, pray tell, would that happen? (2)

theolein (316044) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496278)

No, of course I'm not, but if there are say rounding errors or floating point errors in the code (this happens to everyone) and there *are* irregularities that get noticed, an independant commision of inquiry will be able to find the error with the help of a lot of coders who have used these tools and worked on the implementation compared to say having to go through an international court in order to get MS, Sun, Oracle or IBM to release some code.

Re:Are these guys crazy?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496126)

And your proof is????

I've lost no data to MySQL, but I've lost data to Oracle and SQL Server and PostgreSQL.

All of the RDBMS's out there are decent, when they're matched with the right problem, and run by the right people.

When none of those match up, you get problems.

Re:Are these guys crazy?! (2, Informative)

r3v3ng (563409) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496288)

I have never has a problem with PostgreSQL, its usability and speed kick over MySQL,
We have used out PostgreSQL server running millions of rows without a problem for a year or so now,
under MySQL I have performance drop off with only about 5000 rows...

Re:Are these guys crazy?! (2)

3247 (161794) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496171)

MySQL? Isn't the integrity and correctness of elections kind of important?
Well, acording to the article, it will only be used for the preliminary results. If anything goes wrong here, we will still have the correct results a few day afterwards (which is still faster than the US ;-)).

Re:Are these guys crazy?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496282)

Yes, but still! It's an election for christ sake, preliminary results will be distributed around the globe. I cannot beleive how anyone can think preliminary results in an election is not mission-critical?

Great except for one thing.... (3, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496070)

The press release forgot to mention what operating system the computers are using.

People might think the German government is using a Linux variant, but given that all the tools mentioned in the release probably work under BSD variants I have a feeling that they're using a combination of OpenBSD/FreeBSD, an OS that is much-liked for its ability to handle large numbers of transactions and its very high level of security.

SuSE (2)

theolein (316044) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496228)

Considering that SuSE is German (and extremely popular in Germany as well) I would think that it ould be them.

Open source? Like Florida? (1)

gordgekko (574109) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496209)

I thought Florida 2000 was open source. The source was available and the results changed depending on who "compiled" the votes.

OSS in Germany (3, Insightful)

theolein (316044) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496216)

OSS is actually very strong in Germany. If you take a look at the netcraft percentages, it's higher than in the US.

The German government could do worse. A proprietry package would probably do the job as well, especially considering that the actual counting is done by hand (although this does eliminate the possibility of machine error in the actual voting process and of someone cracking a voting line). The reasons behind this are probably economic: MySQL, Tomcat, JBoss on Linux with a web client cost a lot less to implement for all the counting stations than a proprietry solution and Germany has the positive effect of supporting it's own software industry (SuSE) rather than someone else's.

Before you start thinking the US should try this.. (4, Insightful)

Asprin (545477) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496234)

There it a push in the US to standardize the election process to try to head off the kind of thing that happened in Florida in the US Presidential election of 2000. I don't know how long Germany has used a standard voting system or whether they've done it - to this point - US style, but I anticipate a lot of 1337 s1ah5d07 p0s73X0ring along the lines of 'we should do that too, 'cause Florida 2000 sucked!' I want to head off as much of that as possible.

The US Forefathers were smart - they intentionally left the specific details of how to collect the vote and tally the results to the states, and ultimately, the local county districts. They weren't concerned as much about regional cultural and financial differences as much as they were concerned about the integrity of the election process.

If I wanted to rig an election in the US, I would have to rig it ONE COUNTY AT A TIME, because each election office makes their own choice how to operate on the voting day in question.

With a centralized, standard voting system like Germany's open source plan, I would just have to know how to rig one system.
The Florida election worked exactly as it should have - the election was just really close. It sucks that we couldn't just call the election at 10PM and go to bed, but you know what? Your vote *does* matter.

Re:Before you start thinking the US should try thi (2)

theolein (316044) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496314)

I'm not so sure. In the US you have an electoral college and in Germany you have direct voting. I'm not sure whether the electoral college system is open to abuse but I think, considering that Gore had more overall votes, that Gore would have won in Germany.

Re:Before you start thinking the US should try thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496433)

Actually you can not say that Gore had more votes over all. The truth is the total vote count as a % was closer than Florida's I believe. It we used that system take the mess in Florida and multiply that by 50. That is why we have the electorial college to prevent messes like that. BTW hand counting is no better than machine counting. People make mistakes. The truth is we need better voteing machines but I will not bet that will solve the problem. Last week we had two tech calls.
1. Does the lable side of my CD go up or down in the drive.
2. "I am stuck at the grey screen." "If you click on the file menu what does it do?" "I see the file menu. What do I do now."
:(

Re:Before you start thinking the US should try thi (2, Offtopic)

GMontag (42283) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496442)

2000 US presidential election Bob Beckel proposed to invistigate electors and blackmail them. Guess what? He ain't a Republican, he is a Democrat.

In 1960 a worse problem than Florida in 2000 cropped up and it was left to the President of the Senate to choose which set of electors to use from Hawaii, a very close vote there. Richard Nixon chose the set that gave the election to John F. Kennedy, because it was the right thing to do.

Don't believe me? Look it up yourself on Google, I will not give you links that only support my side of the arguement.

Once again for the cheap seats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496277)

JaVa Is NoT OpEn SoUrCe!!!!!!!!!

btw, THe lameness filter sucks.
MOM

Election finals are already in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496345)

Paris [2600-paris.org] proudly congradulates Commrade Emmanuel Goldstein [fazigu.org] in his defeats of Big Brother [online-literature.com].

All your ballot are belong to us.

Not exactly (1)

WalterSobchak (193686) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496365)

to handle the results of the Bundestag election (that's the national parliament) on September 22nd

As far as I know the software is used to determine the preliminary results on that day, especially for the media. The official results will be determined as before, that is without any software.

Throughout this thread it seems that a lot of US based readers assume German elections work just as US elections, which is not the case. For the curious: Introduction to the German Federal Election System [iuscomp.org]

Alex

california (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496451)

after all what happened with oracle in california it is good to see that some governmental organizations are trying to save money.
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