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DoD Wary of That "Open" Word

kdawson posted about 8 years ago | from the secure-the-bazaar dept.

165

joabj writes, "Why is the U.S. Defense Department still reluctant to use open source software, despite assurances from within the DoD itself? Blogging for Government Computer News, I found at a recent D.C. conference that to some extent the roadblock might be with that word 'open'."

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Why? (4, Insightful)

LinuxGeek (6139) | about 8 years ago | (#16125990)

I gather it is because of the act of taking on the responsibility of making a solution fit the problem. In a commercial or consulting role, someone claims to have a solution ( or be capable of creating one) that will solve the problems at hand. When a manager ( especialy within the DoD) gives the okay for a canned solution, the responsibilites are already diluted, meaning that if the solution has already been working for others, it is safe to assume that it will work for your organization. If it fails to do so, the manager can point to the other successful implementations and list the differences between your actual needs and the products capabilities. The vendor can then tailor the app more closely to your needs and the manager still looks good.

If we apply the same standards to Opensource, we can look at established projects like Apache, Mysql or even Openoffice and they are still safe because others are successfully using the software, it is not really a matter of a central point for support. For a manager to okay a more obscure project for implementation means taking on a much greater and unknown responsibility.

They'll change their mind (3, Informative)

Simonetta (207550) | about 8 years ago | (#16126995)

They'll change their mind when they go to war with a country that has paid Microsoft more than they have (or a country that Microsoft has purchased). And the entire Defense department falls apart from deeply embedded backdoors that have been sold to the 'enemy'.
    Global corporations are just that, they don't owe loyality to any nation or any nation's war machine. The Americans will probably learn this (as they learn everything) the hard way.

    In a similar vein, I would believe that all the ultra-high tech weapons that the Americans have sold to their more dubious allies do actually have back-doors that allow the Americans to disable these weapons should they be used against Americans by a country that has had a revolution. This was the lesson of Iran in the late 1970's. Hopefully it will be learned before all the high-tech weapons sold/given to Egypt over the past thirty years are used against the Americans and Israelis after the fall of Murabak's regime and the assendency of an Egyptian Islamic Republic.

Good question (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | about 8 years ago | (#16127099)

The problem is that the modern military has forgotten many of the lessons history taught their predecessors. Rommel was highly regarded, not because he followed some textbook solution or blamed the manufacturer if things went wrong, but because he innovated, experimented and improvised. The same is true of many of the "great" commanders in history - Julius Caesar disarmed the Celtic navy by using hooks on giant poles to rip the sails off. Hannibal got ruddy great elephants over the alps and invented whole new forms of combat. The American revolutionaries created the sniper.


Battles are not won or lost by whoever has the best terms and conditions from the manufacturer. If you're losing, you won't be around to complain, and if you're winning, you generally won't care.


Every time a major power (such as the US) has paid more attention to giving kickbacks to corporate sponsors than it has to producing successful products or successful missions, that power has had its arse well and truly kicked. Sometimes the power wins anyway, but it is not because of its unimaginative and self-serving attitude, it is despite it. It's not very hard to win when you have total land, sea and air supremecy, and can do round-the-clock carpet-bombing campaigns. (But even then, failure of imagination is lethal. Operation Market Garden got slaughtered because of such egotism.)


Personally, I dislike military structures. I find the notion of winning an argument by having the winner define what the argument was to be primitive and tribal. However, if we're going to have such organizations, we might as well make sure they're functional and concious, rather than degenerately repeating every mistake history has ever recorded.

not completely true (2, Funny)

drDugan (219551) | about 8 years ago | (#16125999)

I have direct evidence that some parts of the DOD engine is paying for products with open source compenents. Unfortunately, I can't go into details (yet).

Re:not completely true (1)

clymere (605769) | about 8 years ago | (#16126117)

Of course they are. You're hard-pressed to find any sizable system which doesn't include some open source components.

C-Span (4, Interesting)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | about 8 years ago | (#16126010)

I was watching a C-Span panel with US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff earlier today (rebroadcast from Tuesday 9/12) and he was talking about a lot of things. However, I was very positively struck when he talked about interoperability of first responder radio networks and how it's important that we don't lock ourselves into a proprietary network should the feds mandate a specific system.

He specifically refered to making it an 'open source' setup if we were to mandate specific equipment to avoid vendor lockin.

While I don't follow the open source movement too closely, it's a major reference, from where I see it.

Tech or Politics? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about 8 years ago | (#16126095)

I found this section of TFA thought-provoking: "In the military, leaving tasks unfinished until some indeterminate time in the future is simply not acceptable, especially in cases where life--and accountability--is at stake."

This is in response to Behlendorf's description of FOSS development as organic, relatively unplanned. It frequently doesn't include deadlines, guaranteed results, even release dates.

This takes the focus away from results and puts it back on method. If you use the most efficient development method ever devised, the product will be very good at time X -- but it won't necessarily have features Y at time Z, etc.

What happens if overall foreign-policy strategy, and even discrete military tactics begin revolving around a similar notion: that you use the correct means and you know the ends will be Good Things even if you can't list those Things in advance.

Re:Tech or Politics? (2, Insightful)

flooey (695860) | about 8 years ago | (#16126208)

What happens if overall foreign-policy strategy, and even discrete military tactics begin revolving around a similar notion: that you use the correct means and you know the ends will be Good Things even if you can't list those Things in advance.

I'd expect you might find that you'd get the same thing that happens in software: most of the time, it's not the best product that "wins", it's the one that's fastest to market and fastest with new features, even crappy, bug-ridden features. If you have a really good army that can't manage to do anything on a timetable, you may find yourself constantly surprised that someone else has gotten there first, which is an especially compelling problem when it's lives that are at stake rather than market share.

Re:Tech or Politics? (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#16126210)

It's better to have something that works well when it's ready, than to have a rushed half assed job that's ready much earlier, but doesn't do the job...
Especially in the military, would you want hurriedly built planes falling apart over enemy territory?

Re:Tech or Politics? (3, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | about 8 years ago | (#16127269)

It's better to have something that works well when it's ready, than to have a rushed half assed job that's ready much earlier, but doesn't do the job...
Especially in the military, would you want hurriedly built planes falling apart over enemy territory?


I'd want a program (milspeak for "project") that knows how to limit it's objectives, yet also creates a platform for growth and enhancement.

Thus, if we're on a tight timeline, we'd need a quickly-built airframe that at first is limited (cheap already-existing engines, older model avionics and missiles, etc), but allows easy upgrade to newer faster engines, canards, more capable avionics, misiles and strike capabilities, etc.

Re:Tech or Politics? (5, Interesting)

Yaztromo (655250) | about 8 years ago | (#16126329)

This is in response to Behlendorf's description of FOSS development as organic, relatively unplanned. It frequently doesn't include deadlines, guaranteed results, even release dates.

While this is frequently the case, it isn't necessarily the case.

Far too many people think that FOSS is just something you download off the web. Something that someone else creates, but which you, as the customer, have no control over. That choosing an Open Source product is like going to the grocery store, and that you only get to pick whatever products are being offered, and that you otherwise have no say in their design.

However, this isn't necessarily the case. I've spoken to a number of groups on this subject at length, and what a lot of people don't realize is that you can continue to use your existing sources of software, but that you simply have to demand that the developer provide it to you under an Open Source license. That's it. You can still contract out the development work to the companies you're using for custom development. You can still buy from your approved vendors list. The license that the software is provided under is a contractual issue, and thus is something that can be negotiated.

Yes, the vendor may want more money in order to provide their software as OSS. However, if you're a really large corporation or organization (like the US DoD), in generally you'll be able to specify these requirements. Either your vendors meet them, or they don't (in which case you take your business elsewhere). Same as any other requirement specified in the tendering process.

FOSS doesn't have to mean "downloaded from some guys website". For a big organization like the US DoD, this probably isn't terribly desirable (unless the software does exactly what you want, and you can either form a business relationship with the developer, do continued development in-house, or are willing to contract out feature additions and bug fixes to a third party -- this is, after all, the biggest strength of FOSS).

(I wonder what would happen if a really big organization like the US DoD went to Microsoft when it comes time to renew their bulk licensing contract and specified that the software must be licensed as OSS, and in return offered them twice the amount of the previous contract. What would win out? Greed and good business sense, or jealous protection of the code and the loss of a major customer?)

Yaz.

Re:Tech or Politics? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 years ago | (#16126923)

Doesn't Microsoft already have shared source with select partners?

Re:Tech or Politics? (3, Informative)

Yaztromo (655250) | about 8 years ago | (#16127008)

Doesn't Microsoft already have shared source with select partners?

Shared Source != Open Source.

Open Source is about more than just being able to look at and build the source code. It's about the freedom to redistribute the software with your changes at will. It's about being able to hire on whatever development company you desire to enhance and improve the software.

Shared Source is mostly just a rouse to appear open, to try to stave off a migration to more truly open options. Shared Source doesn't really give you much in the way of additional freedoms -- Open Source does (and by Open Source, I am specifically referring to software that is licensed in such a way that it conforms to the Open Source Definition [opensource.org] ).

Yaz.

Those are good points, buttttttt.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126929)

You have to assume the DoD is both smart and non-corrupt, and the evidence clearly shows that as a gestalt they are neither. There are some smart individuals there, and a few who aren't corrupt*, but they are a tiny minority. The DoD is the heart and soul of globalist for-profit military industrial complex actions. It is based on lies, good old boy kickbacks, promoting any war anyplace because it is profitable, and above all things need to be expensive and require a lot of maintenance to keep the cash flowing.

It's no wonder they are against the word open...

Re:Those are good points, buttttttt.... (4, Insightful)

Yaztromo (655250) | about 8 years ago | (#16127083)

You have to assume the DoD is both smart and non-corrupt, and the evidence clearly shows that as a gestalt they are neither.

Fair enough in this specific case I suppose -- however, my comments apply to any organization, particularly any large organization (as they have more money, and thus more leverage).

By way of an example, back in 2005 I attended a Health Informatics conference in Toronto, where a colleague of mine asked a panel of self-described "doers" whether or not they had considered Open Source software. I blogged about it here [mac.com] . In essence, they too were treating Open Source software as if it were a product that sat on the shelf, and not as something that you, as a customer, can demand. It is interesting to note that they discussed all sorts of development and partnership problems that OSS could solve for them, however collectively their attitude was pretty much to look for an existing OSS solution to their problems, and when they didn't find one, go to a commercial developer and use whatever license that developer dictated to them.

This is where organizations are going wrong with OSS. There is nothing wrong with using a commercial developer -- just mandate that the development they do for you is licensed under an OSS license. Canada Health Infoway claimed at the time they had $1.8 billion to spend in the field.

And maybe it's just me, but the customer with $1.8 billion should be the one calling the shots. The problem isn't that they lacked the clout -- only that they lacked the knowledge to know what to ask for. They are at the whim of the development companies they contract out (which has bit these people on the butt before -- there have been a number of cases in this field where organizations have spent millions of dollars and spent years having a custom solution developed, only to find that it no longer suits their current needs (which have changed since development began), and/or won't run on their current deployment environment anymore, necessitating scrapping it and starting all over again).

Yaz.

Re:Tech or Politics? (3, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 8 years ago | (#16126933)

I wonder what would happen if a really big organization like the US DoD went to Microsoft when it comes time to renew their bulk licensing contract and specified that the software must be licensed as OSS, and in return offered them twice the amount of the previous contract. What would win out? Greed and good business sense, or jealous protection of the code and the loss of a major customer?)

What would happen is that MS would quickly get on the phone with their lobbyists and start persuading their captive congressmen to start leaning on the DoD to withdraw the FOSS requirement of the contract, but to keep the price at the same amount.

Re:Tech or Politics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126724)

"In the military, leaving tasks unfinished until some indeterminate time in the future is simply not acceptable, especially in cases where life--and accountability--is at stake."

This may be the funniest thing I've read all year.

Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

C10H14N2 (640033) | about 8 years ago | (#16126207)

The problem is that an Open Source project would quickly become a proprietary project anyway. Take, for instance, VISTA (medical records). Yes, it's open source, hell, it was even developed by the government. However, since the VA's mission is decidedly NOT to provide tech support to the rest of the government, other departments that might use that system are left holding the bag to fully support it IN HOUSE, and that includes a metric ass-load of customization.

Where "Open Source" is really competing is in vertical, single-source support and in that department, it usually doesn't have an advantage. It's not that government is averse to using the stuff, it's just that they don't want to end up with something like the VA and VISTA where they have hundreds of full-time developers devoted to keeping it alive. They'd prefer to sign a vendor on to provide it as a service so they can get on with fulfilling their mission, not pretending to be a software development company.

The benefit of open source is that you "own" the code in the sense of having unfettered access to it and can continue developing it even if the original owner ceases to exist. However, owning the responsibility of perpetual development is precisely what government agencies DON'T WANT -- and, frankly, for good reason. They're not software companies and they're very bad at pretending to be so (take a look at the FBI case management system, for instance). When people make the case for open source on those grounds, you've just presented them with the worst nightmare imaginable, so don't be surprised if they scream and run away.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

g2devi (898503) | about 8 years ago | (#16126338)

I think you're missing the important thing about open source. Because you have the source, you can hire any number of companies to maintain the source if you don't like one vendor. You can even hire two or three companies to maintain at the same time to provide extra redundancy and provide assurances that no one company is able to push you around.

How about closed source? Take the VISTA situation, for instance. If the source code was closed and the company lost interest or went out of business. It would be stuck holding the bags for a product that they didn't have the source code for. Is it better to be stuck with no solution or have the chance to recover and fix things? Is it better to be trapped to the whims of a single company or have the choice of picking the company that treats you best?

Even if (closed source) VISTA where under code escrow agreements, there would be no guarentee that the code was immediately compilable or documented on how to set it up in the government's computers or that the code could be gotten without legal battles. It's a huge headaches and delay in being able to make customizations and fix security issues and the end result is that you're have a limitted form of open source where only you have the write to change the software.

Re:Hmmm... (3, Interesting)

C10H14N2 (640033) | about 8 years ago | (#16126427)

What people really don't seem to understand is the reality that it is often more efficient to replace a system wholesale than get a new group of people who have a year of "learning curve" just to figure out what the hell the existing system is doing.

So, pretend you're a department manager with a million bucks to spend on some piece of software and your vendor just ceased to exist. Your existing application is ten years old and full of bugs. Do you spend your million bucks paying the salaries of ten developers to potentially get you to square one after a year or do you spend a half million bucks on licenses and support for a new package and still keep five in-house developers on to work on the transition?

Most people choose option number two. That's just the reality on the ground, so if you're going to make the open source case, frame it in that context. Don't put all your money on "hey! you've got the code!" -- because that's the least of the worries.

Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (4, Insightful)

Tracy Reed (3563) | about 8 years ago | (#16126020)

Because the DoD allegedly likes freedom and wants to promote it. It is their reason for existance. If "Open Source" is hurting the adoption effort use the original name "Free Software".

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126048)

Or do like Microsoft [slashdot.org] . Use "genuine", instead of "open".

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (2, Interesting)

Fred_A (10934) | about 8 years ago | (#16127300)

Or maybe it's time we used some meaningless but loaded marketoid term instead of "open source". How about "Real Software" (tm) ?

With the added benefit that you could say "Are you sure you want to use Windows for that project ? I think we should use Real Software". :)

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (0, Troll)

schon (31600) | about 8 years ago | (#16126059)

Or better yet, say "Freedom Software" or "Freedomware".

However, this would only be accurate to the US's new definition of "Freedom" if the software was not only proprietary, but contained Sony-style DRM.

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | about 8 years ago | (#16126062)

Perhaps "LibertyWare" would be more apropos?

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (2, Funny)

daeg (828071) | about 8 years ago | (#16126085)

You need more redudancy than just LibertyWare. The redundancy ensures that if someone is unable to comprehend or understand a word in the name or product, the extra, redundant words would help them understand and comprehend the method and way that the word is conveyed and used.

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (1)

Jack Pallance (998237) | about 8 years ago | (#16126101)

Maybe it would work better to copy the terminology of the software policy from Kansas. They insist software must be of "Intelligent Design."

Thanks folks, I'll be here all week! Don't forget to tip your waiters!

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 8 years ago | (#16126169)

and the big problem is that would eliminate Microsoft from the word GO.

and besides the First big (data loss) Exploit for Vista will have this sorted very quickly (which DOD "campus" is closest to redmond washington)

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (1)

forkazoo (138186) | about 8 years ago | (#16126219)

Because the DoD allegedly likes freedom and wants to promote it. It is their reason for existance. If "Open Source" is hurting the adoption effort use the original name "Free Software".

Naw... Then it sounds cheap. I say we actually start calling it "Freedom Software," rather than constantly having to explain that Free doesn't mean cheap because it means Freedom.

Re:Use "Free" Software as in Freedom (3, Funny)

Tacvek (948259) | about 8 years ago | (#16127205)

I say we actually start calling it "Freedom Software," rather than constantly having to explain that Free doesn't mean cheap because it means Freedom.

People will then assume that "Freedom Software" is a euphemism for "French Software".

Re:Use "Open" as in "Wide Open" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126407)

MS software is wide opened for exploits. See... Open is not a bad word.

"Free Software" intentionally invokes Cold War (3, Informative)

twitter (104583) | about 8 years ago | (#16127147)

The term "free" is an intentional echo of cold war terminology and works for military types. Freedom is what they are all about and they are never supposed to obey an unlawful order. The American ideology of the Cold war carried over from the defeat of the German dictatorship and Japanese Empire but was firmly rooted in American history, writing and law. The core of that ideology is that free, moral people working in honest cooperation and competition are happier and more prosperous than people toiling under centralized dictatorships. Interesting expressions of these ideas can be found in the writing of Robert A. Heinlein, especially Starship Trooper [wikipedia.org] , which is recommended reading in the US Marine Corps. Free software is an honest effort to make things work, guided by a free meritocracy. It works and has become best of class because people agree not to screw each other over, standards to modularize their work make it so things are interchangeable and the fittest work survives.

Officers with higher degrees will instantly appreciate the peer review nature of free software. People who have published scientific articles understand first hand the practical requirements of repeatability too. To them, if you can't repeat it yourself you have to take it on faith and no military person wants faith in anything but the almighty when they can have proof instead.

The non free people tried to call free software, "software communism" but failed and may have it thrown back in their face. Any military person will tell you that Communist contries are really nasty little fiefdoms, where who you know is more important than what you know and the top guy is in absolute lawless control of everything until murdered. This more resembles the distrustful, back stabbing and intentionally wasteful world of non free software in methodology and results.

I'll quote the gnu.org sites, see what you think:

... what else could we say about a system based on dividing the public and keeping users helpless? ... One [non free propaganda] assumption is that software companies have an unquestionable natural right to own software and thus have power over all its users. ... [another is that] we would have no usable software (or would never have a program to do this or that particular job) if we did not offer a company power over the users of the program. [gnu.org] and Consider these four practices of the Software Publishers Association (SPA): [gnu.org]

  1. Massive propaganda saying it is wrong to disobey the owners to help your friend.
  2. Solicitation for stool pigeons to inform on their coworkers and colleagues. Raids (with police help) on offices and schools, in which people are told they must prove they are innocent of illegal copying.
  3. Prosecution (by the US government, at the SPA's request) of people such as MIT's David LaMacchia, not for copying software (he is not accused of copying any), but merely for leaving copying facilities unguarded and failing to censor their use.

All four practices resemble those used in the former Soviet Union, where every copying machine had a guard to prevent forbidden copying, and where individuals had to copy information secretly and pass it from hand to hand as ``samizdat''. There is of course a difference: the motive for information control in the Soviet Union was political; in the US the motive is profit. But it is the actions that affect us, not the motive.

Thats funny (4, Informative)

macaulay805 (823467) | about 8 years ago | (#16126024)

The last time I checked, the DOD has an enterprise license for RedHat Enterprise Linux.

So what (3, Funny)

jlebrech (810586) | about 8 years ago | (#16126044)

They already use "Open Fire", "Open Range" and "Openpray" why not opensource.

Open source intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16127336)

How about Open source intelligence [wikipedia.org]

Name Change (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126051)

Just change it to "Public Source". More descriptive as well.

Re:Name Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126349)

i like that one. i also like fair source and common(s) source

Re:Name Change (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 years ago | (#16126354)

"Public source" can also refer to the Microsoft Shared Source Initiative's look-but-don't-touch "Reference" license, which is considered unacceptable by both the free software community and the open source community.

All things considered... (1, Funny)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | about 8 years ago | (#16126052)

As much as we bitch at the government for hiding this secret project and that wiretapping, why should we be SURPRISED that they don't like the word 'Open'?

I see their point (0, Flamebait)

realmolo (574068) | about 8 years ago | (#16126057)

When the source code is available to everyone, that also means that it's easier for the enemy to find security holes to exploit.

"Security through obscurity" isn't a bad thing. If you can manage to keep tight control over who has access to the source code, you've eliminated one more security issue. Obviously, the quality of the code is more important. But still.

Re:I see their point (3, Insightful)

geoff lane (93738) | about 8 years ago | (#16126126)

Sadly, this is a fallicy that is widespread in people who are clueless about security. Take a closed source product from Microsoft for example. How many people within MS have access to that code? How many still work for MS? How many outside the US both have had access to the code and no longer work for MS?
How many are pissed that they were fired or laid off?

You have to look at security as a cost v. reward thing. It may be very expensive to obtain and reverse engineer a binary program which is used as part of a security system. But if it uses "Security through obscurity", you only have to do it once. If you use a real security system, it has to be cracked every time the keys change.

Re:I see their point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126222)

Come on now, the parent wasn't suggesting relying solely on security through obscurity; in fact, he said
Obviously, the quality of the code is more important.
So why is this a fallacy? Given open source and closed source systems that are equally well engineered, wouldn't the closed source one enjoy at least a slight advantage due to it's relative unavailability?

Re:I see their point (1)

FLEB (312391) | about 8 years ago | (#16127049)

It would, but can we assume that the solutions would be "equally well engineered"? Consider two such programs which were equally poorly engineered. One of the cited advantages of open-source is that the OS program would get its flaws weeded out by many more people than the closed-source program.

The problem is that, if security is important, we should assume that any and all flaws could potentially/eventually be exploited. With CSS, it tries to make that process difficult, by forcing crackers to bang against a black(er) box. With OSS, it makes that process easier, but does so as a byproduct of quickly eliminating the range of exploitable bugs.

I'll grant that this only works, in practice, when a program's desirability is such that more intelligent eyeballs would be brought on of their own volition than could be dedicated to the project by a closed-source company.

Re:I see their point (1)

themonkman (877464) | about 8 years ago | (#16126221)

I would potentially believe that security through obscurity works if so many of our servers that run the critical tasks of our Internet's infrastructure didn't run Apache or other Linux operating systems. The great thing about Open Source software is that you don't have to leave the code the same way you received it. For example, if the DoD wanted to adopt Apache to run all of their webservers, they could always modify or build an entirely new custom Apache-ish server off of the source code. In essence, that could make an exploit that would normally succeed on a standard Apache server fail on the DoD's modified model. As long as they don't turn around and resell it, it's within their rights in the GPL to modify it. That's the freedom in Open Source software. No proprietary software would allow you to do that without first paying them a metric ton of money.

Re:I see their point (3, Insightful)

Orphaze (243436) | about 8 years ago | (#16126273)

"When the source code is available to everyone, that also means that it's easier for the enemy to find security holes to exploit.

"Security through obscurity" isn't a bad thing. If you can manage to keep tight control over who has access to the source code, you've eliminated one more security issue. Obviously, the quality of the code is more important. But still.
"

Only on Slashdot would this be modded as flamebait. Use some logic people! Open source does not necessarely equal more secure. It often can, but it isn't a guarantee. Open source software usually presents an advantage only when a piece of software is popular enough to have enough devs poking at it. Yes, I know, all it takes is one person to find an exploit but I'm just trying to show that OSS is not inherently more secure.

Take this example: You have two software applications for, I don't know, missile tracking and detection. One is open source, one is closed source. Assume for now that they are equally secure. (Yes, this is possible!) Now assume that you are trying to compromise this system. You can grab one application on sourceforge while the other is completely secret. You have no idea how it works - for all you know it could do things completely different than the open source software. Which one will be easier to compromise? Now, I grant this logic doesn't really work for things like Windows XP where Microsoft and not the DoD create and maintain the software but the point remains for a number of situations that I can imagine.

I still don't understand why this whole "Security through obscurity is evil!" sound bite started. Everyone loves steganography around here, right? And I know the concept of hiding things in plain site is often discussed here in a favorable light. Are these not forms of security through obscurity (minus steganogaphy+encryption)? Would you prefer to store your Rolex in a closet safe or in a hidden compartment in the front panel of your dishwasher? And if you do choose the safe, should you advertise it? Maybe post a sign in the front of your house that says "The safe is in the bedroom closet on the right and contains a $20,000 watch. Come test my great security!" (Obviously a well hidden safe combines the best of both worlds here.)

Security through obscurity is not inherently bad. It has merit in *some* situations and to say otherwise is juvenille.

Re:I see their point (1)

evilneko (799129) | about 8 years ago | (#16126380)

In a nutshell, the point is security through obscurity is a good thing. Security by obscurity is no security at all.

Re:I see their point (1)

Danga (307709) | about 8 years ago | (#16126851)

Whoever modded you flamebait is a moron. I guess now if you even validly argue closed source may be better than open source in *some* situations that warrants flamebait. Very sad.

Re:I see their point (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 8 years ago | (#16127298)

Flamebait is the new insightful. Browse at +5.

Re:I see their point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126334)

When the source code is available to everyone, that also means that it's easier for the enemy to find security holes to exploit.

Actually, it means open source is reviewed by many more people, open to correction and critical review. He biggest danger of Windows becoming open source would be that reviewers will spew out vulnerabilities by the dozens per day.

If nothing else you can make sure there is not an covert NSA key in the thing. For that mater, there isn't even one from Microsoft in FOSS.

In fact, if everyone deployed a major version of Linux there support costs, including security costs would plumet. Microsoft fuels the security business by providing an insecure product, run insecurely but people who fundimentally don't care about security.

If you can manage to keep tight control over who has access to the source code...

Hate to tell you, Microsoft has had source code stolen and compromized. Some other threads offer details. And given Microsoft's track record on security, I wouldn't doubt Vista source is out there already.

But the real truth is in the money. http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,117487-page,1/ar ticle.html [pcworld.com]

Appearance is everything (3, Interesting)

Malakusen (961638) | about 8 years ago | (#16126065)

As someone in the military, I can tell you for sure that appearance and impression matters MUCH more then function or realism. It's all about how it looks or how it sounds, not what it does or how well it does it. There's a reason our fighter planes aren't called the Kitty or the Puppy. Heh heh, the F-22 Puppy, that'd be funny.

I dunno (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 years ago | (#16126130)

'Hello Kitty Helo' sounds pretty good to me...

Just need some thinking out of the old helmet. It could work.

Re:Appearance is everything (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#16126141)

There's a reason our fighter planes aren't called the Kitty or the Puppy.

The Puppy [theaerodrome.com]

KFG

Re:Appearance is everything (1)

mattpointblank (936343) | about 8 years ago | (#16126183)

And The Kitty [typepad.com] .

Re:Appearance is everything (2, Interesting)

m94mni (541438) | about 8 years ago | (#16126458)

The all-time most popular swedish military plane was the "J29 Flygande Tunnan" - Flying Barrel.

Re:Appearance is everything (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 8 years ago | (#16126590)

There's a reason our fighter planes aren't called the Kitty or the Puppy.

We had one called the Buffalo once...and that was pretty descriptive of its flight characteristics.

rj

Re:Appearance is everything (2, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | about 8 years ago | (#16127331)

here's a reason our fighter planes aren't called the Kitty or the Puppy.
At least with that name nobody would dare kick it. Deploy it and all foes would fall upon themselves trying to tickle it under the chin until it started firing. You could certainly build some sort of strategy around that.

If the DoD write some software ... (1)

quiberon2 (986274) | about 8 years ago | (#16126067)

If the DoD write some software, then it either has to be 'secret' (not released to the public), or 'open' (given as source code for all to use).

Copyrights and patents are 'private' rights. The DoD, being part of the US Government, can't hold any 'private' rights. They can buy (the right to use some) closed source software, sure, but if they create any software then they cannot sell it.

Have to keep it secret or give it away.

Re:If the DoD write some software ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126112)

And thats why the DOD doesnt write very much software, or create very much hardware. The prime contractor for any given system writes the software for the DOD. Normally the contract that pays for the software specifies that the DOD has unlimited license for the software in question (and the source code cause they paid for it). However the contractor still has the right to patent technologies that are used to develop the system.

Re:If the DoD write some software ... (1)

NoTheory (580275) | about 8 years ago | (#16126154)

This isn't true.

Even if they alter, extend, or otherwise change a piece of GPL software, the source is only open if they're distributing the software. If they're only using it in-house, or only distributing to trusted recipients, then there's no issue. As far as i know, you can't file freedom of information act requests for pieces of software :P Just cause you can't sell a piece of software, doesn't mean that they have to give it away to whomever asks (although from the discussions of GPL 3, it sounds like this would be more of an issue, since it covers hosted software too).

Re:If the DoD write some software ... (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#16126216)

As far as i know, you can't file freedom of information act requests for pieces of software :P

Why not? Are you sure about this? Works of the federal government are automatically in the public domain. If they create a work of code, and it is recorded by a federal agency, it is public domain and should be available for request.

Re:If the DoD write some software ... (1)

NoTheory (580275) | about 8 years ago | (#16126397)

Unfortunately i don't have time to properly research this at the moment, so i'm going to be irresponsible and simply quote the first thing [dod.mil] i have come across that looks definitive:

What is a record?
A record is the product(s) of data compilation, such as all books, papers, maps, and photographs, machine readable materials, inclusive of those in electronic form or format, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteris- tics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law in connection with the transaction of public business and in Department of Defense possession and control at the time the FOIA request is made.

That's pulled from the DoD's Freedom of information Act Handbook, available through the DoD's FOIA office [dod.mil] (down at the bottom of the page [dod.mil] ).

From the passage above, it would seem that citizens can request any existing data output or document from a federal agency (including the DoD). Given that fact, i would not assume that the programs that produced that data output would be subject to the same output. I am curious whether you could request software manuals however (which would be true for open or closed source software).

Re:If the DoD write some software ... (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#16126425)

I agree that it doesn't categorically apply to all software in use by the government. In fact, most software would not be covered because the agency didn't create it. But if the agency is itself producing the software, then the software is itself a data output from their operations and I would argue that it is covered by the above provisions.

For one, fear of being too open. (1)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | about 8 years ago | (#16126088)

You have to admit, at first glance it is a bit worrisome to use a product that is totally open for all the worlds eyes and ears to see. Combine that with the fact that most of the guys in charge aren't particularily computer savvy, and it isn't hard to see why open source would held back.

MS has worked quite well for most things that the military has needed in the past. At least it was when I was in. I can see how "open" might be construed negatively.

Re:For one, fear of being too open. (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#16126249)

Most governments, including China, have access to the Microsoft Windows source code. This means that the enemy-of-the-week probably has it too. From a military perspective, that means that the product is 'totally open for all the worlds [sic] eyes and ears to see'. And it doesn't exactly have a great security record...

Actually Not (2, Informative)

YetAnotherBob (988800) | about 8 years ago | (#16126802)

I worked on a secret level access facility for the Air Force a few years ago. There were two computer systems. All classified materials were to go on the Sun network. Cables had to be mounted below the ceiling, where they could be visually inspected constantly, etc. The Microsoft boxes were limited to personal use only. Yes, Microsoft has a security level approval (pretty much granted by Congress over protest.) But, if you read it, there are all kinds of limitations. No network connections allowed, no removable media, etc. Truth is, the Military knows that Windows cannot be secured. My son was in the Army and he confirms. All sensitive and above information was kept on Unix or Linux. Windows is not suitable for such use. (this was as of a few months ago.) that doesn't mean it doesn't get used that way, just that it's the reason for a lot of the leaks that have happened in recent years, and that is recognized.

And that my friends.... (4, Insightful)

paroneayea (642895) | about 8 years ago | (#16126116)

...is why OpenBSD is so infamous for being insecure.

[ANN] Open-Warfare v 1.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126122)

The planned Open-Warfare v 1.0 has been discontinued, the project will now be segregated into the BSD licensed Open-Genocide and GPL'd Open-Apocolypse components. Your tax dollars at work.

NMCI (5, Interesting)

IgD (232964) | about 8 years ago | (#16126134)

I work in a military environment. Recently our computers were transitioned to NMCI. Result: All open source is strictly prohibited. My workspace had designed a really awesome database powered by MySQL and other open source technology. When NMCI came online we were SOL. When we asked for help, we were advised we could spend a $xxx,xxx and purchase a Microsoft SQL Server license instead. When we pushed the issue, we were told that we were welcome to submit MySQL to NMCI for approval but that no one knew how to file the paperwork and no one had ever seen any software approved before. My take: It's a money scam. Somehow NMCI and Microsoft profit from each other with an exclusive agreement.

Re:NMCI (3, Informative)

blofeld42 (854237) | about 8 years ago | (#16126187)

It's a money scam, but the perp isn't Microsoft.

Before software goes onto NMCI it has to be certified. The certification process is obscure and not well documented, so the people doing the certification clean up--it takes around $30K of contractor work to get the software certified. It's full employment for DoD contractors who know something about NMCI certification.

Re:NMCI (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 8 years ago | (#16126313)

(...) we could spend a $xxx,xxx and purchase a Microsoft SQL Server license instead. When we pushed the issue, we were told that we were welcome to submit MySQL to NMCI for approval but that no one knew how to file the paperwork and no one had ever seen any software approved before.

Now, in a sane system you would ask "Show me the documentation that is the basis for Microsoft SQL Server's approval, and we'll provide equal documentation." The reason it probably does not work is that the documentation involves a large check.

Re:NMCI (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#16126719)

in a sane system you would ask "Show me the documentation that is the basis for Microsoft SQL Server's approval, and we'll provide equal documentation." The reason it probably does not work is that the documentation involves a large check.

a trivial response and lazy.

if you do not understand your own procurement system you are not ready to compete with Microsoft Federal Systems

---which does nothing on its own, but partners with the big boys on projects like the Reagan. Microsoft Appoints Federal Business VP" [crn.com]

Why don't the change the name from "Open Source" (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | about 8 years ago | (#16126139)

to "Free To Examine" ??

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126149)

Huh? This just sounds like a made up reason to point fingers at an easy target, the DoD. My experience working at various DoD facilities is that Linux is quite common. Esp. Red Hat since the DoD gave it the thumbs up several years ago. Not to mention the NSA's SELinux.

Like I said... easy target. If you really want to be daring do the finger pointing at the major Linux companies for not doing enough to make it more workstation and personal desktop friendly. Or at the local and state agencies who could be doing more to save taxpayer dollar$ by not paying outrageous licensing fees to the likes of Oracle, Sun, Microsoft, et al. Grassroots Linux!!!

So basically, what you're saying is... (1)

thewils (463314) | about 8 years ago | (#16126189)

...that the wrong people are making the decisions on which software to use. They're going off its label rather than its functionality.

and MS Open License & MS Open XML! (1)

msisamonopoly (908159) | about 8 years ago | (#16126190)

I guess that means the DoD will no longer buy MS software licenses. After all, Microsoft now calls that the Microsoft Open License:
http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/programs/open/ [microsoft.com]

And I guess there is no way they could use the new MS Office Open XML file formats either:
http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/itpro/file overview.mspx/ [microsoft.com]

What is really missing: (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 8 years ago | (#16126195)

Open Minds.

The "Donald" Issue... (0, Flamebait)

MosesJones (55544) | about 8 years ago | (#16126215)

Its probably a Rumsfeld problem, you can imagine the situation

Today's Agenda
1) Break Geneva convention
2) Set up illegal prisons overseas
3) Hide report into WMD
4) Cover-up issues around troop deployments
5) Should we approve Open software use?
6) Prepare for Senate investigation commitee meeting

I mean by the time he got to item 5 he was unlikely to go for openness.

Re:The "Donald" Issue... (1)

EugeneK (50783) | about 8 years ago | (#16126333)

"You go to war with the software you have, not the software you might wish to have or the software you could have gotten under a Free license."

Prior Use (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | about 8 years ago | (#16126240)

We would do well to remember that "open sources" are things like phone books and newspapers, long before "open source" software.

Really, the use of "open source" for software is a pun. The original is descriptive, the pun is not so descriptive unless you know what "source code" is.

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126277)

If they're not doing anything wrong, then they don't have anything to hide.

They Can Still Be Grateful.... (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#16126285)

....that they don't have to use the word "free".

"Freedom Sauce"... (2, Funny)

adnonsense (826530) | about 8 years ago | (#16126301)

would be my suggestion for a DoD-friendly monicker.

Also, I recall whenever I install Oracle (closed source) I have to click an agreement that I will not use the software in the design or production of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. I've never encountered such a clause when using open source software, so maybe this might be something that would appeal to the DoD, who I presume would rather not be tracked down by one of Larry Ellison's hit squads.

Re:"Freedom Sauce"... (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | about 8 years ago | (#16126626)

That's a rather silly license condition. I think WMDs make you immune to software license agreements.

I've never encountered such a clause when using open source software
There was a /. article on an open source group who used a modified GPL license that banned all military use.

A handful of reasons (5, Informative)

NitsujTPU (19263) | about 8 years ago | (#16126353)

1) Liability. Contractors want somebody to sue if something goes wrong. The DoD will blame the contractor.
2) Specs. Usually, the system is being developed is meant to replace another system that is in-place. The only things to be changed are what are specced out. This doesn't prevent things from being entirely rewritten, but it usually stays on an existing DoD platform.
3) Speaking of platforms, check out the existing specced out platforms. Lots of people go with DIICOE, or GCCS for various reasons. Some might include a desire to get something included as a DIICOE segment, which is profitable, or GCCS, because it's ubiquitous.
4) STIGs. If there isn't a STIG written for it, you're going to have a harder time getting approval to operate it on a classified network. Even if all of your major apps are covered, you'll have to get extensions regarding applications that are not covered. Extensions are not intended to be waivers... so, you're only supposed to get an extension if you intend to replace it. It is hard to justify an extension for new software. Why not just write it in a compliant fashion? Because the security audit will be more of a PITA, they avoid any step into the unknown. Some of this is just inertia.
5) Security through obscurity. It sounds asinine, but the DoD doesn't rely on security through obscurity.... they rely on anything that is considered a good practice, obscurity is just one of those many practices. It's not that they are using telnet or anything silly like that. It's just that they want as many layers as possible.
6) Common open source is embraced. Everyone runs Apache. It's as ubiquitous as IIS. It's the things that are considered more "out there" that aren't.

All of that aside, there have been open source initiatives, but contractors have been reluctant to bite. Reasons vary, but this is the essential dynamic. The DoD retains the rights to most of the source code for projects that they fund, so, they already have the source code... they give it to anybody that they please, including the next contractor to work on the project. Contractors don't want to share source with each other for competitive reasons. Since they're all bidding to produce identical products, giving other contractors the ability to develop experience with a product can only hurt their business, this experience is their primary bargaining chip when bidding (that and the ability to undercut their competitors, or qualify for special considerations, such as being a small business).

Then there is the concern of enabling foreign interests to develop commensurate technologies. Nobody wants to share code to decode IFF signals, or to build similar systems. Thinking that the government would publish code to do these things is just asinine.

You always have your crumudgeons who also will just resist open source... which is the same even outside of DoD interests, but the DoD comes with a host of other concerns. All of these in mind, I'm not sure that the DoD is necessarily stilted against open source. Some sectors of the DoD have embraced it quite readily... these are just the faster-moving sectors who adopt technologies more readily. The DoD is a very large entity, and, as such, slow adoption, when combined with very well established platforms results in this exact behavior.

And just how much money (1)

bxbaser (252102) | about 8 years ago | (#16126383)

does the open source community spend on lobbyists ?

$0.00 ?

And you wonder why its not used.

"Open" misnomer (1)

GLowder (622780) | about 8 years ago | (#16126410)


I recently advised a few people at work to consider OpenOffice as an alternative to the use of MS Office. I was met with an answer I didn't expect. One commented that "it looks interesting, but I don't want just anyone to be able to read all of my files." This took me aback a minute until I realized that they assumed "Open" meant their data/files/Harddrive where "Open" to inspection by anyone "online". It takes a while to explain to this class of computer user just what is meant by the labels used by the "Open Source" community.

It's this same group of people that were convinced once they couldn't use Thunderbird to check their email because "well my ISP automatically sets up and uses /insert outlook or similar client here/".

Schizophrenic DoD (1)

rchatterjee (211000) | about 8 years ago | (#16126468)

You gotta love the schizophrenic nature of the DoD, on one hand they have elements afraid of open source because of the word "open" and on the other hand the NSA, an arm of the DoD and the group in charge of computer security, not only uses open source based software but has even contributed to it.

http://www.nsa.gov/selinux/ [nsa.gov]

dod (1)

convolvatron (176505) | about 8 years ago | (#16126481)

of course we all know that the us dod is a monolithic
entity that only holds one opinion about anything.

Open source renamed for DoD (1)

PietjeJantje (917584) | about 8 years ago | (#16126555)

War on Proprietary Software.

Re:Open source renamed for DoD (1)

Daniel Wood (531906) | about 8 years ago | (#16127432)

But WOPS isn't a fun acronym.
Now, WOPRS, War on PRoprietary Software. That would be great!

"Open" (1)

chudnall (514856) | about 8 years ago | (#16126576)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I'm not unhappy with that (2, Insightful)

rduke15 (721841) | about 8 years ago | (#16126597)

I must say, I'm really not unhappy with that. In fact, I would dislike it very much if any of my open source contributions would be used by the military (of any country). I even once considered blocking access to my web site from .mil domains. I didn't because it would be completely silly, and there is no reason to block only .mil and let all the other military through. And after all, "open" is "open", and anyway, I have neither the time nor the moral authority to decide who is "good" and who is "bad".

But nevertheless, if the military would rather not use any of my "open" code, it makes me feel better, even if it is not rational.

If it's just about semantics... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126673)

Why don't we drop the Open from Open Source Software and replace it with Available? Then we can be part of the ASS community.

I mean, the best part about ASS is that it's always available for the asking.

Open source is EVERYWHERE in the defense community (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16126683)

I work for a defense contractor, and there are supposedly some rules from on high that open source is frowned upon, as is any software not written by a company in the United States.

I routinely bring software in to use on various projects, and I favor open source or, more spefically, free software, except in cases where a proprietary product is clearly better (example: BitKeeper is better than any open source SCM tool). It's simple, really. If I can start using it tomorrow rather than ask the businesspeople to purchase something and use it next week if I'm lucky, that's just easier for me.

The reason I say 'tomorrow' is because it's not quite hassle-free. I have to turn in a form to justify putting software X on the classified network. The form, of course, was not written by anyone who even considered the possibility of open source. It asks what company wrote the product (I do my best to oblige and say something like "Free Software Foundation" or "The ____ Project" if I really can't find any organization) and where that company is headquartered (I just try and put anything at all that seems to fit, such as an address found in a whois request).

To the people who really insist that open source has no place on a defense networks, I say, do you have any idea how many Linux machines are already being used on said networks? Do you realize how many GNU tools are being used, even on the proprietary machines? That gcc, for example, is the compiler of choice, at least where I'm working? The people who make these statements have no idea what they're already running.

Not the only reason, but a possible one. (2, Informative)

ArmyLT (995763) | about 8 years ago | (#16126735)

One of the problems is that it is free, meaning they don't pay for it. The Army doesn't ever get something for free. There are policy's against it.

The idea is that, eventually Guido is going to want you to repay the favor. The Army can't get something for free because, later on, it might be seen as biased.

Also, they want to be seen as supporting American buisnesses. When you use open-source, and get it for free, it is almost like you are taking it away from the economy.

Now, I don't dispute that there are more reasons... Someone to blame and all that kind of stuff. But it is not necessarily cloak and dagger, nor just being against change.

What the DoD objects to (2, Insightful)

Nicole the Wonder Ne (17849) | about 8 years ago | (#16126865)

#include <std_disclaimer.h>

Good lord, I actually have something to contribute!

In a nutshell, the DoD *really* doesn't like that they don't know who wrote the software, and they also don't like the lack of a central point of contact. They'd rather hire, say, $defense_contractor to write a similar piece of software, because they get a couple of reassuring beliefs (we will not attempt to discuss the VALIDITY of these beliefs, please):
1) that $defense_contractor is using properly trained, vetted programmers, with security clearances if need be; and
2) that if anything goes wrong, they can sue the tar out of $defense_contractor.

These two factors are VERY important to the DoD. Now, you can probably see the utility if the DoD has requested, say, software for their Death Ray [1], but isn't that overkill if they're trying to buy a web browser? Yes it is--but they can't help it. The DoD has LOTS of finicky aquisition rules, and they're pretty much the same whether you're buying Death Ray Guidance Software or a web browser.

In my day job, I am, among other things, involved with the government's Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS) [bahialab.com] . Due to the DoD's acquisitions rules (DoD Instruction 8500.2), in almost all cases all Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software must have undergone a CCEVS evaluation. As you might imagine--we are after all dealing with the government--CCEVS evaluation is really REALLY expensive and takes frickin' forever.

Now, this is no barrier to Microsoft, which has had enough money and time to get Windows {2000, 2000 Server, XP, XP Pro, 2003 Server} evaluated. But, as you might imagine, it's a pretty damn big barrier to open source products. Those that have been evaluated (SuSE, Red Hat) have been lucky enough to have some heavyweight patrons (IBM and Red Hat, respectively) on their sides.

Nor is a CCEVS certificate the end of the game. DoD agencies typically must justify why they've chosen solution X over solution Y; and, while cost is a factor, it's far from the most important one. Open source products tend to come with a list of disclaimers as long as your arm (OpenSSL's FIPS 140-2 certificate, for example, says that the certificate is only good for THIS version of the source code, compiled with THAT version of gcc, THESE SPECIFIC static libraries compiled in, etc., etc.), and the guy writing up the justification paper is probably an overworked lieutenant prone to thinking "Fsck this. No one got fired recommending Microsoft."

[1] The notion of a DoD "Death Ray" is entirely a fabrication of my own fertile (if perhaps deranged) imagination. Any similarity to any actual research, prototypes, and/or super-double-secret weapon is entirely coincidental. Please don't put me in GITMO. Thanks.

Don't you believe it... (1)

Blrfl (46596) | about 8 years ago | (#16126910)

NMCI notwithstanding, there's tons of open source software running all over DoD as we speak, and very little of it is likely to go away anytime soon.

Re:Don't you believe it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16127287)

You are so right. DoD doesn't seem any more reluctant to use Open Source than private companies. The managers like the warm and fuzzies that paying for commercial software and support brings them. The IT folks like what works. Since managers are managers, their input often means more.

Regardless, publicly available information shows us that agencies under the DoD umbrella run such software as:
Snort (witness the uproar when an Israeli company attempted to purchase Sourcefire)
Apache (check Netcraft)
Linux (witness SELinux and Google Red+Hat+DoD)
et cetera

I have used Open Source within DoD (2, Informative)

usgrant (166786) | about 8 years ago | (#16126941)

I have used RedHat Linux and OpenOffice in the Army. They are there and implemented in combat. The soldier isn't aware of this because they work behind the scenes, but open source is being used in several applications.

Could it be? (0)

N8F8 (4562) | about 8 years ago | (#16127052)

The viral provisions of many open source licenses scare them off? From firsthand experience I can tel you that it does.

Also, you have the anti-US, anti-DoD attitude of many "open source" developers and advocates.
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