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I’m a bit under the gun here.  I was actually working, and kinda lost track of time.  Now I’m staring down 40 minutes to make my personally imposed “deadline.”  Let’s see if I can come up with a couple of hundred words.

I think I’ll stick with the tech theme of the past couple of days, as it’s what’s on my mind.

In a couple of unrelated events, Open Source Software has apparently made some giant leaps forward in U.S. Government circles, with two significant announcements within days of each other.

First, we’ll cover something that’s highly visible to the outside world.  On Saturday, October 24th, the official White House website launched the new Obamacized version.  While some might be thinking “about time” – it actually takes a while to accomplish a major redesign of a large website.  Add in typical government political/bureaucratic “issues”, and I’m surprised it got done this quickly.

Mostly, I could care less about the White House website.  It’s not like I’m an American, or really care about the info the site contains.  What’s interesting to me, from a technological standpoint, is that the site has changed the underlying technology from a closed source, commercial, content management system (CMS), backed my Microsoft IIS servers, to an open source CMS backed by Linux/Apache servers.

Under previous administrations (and no, not just Bush, but Clinton before him), the U.S. Fed has been notoriously gun-shy of open source projects.  Big Business and Big Government likes the comfort of buying from Big Business.  They have trouble, culturally, figuring out why people would donate their time to create a fundamental technology, and how such a “movement” could produce good, reliable software.

Whichever side of the Open/Closed source argument you may find yourself, what it comes down  to, in a lot of ways, is whether you have more faith in “the masses” or more faith in “big business.”

For the Obama Administration to make such a public site Open Source, is a strong indication of where they place their faith.  Not surprising, given how he ran his campaign.

Related, the U.S. Department of Defense Deputy CIO Dave Wennergren has signed and released “Clarifying Guidance on Open Source Software.”

Reported by both O’Reilly Radar and NetworkWorld, the “clarification” is a big deal, and should allow for open source software to make inroads into DoD procurements.

All the clarification says, in essence, is that when considering procurement, Open Source Software should be considered no different from Commercial software.  And that actually means a lot.  The U.S. Military has long held great cultural faith in Big Business to supply it’s needs.  Established, if bloated and expensive, Defense Contractors (Think Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, etc.) usually seem to edge out the “little guy” in most defence contracts.  Which is not surprising, really.  The military is a naturally cautious organization.

Overall, these two events should not be underestimated.  For two such conservative, staid, government entities to consider open source a viable option, speaks greatly to how far Open Source has come in the past two decades.

Something to say?


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