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back to article Open sourcers aim selves at US gov

Advocates who helped shape a major US government department's policy paper on using open-source in IT projects are stepping up their lobby. Open Source for America plans to push for clear statements on the rules around using open source in government IT across a number of federal departments next year. The idea is to dispel …

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Anonymous Coward

sorry

I couldn't read it all I could do was imagine furry toothed, bearded, sandal wearing hippies being fired at the side of the Pentagon from cannons.

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@AC: not "sorry"

So, the article must be for you then: "The idea is to dispel lingering misconceptions about open source".

The Open Source community (who is that anyway?) should probably not just talk about Open Source. Rather:

1. There are (almost) always alternatives, just like in many other markets.

2. Whether OS or CS, it's mostly about business, competition etc., see Jaspersoft, Drupal etc. mentioned in the article.

3. If the alternative is indeed Open Source, give good reasons why this might be an advantage over Closed Source. Especially in government/public sectors applying open standards, security and cost advantages in the long run could be such reasons.

Although cost advantages seldom come if the organisation adopting Open Source doesn't adopt an "Open Source way of working", i. e. mindset change.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC - "sorry"

Shame about the humourless replies to your post.

It made me smile, and I'm an open source enthusiast.

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Anonymous Coward

Yer got it wrong

Actually he said "Wennergren pointed to openness of the code and the fact most open-source is NOT charged using an expensive per-seat basis, meaning it is potentially cheaper to support and buy."

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Linux

You sure?

Quote from article - "the fact most open-source is charged using an expensive per-seat basis, meaning it is potentially cheaper to support and buy.

Expensive? Cheaper? Which is it then?

@AC - "sorry" - What are you then - a shoulder-padded Armani-wearing yuppie sporting a mullet and carrying a Filofax? That's a slightly less dated an image than the one you describe.

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Silver badge
Coat

oops....

I think they missed the word "not" in there.

Mine's the one that complements the white tie.

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Cheap?

Cheaper to buy, not cheaper to maintain. Talking to some freinds at a large e-commerce company, I've heard nothing but horror stories about Ruby, Linux and some other open source software they use. The cost for them is the subsequent need to hire a team of programmers to constantly mix a cocktail of patches and fixes to keep these programs running. One manager told me it cost them around $60,000 to prepare a stable Linux kernel every time there was even a minor upgrade in server hardware. They've had to fix things like race conditions in the Ruby garbage collector. The impression is a lot of open source software contains amateurish and boneheaded mistakes even in fundamental functionality. They demonstrated Linux crashing just from running mulitple copies of the Linpack benchmark, its scheduler so defective that it started to lose disk interrupts and corrupted the file system -- from running a numerical benchmark!

The Government should cut costs, but they need to look past the propaganda and make sure they don't get saddled with ersatz software.

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Bronze badge

Bad example

Someone's poor choice up front does not mean all open source is bad. I'm gathering from the description that this large e-commerce site is run by people that:

* Don't research hardware compatibility before purchase.

* Chose to reinvent the wheel by writing their own ecommerce solution in Ruby.

* Run benchmarks as root on production machines just to see what happens.

I'm not saying all open source software is perfect or even good. Some stinks, especially mine. But it's the same with closed source. Someone's decision to share is not a gauge of how well they wrote it.

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Silver badge

Drupal?

"...but he'd talked to somebody building a collaboration project elsewhere who had never heard of Drupal."

I've heard of it, but mainly because I've seen script kiddies prodding my webserver to see if it's installed. I assume there's a vulnerability or two in its history to cause that.

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Headmaster

OSA

I hate to be a pedant (actually, I lie, I love it), but the acronym for Open Source for America is OSFA, not OSA (http://www.opensourceforamerica.org). Normally, not a big deal, but this is a proper noun acronym.

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Gates Halo

DotNetNuke?

DotNetNuke is excellent Open source software competing with Drupal on the Microsoft stack. It's time it got some press. Why the silence? Everyone thinks open source is Linux - WRONG.

NB @Number6 - on the web everybody probes for anything. If you are on the web you get probed.

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Um...

Microsoft server licenses get expensive.

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BTDT - many years ago

15 years ago, I was deploying OSS in the US Govt'. The picture that is missing here is that OSS is widespread in the gov't even if the policy makers don't know it. I also did work on OSS strategy for the UK gov't, helping them understand what experiences the US gov't had with OSS..... Seems like everything is coming full circle...

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Bronze badge
Stop

Cheap.

$60k to get a "new" stable kernel doesn't sound remotely plausible unless they're using extremely non-standard or sub-standard hardware - although if anyone were to offer my own organisation a genuinely stable Windows kernel (including all the drivers we need) for a mere $60k, we'd jump at the chance. It doesn't help, of course, that graphics drivers are among the worst offenders - and both nVidia and ATI/AMD now seem to be refusing to provide Windows drivers for laptop graphics chipsets at all (although Linux equivalents are freely available!). Their answer is that we should get drivers from the manufacturer instead - difficult enough when dealing with a dozen different manufacturers rebadging the same two sets of drivers, often impossible when that manufacturer has either folded or just decided not to bother offering drivers for that particular version of Windows in the first place.

Yes, there are trivial bugs in a lot of open source applications, which that company has been able to fix for itself. There are similar bugs in their closed source counterparts, too - the difference is not that the bugs aren't there in the first place, but that you don't get the option of fixing them at all! I still recall seeing one major software vendor's lead developer explaining a bug which had caused serious data loss, which amounted to "how does this hash table implementation handle collisions? Well, er, it didn't. That's where the data went." There's still a known bug in my organisation's primary mail server which causes silent non-delivery of mail; there's a hack which checks every few hours and re-submits the dropped messages. With open source, we'd already have fixed it; this is closed source, so we have to hope the vendor eventually gets around to fixing it, or change platforms entirely.

In the email case, being stuck with a temporary hack which causes some of our mail to get delayed by hours (with no guarantee that everything dropped is caught by the hack, either) is indeed *cheaper* than fixing the bug ourselves - not really better, though, is it?

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