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Convincing the Military to Embrace Open Source 164

Posted by Zonk
from the talking-to-a-brick-wall dept.
drewmoney writes "Misconceptions about what 'open source software' means has made elements of the US Defense Department reluctant to deploy in a live environment. DoD proponents of shared-source projects are now working to reverse this trend by educating IT decision-makers and demonstrating OSS usefulness. 'The cost of cleaning up a "network spill" that introduces classified material on an unclassified network is running about US$11,000 per incident on the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), so the free Secure Save tool could produce monetary savings for the Navy. Additionally, it would cover more file formats than the costly commercial redaction product currently available on the NMCI.'"
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Convincing the Military to Embrace Open Source

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  • by phrostie (121428) on Saturday December 29, 2007 @07:46PM (#21852274)
    maybe they just need to look around and open their eyes.
    there are lots of projects. for example, http://brlcad.org/ [brlcad.org]
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Saturday December 29, 2007 @08:18PM (#21852458) Homepage
    Open source software is the only type of software that is often mostly made by foreigners that the DoD will use. Proprietary software that is owned by a foreign company cannot be used without extraordinary extenuating circumstances. Even if the whole development is done in America, the legal ownership by foreign nationals takes the proprietary software automatically off the approved software lists.
  • by spammeister (586331) <fantasmoofrcc.hotmail@com> on Saturday December 29, 2007 @08:39PM (#21852584)
    Then they are as firmly entrenched in the M$ death spiral as we are. Although *some* of our kit is Linux, it's very specialized and it would be on less than 1% of computers that I have come in contact with. It's just too easy to keep the "status quo" going then to have to train the front line administrators in more than one OS (2000 and XP is difficult enough), let alone more than one office suite. When a data spill happens, (more often than not it's a computer error, rather than human error) I have yet to see an entire computer confiscated (although I'm sure it's happened). If anything the offending hard drive would be confiscated or *gasp* in a pinch we'd probably just slap a secret sticker on it to save time. Good thing I work for a country with not so many super duper secrets like the US, or even a budget worth 1/50th of the DoD, any orginization that large would be a major pain in the arse.

    My Linux knowledge is practically nil, and I'm the "expert" in my unit.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Saturday December 29, 2007 @08:55PM (#21852696)
    The Air Force is hell bent on lining the pockets of Dell and Microsoft, with their stupid, COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) procurement requirements.

    The Army and Marines use a lot of Linux. My company sells software to mostly the Army, and we have lots of Linux developers for a couple of Linux only intel software apps.

    The NSA (and all the branches of service that work in/for it) uses a heavy mix of UNIX and Windows (and the largest chunk of Mac OS X of any gov't agency I know of).

    Bascially, each branch operates in a fishbowl, separate from each other, so it is hard to generalize the Department of Defense's computer uses.

  • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Saturday December 29, 2007 @09:19PM (#21852824) Homepage Journal
    Then stop contributing to GPL projects. The license allows users to do whatever they want with it, to whatever purpose.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday December 29, 2007 @09:25PM (#21852858) Homepage

    It's a waste of time pitching the Navy anything. NMCI outsourced their entire network infrastructure to EDS. A monumental cesspool of pork barrel contracting that puts Haliburton's Iraq contracts to shame. There are hurdles and endless reviews for getting any piece of software approved for use on Navy or Marine networks. And between SPAWAR and EDS they're busy trying to squeeze out what little internal development is left in the Navy and move everything to the giant hosted service architecture. The very people most likely to use and promote any type of open source software or a project built on open standards are the ones jumping ship and going elsewhere.

    You can waste your time trying to educate DoD if you want but it's maddeningly frustrating. They'll listen and understand, then go off and do something entirely different. Which is a shame because the military is an organization that would benefit the most from an open, flexible infrastructure. One that could scale on demand, integrate disparate information sources and is reliable on legacy hardware. You would think with the massive paperwork hassles of buying anything through the government, the military would pounce on technology that let them side-step the entire procurement process and load it when you need it.

    It would all be funny if it wasn't billions of your tax dollars going down the crapper.

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