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WhiteHouse.gov Releases Open Source Code 161

Posted by kdawson
from the of-by-for-and-to-the-people dept.
schliz writes "The White House has released four custom modules for the Drupal content management system. The modules address scalability, communication, and accessibility for disabled users, and the release is expected to benefit both the Drupal community and the WhiteHouse.gov site as the code is reviewed and improved by the open source community." Reader ChiefMonkeyGrinder adds an opinion piece with a somewhat envious view from the UK: "Open source is treated as something akin to devil-worshipping in some parts of government. So, the idea that a major project in the government backyard would be based on something as basic as Drupal is pretty far-fetched. No, this side of the Atlantic would have involved a closed-tender process; a decision made [behind] closed doors based on proprietary software and we'd be completely in the dark about costs, about delays, and about functionality."
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WhiteHouse.gov Releases Open Source Code

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  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:48AM (#31954558)

    Well, the mantra of communism is "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." That's... pretty much exactly how open source works. Everyone sees the benefits regardless of how much work they put into it, whether that be designing the architecture the system, writing code, submitting bug reports, or even just submitting crash reports.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:55AM (#31954634)

    Well, the mantra of communism is "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." That's... pretty much exactly how open source works. Everyone sees the benefits regardless of how much work they put into it, whether that be designing the architecture the system, writing code, submitting bug reports, or even just submitting crash reports.

    And the only reason that works with software is you can copy it ad infinitum.

    You can't copy physical objects, which is why communism is an abject failure in the material world: when everyone gets what they need - no more, no less - there are no incentives for success. And that's ignoring the fact that Marxism childishly assumes all economic transactions are zero-sum and wealth can never be created.

  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Friday April 23, 2010 @10:01AM (#31954722)
    the more impressed I am by his lack of respect for the status quo of government IT. Keep up the good work. It's about about time someone applied some common sense.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 23, 2010 @10:02AM (#31954738) Journal
    With the one significant difference of OSS being "From each according to his abilities, if he feels like it, or is redistributing modified binaries, to each according to his needs if something matching his needs happens to be available, and because the provider of that something voluntarily made it available.

    The difference between being voluntary(yes, BSD trolls, people are legally compelled to release their modifications if they distribute binaries from GPLed source; but they take on this contractual obligation voluntarily) and being a command-and-control scheme is not insignificant.

    Looked at in a slightly different light, OSS development is basically a variation on the "consortium development" model, adjusted for the fact that, since duplicating data is virtually free, lawyers and restrictions to prevent free-riding are actually more expensive than free-riders are. BSD-style OSS makes no legal effort to rein-in free riding, either ignoring the issue or depending on the fact that maintaining your own fork is often more of a POS than staying up with the mainline, while GPL-style OSS makes no legal effort to go after free-riding users; but does seek to compel free-riding developers to contribute.

    The handy thing about it is that, because it does have a slightly communistic flavor, it works for and appeals to your idealistic sharing hippie types; but, as experience has demonstrated, it is surprisingly compatible with capitalist incentive structures(just look at how much kernel development gets done, basically because large corporations find it profitable), and it involves basically zero state coercion, aside from legal enforcement of voluntary private contracts. Thus, it is largely agreeable to everyone from communists to libertarians, with the exception only of rent-seeking corporatist scum.
  • by mweather (1089505) on Friday April 23, 2010 @10:22AM (#31954960)
    You probably don't actually NEED Photoshop. Few people do.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @11:03AM (#31955608)

    Beyond that, they are America's oldest and most loyal ally. We may have a "special relationship" with the U.K., but how many times have we been at war with France?

  • by gnieboer (1272482) on Friday April 23, 2010 @11:13AM (#31955760)

    Um, yes.

    If anyone is basing their decision on who should be the leader of the world's largest economy/military/nuclear stockpile based on whether they use Drupal for their website and release any source their team creates, then... FAIL.

    Doesn't mean it's not a good idea that shows action behind words.

  • Re:Tax money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnieboer (1272482) on Friday April 23, 2010 @11:24AM (#31955962)

    ...I still can't help but yawn at this news. ... It was probably just some developer that the federal government has hired who recommended the use of Drupal and suggested open sourcing the modules that they developed.

    True, but the interesting thing I think is that the people that the developer has the contract with took the suggestion, ran it through a government staff, and got the idea approved. A staff that gains nothing (directly) by giving the code away, has to take the time to understand the implications of their decision (since they'll be on CNN and fired if they do something dumb), and would normally consider something like this a security risk by default.

    So I think it's fairly groundbreaking for a government bureacracy. And it gives the rest of government a precedent to use when having a similar discussion with their bosses.

  • Re:Tax money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 23, 2010 @11:40AM (#31956182)

    This has nothing to do with the President or probably even his CTO that he nominated. It was probably just some developer that the federal government has hired who recommended the use of Drupal and suggested open sourcing the modules that they developed.

    I'm curious as to why you think that. Is it because you have information we don't or do you just have a bias against the current administration so you mentally refuse to assign credit to them for acts you approve of?

    In case you're interested in reality, this project was the baby of David Cole, a well known Drupal developer and OSS supporter who was appointed by Obama to several positions in the White House technical staff (currently senior advisor to the CIO) and who previously worked as data analyst for the Obama campaign and later on the transition team planning the new infrastructure. Now he probably did not come up with the idea since he just gave a talk with the guy who open sourced 24 Drupal modules developed by the New York State Senate. (An event that seems to have slipped under the radar of Slashdot.)

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:02PM (#31959040)

    France was a Major Power in May 1940, and before the end of June it had surrendered.

    To be fair, that would have happened to any of the world powers at the time, provided that the areas attacked weren't too large.

    First of all, Germany had built up a huge war machine.
    Secondly they rewrote the rulebook on how you manage an offensive war. They didn't stop for anything, including supplies. It wasn't called Blitzkrieg (lightning war) [wikipedia.org] for nothing.
    Thirdly, the German army at the time was at a pretty significant technological advantage. Their armoured units were top notch, as were their air force and I'm guessing their infantry were similarly equipped.

    Could they have taken the US with a similar tactic in 1940? Unlikely, because the US is a massive area. But I'd be surprised if they couldn't have taken the states from New York to Virginia or North Carolina. That would cripple the US leadership. Establish a foothold, take control of local industries to aid in building more military hardware and supplies and settle in for a long war. Then you move over to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan to gain even more industry as well as food supplies.

    Could they have taken USSR, if they had started there, instead of taking on everyone? Again, a little doubtful for the same reasons, but notice just how far they DID get. That was done while they had to fend off the Allies on the western front as well. And if they had consolidated their takings instead of constantly pressing forward, they wouldn't have had such vulnerable supply lines, they wouldn't have had to try to advance in winter time on open plains etc.

    Pointing fingers at France because they were conquered in less than a month is a bit like laughing at a random fat guy because he got the snot beaten out of him when he stepped into the ring against Mike Tyson.

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