The DoD Sets Up an Open Source Software Portal!
You’re probably more familiar with open source software than you think. For example, if you have ever used the Mozilla Firefox web browser, you’ve used open source software. To understand why this is significant, you will need to understand what open source software actually is.
Open source software essentially means that the code that the software runs on is made publicly available for anyone to access. This means that if a bug in the software is noticed after a major release, anyone with the ability to fix the problem can do so and submit that fix for review. If the “official” developers of the project think that the submitted code is OK, they will add that code in the next release. Here’s a link to the official definition.
Now that you know what open source software is, let me tell you why I think it rules: transparency.
The Department of Defense agrees and that’s why they’ve chosen to set up forge.mil where the public is able to view any of the current open source programs they are working on. According to Matt Asay at C|Net,
“All of the code is open for public view, though only those with the right Defense Department credentials can edit or contribute to the projects. As the public sees the code, however, it’s almost certain to lead to individuals wanting to contribute to the code.”
Because so many people will have access to the source code, bug fixes can be developed sooner, security flaws can be fixed sooner and the DoD will be able to cut costs. All of these things are great reasons for the Government to develop and adopt open source software of its own instead of relying on commercial vendors like Microsoft.
It goes without saying that in order to contribute to projects like these, you’d have to have some formal training. Now, programming isn’t for everyone, but that’s not because it’s necessarily “hard.” A great way to see if you’d even be interested in something like that would be to take an entry level programming class that would use “Visual Basic”, a user-friendly programming language. I recommend it, there are some cool things you can do with that!
So, with that said, head on over to Blackboard and take your extra credit quiz! But, before you go, what do you guys think about the Government using open source software? Is the total transparancy good? Bad? Feel free to leave a comment to let us know what you think!
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