FUD about FUD

Story: Why isn't all government software open source?Total Replies: 21
Author Content

Aug 14, 2014
4:15 PM EDT
The article is complete rubbish. The federal government has released millions of lines of open source code. From the 1980s onward, long before Linus and Linux came along, and before RMS began his GNU work at MIT, the federal government was releasing source code, compilers, and open protocols. And today, from the strategic CONUS offices to the battlefield, open source software runs everywhere. It's in nearly everything you could imagine, and runs in a very large percentage of projects meant to secure and protect soldiers and the systems they depend on...

About the only thing that's true in the article, is that the top brass have no clue that what they are buying is open source or runs open source... and the top brass somehow "don't get it"... but that's true nearly everywhere, in nearly all non-government, non-government contractor agencies as well. The guy with the great golf swing generally doesn't know much more than where his/her secretary has booked his dinner.

And about the only place in government where proprietary software rules is on the desktop and the document creation suite... I look forward to the day when that changes.

Aug 14, 2014
5:27 PM EDT
I disagree very, very strongly with me1010 for several reasons.

Quoting:Why does the government so often build on closed platforms, and once built, why isn't the code released to the public?

The above quote is a question asked by the writer of the article which me1010 has gaily skipped around and ignored. Perhaps he is writing only for a USA reader ? However should he be in Australia, I can immediately give him two blazing examples of how consumers are locked into proprietary platforms for the quoted reason. First, the Australian Taxation Office wants Australian taxpayers to use on-line tax reporting......BUT.....that means using their software. And guess what ? It is NOT generic in platform, you MUST use either Microsoft or Apple. Second, our Australian GP's are all FORCED to run Windows in their surgeries. Why ? Well that is because their principal piece of software recording patient's prescriptions has been built on a Windows platform.

There's two huge examples, straight off the top of my head. This article is strongly applicable to Australia and most definitely is NOT "complete rubbish" and "FUD about FUD".

As to releasing that code, me1010, you have to be kidding....Australian IT teams at any government level have an almost paranoid fixation on the fact that "there is no universe outside Windows and Microsoft's every pronouncement are the prophecies of Redmond, the guiding light of their universe." At the moment, I place desktop IT at Australian government levels still in the "stone age"........with the star of hope of Android smartphones and pads shining strongly and becoming more visible every day.

As for the statement that "about the only place in government where proprietary software rules is on the desktop and the document creation suite."........ummmm......that's about 99% or even more of the "place" as far as government software is concerned, and it's a very, very big "place". Think again me1010. If your country (USA ?) really has gone as far as you suggest, then that's great, but even the UK has only just gone tentatively into open source by now mandating that all documents must be stored in ODF......and certainly has not moved to open source software as the general government computer platform. And if I recall, Massachusetts tried to do what the UK is now doing some years ago, and its intention was sabotaged by the "dark side of the Force".

Oh......I definitely DO agree that our leaders have NO idea as to what Linux/FOSS can do for Australia. Most of them are computer illiterate and believe they can run a computer because if they push button "A" the machine does something they expect, but if not, they immediately have no idea as to what to do. That problem is because the IT purchasing sections of government are universally run and controlled by Redmond devotees or even moles. Microsoft does NOT want to lose the Australian government software market because the effects would steadily trickle down to every Australian.

Ben's final paragraph is, in my opinion, a brilliant summation of the Australian situation.....and I suspect it is still very applicable to the USA and the UK.

Aug 14, 2014
5:39 PM EDT
@Ridcully Certainly very applicable to the UK although that is now thankfully changing just have to wait to see if the actions match the speeches.

Aug 14, 2014
6:26 PM EDT
The article is written by and for a USA audience... Read the author's summary... "...technology and described by the US Chief Technology Officer as one of “the baddest of the badass innovators,” and by the White House Director of Digital Strategy..."

Anyway, I certainly didn't write that ALL governments worldwide release or accommodate ALL open and/or open source code/technology.

The article, as written - for USA audience - is complete nonsense - and, in fact, untrue.

Not addressed at all are actual reasons why a government should /not/ release source code, and there are many.

However, I agree that requiring a proprietary vendor's product for citizen interaction with government should be a big 'no-no' in a democracy or a modern republic [the USA is not a democracy, but a republic]. But, the article title and content suggest that the USA government does not release source code for projects, nor incorporate open source well into project, programs, and government systems... This is entirely false.

The US government is deeply invovled in buying, building, using, and releasing open source software...

Current small SBIR projects directly solicitating open source: http://www.sbir.gov/content/secure-email-agent-using-domain-...

The goal of the project is to design, develop and test an extension to open source Mail User Agents (MUA) to use the DNS to obtain and verify email digital certificates. ... This extension could be a downloadable plug-in or a modified open source implementation that users can download and install on their own.

FBCB2 A $4,000,000 program. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_XXI_Battle_Command_Briga... *** Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) is a Linux-based (older versions are Solaris based) communication platform designed for commanders to track friendly and hostile forces on the battlefield. ***


11 RDTE funding of $3.935 million is for Command and Control (C2)/Situational Awareness (SA) Convergence. It uses Project Code 122. FBCB2 RDTE Funding in FY09 and Prior used Project Code 120.


Army http://shadow-soft.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Army-RedHa...

Navy http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/10/the-na...

Air Force https://www.gartner.com/doc/708322/linux-case-study-air-forc...

JTRS http://mil-embedded.com/articles/back-track-open-sca-coaliti...

The above is an entire communication system hosting secure waveforms. I would imagine several unfriendly governments would love to have the source code. However, it uses open APIs and open electronic interfaces...

Aug 14, 2014
7:30 PM EDT
My dear You Ten to the Power 10:

You are an astronomer, I presume.

As for FUD, I know it well since I spread it as a service for those that would prefer keeping the status quo. On the side I spy on goings on here at LXer for NSA.

I remember writing my federal representative suggesting they switch to Firefox for an issue they were experiencing and being told it was not an option. Before you jump to a rash conclusion about the brain power of this individual let me assure you he had deep knowledge of science and was not you standard issue politician. Indeed, had he not been knowledgeable I would not even have broached the suggestion.

Moreover, it's been a while but due to an assignment I had I inadvertently learned one of the most sophistical class of war ships the U.S. navy was building worked off of MS's code. I am fairly certain, because I have memory of seeing public acknowledgement of its subsequent failures that helped force the move away.

So from what I have seen, your statement the article not only overstates, but it is entirely in error leaves me dubious of its validity. Maybe given your bent viewing everything on a galactic scale makes your assertions appropriate. However, for us that are more microlevel observers the picture is more contentious.

As always,


* YBT == Your Buddy Txt.

Aug 14, 2014
7:52 PM EDT
@TxtEdMacs... I am not an astronomer. And you are very ill informed... "one of the most sophistical class of war ships the U.S. navy was building worked off of MS's code"

see the edited post above or the link below... http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/10/the-na...

BTW, at one point, I worked with several Navy program offices. The Navy uses and preaches [loudly] open source solutions where appropriate... get the memo...


The article is nonsense --- however, don't let the very obvious bias in opinion regarding open source as only referred to a singular desktop application get in the way of reality... Hopefully open source solutions permeate the government desktop, but that will be a slow difficult path... However, the desktop was not the topic of the article in question.

Aug 14, 2014
8:01 PM EDT
@me1010........Yes, I'll accept happily that Ben is writing for the US audience about US government attitudes, etc. Slaps wrist very gently......However the rest of my concepts above where they apply to other countries still stand I think.

Moreover, I am very dubious about your statement such as: "The article, as written - for USA audience - is complete nonsense - and, in fact, untrue." That's a very unwise thing to have stated in my humble opinion......You are indicating that his entire article is utter rubbish......I cannot believe that is the case given my next paragraphs below and in any event, if it was such rubbish there would not be other people agreeing with his article on the comments thread directly attached to it - where there are both "yeas and nays".

And yes, I have looked at his summary. I have no idea as to the colloquial meaning or intention of these words:
Quoting:described by the US Chief Technology Officer as one of “the baddest of the badass innovators,”
but I want to make the point that Ben appears to be rather proud of this situation - otherwise why would he state it in his summary ?

However I read on and find that Ben is:
Quoting: a Government Evangelist at GitHub — the world’s largest software development network — where he leads the efforts to encourage adoption of open source philosophies, making all levels of government better, one repository at a time.

I find it very hard to believe that a man of such standing would write an article that was wholly untruthful/untrue. Perhaps you might like to think again ?


Aug 14, 2014
8:25 PM EDT

The content of the article is wrong. It really doesn't matter how proud the author may be of his stance on open source. And it really doesn't matter if the content strikes a sympathetic cord with various people at various places in various positions. This does not negate the reality of the complete incorrectness of the article. In fact, as it stands, the US government spends hundreds of millions of dollars yearly in developing, publicly hosting, and buying open source products.

In my opinion... it is articles like this that falsely paint open source as a side business that needs to be led in the back door, that contribute greatly to the top brass opinion that it is true...

Aug 14, 2014
8:48 PM EDT
@me1010.....Okay......It's your opinion. You are entitled to have it as I have mine. I've said all I need to say on the matter and at this point, we simply agree to disagree.

When I read what you are saying in your posts though, I gain the overwhelming impression that you consider the USA government to be a world leader in FOSS innovation/development/publication, that FOSS has displaced or is displacing proprietary software at all levels of government and that Microsoft's closed source "cathedral style software" has been wholly rejected by all concerned. Hmmmm. So therefore Ben is a liar ? Yes ? No ?

Aug 14, 2014
9:26 PM EDT

I didn't call anyone a liar. Nor am I now. The content of the article is simply wrong. Why did the author believe it to be true? I don't know the answer to that one... But I do know that it's highly possible for a government employee or government contractor of any level to not know most of what the government [of any wealthy nation] does or doesn't do with or in the name of open source.

Also, I'm not sure what you are disagreeing with... There are funding lines that prove me correct. What's there to disagree about?

FOSS on the government desktop would be great. But that's not what the article was about.

Aug 14, 2014
10:36 PM EDT
@me1010......No, you did not call Ben a liar directly, but you certainly did by imputation. Let's see what you said in your own words:

1. "About the only thing that's true in the article........." Therefore, by simple logic the rest is false and a lie.

2. "The article, as written - for USA audience - is complete nonsense - and, in fact, untrue." In other words, you are now saying that the whole thing is a lie.

3. "The content of the article is wrong." and in the same post "In my opinion... it is articles like this that falsely paint.......". Again, the article is false and therefore a lie.

So again I ask you: Is Ben a liar ? Yes ? or No ? Prevarication is not pretty to watch.

Posts written in "general explosive heat" are always dangerous and I did try to give you a hint further up this thread. Ben Balter would be quite correct to take the imputation that you consider him to have falsified the entire situation in his article and therefore have lied to the public. I think you may owe him an apology. Disgreeing with him is one thing, but placing on him the imputation of lying is quite another.

I have no doubt you can prove those funding lines that you quote.....and I am not disagreeing with you on those aspects. Whether or not Ben believed his article to be true is not the question, although as I have already implied above, for the man to have published this article knowing it to be false and therefore would totally destroy his reputation is something I cannot believe to be the case. Of course he would publish it in the belief that it was true.

What I am disagreeing with, profoundly, is that you cannot simply say a person's work is an absolute "untruth". Like the curate's egg, it may be good or bad in parts - or wholly correct..

Aug 15, 2014
7:26 AM EDT

You keep trying to egg me on... I'm not going to call anyone a liar. I know full well what it feels like to get in front a crowd and have my facts all mixed up. This is a far different thing than lying.

However, let's turn the tables around using your binary decision matrix....

Is the author calling the CIO/G6 a liar?


.... 2. GUIDANCE a. In almost all cases, OSS meets the definition of “commercial computer software” and shall be given appropriate statutory preference in accordance with 10 USC 2377 (reference (b)) (see also FAR 2.101(b), 12.000,12.101 (reference (c)); and DFARS 212.212, and 252.227-7 014(a)(1) (reference (d))) ...

Aug 15, 2014
8:53 AM EDT
@me1010......No, of course he isn't calling the CIO/G6 a liar as I am sure you realise. Ben's article is purely an impersonal opinion of the facts of the current situation as HE sees it - he makes no judgements. You, on the other hand, did make judgements and directly attacked his truthfulness as presented in his writing (not that he was "mixed up") and this was personal.

Your last post above tells me clearly you understand the point I have been trying to make. If you aren't going to "cross the Rubicon" and call Ben a liar then you have now set up an obvious conflict with what you have stated in your earlier posts above. As a disclaimer, I do not know Ben Balter in any way - I have never met or communicated with him; I just believe in "going to bat" for someone who cannot defend themselves.

By the way, I am first in line to agree that anyone, absolutely anyone, should be free to say: "I think Ben Balter is wrong and here's why" - and expound further. That's exactly what I firmly believe LXer is all about and I hope you will continue to contribute - the site has much to gain I am sure. But then, if you had done that to begin with, we wouldn't have had this very interesting ethical debate. Thankyou. :-) It would be a dull old world if we all thought the same way.

Let's leave it at that and I hope we have the pleasure of meeting each other again on LXer.

Aug 15, 2014
9:23 AM EDT

I've already provided a large amount of references that directly contradict the personal experiences of the author.

If the article had a line similar to the following:

Despite nearly a decade of high level CIO memos from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Energy, and other departments laying out guidance that should give open source a preferred status in developing and purchasing US government products, some [maybe many in the author's mind] programs continue to require and solicit proprietary solutions...

..And of course...

Despite several long term, still actively developed and used, projects like BRL-CAD and ADA, the federal government has many decision makers who do not understand that the government has and continues to develop open source and does release open source all the time...

..And of course...

Despite the fact the Red Hat Enterprise has been approved for use within government and is deployed in the battlefield within a multi-million dollar real-time personnel tracker, there remain some misconceptions regarding what open source means to the federal government...

I may be inclined to look the other way.

However, the article was written by a self-proclaimed github evangelist. And thus, the article is written as a one sided argument for releasing source code on github [a proprietary platform] by US federal workers without proper request or review of those employees offices -- the culture of 'no' the author refers to is a highly needed check of materials before release to the public. There are significant valid concerns regarding ITAR that need to be checked before release. This check must be done by a human --- the author simply and naively glosses over the necessity of such checks. The author also makes wrong statements regarding his generalized 'government CIO' ...

So, the article is wrong. If you're not going to see the truth of that statement, and instead side with the emotional appeal rather than the factual position - I can't help you...

Aug 15, 2014
10:00 AM EDT
@me1010......Y'know what, you are a complete and utter twit !!! (I'm being personal, and laughing at the same time.....LOL.) Why in heaven's name didn't you put such a nice, logical, well presented, impersonal post right at the beginning ? You'd probably have got everybody on side immediately then, including me - maybe. However, I have never, never, never, not ever been emotional in this debate....that's a red herring of the first degree and given your text above......unworthy of you to even suggest it. Nor is it nice to try to "wedge" me on emotional vs factual...I can make decisions on my own without your patronising help thank you.

I repeat......let's leave it while we are both speaking politely. There is nothing more to be gained - unless of course, you want the last word...... :-)

Aug 15, 2014
10:15 AM EDT
'till the next meeting of the twits...

Last word.


Aug 15, 2014
10:19 AM EDT
LOL .....Nice meeting you.

Aug 15, 2014
11:49 AM EDT
Group Hug?

Aug 15, 2014
1:44 PM EDT
Hugging?? Ick. It's bad enough sharing air.

Aug 15, 2014
2:33 PM EDT
+1 me1010!


Aug 15, 2014
5:03 PM EDT
Oh very well...........HUGGGGGG !!!!!! Thankyou for the idea seatex. Tuxchick, since I am the normal redblooded antique male, I would be proud and pleased to include you in the hug - a bit of female common sense and know-how is always a good thing now and then, don't you think ? :-)

Aug 15, 2014
5:16 PM EDT
Ok, here's a big hug from me to all of you fellow Linux geeks and geekettes.

tuxchick - I'll withhold my hug for you, if you prefer. But, I'll always have one for you if you change your mind.

I'm cheering you all with a frozen mug of Shiner Bock (one of our preferred micro-brews here in Texas).


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