New Department of Defense (DoD) memo on open source software

Posted by dwheeler on Oct 28, 2009 8:37 AM EST
dwheeler.com; By David A. Wheeler
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The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has just released "Clarifying Guidance Regarding Open Source Software (OSS)", a new official memo about open source software (OSS). This 2009 memo is important for anyone who works with the DoD (including contractors) on software and systems that include software... and I suspect it will influence many other organizations as well. The new memo tries to eliminate "misconceptions and misinterpretations" that inhibit use of OSS, and clear the way for wider use and development of OSS.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has just released "Clarifying Guidance Regarding Open Source Software (OSS)", a new official memo about open source software (OSS). This 2009 memo is important for anyone who works with the DoD (including contractors) on software and systems that include software... and I suspect it will influence many other organizations as well. The new memo tries to eliminate "misconceptions and misinterpretations" that inhibit use of OSS, and clear the way for wider use and development of OSS.

A lot of the "meat" is in the Attachment 2, section 2 (guidance). It notes that OSS is (in almost all cases) commercial computer software, that OSS should be included in market research. It counters a misinterpretation of security control DCPD-1, which some had misinterpreted as forbidding OSS. It notes that you need to plan for support for any software, be it OSS or proprietary. Perhaps most importantly, it notes that there are advantages to OSS, and that under certain conditions, software developed for the government should be released to the public (such as under an open source license).

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