[LINK] Group raises concerns over use of open source
Thu Nov 28 22:50:49 EST 2002
Group raises concerns over use of open source
BY LAURA ROHDE
29 November, 2002 8:10
LONDON , U.K.
A U.S. trade association, the Initiative for Software Choice (ISC), has
urged the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) to rethink its use and promotion of
free and open-source software.
In an appeal posted Tuesday on its Web site, the Washington, D.C. group
warned that the DoD should "avoid crafting needless and potentially
detrimental IT policy to promote the use" of open-source software. Open
source generally refers to any software program whose source code is made
freely available to other developers and users for use and development
The ISC, launched in May, includes Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and
Intel Corp. as members and is chaired by a group known for its close ties
to Microsoft, the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA.
The appeal by the ISC was made in response to a report released on Nov. 6
by defense contractor MITRE, "Use of Free and Open Source Software in the
U.S. Department of Defense." The report endorsed free and open software as
an alternative to proprietary software, saying that it "plays a more
critical role in the (Defense Department) than has been generally
The ISC countered that "the DoD should not openly promote" the use of open
software because it may not be, in all cases, the software best suited for
a project. Furthermore, the DoD should also "not be fettered by a
preconception that OSS software is somehow inherently more secure," the ISC
In October, CompTIA and ISC were accused by open source advocates,
including former Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) employee Bruce Perens, of
attempting to lock open-source software out of the government marketplace
while posing as a group promoting fairness in governmental software
CompTIA has denied such accusations, stressing that it is simply promoting
the idea that governments should buy software that best meets their needs.
Despite garnering support from Microsoft and Intel, the group has asserted
it is not fronting or acting as a mouthpiece for Microsoft.
In its appeal to the DoD, the ISC also took issue with the General Public
License (GPL), which lets developers view and modify the source code of GPL
software as long as any modifications made are freely available to other
"While the law on this matter remains untested, it makes sense for
companies to be highly risk-averse in this area, striking a more defensive
posture when confronted with software development that may implicate GPL
code or similar coding environments. Commercial and hybrid software
developers generally do not want to risk losing their investment," the ISC
As governments look to open-source software as a cheaper and possibly more
secure alternative to proprietary software, software companies such as
Microsoft have become more organized in opposing its use.
This year Linux made inroads among European government agencies in Germany,
France and Finland when they chose open-source software for various
purposes. Additionally, some agencies in the U.K. are looking to adopt open
source because of a dislike for Microsoft's End-User Licensing Agreements
(EULAs). In some cases, Microsoft has been forced to concede to lower
licensing agreement fees.
Nothing fits in a pigeon hole but a pigeon
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