Monday, January 26, 2009

Should federal government go open source?

Could the federal government be going open source? The BBC reports that President Obama has asked former Sun CEO Scott McNealy to report on the relative benefits of open source software. Imagine that: a president who has heard of open source software.

And McNealy will report just how large those benefits are.

It’s intuitively obvious open source is more cost effective and productive than proprietary software. Open source does not require you to pay a penny to Microsoft or IBM or Oracle or any proprietary vendor any money.

And he wants open source mandates.

The government ought to mandate open source products based on open source reference implementations to improve security, get higher quality software, lower costs, higher reliability - all the benefits that come with open software.

Coming from McNealy, the opinion is hardly a neutral analysis. Sun is a vigorous proposal of open source and Unix; cofounder Bill Joy was a primary author of BSD. During his tenure as CEO, McNealy’s hallmark was his constant attacks on Microsoft and Bill Gates.

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