An Open Source letter to President Obama

From the ‘one more thing to consider‘ files:

President Obama has a lot of things to do to fix America. The open source community (or at least 14 open source vendors) want Obama to consider using open source technology as part of the fix. In an open letter published this morning, open source vendors make an argument of the standard sort of open source mantra of providing better value and transparency for all. Here are a few choice excerpts:

There are no ‘black boxes’ in open-source software and therefore no need to guess what is going on ‘behind the scenes.’ Ultimately, this means a better product for everyone, because there is visibility at every level of the application, from the user interface to the data implementation. Furthermore, open-source software provides for platform independence, which makes quick deployments that benefit our citizens much easier and realistic.

The letter also petitions the president to make have source code open a key element of the Governement’s procurement practices under the guise of accessibility.

... we urge you to make it mandatory to consider the source of an application solution (open or closed) as part of the government’s technology acquisition process, just as considering accessibility by the handicapped is required today (as defined by section 508).

It’s an interesting idea for sure in my opinion.

Though the list of companies that signed on to the letter is equally interesting. For one it does not include a single Linux distribution.

The vendors on the list includes: Collaborative Software Initiative, Alfresco, Atomic Object, Cleversafe, Compiere, Hyperic, Ingres, Jaspersoft, Medsphere, MuleSource, OpenLogic, Sonatype, Talend and Unisys.

As far as I know open source software is already used by the US Government, Linux is used in multiple branches including the military. The idea of making open source, or at least some form of open code a section 508 accessibility issue could work in favor of commercial closed source vendors too. Certainly a big vendor, be it Microsoft or and Oracle could make their code accessible to the US Government but not necessarily be open source on a broader scale.

Still it’s a good idea to ask and it will be interesting to see if the first president to use email in the Oval Office will respond with any measures.

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