06.21.2002 PenguinREPORT

In running around through the ‘Net today, pulling together this issue of Penguin Shell, I came across some intersting thoughts on open source and the government. The Alexis de Tocqueville Institute (AdTI) has published a whitepaper making the case that, “Terrorists trying to hack or disrupt U.S. computer networks might find it easier if the federal government attempts to switch to ‘open source’ as some groups propose.”

Now, if you’ve checked the link to the paper in the paragraph above, you’ve already seen that this whitepaper isn’t free. You have to pay for it. In my opinions, it’s a clear case of colossal arrogance to release a paper disputing the validity of the open source movement in a pay format.

In any case, the report left me with some serious doubts about how much the author even understood open source. Several of his critical theses border on being flat wrong. To anyone with experience in the open source world, his arguments start to fall apart almost from the beginning.

In the past week, there’s been much lively debate amongst those who’ve purchased the paper. David Skoll of Roaring Penguin Software has published a rebuttal that is at once thoughtful and scathing. In fact, it clearly destroys most of the arguments of the paper’s author Ken Brown and makes a clear case for exactly why the government should move toward open source systems. I couldn’t agree with Mr. Skoll more or Mr. Brown less. If you’re looking for yet more insight into the value of open source code to the country and the world as a whole, read the rebuttal. Aside from devastating every argument made by Mr. Brown, it serves as yet another reminder that we’re really onto something that can fundamentally change the way we utilize computers and computing – for everyone.

Have a great weekend.