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[] Open-Source vs. Microsoft im Pentagon,

Ein Bericht zu Open-Source-Software, den die MITRE Corp. für das
Pentagon erstellt hat, empfiehlt die Förderung von OSS. Microsoft macht
heftige Lobbyarbeit dagegen.

Open-Source Fight Flares At Pentagon

By Jonathan Krim
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 23, 2002; Page E01 

Microsoft Corp. is aggressively lobbying the Pentagon to squelch its 
growing use of freely distributed computer software and switch to 
proprietary systems such as those sold by the software giant, 
according to officials familiar with the campaign.

In what one military source called a "barrage" of contacts with 
officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency and the office of 
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over the past few months, the 
company said "open source" software threatens security and its 
intellectual property.

But the effort may have backfired. A May 10 report prepared for the 
Defense Department concluded that open source often results in more 
secure, less expensive applications and that, if anything, its use 
should be expanded.

"Banning open source would have immediate, broad, and strongly 
negative impacts on the ability of many sensitive and security-focused 
DOD groups to protect themselves against cyberattacks," said the 
report, by Mitre Corp.

A Microsoft Corp. spokesman acknowledged discussions between the 
company and the Pentagon but denied urging a ban on open-source 
software. He also said Microsoft did not focus on potential security 

Spokesman Jon Murchinson said Microsoft has been talking about how to 
allow open-source and proprietary software to coexist. "Our goal is to 
resolve difficult issues that are driving a wedge between the 
commercial and free software models," he said.

John Stenbit, an assistant secretary of defense and the Defense 
Department's chief information officer, said that Microsoft has said 
using free software with commercial software might violate companies' 
intellectual-property rights. Stenbit said the issue is legally 

The company also complained that the Pentagon is funding research on 
making free software more secure, which in effect subsidizes 
Microsoft's open-source competitors, Stenbit said.

Microsoft's push is a new front in a long-running company assault on 
the open-source movement, which company officials have called "a 
cancer" and un-American.

Software is designated open source when its underlying computer code 
is available for anyone to license, enhance or customize, often at no 
cost. The theory is that by putting source code in the public domain, 
programmers worldwide can improve software by sharing one another's 

Vendors of the proprietary systems, such as Microsoft and Oracle 
Corp., keep their source codes secret, control changes to programs and 
collect all licensing fees for their use.

Government agencies use a patchwork of systems and software, and 
proprietary software is still the most widely used. But open source 
has become more popular with businesses and government. 

The Mitre report said open-source software "plays a more critical role 
in the DOD than has been generally recognized."

The report identified 249 uses of open-source systems and tools, 
including running a Web portal for the Defense Intelligence Agency, 
running network security for the Army command in Europe and support 
for numerous Air Force Computer Network Defense tools.

Among the most high-profile efforts is research funded by the National 
Security Agency to develop a more secure version of the open-source 
Linux operating system, which competes with Microsoft's Windows.

The report said banning open-source software would drive up costs, 
though it offered no specifics. Some government agencies have saved 
significantly by using open source.

At the Census Bureau, programmers used open-source software to launch 
a Web site for obtaining federal statistics for $47,000, bureau 
officials said. It would have cost $358,000 if proprietary software 
were used, they said.

Microsoft has argued that some free-licensing regimes are antithetical 
to the government's stated policy that moneymaking applications should 
develop from government-funded research and that intellectual property 
should be protected.

Microsoft also said open-source software is inherently less secure 
because the code is available for the world to examine for flaws, 
making it possible for hackers or criminals to exploit them. 
Proprietary software, the company argued, is more secure because of 
its closed nature.

"I've never seen a systematic study that showed open source to be more 
secure," said Dorothy Denning, a professor of computer science at 
Georgetown University who specializes in information warfare.

Others argue that the flexibility provided by open-source software is 
essential, enabling users to respond quickly to flaws that are found.

"With open source, there is no need to wait for a large software firm 
to decide if a set of changes is in its best interests," said Eugene 
Spafford, a computer-science professor at Purdue University who 
specializes in security.

Jonathan Shapiro, who teaches computer science at Johns Hopkins 
University, said: "There is data that when the customer can inspect 
the code the vendor is more responsive. . . . Microsoft is in a very 
weak position to make this argument. Whose software is the largest, 
most consistent source of security flaws? It's Microsoft."

Stenbit said that the debate is academic and that what matters is how 
secure a given piece of software is. To that end, the Defense 
Department is now prohibited from purchasing any software that has not 
undergone security testing by the NSA. Stenbit said he is unaware of 
any open-source software that has been tested.

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