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NASA Open Source Science

NASA To Host Open Source Summit 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the patching-the-space-program dept.
PyroMosh writes "'On March 29 & 30, NASA will host its first Open Source Summit at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. This event will bring together engineers and policy makers across NASA and respected members of the open source community to discuss the challenges with the existing open source policy framework, and propose modifications that would make it easier for NASA to develop, release, and use open source software.' It's nice to see NASA keeping up the spirit of give-and-take that OSS is built around."
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NASA To Host Open Source Summit

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  • I am hoping NASA starts to develop software. Like the Army did in the 80's.
    • Mike Wrote Ping, and did a lot of work on Bind the name server. Doug Wrote the System V libc library that ran on BSD Unix. Doug's Library let us run both BSD code and Sys5 code on the same platform for the first time. There was a lot more, but this is what people may remember.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Umm. Anyone heard of Donald Becker?

    • by morgauxo (974071)
      A guy at nasa wrote the 3c503 and 3c509 linux drivers for a beowulf cluster he built there. Those drivers are in the main kernel now.
    • NASA has been a huge benefactor to Open Source for decades. They use Red Hat Linux and their engineers write drivers (at least they did early on).

    • Actually it would make more sense for NASA to license their software under BSD than GPL. As a taxpayer funded organization they should not be discriminating against commercial organization who are also taxpayers. That said, if you are developing software on your own time and on your own expense then of course you have the right to use whatever license you prefer, restrictive or not. I just think it changes when you are developing software at the taxpayer's expense.

      It would also be more consistent with NA
      • I work for a US government lab (NIST) and the software I write is freely available and not subject to copyright, by law. I would expect the same rule to apply to NASA. The lack of copyright actually causes a problem for us, because the GPL requires that authors copyright their code so that they can apply the GPL to it. That means that we can't apply the GPL and therefore can't use GPL code. I hope this is the sort of issue that this conference is going to iron out.

          -- Steve

        • I'm surprised to hear that, since in the arts it's not at all uncommon to use public domain work as part of a copyrighted piece; it doesn't seem like there would be an issue with doing the same with software. Perhaps there is just some legal guidance necessary to clarify that, in which case this conference is long overdue.

          • I think you have it backwards. It's ok for my code to be used anywhere. The problem is that I can't use other people's GPL'd code in mine, even though mine is being made available even more freely than GPL'd code.

              -- Steve

            • by snadrus (930168)
              If the program's exclusively yours, add a dual-license for GPL and use GPL pieces to make a more attractively feature-complete version while allowing free use for your parts only. Nowadays most libs are LGPL & can be used anywhere without transfer of license.
        • I understand that your code has to be public domain, but you can mix public domain code with GPL. The FEF's lawyers seem to think you should have no problem:

          http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLUSGovAdd [gnu.org]

          • You must be reading that differently than I am, or talking about a different situation. My program is a large app that might benefit from including some GPL code from elsewhere. It's not an "improvement to a GPL program".

              -- Steve

        • I work for a US government lab (NIST) and the software I write is freely available and not subject to copyright, by law.

          The US government cannot use US copyright law to enforce its copyright in works created by US government employees on government time. The law does not say that the copyright does not exist: just that the government cannot sue to enforce it. This distincrion is meaningless in most cases but not in this one.

          The lack of copyright actually causes a problem for us, because the GPL requir

      • NASA isn't actually capable of licensing their own work, since as a government organization they can't hold copyright. Presumably this conference is about how they interact with other people's work, so license choice would be made by a 3rd party. They could have some input when dealing with their contractors, but that's about it.

      • Why is using the GPL "discriminating against commercial organisations"? The GPL gives all taxpayers continued access on equal terms, whereas the BSD license risks someone taking over the market with a single closed source version, stifling competition and effectively getting corporate welfare from the government.

        It comes down to politics: GPL if you are pro competitive free markets, BSD if you want corporate welfare and central planning.

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          Why is using the GPL "discriminating against commercial organisations"?

          The GPL forces distribution of source, allows removal of DRM, requires distribution of digital signatures validating executables, etc. I am not saying these are inherently bad things, I am saying that a license that does such stuff should not be used for tax payer funded projects. Tax payers who in part paid for this software should be free to use this software in these GPL-prohibited manners.

          The GPL gives all taxpayers continued access on equal terms, whereas the BSD license risks someone taking over the market with a single closed source version, stifling competition and effectively getting corporate welfare from the government. It comes down to politics: GPL if you are pro competitive free markets, BSD if you want corporate welfare and central planning.

          That is merely FSF dogma, and not very accurate. No one can take over the market with the government written code, t

      • "Actually it would make more sense for NASA to license their software under BSD than GPL. As a taxpayer funded organization they should not be discriminating against commercial organization who are also taxpayers" ..

        I don't think so ...

  • by camperdave (969942) on Friday March 11, 2011 @06:13PM (#35457742) Journal
    I wish congress would loosen its purse strings so that NASA can actually develop a proper functional space program. I'd like to see ATHLETE [youtube.com] deployed on the Moon.

    BTW, whatever happened to NASA's Cool Robot of the Week? It hasn't been updated since 2003!
    • BTW, whatever happened to NASA's Cool Robot of the Week? It hasn't been updated since 2003!

      Someone probably demanded to stop updating it so we could plug the budget hole with the money saved.

  • My money is on Microsoft jumping all over this with a big embrace that "cannot be refused". And after the embrace will come a slow and painful death.
  • http://www.pdfernhout.net/open-letter-to-grantmakers-and-donors-on-copyright-policy.html [pdfernhout.net]
    "An Open Letter to All Grantmakers and Donors On Copyright And Patent Policy In a Post-Scarcity Society (From around 2001) ... Foundations, other grantmaking agencies handling public tax-exempt dollars, and charitable donors need to consider the implications for their grantmaking or donation policies if they use a now obsolete charitable model of subsidizing proprietary publishing and proprietary research. In order to i

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.openchannelfoundation.org/cosmic/

  • A link to the Java SDK page:

    http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/java/ [nasa.gov]

    Based on at least this project, I think they already get it...

  • see http://science.slashdot.org/story/05/04/27/1510204/NASA-Goes-SourceForge [slashdot.org]
    And this was not just a toss-over-the-fence. Most of the projects on http://babelfish.arc.nasa.gov/trac/jpf [nasa.gov] are actually maintained by external collaborators, and JPF just applied for its 3rd Google Summer of Code participation. With all the domestic and international research collaborations this has been a good success story for NASA.
  • The space shuttle is retiring and NASA has no replacement planned. This moronic Open Source summit shows how confused the agency is about its mission and how readily it wastes funds. Those in charge of this boondoggle ought to be fired.

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