Linux in the US Government

by Richard Vernon recently ran an opinion piece issuing a sort of call to begin a grass roots effort to promote the use of Linux in US government agencies. The author, Harry LeBlanc, mentions the recent press shedding light on the use of Linux by national and governments around the world, and he laments the possibility that the advantages reaped by those governments might be lost on those in the United States.

In fact, while far from ubiquitous, Linux and open-source software is popping up everywhere from local-level governments to national agencies. A couple of examples are the Orange County city of Garden Grove, which has been using Linux for years, and the recently launched Dublin County, N.C. web site, which uses Linux, PHP and MySQL.

On a grander scale, many federal agencies are also using Linux. One example is the US Navy Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO), which collects and analyzes the world's oceans for the benefit of both the Navy and other Department of Defense agencies, is currently using Linux in certain environments. Additionally, they have teamed up with the Open-Source Software Institute to analyze the ways in which they are using Linux and other open-source software and how they might better deploy it.

In addition to the many advantages to be gleaned from using open-source software in government that Mr. LeBlanc lists in his piece, it would seem that as an increasing number of government agencies adopt Linux and bring their influence to bear in its support, the threat of SSSCA-type laws ever making it through our nation's legislation decreases.

Richard Vernon is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal.

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