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White House Goes Open Source, What Were They Using Before?

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Rippling across the tech blogs this week is the news that whitehouse.gov switched from a proprietary content management system to Drupal, and open source system. The news came out via an Associated Press news release.

The online-savvy administration on Saturday switched to open-source code for http://www.whitehouse.gov — meaning the programming language is written in public view, available for public use and able for people to edit.

White House officials described the change as similar to rebuilding the foundation of a building without changing the street-level appearance of the facade. It was expected to make the White House site more secure — and the same could be true for other administration sites in the future.

“Security is fundamentally built into the development process because the community is made up of people from all across the world, and they look at the source code from the very start of the process until it’s deployed and after,” said Terri Molini of Open Source for America, an interest group that has pushed for more such programs.

Having the public write code may seem like a security risk, but it’s just the opposite, experts inside and outside the government argued. Because programmers collaborate to find errors or opportunities to exploit Web code, the final product is therefore more secure.

There’s been lots of comments, both pros and cons. One of the most common was that Drupal, being a popular CMS, when coupled with the highly visible domain of the White House, would be highly prone to hack attacks. Obviously, yes, and whitehouse.gov has been attached regularly for years.

I’m delighted at the switch. Personally, I don’t like Drupal. I’ve considered it for projects, looked at the documentation and implementation requirements and run away. I’m a WordPress man (perhaps obviously). But lots of folks seem to think it’s the cat’s PJs, so great. The main thing is that the WH switched to open source.

My question, and the one I posted to Boing Boing, is, what was the WH using before? So far, no one seems to know. The only hint we get is that it was “proprietary.” That could mean any number of things, from custom code written anew from the ground up to a (my hunch, considering the stupidity of the Bush regime) a SharePoint-based system. If any one knows, do tell!

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Written by Brian

October 29th, 2009 at 7:52 am

Posted in politics, technology

Tagged with ,