The White House switch to open source: Tim O'Reilly's thoughts

Over the weekend, the White House new media team announced (via AP) that now runs on the open source content management system Drupal. Tim O'Reilly puts this news into context:
drupal.jpg This move is obviously a big win for open source. As John Scott of Open Source for America (a group advocating open source adoption by government, to which I am an advisor) noted in an email to me: "This is great news not only for the use of open source software, but the validation of the open source development model. The White House's adoption of community-based software provides a great example for the rest of the government to follow."

John is right. While open source is already widespread throughout the government, its adoption by the White House will almost certainly give permission for much wider uptake. Particularly telling are the reasons that the White House made the switch

Thoughts on the switch to Drupal []


  1. Very cool change I can beleive in, though a WordPress fan and note that 10 Downing Street started using that cms some time back.

    1. WordPress has a great end user experience, BUT the documentation is terrible compared to Drupal’s. For a big project like this, documentation makes a huge difference.

    1. It’s a fail in my book, solely because they chose Drupal. Ugh. You can do a lot better than Drupal and PHP.

      1. @SleighBoy Drupal and PHP, for all their warts, have been around for years, and they each have matured thru 5+ major versions. Thus, their warts are well known, many already having known workarounds.

        Besides that, choosing Drupal is indeed a calculated political maneuver appeal to populists and technologists.

  2. @franco:

    I’ll give it a try:

    “Yet more proof that we are sliding toward marxist stalin-style socialism. All real Americans use Microsoft products, perfected by competition in a free marketplace!”

  3. See, you are confusing the idiot Rush Republican government=bad corporate=good.

    However, many corporations got as big as they are and maintain their dominance not through market forces, but because they in effect hire the government to be their hired muscle. Many on the left see government and big business as being opposed, but I find this view unfathomable and unsupportable in the real world. They are best buddies, despite what the propaganda might have one believe.

    Hell, even Microsoft has received loads of money from selling NT software to government firms. Their success is not purely the result of the free market (although it largely is). Of course, you can argue that monopolies violate the free market, but in the long term they don’t generally last. It wasn’t the government lawsuits that have broken up the Win/IE monopoly, but rather the strength of products such as Firefox, OSX, and Linux.

    The definition of a free market is people having the full range of free choices, and no one being forced to do anything except not harm others, the most basic natural law. The problem with socialism etc. is that it removes choice, and it forces people to do things that they would not otherwise do.

    When you see it in this light, open source is absolutely a product of freedom. It is people who see an opening in the market and set out on their own initiative to fill it. It is, in fact, spurred by the entrepreneurial drive – open source developers don’t become billionaires, but many of them have been able to honest jobs for themselves. I can’t think of any way that governments have spurred open source development (other than abstractly, like supporting the Internet), and I can’t imagine any open source movement blooming in, say, the Soviet Union.

    For the record, I dual boot my computer – between two version of Linux! I haven’t run MS or Apple software in years.

    1. Are you talking to anyone in particular?

      I don’t know any ‘left-leaning’ intelligent person that thinks Big Business and the Government are opposing forces, I think it’s pretty well generally understood that Governments all over the world bend over and take it from big business on a daily basis.

      Also, if you can point me in the direction of one of these ‘free markets’ that you speak of I’d be interested in studying it.

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