The Fed's Love Linux
The term "open source" may sound like an invitation to be hacked, but Linux is often more secure than proprietary systems. In defense and security, the attitude is that if the code can't be seen, it can't be trusted--it could be riddled with bugs, loopholes and hidden backdoors. But technological diversity lowers the risk of cyber-attacks on widely deployed systems. And when an emergency hits, agencies want to solve problems quickly by getting inside the base code without being dragged down by some company's damage-control center. The National Security Agency, renowned for its cryptography talent, has made Linux security even better. In March 2001 the NSA released the code to a security-enhanced version of Linux, which it built in-house. Dubbed "SE Linux," the program has since been weaved into security programs developed in the private and public sectors, including weapons systems used in Iraq.
The feds have plenty of other open-source programs in the works. The Department of Energy and NASA both use Linux to make custom software programs for research and development. The National Nuclear Security Administration is working on a project with Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQ - news - people ) to develop "Lustre," a Linux-based file system designed to work on high-powered computer clusters. James Kane, chief executive of market intelligence firm Federal Sources, says the government is running dozens more open-source pilot projects.
I think that it's great that the US gov't is in favor of open source and knows that it's more secure and stable. I just hope that the public starts to pick Linux up more and more as a desktop standard.