DOD launches site to develop open-source software

Defense Department officials have launched a new Web site where developers can work on open-source software projects specifically for DOD, David Mihelcic, the chief technology officer for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), said today.

The new site, named Forge.mil, is based on the public site SourceForge.net which hosts thousands of open-source projects, Mihelcic said at an AFCEA Washington chapter lunch in Arlington, Va.

“It is really is SourceForge.net upgraded to meet DOD security requirements,” Mihelcic said.

Forge.mil users must use a common access card for authentication. Smart cards also help control access to sensitive information.

Work on Forge.mil started in October 2008, and Mihelcic approved limited operation of the site on Jan. 23, he said.

In its first week, Forge.mil is hosting three open-source projects, Mihelcic said. One project, named DOD Bastille, was started by a DISA intern, he said. DOD Bastille is based on publicly available software that automates the configuration of servers.

DOD Bastille integrates the specific security, technical and implementation guidelines required by DOD. 

“Our intern had to stand up 50 Linux machines in a lab and he said, ‘Boy I don’t want to do this by hand; why can’t I use Bastille to do this for me?’” Mihelcic said. “He looked at Bastille and saw it couldn’t do all the things he needed, so he started an open-source project. He got folks like Red Hat to jump in and participate.”

Another project on Forge.mil is designed to manage request for proposals development. The third project automates the secure configuration of Solaris systems, Mihelcic said, adding that he hopes to have 20 projects on Forge.mil in the next six months.

“The open-source development model works for everybody,” Mihelcic said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sun, Feb 8, 2009

Will it be easier to sue DoD for patent infringements? Open source licensing assumes that all responsibility for patent infringements is on developers. Once developers realize that, they will stop contributions to sourceforge.net, forge.mil and other similar sites.

Mon, Feb 2, 2009 Fr33d0m

Not to start a war or anything but as a linux user, I don't think the path to migration for DOD is all that clear. Software compatibility in as diverse a network is a big issue. Open office is good for the general office worker but does it really have all the bells and whistles that DOD power users have been relying on? Still, one thing the DoD needs to do in advance of moving to Linux is to build the infrastructure that will allow it to build, maintain, and deliver its own distro, and this is a decent step in that direction.

Mon, Feb 2, 2009 MtDewMan

Does anyone find this funny that the Federal Government is Microsoft's biggest customer and they still refuse to move their own federal employee's to a free OS, like Linux?

Sun, Feb 1, 2009 Bugman

The security of NSA's SE Linux (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selinux) vs. MS Windows is like comparing the security of Fort Knox vs. a padlocked garden shed! Another continual fortification is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's funding of the Coverity code scanning of numerous open source projects (http://scan.coverity.com/). This DoD initiative should not only strengthen the DoD's own systems against foreign threats but also benefit the allies of the USA.

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