NASA's Open Government Site Built On Open Source

A new collaborative website and blog devoted to the agency's Open Government Plan uses open-source choices including Linux and WordPress.
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NASA has taken another step forward in its embrace of open-source technologies with a new website devoted to its Open Government Plan built and hosted on open-source technology.

The open.NASA site--which aims to provide a collaborative forum for highlighting the ways the agency is leveraging transparency, participation, and collaboration as part of the Open Government Directive--is hosted on an open-source Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, or LAMP, stack.

It also uses an open-source content management system, WordPress 3.2.1, to generate and post content, according to information on the site.

The General Services Administration uses the same system and also approved Disqus, the open-source engine driving open.NASA's comments. Moreover, Disqus is developed using Django open-source Python Web framework for rapid application development.

NASA has been one of the federal agencies at the forefront of supporting open-source technology. In fact, the technology aspect of its Open Government Plan is aligned with this strategy.

Two of the plan's three key initiatives hinge on open source. One is to make open-source software development more collaborative to provide benefits not only to NASA but to the public, and another is to use the open-source Nebula platform to allow NASA scientists and researchers to share large, complex data sets with external partners and the public, the agency said.

The launch of the blog, therefore, is in light with this overall strategy to be more open in technology, collaboration, transparency, and other efforts, NASA CIO Linda Cureton said in a statement. "The launch of open.NASA is a new chapter in NASA's culture of openness and an exciting new way to engage citizens in our activities," she said.

Open data is also a big part of the new blog, which offers a catalog of freely available NASA data on both the open.NASA site and the federal government's data repository,

NASA, along with other federal agencies and departments, released its Open Government Plan in April 2010 as part of a White House directive. The plan, among other information and resources, is posted on the new blog.

Other NASA open-source support activities in the last 18 months include the hosting of its first open-source summit this year; the contribution of code from Nebula to the OpenStack open-source cloud computing project; and the full support of the Apache Software Foundation for a NASA-led middleware project called Object Oriented Data Technology (OODT), originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA's drive to vigorously support open-source push was most recently supported by former CTO Chris Kemp, but the agency obviously is continuing the trend even after his departure. For that part, so is Kemp himself--he recently launched a company called Nebula that will offer an appliance based on OpenStack for enterprise cloud computing.

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