In six weeks, a team of three college students with no industry experience and only academic software-specific knowledge, developed and designed a health care provider search system using only open source software. To tell you how they got there, let’s start with a little history of open source software in the US federal government workspace.
The open source software (OSS) movement has grown and matured over the past four decades. What first began as a strategy by Bell Laboratories to recruit pre-trained college students who had hard to find UNIX skill sets, has blossomed into an alternative to the “cathedral” approach to software development. This movement gained momentum, particularly after development of Linux in the early 1990s, and use of the open source approach for production of high quality, innovative software has grown exponentially. Despite this impressive track record, and some notable exceptions, OSS has been generally avoided as a viable software alternative within the US federal government sector. The objections to OSS are based primarily upon two pivotal concerns: security and lack of support.