Open Source

U.S. Presidential candidates and open source

Jack Wallen tackles a tough topic here: Which US Presidential candidate would most likely support open source. After combing the net for as much support as he could, Jack has discovered one candidate might likely be a strong supporter of open source. Read on to find out.

Yesterday, I was just roaming around the "interwebz" when I came across a poll asking which U.S. presidential candidate is most likely to support open source. This intrigued me. I decided to do a little bit of research into the issue so I could report it here. Now this is not me putting my political beliefs on top of my Linux (and open source) soap box. This is me finding facts (and opinions) and drawing a fairly simple conclusion. It was also a chance to do a little digging.

The facts

The first thing I usually do when attempting to link open source to a person or company is go to Netcraft and find out what their sites are run on. Here are the results:

www.barackobama.com

OS: Linux Domain Server: PWS/1.3.28 Registry: GoDaddy IP Address: 66.114.49.174 Average uptime: 54 days

www.johnmccain.com

OS: Linux Server: IIS 6 Domain Registry: GoDaddy IP Address: 72.21.91.132 Average uptime: N/A

Okay, so we can assume both candidates are running Windows servers in a VM on Linux. Of course that can't be placed on the shoulders of the candidates. But it is interesting to know anyway.

Now let's move on to see where they stand.

Their stance on open source

If I google the strings "Barack Obama open source" and "John McCain open source" I get the following results.

McCain: 835,000 hits. First page to directly link McCain to open source: N/A

Obama: 1,000,000 hits. First page to directly link Obama to open source: 1

After clicking through page after page of search results I couldn't find a single article linking McCain to any take on open source. On the first page (third hit) there was a link to this article (from The American Prospect) Obama's Plan for Open-Source Democracy. In a nutshell the article describes a discussion Obama had with Google employees about his approval of net neutrality and an open government. Another article,"Barack Obama, open standards, and the telcos, our latter day robber barons" (still on search page 1) highlights Obama's plan for an open government and discusses his support for "machine-readable government information standards." Yet another article, "Barack Obama Pledges Support for Open Document Formats," details Obama's support for the open document format. In this last article Obama is quoted saying:

To seize this moment, we have to use technology to open up our democracy. It’s no coincidence that one of the most secretive Administrations in history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to sunlight. As President, I’ll change that. I’ll put government data online in universally accessible formats.

That alone is fairly telling of how he stands on universal access, which can be considered a type of open-ness.

Was it possible to actually find anything linking either candidate directly to an indicator of their support for open source software? The closest I could find would be the candidates' stance on net neutrality and Obama's support for ODF (open document format) in the US government. As far as their stance on net neutrality is concerned, here's how they stand:

  • Obama states that the historic openness of the Internet is the key to its success.
  • McCain states the lightly regulated history of the Internet and software market as the source of the vibrant Internet economy, and says burdensome regulations must not be imposed by the government.

Pretty clear there.

Putting two and two together

Even without actually interviewing each candidate, it's pretty clear where they stand on open source (or open government). I would imagine if asked directly where they stand on open source their replies would probably look something like this:

Obama: I stand strong for the openness of both government information. In my administration you can be sure that the public will have access to all legislation, in a universally recognized format. I will continue to support the open document format and any technology that will aid in our country's rise out of current economic crisis.

McCain: My friends...no one wants the government directly influencing every aspect of their lives. So why would the internet need government regulation when it already has thriving businesses ensuring day to day availability? I believe that companies like Microsoft have helped to make the United States the economic and intellectual leader of the world.

Sarah Palin: Open Source? No, this isn't an open sore. You betcha I rubbed a little dirt on that cut. This Joe Six-Pack won't let a little open sore take me down.

Okay, so that last one was just for fun. Gosh, I just couldn't help myself, ya know.

Ultimately only time will tell. But I believe it's pretty clear which of the U.S. candidates would support open source and which wouldn't.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

197 comments
JimInPA
JimInPA

Neither candidate has the slightest clue what open source is.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

In the grand scheme of things, this would be #670 or so on a list of the top 500 considerations for a presidential vote. I have some pretty funky family dynamics; so I can understand reading about how someone who made it may have some distant family members that fell off the face of the map, so to speak. Hell, I even have at least 3 half-siblings that I know of, and have zero desire to ever meet. To me, there are really too many other key areas to focus on (economy, war/defense, education)to worry about whether or not a candidate takes care of far-flung relatives. Again, though, that is based off of my personal experience. Others will understandably feel different. EDIT: I wanted to add this link: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/29/lkl.mccain.excerpts/index.html To me, that is a far more valid reason as to question whether or not to vote for a particular candidate. McCain's campaign has done a p_ss poor job of bringing more stuff like this to light. Every politician, at one time or another, has rubbed shoulders with a criminal...knowingly or not. People pretty much already seem to write that off as par for the course. More focus should have been given to hard facts, in my estimation. As a disclaimer, I am not casting a vote for either candidate. Doesn't matter in my state, anyway, but I'll sleep better.

jdclyde
jdclyde

And the fact that so many people from countries that loath the US support Obama, would be a damn indicator that he is not someone we want in office leading our country. Heck, even Russia is looking forward to a weakening of the US... oh, I mean having Obama in office.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

On the one hand, the President of the US does have a global impact, so I can see some merit in people outside the country expressing their views in an active manner (i.e. they actually create a site themselves extolling the virtues of their candidate of choice...unprompted letter writing, what have you). On the other hand, it seems somewhat disingenuous to allow people from outside the country to exert influence on the election. Grass roots is fine, as long as the grass is in your own backyard. If there is a rule/regulation that prohibits the use of foreign nationals to campaign on one's behalf (or restricts the manner in which they do so), I'd say this is definitely over the top. Otherwise, this may just be the first glimpse of future election tactics that may be 'swarmy', but are still 'legal'. So much for taking a stand against outsourcing, though! ;)

darthbader
darthbader

I would bet you are correct on that. McCain probably doesnt understand what open source is and obama's statement in regards to the fact that he wants open government information proves he does not know what open source is because that is not open source by definition. That statement would show that he supports the freedom of information act. (that is something that they all support until they get into power and decide that the american people shouldnt know about backroom deals)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not willing to take that sucker bet but if you find someone who is, please have him contact me. The candidates probably think it has something to do with free trade. Again, their position on open source software is quite low on my list of qualifications, below their favorite pro football team and the ever-critical 'boxers vs. briefs' question.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

My aunts and uncles were as close to me as my grandparents, and my cousins, nieces and nephews, many second-cousins, and even their kids, are even closer. None of them will ever struggle undeservedly as long as I still have a breath in me. Heck, my grandmother's brother's great-great grand children are over all the time and call me Uncle Tony (though I suppose they're really what, second cousins, twice removed?).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Perhaps so many of those foreigners welcome him as a change from the policies of the Bush administration. I suspect they would support anyone the Dems put up as long as that nominee was to the left of the current administration, and not very far left either. Part of McCain's burden is the he is perceived, rightly or wrongly, by some, both inside and outside the U.S., as the third Bush administration. (Excessive commas; five points off.)

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

US citizens called foreign democracies' citizens trying to sway their votes?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...obama's statement in regards to the fact that he wants open government information proves he does not know what open source is..." That depends. Was he being asked about open source software when he made the statement? It not, then it proves your point about the FOI Act but nothing about his understanding of FOSS.

JimInPA
JimInPA

Next darthbader will be on about why Obama won't release "boxers or briefs" although he did admit to being a White Sox fan... but I won't hold that against him ;)

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

He's certainly fair game, but PUBLIC EMPLOYEES doing it (at least an ethics violation and maybe even a criminal act... Policemen aren't allowed to run background checks on people for personal gain, for example; and at least in Ohio, such activity, clearly for partisan political purposes, is specifically forbidden among most public employees [b]as a condition of their employment![/b]) is just plain wrong. Public employees have access to information about people that IS NOT public record. One thing recently discovered, for example, is if and how many times a citizen has taken out a "PayDay"loan. Another is if and when you've been a patient at a mental health facility. They also have access to your Social Security number. Do you really think it's OK for public employees to run checks on just anyone without restriction?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

With the lights on, in a flannel gown, she never moved a muscle, and it probably didn't last five minutes. As soon as the EPT turned blue she moved to a separate bedroom and hasn't been back since.

Tig2
Tig2

Tuesday at about 10:00 a.m. will find us at our polling place. We have carefully researched all who are running and the issues that have made it to ballot. We have discussed our thoughts and have come to independent decisions that we haven't and won't share with one another (although I would bet that I can guess in many cases). My parents raised me to believe that voting was my civic duty and that participating in the vote was both a right and a privilege. I believe that. I have become aware this year that there are things that I cannot, in good conscience, support. I am going to vote against those things and regardless of the outcome, I will know that I made the decision to let my voice be heard. Stand up on Tuesday, November 4th and tell the country and your state what you want. WHO you vote for is your personal business. THAT you vote is for the good of all. This soapbox moment was brought to you by me. Edit- typo

jdclyde
jdclyde

is they did "it" at least once... :D

Mr Stumper
Mr Stumper

I'd venture to guess they haven't gotten it on since before 1991!

jdclyde
jdclyde

After all, she DID sleep with an ex-President..... :0

Mr Stumper
Mr Stumper

Read it again. It would have been voting against Palin instead of for Hillary.

jdclyde
jdclyde

if the other kids jump off a bridge..... ;\

jdclyde
jdclyde

Being against one is not in favor of the other. McCain lost my vote before he even ran, with his attitudes about immigration and other like issues. Obama is going to be even worse on issues like that. If enough people stand up for their values, MAYBE they can force one of the big two back in line. So, you claim to be voting against Palin instead of for Obama? Interesting.

Mr Stumper
Mr Stumper

Whenever somebody willingly enters the public spotlight they are subject to somebody poking around in their past. It's just the way it is and isn't confined to the world of politics. Oh yeah, and JD says that you aren't supposed to point out bad behavior to justify bad behavior. ;)

Mr Stumper
Mr Stumper

Ah, but the Anti-Obama "cultists" simply parrot what they hear from pundits or from Worldnet Daily. You can say you are not for McCain all you want, but by continually attacking Obama without showing both sides of the coin you end up backing McCain by default. I know you know this, but Barr has NO chance of winning. In fact I?d go so far as to say that no Libertarian candidate will ever gain the Presidency. And showing hypocrisy, when questioning one?s ?friends and supporters? is a valid counter-point. Especially considering the ?Pallin? around with terrorists? smears that have gone on. I?ve said this before and I?ll say it again. I wanted McCain to win the 2000 Republican Primary and would have voted for him. In fact, if Hillary were running against him I would have had a very hard time deciding. Of course, if McCain running against Hillary had still picked Palin?that would have been the deciding factor to not vote for him. I will continue to make any point I wish, regardless of any ?Do as I say, not as I do? mentality.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...that there is a BIG difference in $250,000 income and $250,000 profit. If the business held liabilities in excess of the $250K, it is very conceivable that it could be procured with little more than a bag of beans from someone just looking to sign off the burden. I have no doubt this was an underhanded measure looking to discredit the unexpected 'star' of the campaign season. I'd say it was unbelievable, but really, I'm sad to say I'm not in the least bit surprised. Wednesday morning can't come soon enough!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

First, I'd encourage you to still go ahead and post this to a new thread on Monday (if for no other reason that it will get full attention...some people may not be willing to scroll through an entire discussion). I don't think people can hear enough how important the right to vote truly is. Second, in addition to the reasons you listed, many local elections and measures are also being contested; some of which may bear as much of an impact, if not more so, than who is elected president (i.e. school funding measures = property tax hikes, sales tax referendums, etc. etc.).

jdclyde
jdclyde

Congress will be more important than ever. The worst times in our history are followed by a president and congress with no checks or balances. That is what Pelosi has been waiting for, and why they haven't done a single useful thing since she obtained her position, despite the boasts of what they would do in the first 100 days. She is waiting, hoping to increase the majority, even though this congress has an even lower approval rating than Bush does. On the other hand, I do not support the idea of stupid, uninformed people voting just for the sake of voting. That vote is more easily manipulated and undermines the whole process. Kind of like paying homeless people to vote for the second name on the list. That feeds into the corruption. Dead people voting also seems to be an issue that undermines the process of a free election. To bad we keep hearing how making people show a valid photo ID is racist. More corruption, at its ugliest.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I was going to start a new discussion on Monday, but you've forced my hand. Please vote. If none of the candidates are worthy, the process is worthy of your participation. Write in one of the unsuccessful primary nominees, or a leader you respect, or your mother, or even BALTHOR. Many of us here are former or active service members; others have relatives in the service. Many here have "I support our troops" stickers. You can show your support best by exercising the right we defend. Care about how other countries view us? Our low voter participation numbers don't do us any favors. Yes, the lines may be long and the weather may suck. Be grateful we can participate in the selection of our leaders without having to walk for days under threat of physical attack or death. Be especially grateful that no matter who wins, the transition of power will be an orderly one, with no military intervention or retaliation against the losing candidate's supporters. Please, please vote. And when you get up Wednesday morning, regardless of who won, regardless of the multitude of problems with our system, be glad you live in the United States of America.

jdclyde
jdclyde

What amazes me is how the obama cultists can't get their head around the idea of just because someone is against Obama, it doesn't mean they are for McCain. Hello, clue calling...... Saying McCain is just as bad as Obama only proves my point that neither of them are worthy of my vote, but you seem to think them being equally bad makes your choice a good choice. Someday you will learn that you can not get away with justifying bad behavior by pointing to someone else that is also doing bad behavior. Sadly, that day has not arrived yet.

Mr Stumper
Mr Stumper

Sadly, I'd like to think that the McCain camp is simply desperate at this point, but I don't. I think they just know that they can spew this crap out and the Right Wing-nuts will just run with it without bothering to fact check. I know this happens on both sides, but on these forums it's seriously lop-sided. And we just saw yet another evidence of this hypocrisy. Funny how even on TR we hear about the the "Obama Cult" that will not look at their own candidate objectively, but then the same people who continually bash Obama refuse to do the same. But, of course such people certainly don't believe that they themselves belong to a cult. And they certainly don't think they live in glass houses, let alone throw any stones...'cause they just wouldn't do that. The consistent and continual hypocrisy just amazes me.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

Paying someone not to do something is a result of whoever is doing the paying protecting an interest that they think would otherwise be harmed. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, as long as you're doing the paying with your own money.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"When I refer to liberal, I'm referring to the ideas that are particularly bad." So 'liberal' equals 'bad'? Why not just say 'bad'? Why use an easily-misconstrued label?

jdclyde
jdclyde

I NEVER hear people in politics talk about the American Farmer getting paid to not grow crops. Aren't we also hearing that "The Government" should be subsidizing research for alternate fuels? Aren't we also hearing about subsidies for companies that do not send their labor over seas? It has become just another boogyman, aimed at anything "big". If wasn't for BIG business, none of us, anywhere in the world, would have the quality of life we do now.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

Liberal is 'new' Conservative is 'established' Liberal ideas are new ones. If they're good ideas, they become widespread in use, i.e. Established (and Conservative). When I refer to liberal, I'm referring to the ideas that are particularly bad. Like entitlements (and yes, I include subsidies to businesses among those), and lack of enforcement of personal responsibility (including the bailout).

jdclyde
jdclyde

information that is fair. I already spent more time there today than I should have....

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Lots of great content here! Food for thought for the weekend. Thanks!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You seem to use it interchangeably with 'Democrat'. They aren't synonyms. That's the problem with labels. They get applied but there doesn't seem to be a consistent definition.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Wingnuts can protest all they want, but when the Democrats cater to them, seeing obstruction as more important than energy independence, we have a problem. It is the liberal in congress that block all progress of getting new sources on-line, and all we hear about is how we need to have GOVERNMENT invest in developing new technology, all the while, doing NOTHING about today. We hear weak minded fools cry about how new oil would take 5 to 10 years to come on-line. how long will it be for technology that hasn't even been invented yet?!?!? Instead of saying "all of the above", we end up with NONE of the above. I am sure you recall Kennedy working to obstruct the wind farm last year. Cant build hydroelectric plants. can't build nuke plants. Biden has already said they will not allow any more coal plants. We hear talk about electric cars, but no way of increasing the electric generation plants. California already gets a portion of their energy from Canada. What will happen when demand increases because everyone has to plug their car in? Do electric cars have air conditioning and heat? Bet that will kill the battery PDQ.

jdclyde
jdclyde

I don't recall the enemies of the US supporting Bush when he ran against Gore. Gore, part of the existing administration, and many would have claimed "more of the same".

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Sure is a shame liberals intentionally insist on keeping us dependent on our enemies." I assume you mean conservationists, not liberals, who oppose increasing the amount of drilling for oil allowed. I think it's a shame we as a country continue with energy policies that rely on fossil fuels, regardless of their source. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Russia, The Middle East, and Venisulia are all hurting from what is good for the rest of the world. I fully expect Russia to be behind something to disrupt the flow, so they can get the price back up. Sure is a shame liberals intentionally insist on keeping us dependent on our enemies. As for support in the middle east, there are more people there that believe Obama is a muslim than there are people in the US. Boy, they must really be stupid, right?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Yeah, but that's true of every election cycle. Hostile elements support the challenger, right up until he's sworn in. Then it's back to business as usual, and the new guy becomes the one burned in effigy. If oil prices keep dropping, Russia and the Middle East had better figure out a new source of income pretty quick.

jdclyde
jdclyde

just gave them a current face to put on their hate posters. Nothing new. Russia, getting more and more agressive again, not a country friendly to us. All of the middle east, an entire region filled with hate for the west. Keep in mind, they hate the west for their decedent liberal lives that they live. And I recall Obama going to Israel and taking the same stance. Hello? Sure, not every supporter is unfriendly, but all unfriendly are supporters. If generations old enemies of the US are for him, it does not reflect well.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

since you haven't named any specific countries. I'll grant the Iranians have hated us at least as far back as when we shoved the Shah down their throats. I believe the September 11th terrorists were mostly from Saudi Arabia, a country with a government nominally friendly to the U.S.; correct me if I'm wrong. Some of our European 'allies' certainly regard Obama as a potential improvement over what they view as the Bush policy of going it alone. Not all foreign countries or organizations supporting Obama are unfriendly to the U.S. Pandering? Israel on line two, sir; and no, they won't hold.

jdclyde
jdclyde

If you recall, hate from these countries is not something that popped up out of no-where as soon as Bush took office. The 911 terrorists were here training back during the Clinton administration, as was the FIRST trade center bombing. Remembering back further than 7 years, I don't for a second believe that pipe dream. The US has had for a very long time, people that hate it and want it taken down a peg or three. Putting Obama in place is a good start, and they know it. He gets in, let the pandering begin. This has nothing to do with Bush because it has been going on for decades. Remember back when we were at our weakest under Carter the Iranian kidnapping? Was Carter an oppressive Administration to the rest of the world? History does not look favorably upon your argument.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...you'd see a myriad of responses; from the absolute rejection, to some like mine, to some that may find no fault. Like I said, though, the scenario does cause me a level of discomfort. However, I do differentiate between 'fully wrong' (as in, clearly violates rules) and 'swarmy' (may not be illegal, bu definitely steps up to, if not across, the line of ethics). I'll have to try and hunt around to see if this is covered in any campaign ethics legislation. If not on the federal level, than maybe the state. Definitely an interesting point of discussion!

Gate keeper
Gate keeper

if foreign democracies had their finger in every pie .. US citizens would be concerned

Tig2
Tig2

Who knew?

JimInPA
JimInPA

ok so that is exactly what you just said... edited: read, think, type... in that order Jimmy B-)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

By linking decision making ability to the 'crush' factor, he had implicitly admitted what women have always suspected: Guys think with their 'Richards', not with their brains.

Tig2
Tig2

That the answer to the critical boxers versus briefs question is terribly important. How can we expect a guy who is being crushed by his briefs to make good decisions? That IS, after all, the rationale I have always heard from the man in my life... :D