Open source news this week: January 27-31, 2014

Data centers go green with open hardware, the UK examines open options, and more

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Open source news for your reading pleasure.

January 27-31 2014

In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we look at open access to clinical trial data, whether the US is keeping its open data commitments, and more.

The UK investigates open office software

The United Kingdom is taking the first steps toward saying goodbye to Microsoft Office and hello to a more open alternative, after it was announced that over £200 million of taxpayers' money had been spent just on licensing since 2010. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude gave a speech this week in which he emphasized open formats, and moving away from relying on a single software company to meet all of Britain's office software needs. "Technical standards for document formats may not sound like the first shot in a revolution," Maude said. But as he made clear in his elaboration, settling on open standards is the first step toward allowing greater flexibility in software providers.

Open hardware for better energy efficiency

Open server hardware has been receiving quite a lot of buzz this week as the Open Compute Summit wrapped up on Wednesday. Growing out of a Facebook effort to create an industry group to support more open, energy efficient hardware, the Open Compute Project gained the support of some major players this week. Some are hoping that open standards will increase competition between hardware vendors, who may instead compete for customer buy-in by promising better support or higher reliability. The commitment to open hardware comes with a license that resembles the GPL, which would require any alterations on the design to be contributed back to the project when the hardware is sold.

"YODA" part of open science win

Johnson & Johnson announced plans this week to share clinical trial data from its drug division with investigators and physicians who request it as part of their research. The new program is being hailed by some as a win for open science, since this type of data is typically shrouded in secrecy. Requests for anonymized clinical trial data will go through the Yale School of Medicine's Open Data Access (YODA) Project. YODA—which is a phenomenal acronym, by the way—will independently review the requests and make final decisions on whether to release the data. For more on the announcement, read the press release or check out this Forbes article, which has additional details on the program.

Is door closing on U.S. Open Data Policy?

The Washington Post is reporting that efforts are underway to water down open data legislation that would standardize and publish a slew of U.S. government reports and data. Proposed revisions to the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act or DATA Act would "remove requirements for standardized formats, eliminate a mandate to make all data available from the same source and significantly delay implementation," according to the Post. For more details on the proposed changes, check out Andrea Peterson's report in the Post.

OpenStack revamps its user feedback system

OpenStack, the free and open source Infrastructure as a Service project has been gaining ground in the cloud computing industry in recent months. With so much interest in the project, the OpenStack Foundation has been seeking new ways to encourage user participation from non-coders, in the form of a new user committee aimed at getting user feedback to developers faster than ever before. Also in the pipeline for OpenStack are efforts to develop a set of standards to encourage interoperability between different OpenStack versions.

Hat tip to Opensource.com writer Ginny Skalski and moderator Robin Muilwijk for sharing some of these news articles with me this week.

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About the author

Jason Baker - Jason is passionate about using technology to make the world more open, from software development to bringing sunlight to local governments. Linux desktop enthusiast. Map/geospatial nerd. Raspberry Pi tinkerer. Data analysis and visualization geek. Occasional coder. Cloud nativist. Follow him on Twitter.