Governments favor open source, Google releases 3 new projects, and more news

Governments favor open source, Google releases 3 new projects, and more news

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In this edition of our open source news roundup, we look at the Netherlands' and Russia's proposed moves to open source, Google's latest open source releases, Mozilla backing promising open source projects, and more.

Open source news for your reading pleasure.

October 2-15, 2016

Russia and the Netherlands propose moves to open source

For years now, governments throughout Europe have been enthusiastically adopting open source software. Their main reasons for doing so have been to lower costs and to be able to modify the software to suit their needs. Governments in Russia and the Netherlands are following that trend, but for divergent reasons.

The Russian Duma announced earlier this month that it's drafting a law to give preference to open source over proprietary software. Specifically, "the law will require local agencies to give preference to open source software and justify any purchases of proprietary software." In an interview with Bloomberg News, Duma official Andrey Chernogorov cites security as a major driver behind this shift. Much of the government's IT infrastructure is based on proprietary, foreign-made platforms, and Chernogorov said that the Russian government is "seeking to close this loophole for state purchases, as it causes security risks."

In the Netherlands, the lower house of Parliament is tabling a law that will make open standards mandatory. Astrid Oosenbrug, the member of Parliament who proposed the law, said "switching to open standards will increase interoperability and lower costs for citizens and companies." The proposal also states that the government should promote open source software.

Google releases more open source software

In the past year or so, several of the largest tech companies have been releasing a lot of open source software. That includes Google. Over the last couple of weeks, the tech giant has made three very different projects available as open source.

First up, a photo recognition algorithm nicknamed Show and Tell that's based on Google's TensorFlow machine learning library. The algorithm can "recognize objects in photos with up to 93.9 percent accuracy, and help to automate smart photo captioning." The code is available on GitHub.

Next, the Cartographer, is library that takes data from sensors and builds a map of the area the sensor is scanning. Cartographer, according to Google, can be an "essential component of autonomous platforms such as self-driving cars, automated forklifts in warehouses, robotic vacuum cleaners, and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)." You can check out the code for Cartographer on GitHub.

Finally, there's Noto. It's a set of fonts that "consists of 110,000 characters and 110 writing systems" covering 800 languages. Those languages include little-used Canadian aboriginal languages, as well as "an alphabet from the fourth century that is found mostly on monuments and manuscripts."

Mozilla funds promising open source projects

While Mozilla is best known for the Firefox web browser, the organization also backs other open source projects through the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program. In the last few months, "MOSS awarded more than $300,000 to four projects which it either already supported, or which were aligned with the organization's mission."

Those projects are Redash (a data visualization tool), Review Board (a web-based code review tool), Kea (a replacement for the protocol to configure network nodes), and Speech Rule Engine (a library for translating mathematical markup to speech for the visually impaired).

Cornell's student scheduling software goes open

Two years ago, recent Cornell University graduate Jingsi Zhu used the web development skills he picked up interning at Google and Facebook to create a student scheduling application. The result was CoursePad.me, which not only became popular with Cornell's students but also recently went open source.

Zhu's main reason for making CoursePad.me open source was lack of time. With his post-graduation job, he "realized that he would need to devote more time to his work than to CoursePad." He's hoping that "developers will use his code to continue work on CoursePad both off and on campus, potentially making it available to any university," according to the Cornell Sun.

If you're interested in doing that, you can grab the code from Zhu's GitHub repository.

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That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
Scott Nesbitt - I'm a long-time user of free/open source software, and write various things for both fun and profit. I don't take myself all that seriously and I do all of my own stunts. You can find me at these fine establishments on the web: GitLab, Open Source Musings, The Plain Text...