In another public-sector boost to open-source software, Indian President
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam called for his country's military to use such nonproprietary
technology to ward off cybersecurity threats.
"Software maintenance and software upgrade is an important issue for
said at a meeting of Indian Navy’s Weapons and Electronic System Engineering
Establishment in New Delhi last week.
Without naming any proprietary software products, the president asked defense
engineers to develop and implement on open platforms. "Even though the required
software for the equipment could be developed by the private industry, it is
essential that the technical know-how and the architecture is fully available
with these services for ensuring provision of lifetime support for the software
which may or may not be forthcoming from the trade."
Kalam, a former head of India’s defense research and development organization
and architect of the guided missile program, has
been a supporter of open-source software. Under the Indian constitution, the
president is also the supreme commander of the armed forces--army, navy and air
Linux, an open-source operating system, has been winning support from
government leaders and local authorities in some countries. Recently the city of
Norway, decided to replace Windows and Unix with Linux operating systems,
citing costs and reliability as reasons. Another European city, Munich, has
decided to continue using Linux at the end of a yearlong trial.
The thrust of Kalam's speech was that the nation should achieve self-reliance
in software needed for critical weapon system development. Past restrictions on
so-called dual-purpose hardware and software imports from the United States have
led to local development of systems. Technology embargoes were imposed following
the testing of nuclear devices by India, under Kalam’s leadership, in 1998.
Kalam, a former scientist, also pointed out the usefulness of newer
technology in defense training, mentioning that recently he used voice over
Internet protocol to connect to scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University, in
Pittsburgh. He had another such session with Indian and American space experts
attending the Indo-U.S. space congress at Bangalore last month.