The United States Department of Defense is taking a more welcoming approach to the use of open-source software by issuing a memorandum that lays out the strengths and weaknesses of its use. It is the first such update to DoD policy regarding the use of open source since 2003.

The memorandum, dated Oct. 16 but made public yesterday, starts with a nod to the speed of development enabled by open-source software.

To effectively achieve its missions, the Department of Defense must develop and update its software-based capabilities faster than ever, to anticipate new threats and respond to continuously changing requirements. The use of Open Source Software can provide advantages in this regard, reads the preamble to the new guidelines, written by David M. Wennergren, deputy CIO of the DoD.

Prior DoD guidelines had hinted at the idea that open-source software could not be secure because its source code was publicly available. The new guidelines remove the ambiguity around this issue.

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