Open Source Software And Its Applications In Military

An open source software is a software whose source code is available for the common public. There are various applications of open source software. Military units of many countries are making major use of the software to make technological advancement in their equipment. The technical units of the military divisions are trying to figure out the feasibility of such software in the military systems.

What is open source software?

A software does not become open source only by making its source code available to the public. In order to pass as open source, a software must inherit few other qualities

  • Source Code – The source code of the program of the software must be available in the compiled form. In the products where source code is not available, a separate download link must be available in order to download the source code without any payment required.
  • The Integrity of source code – It is essential that the developer of the code does not restrict any modification in the source or binary files. The license of the software must clearly permit the distribution and modification of the source codes.
  • Derivative works – The open source software licenses must allow the distribution of software containing modified source code in the same name as of the original software.
  • Free Distribution – The distribution of the source code must be completely free and no hidden or extra charges must be applied.

The major benefits of the use of OSS include increased reliability of the systems, more flexible programming of the software, enhanced quality of the system and their working efficiency, and low costs.

Applications in Military

In military, open source software, control a large array of technology. The most common usage of the software in the military includes weapon and unmanned vehicle guidance. Therefore, the software must be of high standard and provide great efficiency. In addition, they must be completely safe and reliable.

  • Systems – The software can control several complex systems like pacemakers, missiles or even airplanes. Various programming languages make up the software and they can run on the various operating system like Linux, LynxOS etc. Many companies around the world contribute to make such software for their respective military units. NASA programs, missile systems, air force radar systems all use such software.
  • Testing – The use of this software is in various fields including defense, tactical, aerospace, and ground military equipment. Hence, they must not fail at any point. The use of this type of software is seen in radar systems and satellites. Hence, they must go through proper testing to ensure the smooth running of the systems working on them. In order to ensure this, the developers ensure to make software go through various simulations and tests before handing them out to the military units.
  • Standards – Depending on the system, requirements and its designation military keep a hold on the software. For example, The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the software used in planes. The standards are set on the software based on their previous efficiency of work and updates based on issues in the software.

The military forces of various countries are investing in OSS for advancing their military systems. US Defence forces have recently planned to incorporate source code repositories of GitHub in order to increase its approach for tackling potential threats in the development communities.

The use of open source software in the military has greatly improved the weapons technology increasing the defenses of the country ensuring the safety of the nation. With advancement in the technology and creation of more advanced reliable systems, nations can prevent their soldiers from injuries in wars.

Why the open source software is a demanded one

An electronic device or gadget combines with hardware and software. The combination is important to measure the quality of the device. Now the software part is more difficult than the hardware part because proper optimization is needed to implement it perfectly. There are basically two platforms of a software, one is open-source and another one is closed source. It is easy to get the open source software and the software is useful. Most of the software running by the gadgets are the open source software.

What is an open source software

Open source refers to the source code which is open means available. That means the open source software codes are available and if someone wants to customize it or modify it, they can do it. The main reason to create an open source software is to gain the publicity and guess what, it is successful so far. The commonly used operating system Android is an open source software. It is a public collaboration. A developer can modify it for free with its source codes and kernel sources. After customizing it, proper coding and testing are required. Even if you are someone who is not a professional developer, you can design it too with proper coding. It’s basically an open source way to inspect, modify and enhance the software.

Difference between open source software and others

There is some kind of software available only which some people or a specific team or a specific developer can modify and customize it. This software is called the proprietary software or closed source software where the source code is available only to some limited individuals. However, in case of an open source software, the function is just the opposite. The authors made the source code available to all so that anyone can modify it. However, before using the software you need to agree to some of the licenses and agreements and both software has different agreements. Make sure of it before customizing an open source software.

The advantages over the other software

The open source software is beneficial for the programmers as well as the non-programmers too. The usage of open source software is very popular and it has its reasons. There are many software and even some daily software which are open source. Most of the necessary software is the example of it.

  • Implementing the open source software is easy rather than another type of software. Using the internet today is the benefit of using an open source software.
  • To control the open source software is easier. Creating a programmer of an open source software is an easier task than becoming other programmers. Developers, beginners or students can easily study it and be a programmer.
  • One of the other reason is the security. The open source software is preferable because it is secure and stable than any other type of software. You can check an error, detect a bug and fix it by your own while in case of closed source software the reason is not the same because if any error is detected then only the developers of it can fix it.
  • As the open source software is distributed publicly so the developers have to make it stable. The public may be a programmer or a non-programmer and if it goes to the hand of anyone then there won’t be any chance of risking it because the developers make sure it is stable.

Overall in any time, any instance, the open source software is the software having a high demand.

Popular open source software

Android is the most popular open source software right now and many reputed brands are giving a customized skin to it. Linux is a perfect and efficient example of widely used open source software. Some of other open source software are GNU, Ubuntu, MySQL, Samba, Bind, Sendmail and many.

There is no doubt that no other closed source software can’t beat open source software right now. The open source software has an impact on all areas of life – science, medical, education, government, manufacturing and many more.

 

Military Open Source Software For Preserving The Integrity Of The Nation

When it comes to national security, one has to more careful than ever. Even the slightest mistake can lead to great mishaps and disasters. It is for this reason that any matter or issue which is of national concern takes time to get processed and decided upon. When it comes to the tools designed for the efficient performance of organizations meant for the national defense, one can never be careless while designing and checking them. It is for this reason that military software is always a sensitive area and one should never take it easy.

About the military software

The military open source software is basically the open source software that is designed for the maintenance and upkeep of the military tools and record. This software enables the defense organizations to keep the sensitive information safe and also contains specific information about the military cars and other vehicles that are being specially designed for the purpose ensuring the security and safety of the organization and the country in general. This software is mainly open source ones which mean that these are computer software the source code of which is released only after the completion of the entire licensing process. This includes the acquisition of rights from the copyright holder for the purpose of studying, modifying and distributing the software as per the convenience of the one who acquires it. This software is usually procured for some specific purpose and a lot of cross-checking and confirmation is involved before permitting any other party to use the software.

The source code of the software

Just like any other ordinary software, the military software also requires a specific source code to validate its authenticity. Now, for a military software, it is essential that the program must give the rights to distribute the software in the source code as well as in compilation too. This is to say that an open source software must have all the necessary permission granted to the buyer from the vendor. This is a part of checking the license of the software. Any software which makes way for the availability of source code cannot be categorized as an open source software till the source code, as well as the compiled form of the program, does not allow the distribution of the software. This excludes the intermediate forms like the translator and also the confusing source code which is a deliberate attempt to misguide the buyer.

Preservation of integrity

Making use of open source software in the defense organizations is quite beneficial as it does not make compromises with the authenticity of the software. This is to say that till the time the license does not give the permission to distribute the software, the software cannot be sold or modified for any other purpose. This ensures the safety and security of military files and records which proves to be helpful for the organizations.

Another major benefit derived with the help of these open source software is that an open source software allows for the modifications and changes to be made in the software and its source code. This follows in the manner as the other party gets the permission to sell the modified version of the software but it is to be kept in mind that the terms of the original software must not change. Besides, the software is free to use which means that it is free of all restrictions and inhibitions from the owner.

Thus, with the help of military open source software, you can ensure the safety and security of the military database.

 

The new software for promoting ‘made in India’

Cyber security is of profound importance especially when it comes to the three military forces. In order to increase the cyber security, Indian military uses the BOSS operating system better known as the Bharat operating system solutions for guarding its communication and important information from the foreign networks. The threat to the cyber domain is a matter of national importance, which is why the honorary Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji asked the three services to test the indigenous BOSS for guarding all communications.

The Indian Military use Linux too!
The Indian Military use Linux too!

BOSS has been developed by the CDAC Chennai, and it has been customised to the meet the military requirements. Cyber has become an important part of the warfare domain, which is why using BOSS is the best thing that the military analysts have done. Protection of information is quite crucial when it comes to cyber domain for all the three forces, because leaking out of even a minute detail about the itinerary of a convoy can prove to be quite dangerous. Earlier the Indian Military was using foreign originated software but it was not considered safe and frequently also came under the scanner.  

Why is BOSS or Bharat operating system being used?

  • Cyber is a fast emerging warfare domain and BOSS is known to be software that promotes the use of free software all over the country. Use of BOSS is considered to be a great initiative by the military analysts.
  • As foreign origin software cannot be considered safe for the sharing of important information and communication, BOSS is considered the best choice and also a great way of promoting ‘digital India’ and ‘make in India’. No foreign software is safe to use when leakage of information and cyber espionage is on a rise.
  • It has some unique features like the web server, proxy server, mail server, file server, network server, SMS server and it also has an advanced server which consists of the toll such as the PHPmyadmin, PG admin and a web based interface.
  • This military software is available in all major languages, like Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Assamese, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Bodo, Urdu, Kashmiri, Maithili, Konkani, and Manipuri, which makes this military software Standout from the rest. As this software is available in almost all Indian languages, it can be used in all government domains and also by those are non English users.

Issues with BOSS

The government considers it to be an all purpose software but it is hardly the case; this ‘made in India software doesn’t have much documentation and there is not much knowledge about its latest release. Another drawback with this OS is that it doesn’t consist of a forum like the other operating systems, for the users to discuss their issues and problems. This software as termed by the government is a free and open software but it is not good for cyber cafes and is perfect to be used if you are a government servant working in a government office or any other government agency.

The positives

It is perfect for the government agencies and offices as it reduces the cost and also gives the government its own personal operating system. It can easily be used as uniform software through all government agencies for controlling everything all throughout the government computers.

The latest version

The latest version of this military software is BOSS 6.0 better known as Anoop; it has various applications and certain updates like the XORG, Libreoffice, Evolution, Gimp, GTK, keyring manager and GCC. This latest release of the BOSS is compatible with LSB 4.1.

Linux Software for Military Purposes

Military operations are always under the radar and are scrutinised by the nation as its top priority to protect the integrity. While each military base takes this at the core, it realises that protecting and preserving its data on its military Linux software has to be paid some heed. The Department of Defence of the United States has an official policy stating there shall be no use of an open platform without a waiver. Well, we may think that it’s a stone cold stupid rule being implemented to line the pockets of tech giants Oracle, IBM and Microsoft including others. When you actually look in practice at the ground level, there are a ton of Linux and other based software that are open sourced stuff in whole of the defence department. They have the allowance of granting those waivers at any given time.

Secure systems use Linux, since it's open source and there's no secret backdoors.
Secure systems use Linux, since it’s open source and there’s no secret backdoors.

Most of the servers operated across the Department of Defence work on Linux. While other versions like FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris and SCO Unix among others were extensively used in the past among which HP-UX and Solaris are still in operation. The US military predominantly makes use of Linux software and the Security Enhanced Linux being the most trusted software for hardening Linux against Linux has been sponsored by the National Security Agency. Linux is made use in all the important national security departments of the United States such as aviation, navy and the ground based military camps. It’s the main source of communication and data analysis platform medium for the department. It has got its various versions being used in different departments such as Lightweight Portable Security for the Air Force application and secure usage.

Linux for Military:

The military Linux software is highly powerful and optimized in all aspects to run solely for the purpose and therefore leave no trace of it while being operated on parallel sides. If we go down a decade, the seeds for shifting towards a Linux based infrastructure had been sowed with the army eventually taking its stance forward for the new software to boost its $200 Billion weapon program.

  • It allows you to have web browsing and remote network connections while including all verifications and encryption wizard.
  • It thereby converts your untrusted Mac or Windows into a very secure and powerful device operating on the minimal level to comprehend complex tasks in hand.
  • Perhaps the most striking feature is its encryption where you can easily have controls of encrypting, decrypt and archive for all files.

Astra Linux has been considered as a de facto open platform for its wide use in the variety of products and segments in the market. It’s found in powerful servers, desktops and highly sophisticated devices run on the platform and hence for the same reason the military considers it as an open standard. With a large community of experts in software development for Linux and its open source management, it makes it easier to retain such personnel. Defense programs require high performance and real-time capabilities which the modern Linux software’s have been offering.

Arguments:

While there have always been the arguments over its use and unwisely usage at times from both the military and the government, it still helps the fact that it has increased its security levels for open standards drastically. Known for its high performance and secured interface, it helps in getting the work done easily by leveraging the tasks efficiently making it time-saving and money saving too. I the current scenario is anything to be considered with high tech operations on Linux, it can be claimed to be the best open standard software interface for the military to have adopted.

New Policy towards Open Source Platforms

Every military around the world uses different open source software solutions to address cyber-attacks and communicate safely with the outside world. The American military too implements user of open sourced software to provide the nation its history and have in-depth analysis of all the missions for the researchers and scholars to review. One can browse into all sorts of details as what the purpose of military is, what it does and how it is funded or just have a look at the hierarchy and ranks in the department with their operational powers. The military has been looking to develop its software technology rapidly as it’s the modern way of communication and warfare in this advanced world. It helps them stay in ground with all other militaries around the world and gain great insights into developing treaties with nations for friendly military base relations.

Open-source tech leads the way to innovation.
Open-source tech leads the way to innovation.

It is important for the military to advance its technological application and use the latest software’s to track down potential threats and develop combating strategies towards the next revolution in the world. Hence the official policy of the US Department of defense states that no use of open source software without a waiver. In fact, a lot of the essential tools out there in the data center are said to be of open source as per the insider information. Considering the new cyber warfare that has been relevant in this century widely due to its incredible dependence. So countries have adopted certain measures to counter cybercrime and warfare with certain policies and amendments in its constitution and also equipping its military base with proper skills to combat such forces.

Policy Update:

Keeping this in hindsight, the department of defense of the US has released a new approach or strategy towards its action plans for countering cybersecurity hazards and threats being posed by China and Russia along with other nations. A brief summary of the issue has stated that the Defence Department is keen to build up its joint force’s capability to carry out various cyber operations to benefit the country’s military advantage and defend the US from malicious threats to its critical infrastructure and thereby secure the Pentagon’s information system from cyber crashes and attacks.

Key Highlights:

  • The department has also talked about enhancing in the innovation of leveraging data analytics, automation and use of open source platforms to build a lethal force around the cyberspace.
  • Along these lines, it also looks forward to developing and establishing new partnerships and alliances with services to compete in the cyber era.
  • The agency envisions to integrate the cyber awareness program in its institutional culture and boost cyber accountability and help crowdsourced threat detection as one of the core reforms.
  • On similar lines, for development of open source software platforms, it looks to launch a cyber talent management initiative aimed at a pathway towards sustaining and healthy cyberspace for software developers and hardware engineers.

With the new Trump administration regulation that repeals the Obama’s guidelines, it has permitted the use of offensive cyber operations using open source platforms to track down the potential threat. Having cited its interference in the 2016 elections both during the general elections and the DNC hack in the campaign run. It has come to serious notice to address and preserved the data at military database software with utmost security for national interest. Hence Pentagon has joined hands with the Department of Defence to develop a plan that helps to counter such attacks by minimizing its potential rise by allowing intrusion of offensive cyber operations to protect nation’s interest. It has been highlighted to be the core concern of the nation which has to be addressed soon.

Ranking System of the American Military

So the military ranking system in America is a bit complicated but it can be understood by any researcher or scholar if they put the time in to learn.

We have different categories first one is pay grade second one is army and marine corps.

I will be listing out the Commissioned Officers first:

0-1: Second Lieutenant

0-2: First Lieutenant

0-3: Captain

0-4: Major

0-5: Lieutenant Colonel

0-6: Colonel

0-7: Brigadier General

0-8: Major General

0-9: Lieutenant General

0-10: General

Second, we have Special Grades:

5 Stars: general of the army

Third, we have Warrant Officers:

W-1: Warrant Officer

W-2-W-5: Chief Warrant Officer

Fourth, we have Total Officers:

E-1: Private

E-2: Army Private/ Marine Private First Class

E-3: Army Private First Class/ Marine Lance Corporal

E-4: Corporal

E-5: Sergeant

E-6: Staff Sergeant

E-7: Army Sergeant First Class Marine Gunnery Sergeant

E-8: Master Sergeant

E-9: Sergeant Major

Lastly, we have Special Grades

Sergeant Major

 

These are the main ranks in the American military the reason for such a structure is to show discipline commitment and loyalty to the American army. You must be committed and loyal to be able to climb the ranks and be where you want to be in the world. Obviously, the same principle still apply depending on wherever you want to be in the world. With hard work and dedication, anything is possible.