SchoolForge and GovernmentForge: Open Source Projects for Government


Everyone knows about SourceForge which bills itself as "the╩world's╩largest Open╩Source╩software╩development╩website, with the largest repository of Open Source code and applications available on the Internet." SourceForge.net provides free services to Open Source developers including project tracking and collaborative development tools. Too relatively new sites have sprung up, taking their inspiration from SourceForge, to support open source software development and sharing for schools and governments.

SchoolForgeprovides a place where proponents of open source software use in schools can get together and share information and collaborate. From their mission statement:

Schoolforge's mission is to unify independent organizations that advocate, use, and develop open resources for primary and secondary education. Schoolforge is intended to empower member organizations to make open educational resources more effective, efficient, and ubiquitous by enhancing communication, sharing resources, and increasing the transparency of development. Schoolforge members advocate the use of open source and free software, open texts and lessons, and open curricula for the advancement of education and the betterment of humankind.

At present, there's not much there in terms of actual project building actual open source software, but perhaps that will come in time. There is a nice collection of information and a purpose. School districts and even places like GovernmentForge is a dedicated to the promotion and use of open source software in state and local governments. They have an initial project called Leopard which stands for LAMP eGovernment OpenSource Project Augmented Relational Database. That's an awful long way to go for an acronym, but whatever. The goal of Leopard is to create a pre-packaged, easily installable LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) system for use in eGovernment projects. I've though for a long time that someone needs to make setting up a LAMP system easier and maybe this is the answer.

So far, SchoolForge and GovernmentForge are just ideas with a website. What's going to make them work is fostering a sense of community spirit that has to exist in open source projects. If everyone's coming to see what they can get rather than coming to see how they can participate, these two sites will never bloom. That would be a shame---there's much that could be done through cooperation and open source software is a wildly successful paradigm for code reuse and sharing. Schools and governments need to learn how to play the OSS game to reap the benefits.