Organizing Open Source Efforts at NASA

Rikki Endsley | | January 12, 2012

"When I think of open source, Linux is the core," says William Eshagh, a technologist working on Open Government and the Nebula Cloud Computing Platform out of the NASA Ames Research Center. Eshagh recently announced the launch of, a new NASA website intended to help the organization unify and expand its open source activities. Recently I spoke with Eshagh and his colleague, Sean Herron, a technology strategist at NASA, about the new site and the roles Linux and open source play at the organization.

Eshagh says that the idea behind the NASA code site is to highlight the Linux and open source projects at NASA. "We believe that the future is open," he says. Although NASA uses a broad array of technology, Linux is the default system and has found its way into both space and operational systems. In fact, the websites are built on Linux, the launch countdown clock runs on Fedora servers, and Nebula, the open-source cloud computing project, is Ubuntu based. Further, NASA worked with Rackspace Hosting to launch the OpenStack project, the open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds.

Why is NASA contributing to open source? Eshagh says that NASA's open systems help inspire the public and provide an opportunity for citizens to work with the organization and help move its missions forward. But the code site isn't only about sharing with the public and making NASA more open. The site itself is intended to help NASA figure out how the organization is participating in open source projects...