Re:Partial Installation of Vista (was [code-convergence] Code Convergence Call - Thursday July 12th)

I am trying to understand some things. I still own the email address I had in the 1980's and I have been using Open Source off and on ever since then, and am a long time Free Software Foundation Associate Member, but I am new to Vista. I assume most of us know that Oracle did not succeed in maintaining its relationship with Open Office Contributors, and they forked off and became Libre Office. Oracle then gave Open Office to Apache but too late. The momentum is now with Libre Office. We know that WorldVista has sort of forked off from Vista, and we can imagine that the same thing could happen. What the WorldVista people have asked me to look into is: As of the end of 2012, the freely available database of drug interactions currently used by Vista will no longer be available, and is expected to be replaced by something that costs money to use. The intermediary between Vista and the database(s) is MOCHA. Some of you may have seen my post to the effect that Vista's Requests for Information looked like no group smaller than about 20 people in about as many specialities could hope to meet the requirements. There appears to be a perception among some people that the modules corresponding to the Vista RFIs will be filled by closed source proprietary for-profit products. It would explain the inaccessibility of the requirements. Was that message intended? Some of you may also have seen my links to Apache and Drupal directions on how to become a contributor, which Vista does not seem to have at the same level. This combination rather suggests that Vista people say "Open" but don't mean it in the way that the rest of the internet does. The WorldVista folks got me going pretty fast using VMWare and VirtualBox. Maybe that was not all of Vista, but the remark in the code convergence conversation about having to "configure" things after Vista was installed suggests apt-get is not all that is needed to use Vista either. So, while I certainly agree that if Vista took 3 hours to install, it would scare away contributors, I do not yet understand the installation time to be Vista's biggest problem. You may have read the debates http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_blob between the Linux purists who only want to include software with source available and the pragmatists who are willing to add compiled blobs. If large parts of public domain Vista have been recently replaced by closed source stuff, then THAT will be Vista's biggest problem in recruiting contributors, in which case being able to install only the open source parts is more than "nice to have". Supplying an open source (GPL licensed?) replacement for the closed parts also would be a good idea. If Vista succeeds in getting contributors, we can predict the GPL licensed replacements will be attempted. So...is my information accurate? How serious is Vista about "Open"? About "Free Software"? http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html The kind of people who program for free do notice and care. If Vista is not serious about being open, then the work of adding Vista to Debian risks not having the desired result. Mary-Anne
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Re: Re:Partial Installation of Vista

DAVID Whitten's picture

Mary-Anne:

You said:

> Some of you may have seen my post to the effect that Vista's Requests for Information looked like no group smaller than about 20 people in about as many specialities could hope to meet the requirements. There appears to be a perception among some people that the modules corresponding to the Vista RFIs will be filled by closed source proprietary for-profit products. It would explain the inaccessibility of the requirements. Was that message intended?

First thing, I hope my comments will not add confusion but will help you understand things.

You said "Vista's Requests for Information"  but probably meant "the VA's Requests for Information about iEHR". This is an easy mistake as there are so many names and entities wandering around.  The VA is the primary author of VistA, but the RFIs are not about VistA, but are about iEHR.  VistA is working code that is installed in all the VA medical centers.  iEHR is a planned architecture for code that doesn't exist yet. There is a LOT of confusion about how VistA and the iEHR system will interact, and very little clarity from the VA or the Department of Defense (DoD) about what the difference is and will be.  Generally speaking, the people who can answer your question "Was that message intended?" are not chosing to answer it for anyone.

You said: 

> Some of you may also have seen my links to Apache and Drupal directions on how to become a contributor, which Vista does not seem to have at the same level. This combination rather suggests that Vista people say "Open" but don't mean it in the way that the rest of the internet does.

The source for VistA is openly available, and as a product of the Government is public domain.  The VA until recently didn't allow anyone outside the VA to change the official copy of the code unless they worked for the VA.  Recently the OSEHRA organization has  been created, with the promise that the VA would accept changes from them. To my knowledge, they have not done so yet.

You said:

> The WorldVista folks got me going pretty fast using VMWare and VirtualBox. Maybe that was not all of Vista, but the remark in the code convergence conversation about having to "configure" things after Vista was installed suggests apt-get is not all that is needed to use Vista either

We in the community through the efforts of David Wicksell, George Lilly, Ignacio Valdes, the Pacific Telehealth and Telemedicine HUI, and more have made it easier to INSTALL VistA.  Since configuring involves defining information about how VistA will be used in a particular place, it isn't possible to setup VistA to be pre-configured.   There is some configuration done in WorldVistA EHR and DewDrop, but that is minimal.  I don't know if any other enterprise wide software is distributed with apt-get so I don't know how configuration is supposed to be supported.  Since Configuration for VistA involves answering questions in the software rather than some configuration text file, it requires a human to make decisions rather than get "pre-loaded" answers from some standard site.

You said:

> So, while I certainly agree that if Vista took 3 hours to install, it would scare away contributors, I do not yet understand the installation time to be Vista's biggest problem.

I agree.

You said:

> So...is my information accurate? How serious is Vista about "Open"? About "Free Software"?

Much of your information seems accurate, to the ability of anyone to verify.

The question about how serious is Vista about "Open" doesn't make sense to me since VistA is the name of some software, not a group of people or an organization.

The WorldVistA organization is very serious about VistA and making it available to people. This is what we mean about "Open" and "Free Software".  We have also been very free and open with information about VistA.   WorldVistA has been around about ten years. OSEHRA has been around less than a year or so, but seems to share a commitment to an open community and open software.  

The VA is a department of the US government and is very open within the limits of the law.  For example, there are very specific things the VA can be open about and cannot be open about with regard to contracts. The VA and DoD have been given a mandate from Congress and I'm sure they understand their obligations there.  There are presidential orders, agency agreements, and many other political issues that have to be  managed by the VA and the DoD.  There are requirements to maintain privacy as well requirements to share what they are doing.  The VA has a primary obligation to care for veterans, and the DoD to care for those in active military service.   The RFIs are not contracts, and so the VA and DoD can be a little more open within that context. 

I don't know if I helped or confused you. I hope I helped more than confused.

Best Regards,

David Whitten

713-870-3834

 

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