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General Motors Embraces Open Source for New Community Site 80

An anonymous reader writes "GM has introduced a new website called GMnext. The site utilizes Wordpress and launching in spring a Wiki allowing General Motors to get better feedback on topics such as energy, design and technology from the community. The interesting part is the executives at GM are participating in the collaborative website. 'We're starting our second century at a time of fundamental change in the auto industry,' said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. 'We'll use GMnext to introduce some of our ideas for addressing critical issues concerning energy, the environment and globalization. In the process, we also hope to spark a broader, global discussion on these important topics.'"
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General Motors Embraces Open Source for New Community Site

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  • by filbranden ( 1168407 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:38PM (#21918990)

    The site is ugly.

    It looks like the marketing guys got into the buzz of Web 2.0 and told their Windows programmers that they wanted that for their site. The result? A .NET site with Wordpress knee-jerked inside. The site (as most of .NET crap) doesn't even validate []. Even the blog, based on Wordpress, must have been so messed up that it doesn't validate [] either.

    And what an awful theme! Where do these guys get their webdesigners from?

    Although I think they still have a lot to learn about using open source, I have to applaud at least their try. Although it's one step back, it's two forward. :-)

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by timmarhy ( 659436 )
      huh... it's not that bad.

      you do understand not many sites pass that test, right?

      please give us an example i've a site you've made that does pass.

      • First off, how exactly is this a story about "open-source"? I mean, other than GM using some open source project for managing part of a web site.

        Second, this has zero to do with giving real and/or possible future GM vehicle plans and everything to do with testing new marketing strategies [both the web site itself as a method of advertising and advertising within it].

        GM Karma -1
    • There's a simple explanation:

      Anyone capable of making a good website, would go work for a company that could pay them what they're worth, WITHOUT having their pay deducted to pay for massive legacy pension and health care obligations that GM agreed to and never bothered fully funding.
    • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:12AM (#21919192) Homepage Journal
      Not even slashdot passes that test []
      Looks like some unencoded ampersands and style attributes.
    • Granted the validation errors were mostly ampersands (&) in URLs instead of "&", there are some good ones

      there is no attribute "method".

      <span name="ctl00" method="post" action="TopNavMinimal.aspx?returnurl=http%3a%2f
      • Why doesn't someone send these concerns to the web administrator? Maybe they still have a long list of things to be done and don't realize yet that they're not validating with the W3C. Let them know and maybe they'll increase their compliance. All it takes is an email with a link to the validator and maybe a link to this discussion. I would, but I'm not a web developer, and don't understand the validation process all that well.
  • by milsoRgen ( 1016505 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:43PM (#21919028) Homepage
    I like the idea but I don't see it going very far or very long. GM isn't really going to support any negative few points, maybe if you're really careful with your wording. But I see censorship being the issue short term and actual GM participation being the long term question. That being said, I would love to see something like this from an organization like Consumer Reports.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )
      This strikes me as "Help! We know we're dying. Please give us a clue how to not get eaten by the imports." Would GM be going to this trouble is they were making the progress Toyota is? Or had the brand loyalty Honda does? They've seen what happened to Chrysler, and Ford is struggling. They dug they own grave, and their continued failure to put more R&D toward alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles is their undoing.
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )
        "Help! We know we're dying. Please give us a clue how to not get eaten by the imports."

        Look closely at what you're up against.

        Learn how to do suspension from the UK, maybe Lotus or Aston Martin. The Chevrolet Corvette has got leaf springs and a live rear axle - you don't even find that sort of thing on trucks in Europe these days.

        Learn how to do powerful, smooth and efficient diesel engines from the French. The Mercedes ones are good, the VW ones aren't too bad, but PSA group have them all beat. Ford is
        • This comment was brought to my attention through meta-mod, and I thought I'd give my $.02 in a reply.

          Learn how to do suspension from the UK, maybe Lotus or Aston Martin. The Chevrolet Corvette has got leaf springs and a live rear axle

          There's a reason why the Vette is set up how it is. Its because of what the market for the Vette expects. Similarly, the Ford Mustang (I am a Mustang owner myself) has maintained leafs with solid rear axle. Ford had even contemplated going to a live rear axle, but the customers complained that they wanted to keep the existing setup.
          Now, if we were talking about a new concept car, that was designe

  • Pffffft. (Score:3, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:45PM (#21919038) Homepage Journal
    I worked for GM. And when I worked there, the use of FOSS was absolutely, positively forbidden. Good to see them finally getting a clue.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      All that talk of auto industry fundamental change? Well that means $$$. Wouldn't surprise me if they are looking for deals from MS. Cut expenses anywhere/anyway you can right? Start saying were gonna go FOSS and MS will say how about we give you a deal.
      • Re:Pffffft. (Score:4, Informative)

        by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:54PM (#21919086) Homepage Journal
        GM was not an all-Microsoft shop when I worked there. Most of the engineering servers were running some form of UNIX -- either HP-UX or Solaris. They served to a mix of Windows and UNIX clients -- UNIX clients via NFS and Windows clients via CIFS9000 (yeah, yeah, I know. CIFS9000 == Samba. Tell them that.)

        The file and app servers actually used high-availability clustering -- commercial stuff, not open source.

        • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
          [IT Staff] CIFS9000, it's cool, it's hip, it allows our Li^B^BUnix servers to talk with the Windows computers. [/IT Staff] [PHB]Ooh, and it's got a cool large round number like 9000. It's like ISO9000, right? It must be good![/PHB] (OT, I know... I thought it was funny.)
        • NOW its an all MS shop :P
          i work there and let me say, they had sold their soul to ms, i never saw linux in there, may be an apache, with default settings and page on a windows machine, they even use "virtual pc" i have an XP, i can not boot my linux pen drive, for security... (dont ask)
          even the proxy is MS+ websense

          BTW they have EDS-MS certified fan boys, some of them dont know about linux and, regardless if they now or not, they hate *nix because its hards and all that FUD (must be part of the MS certifing
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SnatchMan ( 1062110 )
      Hmmmm... When I worked for GM (actually, a subsidiary that made chips, radios, engine controllers, anti-lock brakes, etc...) we heavily used FOSS in our UNIX environment. Ever hear of the Corporate Software Bank? It was a multi-architecture public domain software repository mounted on /usr/std and automatically updated with rdist. That spread throughout the sub into other GM locations. Even did a USENIX LISA presentation in the early 90's on the topic. (Caveat, I haven't been there since the late 90's
      • By the time I worked there, /usr/std/* hadn't been updated in a long, long time and most of the tools were way out of date. The CSB was basically being phased out at the behest of one of the new higher-ups in IS&S.

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sxeraverx ( 962068 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:02AM (#21919128)
    Saying using Wordpress is embracing open source is like saying using the LAMP stack for a webserver is embracing open source. In that sense, almost ever company out there has embraced open source by now. But we know that to not be the case.
    • And likewise by saying "the executives at GM are participating in the collaborative website" must mean the executives' names and possibly signatures will be appended to some brainstormed over goop of corporate media speak.
  • open source? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AdamReyher ( 862525 ) * <adam&pylonhosting,com> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:04AM (#21919144) Homepage
    Don't get me wrong: I think the idea is great. But you're going to tell me that GM is "embracing" Open Source simply by creating a blog and a wiki by using the two most popular software titles in those categories?

    All of a sudden GM is elevated to the Google or Sun status in terms of FOSS on Slashdot. Typical.
    • But you're going to tell me that GM is "embracing" Open Source simply by creating a blog and a wiki by using the two most popular software titles in those categories?
      Welcome to Corporate America! You can leave your soul at the door and you'll find the knees pads under your desk!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree. It also seems that everyone has forgotten that GM is the biggest promoter of spyware in their cars. The On-star system for one (which you might remember from past Slashdot articles) lets a hostile attacker listen in on your conversation, as well as take control of key elements of your car. All without your knowledge, or approval or control.

      While I applaud even this limited attempt by some small faction within GM to try to embrace Open Source, GM has been the greatest control-freak in the US car ind
  • right on. with open source I'll make 750 rwhp with a 2008 cts-v with a stock ecu
    • You already can. []
      • And what does replacing the ECU with an aftermarket ECU that has an open-source firmware have to do with changing the firmware that came with the stock ECU?

        Yes, that is an open-source ECU, but you have to replace the ECU to get that.
      • dude megasquirt is a giant f pita. I wanna program a boosted car's stock ecu in perl without spending 75 hr on a wiring harness and still not have my ac not fng work right.

        open source ecu + wideband + perl + stock 6.2l fi motor = 750+ reliable hp with no hardware hacking or welding. 11 sec car with perl. that would rock.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          If you want an 11 second car, the first thing to do is lose the A/C. It drops about 40 lbs of weight and it's less crap for your crank to have to deal with. My 11 second car has only the alternator hooked to the crank as an accessory.

          Megasquirt was a pain in the ass. But I took my good old time with installing and tuning it and everything turned out fine.
  • So they're making a community interaction site to get people's ideas and suggestions and opinions on their company and the environment. Hmm, well I'm not psychic but I bet they're going to say they want more fuel efficient vehicles or ones that don't run on gasoline and to stop with the pension sinkhole problem.
  • PR Stunt (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    These people don't give a shit what anyone thinks. IMO it's a thinly veiled attempt at generating some good PR that GM hopes will sway people to support them when they file for bankruptcy and go to the government with their hat in their hands. Either that or they'll be looking to get out from under all their pension liabilities above and beyond the retiree health benefits which they already got out from under IIRC. GM's officers and board of directors should have to put their wives and daughters on the s
    • "GM's officers and board of directors should have to put their wives and daughters on the street if necessary to hold up their end of the deals they freely made."

      This just goes to show you the inequality of economic power in capitalism makes "Freedom of contract" mostly a farce, since those with the money bear the least hurden (if it could even be considered burden at all) when they do not honor them.
  • Executives blogging is still marketing. I want a car that starts out at one hundred miles per gallon, is open to hacking, and anyone can manufacture the design. Then you've embraced open source. When your ready to turn your mfg resources into efficient commodities, give me a call.

  • by longacre ( 1090157 ) * on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:36AM (#21919328) Homepage
    The timing of this was not random...GM CEO Rick Wagoner is a keynote speaker at CES this weekend, and next weekend is their bread and butter, the Detroit Auto Show. Undoubtedly this was timed to create buzz for them at these events. It is a pretty cool idea, and I hope GM and their customers make the most of it. Bob Lutz seems like the kind of guy who would love this. But I also wouldn't be surprised if we never hear much about it again after the next couple of weeks.
  • Open source Volt! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dusanv ( 256645 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:44AM (#21919388)
    How about open sourcing the Volt []? And standardizing its batteries (to spur innovation for replacements down the line)? And delivering it before 2010? That'd be something to get excited about...
    • Now thats something I would look forward to. A Chevy Volt, where you can modify the range extender to run on diesel/bio-diesel (because you know retard car makers usually won't have a Diesel option) or use a fuel cell in the engines place, and have the option to move to a super capacitor when they become widely used and affordable.

      Honestly I would kill for such a car. The only question left is...can it run Linux?
      • Re:Open source Volt! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by leoxx ( 992 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:39AM (#21919726) Homepage Journal
        The only question left is...can it run Linux?

        In my mind that would be a key feature. Historically speaking, cars have been "hackable" in the sense that anyone could open the hood and fix problems or make improvements. With the move to more and more computer technology in modern vehicles, the ability of the garage mechanic to mess around with the guts of the car has been severely limited. With Ford officially adopting Windows for their vehicles, it would make a very strong statement for GM to move to Linux (or BSD or some other open source operating system). Posting a blog using Wordpress is hardly what I would call "embracing open source", but leveraging the benefits of the open source process to improve the state of the art in vehicle control and management systems would be. With the inevitable move to all-electric cars such as the Volt, the software side of things is going to become even more important.

  • This is from the company that bought up street car systems only to scrap them.

    So yeah, the tag exploitnotembrace is about right.
    • I suppose next you're going to say that they killed Marvin Acme so that they could buy up Toontown.
      • by awfar ( 211405 )
        Funny! Very Funny!
        But the parent is right, well documented so you can decide. See National City Lines, maybe Wikipedia if that is to your likings.
        • I wouldn't be surprised. I live in an area where GM has a heavy influence; they were the number two employer here after the state of Michigan itself the last time I checked. The only public transit we have it busses. I wouldn't be surprised if they were made by GM, just like Wikipedia says Cleveland's were.
    • by NetNed ( 955141 )
      Whoever posted the wiki on it didn't really help your statement, whatever it was meant to infer.

      So yeah, the tag rtfa or maybe READ something about what your posting is about right.
  • No other suggestions. No need for a whole damn wiki.
  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:03AM (#21919540)
    ...who programs GM computers for performance applications, I'll buy into GM "embracing" open source when they release the programming specs and memory layout for their PCMs, ECMs, and TCMs (powertrain, engine, and transmission control modules). Short of that, their use of WordPress really doesn't impress me (pun intended).
  • Domestic automakers dropped the ball on hybrid/EV research and toyota and honda ate their lunch. I guess this is a sign they want their marketing people to get a better pulse of what people will actually be willing to buy.

    It's a relatively healthy sign, because if it had been up to them, they would have continued to bet that most people would ignore environmental realities and just keep happily buying view-blocking lane-filling massive-accident-causing CO2-belching 6 mpg monster SUV dreadnaughts.
    • US automakers have always gone for the low hanging fruit, opposed any government-mandated improvements, and then got their clock cleaned when the Japanese automakers provided the improvements that they fought tooth and nail against.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Domestic automakers dropped the ball on hybrid/EV research

      I'll point out that I saw a working hybrid car in 1987 at a fairly small univeristy mechanical engineering department, and it was a few years old then. GM has done little more than cheaply re-implement existing sucessful reseach projects for nothing other than concept vehicles for publicity. Other people already built those concept vechicles - a car manufacturer is supposed to work out how to make the things cheaply and effectively instead of just

    • my view-blocking lane-filling massive-accident-causing CO2-belching monster SUV is a Toyota and gets 18 mpg you insensitive clod!
      • by awfar ( 211405 )
        I'll bet it has -great- cupholders...

        In the morning, when the air is still and cold, all I think about is a place for my small of steaming cup-o-joe, nestled firmly into that highly-engineered entrapment device made of the finest imported plastics; the device which firmly, yet gently, holds the glassy container of my liquid desire.

        Hell yess. I'd clip the mountaintops for more steel, risk my breathing air, and spend even more if I could only get an mp3 jack on the stereo.
  • What I really want is an open source car. I'd love to be able to look at or alter the software that runs cruise control and stuff like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yeah after making cars for near a century they have done so much for the environment we still dont have any of the 50+ mpg cars they promised over a decade ago and no real Electric Alternatives since the destruction of the EV1. There commitment to the environment is BS they care more about profit that anything. While they have done somethings over the years its always went right back to profitability and overhead. Tell them they need to do more, all the automakers do.
  • People, you're all overlooking the truly important and ground breaking part of this:

    GM have rediscovered the missing step #2!

    1: Use O/S software in inconsequential product &/or manner
    2: Wait until Slashdot does your PR for you
    3: Profit!

  • Astroturfing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by amias ( 105819 )
    This will only ever be Astroturfing [] until they stop their massive political lobbying efforts that are going the other way.
    Expect to see lots of deleted or amended posts and unusually eloquent supporters of GM's corporate goals.

    I'd like to see full disclosure of the sites web logs so that third parties can verify that comments are not just from gm funded lobbyists.

  • I think GM saw Toyota passing Ford and catching up in US sales and realized they needed to change in order to stay on top of the American automobile market.
    • by NetNed ( 955141 )
      Oh yea that's what they did, they adopted a couple pieces of open source software as their major plan to retain the top spot.

      Next I hear they will be offering de-caf at dealerships because they looked in the "rear view" and saw toyota passing ford!!
      Whew, those crazy General Motors!!!!
  • This GMnext flash site is a damn maze and almost impossible to navigate. I didn't last 3 minutes on the site before x'ed out. Show you what idiots the people who run big corporation are.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine