Entrepreneur Larry Augustin, who lead the spectacular boom and bust of VA Linux Systems, has taken the helm at Medsphere. Medsphere's product, OpenVista,
is based on the open source version of Vista, developed by the VA over
the past 25 years. Co-founder and chief technology officer Steve
Shreeve obtained the
software from the government through a Freedom of Information Act
request, and it's now in the public domain.

The core of OpenVista itself is public domain, which means that, like
open source software, it may be seen and modified by anyone, but unlike
open source, has no copyright, said Quandt Analytics analyst Stacey
Quandt. "One of the benefits of open source software is that the code
is protected under copyright, which grants permissions under a licence
to copy, modify and in some cases redistribute the software," she said.
And, she added, "It remains to be seen whether all the source code of
the... public domain software that MedSphere is using is available."

"It is our intention to build an open source project around the core of
that public domain code," Augustin said in an interview. However, the
company also plans to sell proprietary software modules — for example,
the original VA code can't handle billing, so Medsphere plans to build
an extension to handle that, Augustin said. "Right now that stuff is
not open source."

[Hat tip: Fierce Healtcare]