The Basics ...
|Full Name||AbdulRahman Bin Saad Aljadhai|
|Country of origin||Saudi Arabia|
|Residing in||Saudi Arabia|
|Occupation/Studying||Assistant professor and consultant to special/general interest groups|
1. Is there a project or site that you are affiliated with ? how ?
In 1999 I participated in the establishment of the Saudi Linux Group as a special interest sub-entity within the Saudi computer association. I am currently that group's president.
2. What are your thoughts on linux and open-source ?
Freedom is the fundamental driving force behind the idea of Open Source. This force has enabled Open Source to redefine the rules of the game within the computer programming market. This freedom has also enabled to break the single solution mentality that many hold and has given the user more options. It has also enabled the developer and researcher to participate in programming projects which only a few select companies used to deal with.
3. What got you interested in linux and open-source ? And when did it start?
In 1993 I obtained a copy of Linux version 0.9, my needs were in the beginning modest - I simply wanted to run a unix-like system on my Intel PC at home. In 1995 my interests turned from Linux to Open Source in general and the role that such a movement could play in the Arab world. My various attempts to convince, educate and enlighten colleagues about Open Source lead me concentrate more on it which in turn got the concept ingrained in my being.
4. What are open-source's major advantages as far as you are concerned ?
I found that the most important features of Open Source as far as the the local user is concerned are - the creation of an atmosphere in which competition is rampant and where data security is paramount. And contrary to what one would expect, open source's free status doesn't constitute a major impetus to the user in the Arab region. In all my dealings and cooperation with various private and public entities, the primary driving force for selecting open source was the pressure on the developers to produce better services and the creation of a competitive spirit along with raising the level of data security.
5. What irks/displeases you about the entire movement ?
Open Source software is new to the region and as such it requires preparing the necessary man force and abilities to deal with it which translates to its current need to get Arabized as well as finding people willing to specialize in this field. With the various university interest that has been shown of late, though, in which open source and Linux among others are being actively taught, I see the situation changing gradually. One important aspect which needs to be noted, technical support is not as prevalent in the Arab region as it is elsewhere.
6. Where do you see the open-source movement in 5 years ?
I view the current situation changing from open source's chances of existence and continuation to one in should open source takes a leadership role in defining technology. I expect that the participation of universities and various research centers to increase and get better organized (I imagine the creation of departments in which computer usage is taught only with Open Source software). Countries that transfer over to using open source will be the model for others to follow.
7. And in 10 years ?
I see open source matured and capable of (either through pressuring or through convincing) to change the model by which closed source software producers operate. I also would expect to see those companies moving over to a more open market model in which profits/revenues are dependent on customer support and not license sales.
8. What has your role been in the past regarding linux/open-source ?
Through the Saudi Linux Group we've been able to hold lesson/tutorial sessions as well as participate in various conferences (like the Gitex conference held in Dubai); I also consult to various interested entities with regard to open source. Of late, with the help of Dr. Khaled Al-Ghoneim, I was able to publish a book in Arabic titled "Open Source Software: The truth behind the upcoming numerical revolution" which presents the idea behind open source without getting into all the technical details.
9. How did the target audience in Saudi Arabic and elsewhere in the Arab world react to this book ?
We found the region very much in need of such material. We found some noting that they didn't understand the philosophy of open source until after they read the book. Despite the limited distribution of the current version of the book, we've had a large number of interested people throughout the Arab world read it.
10. Did this book get published under an open license ? And is there an electronic version of the book that an Arab enthusiast could use to raise awareness with regard to open-source ?
Initially the book will be available in printed form for some months, there is, on the other hand, an impetus to have it be available in electronic form so that many enthusiasts could get a hold of the book. As for the open source (and here I mean the license from the GNU project), we didn't see it as befitting a book as what is in the book are the authors' personal experiences along with facts meant to bring forth decisions which affect the IT industry in the Arab region.
11. What is your opinion about the current Arabic support in Linux ?
Arabic support is being actively and constantly developed and I anticipate the day an Arab user could natively use Linux in an Arabic environment is very close at hand due to that work. Arabizing linux has enabled us now to showcase Linux as a platform for personal computer use.
12. How do you see Linux's current stance in the Arab world ?
The Arab region requires bigger efforts in raising awareness, training and overall development. For instance, there are big achievements in Arabizing miscellaneous projects in which Arabs were not involved. This reality, although positive in nature, clearly shows the small number of Arab enthusiasts (and not those with abilities) to develop open source software. It is, thus, necessary to find leading projects of interest so as to encourage Arab developers to enter this field.
13. What was Saudi Linux Group's contributions to Arabic Linux ?
The Saudi Linux Group saw that in order to support the Arabic language, one must being with new programmers. To that end, the group along with the Kind Abdul Aziz University for science and technology are cooperating in offering mutually beneficial working environments for those students about to graduate. I've also backed various projects to bring them forth to reality in a timely manner. One of the most important outcomes of that work has been the ability to locate a number of capable enthused developers interested in open source.
14. We know that King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) released a group of Arabic fonts under free license (GPL), did the Saudi Linux Group have any hand (ie. did it play a role) in this decision ?
There is continual coordination with KACST and there were consultations and suggestions with regard to that matter. We thank the City for Science and Technology for their initiative and hope that it will be of great benefit in supporting the Arabic language within the open source movement. Truth be told, the first release of these fonts was on a CD which the Saudi Linux Group produces on a constant basis and which was distributed at Gitex in Dubai last October.
15. What will your role be in the future regarding linux/open-source ?
We'll work on convincing large corporations and institutions in the country of the importance of open source and their support for the movement. We'll also continue to offer a proper atmosphere for Arab developers so that they can continue in developing open source programs.
Translation courtesy of - Nadim Shaikli