ACE's/pournader

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  Full Name   Roozbeh Pournader
  Age   24
  Country of origin   Iran
  Residing in   Tehran, Iran
  Occupation/Studying   Researcher at Sharif University of Technology, and president of "Sharif FarsiWeb", a newly-founded company working on free software, internationalization, and localization.

1. Is there a project or site that you are affiliated with ? If so, how ?

I've been the founder of the FarsiWeb project and I'm mostly active there. I'm also a co-maintainer of GNU FriBidi, and a member of the technical committee of the FarsiLinux project. I also recently helped start Project UTF-8.

I also work on FarsiTeX and Wikipedia a little.

2. What are your thoughts on Linux and open-source ?

How can one tell all of his thoughts in such a small a space? ;-) They're simply my platform of choice, for my hobby, my business, and my research. They let me contribute back!

3. What got you interested in Linux and open-source ?

It was mainly luck. In 1995 I got involved in what turned out to be the first software project developed in GNU GPL in Iran (FarsiTeX). The project leader (Mohammad Ghodsi) had heard about the free software idea, and although he was not aware of the exact details, he wanted the software to be released under GPL. I turned out signing a contract with him for not giving the source code to anybody before I could become a member! (It was all fixed later, of course, and the source code is available from the web site.)

But what was got me heavily involved the ability to fix things I use. I hate having something at my hand that I seriously need to fix, and I even know how to fix, but I can't. This "fixing" may mean several things, from a simply annoying bug, to adding big features.

4. What's your favourite ice-cream flavour ?

Chocolate. Strawberry if that's not available.

5. What are Linux/open-source's major advantages, as far as you are concerned ?

The ability to use the software for any purpose, the ability to change it for your personal needs, the ability to share it with anybody, and the ability to combine all of the above.

It lets me do things with the software that I can't do otherwise, like adding a feature the vendor is not interested in, where it doesn't have a market, for example.

6. What irks/displeases you about the open-source movement ?

The number of evangelists or users who don't understand the hackers/coders. Honestly, they need to. I get a lot of email nagging about a non-working software. I've rarely received a good bug report, and I've received very few patches in the long years I've worked on Open Source software, most specifically never from the Iranian or Persian user community. But I receive many emails from people who think it's my *duty* to help them do what they want to do with the software. They don't understand that I have already sacrificed a lot for the software itself.

7. How do you see Arabic fitting into the open-source movement ?

It's a script that should be supported in all necessary software, as every human beings has the right to use her/his own language for any purpose, including computing. I happen to been born an Iranian, speaking Persian, which is written in the Arabic script. So the Arabic script has become first a need, and then an interest for me.

8. How have you been involved in Linux/open-source ?

I have never been in "Linux". It's just a kernel that works for me as a user. And if that "OS" means "Operating System", I'm not either an expert in that.

As for Open Source, it's been since 1995 that I worked on FarsiTeX. But getting really involved in the software that everyone runs, like Mozilla or GNOME, that was early 1999, I guess.

9. How will you become more involved in Linux/open-source ?

I'm already risking a business on free software and Open Source. I guess that's as involved as people get ;-)

10. What would you say your major contributions to Arabic Linux/open-source have been ?

Patches and bug reports to GNOME, Mozilla, GNU C library, Qt, KDE, ... have been my main work, and I also run mailing lists about Persian computing and such matters on our university network. But my most effective work, should have probably been helping Behdad Esfahbod become a maintainer of FriBidi, which helped it become a fully Unicode compliant implementation of the Bidirectional Algorithm.

11. How do you see Linux/open-source fitting into the Arab community ?

I don't know much about the Arab community. I'm a Persian. But I guess my answer for the, say, Iranian community can be used just the same. It's simply a missing piece that has been in the European or American communities for a long time. We need to have it also here.

12. What is the ideal path for development and progress in your opinion ?

I don't understand the question. So I will give a random answer: Try to get people learn to program, and most importantly, learn to patch existing software.

13. What areas, in your opinion, need the most work ?

Getting *proper* and *complete* Arabic support in every Linux distribution out there that cares about languages. If it can say something in Swedish or German, why not Arabic or Persian?

14. What would you like to see happen sooner rather than later ?

People helping to get *the bugs* fixed, either by reporting them properly, or patching them.

15. What gets you moving and wanting to contribute ?

It's the script I write in, the one my family writes in, and the one my friends write in. I want them to be able to use it on computers.

16. What Arabic Linux accomplishments have really excited you ?

My real excitement was the community Arabeyes built. We were never successful to do that for the Persian community. But maybe Arabeyes has the demographics on his side ;)

17. What are some of your favourite links/channels ?

LWN.net, Slashdot.org, GNU.org, Wikipedia.org, news.BBC.co.uk, and a couple of Persian websites you won't be interested in ;-)

18. What would you tell others to get them involved in the Linux/open-source movement ?

I'm not really good at that. When I try to convince programmers, I tell them: "You can get things fixed, and you can become famous at the same time. Just look at me! :-)))))" But I'm usually unsuccessful at that.

19. How would you go about expanding Arabic Linux ?

I guess I will continue to help in the low level infrastructure, from fixing bugs in libraries, to helping find some funds for interested people. The latter thing may look like high level to some people, specifically when it involves working with the government, but believe me, it's really low level. It's not fun, it's laboring, and it's as hard to do as fix a bug in a library!

20. Where do you see Arabic Linux in five years ?

In five years, I guess you will have Arabic working out of the box in all major distributions. In ten years, it will just be one other (supported) language, main localization efforts going to dead or minority languages or scripts like Avestan or Tengwar.

21. Where do you see yourself in five years ?

Not anywhere really important or interesting. I would love to just disappear in the crowd, having made sure that people will continue the work I've been doing. I like to see myself just doing whatever I like to do at the moment, instead of fighting computers to let me do simple things with them.

22. Do you have any advice for the Arabic-speaking world regarding Linux and open-source ?

Yes. Switch to it now! Invest at it. It will be better for you in the long run than trusting private companies to do it for you.