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Friday | noVember 26, 2010

noVember 26, 2010 | Friday

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Vol. III, Issue 3

H! There!

elcome to the third issue of the third year. Hope you all had a nice break and spent the holidays in meaningful ways to celebrate two important events — Eid Al Adha and the 40th anniversary of National Day — that coincided to double up the joy. Keep up the good spirit. We know it’s pretty hectic life for some of you, especially those who are in the final year of the course, who have been busy revising lessons to get ready for exams. We wish them the best of luck and, at the same time, would like to remind all of you who are in the first stages of the graduation programme that the key to enjoying the fun and excelling in academics is nothing but hard work and a disciplined way of life. Never leave it for tomorrow – perhaps this is the first and the most important lesson that we will have to mind throughout life, and this basic rule of life is never more relevant than when you are a student. So, do not put off that assignment for tomorrow – do it today; do not leave the revisions for tomorrow – revise them today. We at H!SQU had a busy but enjoyable time because we had gathered most of the stuff for this issue much in advance. And that meant we did not have to worry about the issue while enjoying the holidays. Of course, H!SQU could never be out of our mind whether we celebrate a festival or get ready to climb a mountain! The cover story for this month deals with the interesting and infinite opportunities the technological world opens up to us. While we gain upon such opportunities, we must try to contribute something of our own. The Free Open Source Software Society is about exploring such opportunities. Read, and discover, how you could be part of FO3S. Our Guest for this month is Dr Andrea Hall and her Appeal is about E-learning and its possibilities. She advises us to learn more effectively. Yes, the opportunity is at our door, and the opportunity will not come knocking again and again. There are many gifts of life but to receive them one must have the right attitude. And what is that? “Do unto others as you would be done by.” In ORS, Catherine Lonie teaches us the art of living a happy life. Among the other dishes of the month is Just Imagine and Dear Students, besides other regular items. Happy reading. Cheers till next month Team H!SQU
H!SQU is brought out by the English and Translation Society at SQU. Email your views/suggestions/articles to hi-ets@hotmail.com or hi@timesofoman.com. For more information visit www.englishsqu.net

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FO3S

Dr Hadj Bourdoucen

Director-Communication and Information Research Centre; and Prof.-ECE Department, College of Engineering
THE idea of Free and Open Source software (FOSS) derived from the history of similar initiatives in Oman. In fact, in the past 10 years there have been a number of various personal attempts but lacked the governmental support. Now, the idea comes alive again but at the national level. I thought why not having a whole team working on such a great project? So a new, small, devoted team was born, along with SQU as an administrative sponsor, ITA as the main sponsor — and here we are! The main goals behind this move, however, is to create an independent student Free Open Source Society (FOSS). At present, we are targeting the staff and the students of SQU to ensure our presence in society. Later on, we plan to cover other educational institutions in Muscat and other places gradually. There were many obstacles on our way but the biggest was the people’s attitude toward software programs. People normally tend to be “Windows biased”. They do not want to try other software because they fear of trying new things. Also, the idea of how much easy it is to install a program or download it through the Internet keeps people away from coming up with innovative and smart options available in the market. So this was a challenge for us to enlighten people of the other varieties for them. The other challenge was to have our own lap and technical support venue, but this has now been solved. Our position compared with other GCC countries is neither advanced nor late. We are actually on the right path. I believe it’s a matter of dedication, hard work and continuity. And, more importantly, is the fact that the government is supporting the initiative, which is definitely a promising indication. All what we need is to spread awareness among our students in different levels because they are the future of Oman.

to reckon with

FOSS, or free open source software, is what you could install and modify as you please. The global initiative that challenged conventional ideas about human motivation and competition – as well as proprietary software — has inspired a team of IT experts and university students in Oman, leading to the formation of FO3S. Their goal: developing an Omani Linux-based operating system. Team H!SQU meets the brains behind this initiative

much enlightening especially for students to freely discover the software and be proactively effective and innovative. Our focus currently is to target students who hold IBs and diplomas to make them aware of the novel software recently available in Oman. We have awareness-building sessions and regular capacity-building workshops for IB graduates and individuals in ministries. We have also started to approach colleges and different governmental entities along with our training programmes. Last time we had around 15 students from SQU, Higher College of Technology and Nizwa University. This training opportunity was provided, sponsored and certified by Linux Profession Institute (LPI). In ITA, we believe that such an initiative has to be carried out through students themselves. In fact, a team of SQU students was so actively involved in one of the well-known Omani e-forums, so we contacted this team and they showed great interest. Through cooperation between SQU students and ITA we established the first free open source society in Oman. The thrilling thing about this novel initiative is the fact that the response is promising. We are very much looking forward to reshaping the understanding of the new open source program through cooperation with people and the whole community.

Othman ALManthari
college of Engineering, Mechatronics

Said Al Ramadhani

Collage of Science, Computer Science
I am the vice responsible for the public relation committee in the group. My responsibility is to coordinate with other people important to the Society. Also, our job is to communicate with other student societies to cooperate with us in organising and participating in some events and activities on campus. My first personal goal is to get the skill of dealing with people from different cultural backgrounds. I also want to improve my skills in programming and designing new Omani software which is surely going to help me out through my study and future studies. Also, I would like to expand my knowledge in open sources and free software world. Finally, I would like to use an Omani operating system that I participated in designing. My inspiration of being a member of this group came five years ago when I was surfing the Internet. I read about Linux and open-sources software though I didn’t know anything about it. The last semester in SQU, however, I met someone who told me about the idea of open-source software and having an independent society. One of the most important things that I want to achieve in the future for the good of society is to make people aware of open-sources software and the Linux operating system. Also, I have planned, with my friends in the Society, to conduct some workshops outside the university.

As the Vice President of the Society, it is my duty to assist the president of the Society in achieving the goals and the plans we have made for the coming years. My main personal goal of being a member of the Society is to help promote free open source software among SQU students and Omanis in general. I am sure that the job is not easy but by the hard work of the members and our great motivations, we will surely overcome all the stumbling blocks and succeed by all means. I do really hope to see the day when free and open-source software is widely used in Oman in the near future.

Ahmed Al Yhayai

College of Science, Computer Science
I am the head of the support and development committee of FO3S. My main job is to provide all the means of support to solve any problem on free and open source software (FOSS). This specific support takes place during lectures, workshops and developing projects organized by the Society. I am also responsible for developing free open-source projects. The first project is developing an Omani Linux-based operating system (Omanix), which is currently undergoing an incentive development. I have joined FO3S society because I strongly believe that the first step is to approach the government along with the people and enlighten them about the alternative software available and spread the concept of FOSS. Also, it will help me in my major study as well as my career. The passion I have in being a member of this Society started when I installed Linux on my computer. I faced a problem in detecting hardware. Then I found an E-forum in s-oman.net about GNU/Linux and I posted my problem. Within hours I got it solved. After that I started to help them support other Linux users. So they have chosen me as moderator for the forum. Then I received an email from the current president of FO3S society who told me about his plans to spread (FOSS). Thankfully, the project succeeded to attract different students from different majors and colleges. I personally want to continue the journey on developing (Omanix) and add more features to it. Also, I want to create my own company which will provide FOSS support and development.

Khalil Al Maawali

College of Engineering, Computer Systems and Networks Engineering
I’m the founder and president of the Oman unit of the Free and Open Source Society (FOSS). The group started off with eight members, and has now more than 150 members divided into three major committees. I’m the contact point between FO3S, the group academic advisor and also information technology authority (ITA) support team.I want to see FO3S branches operating in other universities and colleges around Oman. We have started at SQU but the aim is to reach every computer user around Oman. Our plan is to give FO3S an effective start at SQU this year and handover the responsibility next year to other students who love the philosophy and freedom enshrined in FOSS. The person who inspired me to use free and open source software was my instructor at my last semester in my bachelor degree studies. I learned from him what freedom in the world of technology is all about. I still remember his words, “You now know about the Free and Open Source Software world, let everybody in your family, your friends and your colleagues know about it.” I will never forget these words and I will always be thankful to him. The FO3S idea was inspired by these words. I hope that all computer users all over the Sultanate would try to use Free and Open Source Software. I wish that FO3S will reach every university, college and school in Oman.

College of Engineering, SQU
I am programmer of a lot of websites, experienced in database platforms and specialising in server technologies. Fluent in Python, PHP, ruby, C, Java & Bash Scripting. I have been programming since I was 12, and to date I own 35 websites, some with more than a million hit a day. My responsibility is programming, and helping people with the introduction to the Linux environment. My aim, by being a member of this group, is to get other people familiar with Linux. Other things that I plan to do through the Society is program and design some open source software contributions. It’s going to be a great step for computer science in SQU, for sure. As for inspiration, there are many. I was inspired by Tim Berners Lee (inventor of the HTTP protocol at MIT), Linus Torvalds (founder of Linux)... But there is one man who stands out, and that is the owner of oman3d, his name is Hilal, a hardworking man whose help was so valuable and without him I would have never known anything in the world of software.

Ahmed Murslat

Mansoor Al Gharibi
Project specialist, ITA
The term “free and open source program” is well known, yet the idea of it is still not clearly perceived by our society. I am working now on three projects. The main one is about supporting free open source programs (free computer software). That’s not putting one technology over another; rather providing our society with more alternatives. People now are to choose whether to pick the pre-paid software, Windows, for example, or the free open software like Linux. This free source is

Editorial Coordinators

Ahmed Al Hadhrami & Sumaiya Al Kindi

Mr Wise
Never let days do you, do yours yourself