Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Egyptian Linux Advocates' Replies

Roblimo posted more than 10 years ago | from the de-nile-of-service dept.

Operating Systems 539

Alaa and his friends at Linux-Egypt put a lot of thought into answering your questions. Alaa wrote, "we felt there was much misinformation or lack of information about egypt while reading the comments so I kinda used each question to inject some extra info," which makes this Q&A worth reading for insight into Egyptian society even if you have no particular interest in Linux. Thanks, Alaa and Linux-Egypt.

1) Computers in Egypt? - by Anonymous Coward

Can you give us some idea of the state of computing in your country? For example, are computers common in general home use, are middle-class types able to afford them, and so forth. I'm also curious about how the heat and sand are handled - are they problems?


Alaa:

Computer usage is very widespread in Egypt, official government estimates are 10% of families own computers, I'd say this is probably a correct observation (you never know with official government figures). this is significant if you put in mind other statistics about 40% of Egyptian population are illiterate, a rough 10% of those who received basic education return to illiteracy. with an average income of about 1000$ dollars a year and a about 60% or more of the population under 25 years old (most probably not buying computers for themselves) this means anyone who can use computers and can barely afford them is buying them.

almost all university students and graduates (we get about half a million university graduates per year), know basic computer and internet usage. everyone in the middle class has a hotmail account (email it is assumed equals hotmail, if you ask your average Egyptian about his email account she will reply with the username only).

Egyptian parents feel it is essential to buy their kids computers and teach them how to use them, the theory being you can't get any kind of job without computer knowledge, they're common everywhere in Egypt not just cities.

it is a rare town that does not have a NetCafe.

everyone uses whiteboxes assembled locally, only laptops are bought from big brands, a computer is relatively cheap when compared to other household apparel, you can assemble a basic system for about 150$.

but thats not the interesting question importing technology is easy, there is lots of computer expertise in the country also, the market is always expanding, computer related schools are the most popular places to spend your university years (after medical school).

most jobs are networking and administration jobs, there are lots of webdesign/webprogramming jobs (Egyptians love flash pages), and a big market for Visual Basic, Foxpro, Access and MS SQL Server based solutions. only big name in enterprise development in Oracle, although most of the oracle jobs are PL/SQL not Java based.

other programming jobs are quite rare but they exist, there is some work on embedded programming, some enterprise programming with Java, everyone is trying to get into the VoIP business, some companies are trying to start data warehouses. most companies are small software houses, I doubt they make any big profits but it seems their goals are to make a living not a profit.

The sand is not a real problem, contrary to what you guys seem to think we don't live in the desert, in fact this is one of the biggest problems facing us, the 70 strong million Egyptian population is living in about 2% of the land area crowded around the Nile valley and north coast which means we build our homes, roads, factories and cities on the little land we have that is fit for agriculture, we should be living in the desert but we aren't.

In Cairo however the dust and pollution are a very big problem, I have to open my PC and blow the dust out once a month, every few months one of my cards would stop functioning because the dust got between the connectors.

Heat isn't such a big deal, it probably means you can't overclock (personally I underclock), and servers are usually placed in freezing air conditioned rooms anyway.

Heat is indirectly a big nuisance though, lately everyone started buying air conditioners and they're overloading the aging power grid, it is very common to get power outages and blackouts in very hot nights (I can't thank the inventor of journalized file systems enough).

2) What is the killer app in Egypt? - by eltoyoboyo

Or more to the point, what is the first thing users want to do after the system is installed and running?


Alaa:

that must be IM, probably MSN followed by Yahoo Messenger and ICQ

thats what most computer users spend their online time doing, net connectivity is available to anyone who owns a computer through a series of free to dial numbers (billed by the minute for rates lower than normal telephone calls), broadband is creeping in slowly in the form of ADSL which starting from this month began to be slightly affordable.

the killer app when not online is probably Windows Media player, Egyptians enjoy the movies very much but don't usually go to the cinema (our cinemas are always barely surviving, sometimes they even get government subsidies and tax breaks just to remain floating), so watching movies on your PC is the way to go for computer owners.

we're talking illegally copied movies of course, there are some cheap VCDs in the market but most people just buy the movies from the guy under the bridge or copy them from friends, almost all Egyptian movies find their way to the pirated CDs market a few days after they start showing.

after that its Internet Explorer for browsing and email and MS Word.

anyone who uses any other apps is an advanced user

as for games FIFA 2003 appears to be the most popular game, football and car racing are very big here, even bigger than FPS.

strategy and RPG games seem to require a bit of knowledge in English, they're played but are not as big as FIFA.

network gaming is beginning to be popular, after the internet became available to all households CyberCaffes (which BTW never serve anything but the internet) began to offer loads of games and even organize tournaments with prizes and all.

one of the interesting peculiarities about Egypt is that Game Arcades are banned almost everywhere in the country, in the mid nineties they where very popular, in both rich and poor areas in large cities, now for some reason there is a loud enough group of Egyptians who prefers the government and police interfere with their kids than to try and raise them themselves. so calls to ban these shops that wasted the kids time and money where voiced in all public newspapers. and governerate by governerate they decided to save all the poor children and close the arcades so the kids can go back to study. The result is CyberCaffes have a very big market even if everyone gets broadband.

this situation of course means that very few CyberCaffes are interested in using GNU/Linux

oh and BTW the act of playing computer games is commonly referred to as "tel3ab atari" "to play Atari"

3) Pre-install questions or misconceptions - by dkh2

What were the most common misunderstandings among new or potential Linux users? Did you provide a place for newbie questions and answers?


Alaa:

well first of all the word installfest is a bit misleading when it comes to our event.

we assumed very few would bother to bring their PCs with them to the fest so we decided to make it a general Linux Festival, a day to present everything about GNU/Linux, Free Software and Open Source, so we had demonstrations and presentations, we distributed informational pamphlets with FAQ like Q&A, and we had a number of volunteers do nothing but chat with the visitors and answer their questions.

the main target for all this was newbies, so in a sense the whole festival was a place for newbie questions and answers.

I don't know if there was a most common misunderstanding, the questions we got this time were surprisingly smart.

I suppose the most frequently asked questions were all about compatibility with Windows, the fact that GNU/Linux is a separate Operating System is sometimes confusing, they don't exactly know where the PC stops and the OS starts, and Microsoft are not making it easier with their thick metaphors. questions about why GNU/Linux needs its own partitions and whether their Windows applications will run on it or not are very common?

once you explain to them that GNU/Linux is a completely separate platform they start worrying about whether their documents and media files will work or not?

to avoid complicated arguments about media files and patents we prepared a specially remastered version of Mandrake 10 CE to include PLF packages capable of playing back all sorts of media files so this part was easy.

of course some had confusions about the meaning of Free Software and Open Source, Free Software is actually the easy part when it comes to Arabic since we have separate words for libre and gratis, but our media tends to copy news from the web and translate it in a very shallow manner so its more common to see GNU/Linux referred to as the gratis operating system.

Open Source is always a bit confusing because the adopted translation means absolutely nothing to anyone even programmers.

4) More particularly - by Dlugar

I'm interested in: what's the best distro with regards to Arabic support? I've been studying Arabic for a year or two now and I enjoy tinkering around with Arabic on Linux, but sometime's it's so hard to get things to work! (I recently tagged some of my Arabic-language mp3s with Arabic Unicode in the id3 tags, and so far the only player I've found that will display the Arabic tags is the Beep Media Player (gtk2 fork of xmms).


Alaa:

that would probably be Mandrake, they work closely with Arabeyes.org, they offer a basic installation guide in Arabic (not full documentation), the installer itself is not translated to Arabic but their tools are and it comes with Arabic fonts, and it's about the only distro where Arabic filenames show properly out of the box on both Gnome and KDE, and AFAIK they're the only major distro to include one of Arabeyes projects in RPM form.

however it doesn't look like Mandrake tests their Arabic support (and unfortunately it seems the Arabic users community is not doing a good job of testing and bug reporting either), in Mandrake 10 OpenOffice would not render Arabic text correctly without installing FreeType packages made by PLF with the bytecode interpreter enabled, this problem is not inherit in OpenOffice since it worked fine with older versions.

apart from Mandrake there are a couple of Arabic distros, HayderLinux which I have no experience with. And Arabbix, a Morphix based arabized liveCD which probably has the best Arabic support yet.

as a rule anything not using GTK2 or QT3 most probably does not support Arabic.

Arabic support is getting better but its true that its still hard to get things to work, for instance this Mozilla bug http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=197375 is a show stopper and slowing the adoption of GNU/Linux here yet no one in the Mozilla developer community or the Arabic community is working on it.

if you want to help please vote this bug, if you know the Mozilla source base please look into it or contact Arabeyes.org and give them directions on where to look.

5) Politics, religion and software - by CdBee

Have the recent military actions taken by Western countries in the Islamic world affected attitudes towards software, bearing in mind the US-centric nature (Microsoft, Intel, Adobe) of commercial, closed-source software?


Alaa:

politics has, I don't think religion had any influence.

the continued support the US is giving to the state of Israel and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to a widespread boycott movement, most Egyptians don't want a single dollar of their money to get into the US, I think Linux-Egypt.org got many new members due to this trend. this trend is a purely economical one, no one is refusing software or any form of technology because they're the product of another culture.

in the case of software many Egyptians want to stop using M$ products specially when they're paying for them (beginning to be quite common among companies and government agencies)

local and Arabic media is covering GNU/Linux as a possible alternative that could allow for economical independence in the software market, and I'm sure this played a big role in the success of our event.

but there is a special resentment towards Microsoft, probably due to an incident few years ago when they put adverts all over Israel thanking the Israeli army. or maybe due to the perception that they have some influence over the Egyptian government.

note that these sentiments are shared by both Muslims and Christians in egypt, although of course the more extreme Muslims would voice them in very religious phrasing.

6) Motives for switching - by Rei

On the subject of national origin:

There is a widespread perception in the west that the Arab world is backwards in terms of technological knowhow, and in education in general. How do you, as a geek in Egypt, perceive this? Do you feel that the free software movement can help nations like Egypt achieve the sort of tech industry that nations like Israel have by increasing exposure to computers for the average person?


Alaa:

I don't know about the Arab world, but here in egypt it is basically true we are very much backwards.

Egyptian education is in a very bad state, it has been so for quite some time now and it keeps getting worse, high school graduates hardly learn a thing outside some math and basic mechanics, I'm a student in a Computer Science school and I know I almost learned nothing there, some places are better than others but the general state isn't very good at all, and most Egyptians would agree (we have this thing about not wanting to tell foreigners our bad news so you might not hear it often, but if you monitor any local media, or any local internet community you'll find the topic of how bad the education is brought again and again).

in theory and intentions our education isn't particularly backwards, the courses being taught are probably very similar to what is being taught in Europe and in the case of high school probably even more advanced than what you're used to in the states, the problem is rather in quality, of course its basically impossible to learn anything when your average classroom has 100+ students

in terms of technological knowhow surprisingly enough I don't think we're as backwards as it looks, a large enough number of people pass through the educational system intact and start learning the real stuff in post graduate studies, abroad or in their work environment, we got enough talented and well educated people to lead the way forward, and its surprisingly easy to find them, many Egyptians can even name them for you, ask them who is your top Genetics experts and they're bound to reply Dr Mostagir.

so the way I see it it's more a question of resources, infrastructure and of saving the crumbling educational system. And that is what worries me, the educational system seems to be a hopeless case, I'm sure if you pick a random sample of 1000 elementary school teachers and test them for language and math skills similar to what you test in SAT they'll fail miserably. as for resources and infrastructure almost all of it is controlled by a centralized government infested with corruption and with zero credibility among the people.

as I explained above the average person is more or less exposed to computers, this is not that part that is missing.

but yes I do believe that the free software movement can make quite a difference, by providing the source code, the documentation and a transparent development process you solve the educational part of the problem motivated individuals can teach themselves by joining this community, educational institutes too can rely on these resources and the free flow of information to achieve better education. The problem of infrastructure and resources is greatly reduced in the case of software, specially free software all you need is computers and an internet connection.

I don't know much about the tech industry in Israel; but I'm sure Free Software can help build a thriving software and computing industry, the knowhow is there (thousands of very talented experts out there), and a feasible way to improve the skill pool, the fact that we don't have to start from scratch and can benefit from all the advances of the international free software community with no cost is an essential aspect to it too.

I know many agree with me, we've done three seminars in different Egyptian Universities where these sentiments where voiced by both students and staff, that was a big part of what people talked about in the festival and its actually one of the goals of Linux-Egypt.org and my main personal motivation to help make this come true.

and for this rare opportunity to make our lives better we thank all the Free/Open Source Software community. believe me its greatly appreciated, even by the people you'd normally consider haters of your culture (we had a poster once send a thanks to RMS and wishing that god would lead him to the path of Islam so he can rest in heaven when the day comes!!!

7) Women. - by Mateito

I didn't look through all the installfest photos, but I didn't see a lot of women there. Okay, so hanging out with a lot of geeks configuring network services isn't most chicks idea of a hot date. But, nevertheless, how many females are involved with the open source crowd, and in the IT industry in general, in Egypt?


Alaa:

only word I have for you is "Ya Moftary" I don't know how to translate this, literally it means you despot, but actually it is used when someone makes a very clearly unfounded claim or accusation

Look in the photos again, 36 out of 103 photos had females in them (maybe you where not counting the veiled ones) their numbers where actually higher than what the photos would tell you, our photographer MaysaraOmar has quite individual notions of how photography should be.

first let me explain something, there is no Open Source crowd exactly, there is Linux-Egypt.org and a few companies using GNU/Linux and a couple of very small groups (a new LUG was just started in Cairo University few days ago, they where a great help in the festival) thats it.

I don't know about membership in Linux-Egypt, but we set up a mailing list for the festival visitors which had about 300 subscribers, judging by their names I'd say more than 40% where females, on the festival itself we gave up trying to do registration when the flow became very rapid but my estimate is no less than 25% were females (which I think is quite good for such events), most came on their own not tagging along with their husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles and boy friends, we even got a group of 4 female students who came together from TantaUniversity outside Cairo to pick copies of GNU/Linux and ask questions about their GNU/Linux based graduation projects. The only non Egyptian visitors we got where middle aged ladies.

we had with us 3 female volunteers (only 1 was involved in the technical stuff).

one of the visitors (who was quite good looking BTW) was starting her own software house and was scouting for talents (we had to restrain some of the volunteers

in IT in general it must be a very high percentage, most companies I deal with have more females in their staff, I'd say 50% of all IT jobs or even slightly more but probably the number drops the closer you get to the general manager (is it different anywhere else??).

there are many factors that would affect this, girls tend to do better in school (don't know why) and engineering and computing schools take the top high school graduates so they're usually heavily populated with females, IT is deemed a suitable job for a female since it does not involve much traveling, they don't have to order many men around as opposed to other engineering jobs where you got to deal with many workers and technicians (this isn't really a big factor when it comes to employment but no one tells them till its too late) and late hours could be done at home, alot of the job are still government jobs which are governed by strict rules relating to grades in school and university, age and stuff like that, there is no way to avoid employing a female who is qualified in a situation like this.

Egyptian girls tend to start looking for husbands very early, so their ideas about a hot date may surprise you

8) the competition - by TeamLive

I am wondering what the competition is for an operating system in the arab world. Is windows as big as it is here? Or do people use other operating systems (BSD, OSX, Solaris, Linux) most of the time?

Also, what is the most widely used distro in that part of the world?


Alaa:

you're kidding right??

of course windows is as big, its probably even bigger, the most widespread OS is probably windows 98, then comes WindowsXP, and then windows 2000, you get my drift??

most of it is illegal copies of course.

our government is almost 100% Microsoft, same is true for educational institutes (hell mathematicians write their papers in Microsoft Word here, there is this one guy who knows LaTeX, he makes a fortune out of Egyptian mathematicians wanting to submit papers to AMS Journals), although basic courses with GNU/Linux in them and research and graduation projects on GNU/Linux are starting to appear.

on the other hand our CS departments started teaching C# and .Net before they had any compilers ready.

Macs used to be popular in the printing and journalism field, some of our newspapers still have some aging Macs there and are having a hard time networking them with the new windows machines (hey maybe thats a good opportunity for Linux there), Mac OS X almost doesn't exist (I think it didn't have Arabic support till the current release).

big business and banks are Unix users, although most Unix vendors have closed their local branches, IBM is still supporting a bunch of ancient mainframes, frcu.eun.eg was running on a VAX/VMS machine till few months ago, but most of these aging machines are being replaced slowly by GNU/Linux or Windows boxes.

I only know of one company (an ISP) using FreeBSD, there are some embedded and industrial control work being done on QNX and NetBSD but its all small stuff.

GNU/Linux is slowly replacing all the Solaris installations around Sun basically pulled out of the Egyptian market, some of its old employees are opening GNU/Linux companies.

Apart from Microsoft, GNU/Linux is the most widely known and talked about OS, so I think at the moment its the only alternative (but its not real competition yet).

9) Popular Culture - by Anonymous Coward

How ingrained is technology/computing (including OSS) into popular culture in Egypt? In North America it is everpresent and accepted as part of the culture, as it were, but I seldom see the same side of other societies. Are geek topics common 'water-cooler' discussions?


Alaa:

I just heard someone on the metro/underground say he jumps around like a mouse on a desktop, how's that for ingrained??

we had some popular songs mentioning internet relationships (with comical video clips and stuff).

Egyptian cinema is still finding it hard to portray computers or computer users correctly (but hey Hollywood still does computers that beep and blink).

almost everyone has heard the word internet, some of the older folks think its the tool of the devil, this thing similar to satellite TV that corrupts kids and allows them to download porn, some just know the word but have no idea what it is.

most however have some almost correct notion, you must keep in mind that a huge number of Egyptians work abroad (the money they send is actually the second largest source of income), any technology that allows these people to call home is quickly adopted by the whole nation, in many cases these people are poor craftsmen from farming families with little to no education, don't be surprised to find the local whiz in the village passing from house to house establishing VoIP calls for the folks to see their granddaughter for the first time.

as for geek topics, I'm not sure what you mean by that, if its SCO, the DVD case, etc then no; Egyptians are unaware that their rights to use Encryption are being stripped away let alone being aware of what happens abroad.

if however you're talking about the release of a new Pentium by Intel, or SATA getting cheaper or the release of Microsoft's latest beta then yeah, its quite common to hear young people discussing these things (specially males), this is usually mixed with talk about cars and mobile phones (both more popular topics and more ingrained).

OSS is not ingrained yet, although many have heard the word Linux before, no month passes without a mention of Linux in at least one of the national daily newspaper and one of the monthly computer magazines (usually well intended misinformation).

oh and BTW one of the reporters who regularly cover OSS and GNU/Linux has the coolest family name ever, he is called "Al Batriq" which means The Penguin

I don't know how a topic would be considered a geek topic if it was ingrained in society and culture and to the point of becoming water-cooler discussion though?

10) Positive contribution? - by acceber

Do you feel events such as InstallFest have contributed positively to the growing awareness of computer technology in non-western countries?


Alaa:

this question is meaningless, it is based on an assumption that there is a lack of awareness of computer technology to begin with which is not true.

and please don't lump whole countries together like this, I'd say awareness of computer technology in Egypt or India is as big or bigger than in countries like Greece or Poland (I confess this is not a very well informed opinion but I'm sure the differences won't be as big as the question implies).

however naturally I feel that our festival has contributed positively to the slowly growing awareness of Free/Open Source Software in Egypt

I encourage all LUGs regardless of how western their nation is to organize similar events and please take a leaf from our book, don't make it an installfest only there is alot you can do with just a bunch of volunteers.

oh and use Wikis to organize such events you won't regret it.

-- http://www.manalaa.net ultimate_answer_t deep_thought(void) { sleep(years2secs(7500000)); return 42; }

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

ok, show of hands (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140572)

Who gives a steaming shit about Egyptian Linux?

Anyone?

Anyone?

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140574)

in the name of germany

i fail it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140593)

and bring shame upon my family and my country

Re:fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140642)

You fail it, just as you did in WW I & WW II.

Ahhh, failure! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140665)

Kaiser Wilhelm is spinning in his grave now...

FP! (0, Offtopic)

JC-Coynel (250322) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140577)

FP!!!!

Great interview! (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140584)


Now that is the kind of interview I really enjoy reading!
It's not technical but tell us about the use of the tech from the view of a 'local' with some insight into the culture. Makes the world seem a bit smaller.
- A Canadian who learned a few things about Egypt today.

Re:Great interview! (-1, Flamebait)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140654)

If you want "insight into the culture" of a nation, might I suggest you read their literature, listen to their music or learn about their history. Reading a two page article by an Egyptian kid regarding a Linux installfest and saying you "learnt" something is idiotic - it probably means you had common misconceptions that you would not have if (you guessed it) you had read their literature, listened to their music or learnt about their history.

Anyway, from your posting history it appears you are a pretty succesful "first post" troll who simply failed it, so I guess I'll HAND.

Re:Great interview! (-1, Troll)

kevlar (13509) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140718)

One thing is for sure, they're all terrorists.

culture is not high culture (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140786)

you suffer under the misperception that only high culture defines the differences between cultures

street culture in tokyo is very different than street culture in cairo or helsinki, and learning those differences is just as valid, insightful, and interesting as learning the difference between chinese opera and western opera

in fact, given that traditional cultural influences exert less and less pull over common folk of any culture nowadays, it could be said that what you indicate is important to learn is really LESS important than what is divulged in this interview, for populism rules in the world now

so congratulations on YOUR elitist troll

Re:Great interview! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140827)

Yeah, you probably hate jews just like Alaa. And you probably hate Microsoft for advertising in Israel.

FUCK YOU ETHNOCENTRIC AMERICAN PIG DOG.

Re:Great interview! (5, Insightful)

alaaosh (777456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141015)

just for the record I don't hate jews at all, or followers of any other faith.

if it would make you any happier I respect many jewish personalities and have a few jewish friends (not from egypt since they're rather rare here).

being against the state of israel or its policies does not equate to hating jews, or even hating israelis for that matter.

I'm also against the government of egypt and its policies, does this mean I hate egyptians??

Re:Great interview! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140839)


Try again, troll.

Re:Great interview! (2, Insightful)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140901)

Not sure what your point is. (other than making yourself sound like a pompous ass)

If I don't have an interest in listening to Egyptian music and reading local Egyptian newspapers, then I shouldn't bother to read small snippets from people with insight into Egypt? I guess you're saying, either delve completely into Egyptian culture or don't bother being interested?

Wow, I suppose I must be in the minority here who haven't had much exposure to Egypt but still found the answers very interesting and informative. I thought I learned something, but I'm glad you're here to tell me I didn't.

Jackass.

Re:Great interview! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140750)

You just have to bring up the "I'm Canadian, not American" garbage, don't you? Why are Canadians so jealous of us?

Re:Great interview! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140815)

"I'm Canadian, not American"

I don't see that in the grandparent. Americans are too xenophobic.

Re:Great interview! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140872)

The fact that he said he's Canadian, which is totally irrelevant, is enough.

Re:Great interview! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140893)


No, I said that so if this Egyptian fellow ever reads my comment he'll know that a Canuck found it interesting. It had nothing to do with being an American or not. Get off your "Me-Trip".

Discrimenating!! (2, Funny)

andy666 (666062) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140591)

From article:

"so simple even a frog could implement it."

Why must article discrimenate againt the French ? We are good people. Too much now in the US is anti-French feelings, like "freedom fries". We helped US defeat Hitler, and France is a leads computer industry.

Re:Discrimenating!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140622)

You're not French

Re:Discrimenating!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140684)

You are a nut. The US saved Europe and the French didn't do anything but sit around and cooperate with the Germans.

Re:Discrimenating!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140757)

*cough*
Try reading a history book written by someone *not* born in the US.

Re:Discrimenating!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140804)

Fat good it did to them, 50 years later they're invaded by arabs like mold on cheese.

Re:Discrimenating!! (4, Funny)

nharmon (97591) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140764)

Ya Moftary!

Re:Discrimenating!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140861)

Who modded this as off-topic? "Ya Moftary" is from the fricken interview you sods. This should have been funny.

So sorry can't resist.... (-1, Offtopic)

Tin Foil Hat (705308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140886)

Q: Why do french streets have oak trees planted on each side?

A: So germans can march in the shade.

Re:Discrimenating!! (-1, Troll)

kevlar (13509) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141067)

Actually, the way we see WWII, France appeased Hitler, then when the Germans became hostile, France gave up without a fight. Then after the Nazi's pretty much took France, the French helped them fight the Allies.

But this really has little to do with the current perception of France in the USA. For example, I don't like France because France is consistently attempting to undermine our interests. This is fine, except when we were attacked on 9/11, France donated a whopping 40 troops to be deployed in Afganistan well after the Taliban had been toppled.

So while you may be "good people" (debatible), as a country, you're not. As a country, you don't back us up when we need you and you take a step further to sabotage our efforts.

As for French people, I have been to France 5 times. Everytime I have gone, I have experienced some sort of anti-American behavior. From being kicked out of a convenience store (because I was looking at the post cards), to being spit on for speaking English. Both of these incidents occurred in Paris on seperate trips.

People in southern France are really nice though.

Good (5, Insightful)

killerface (573659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140611)

I think this happens to be a good exersize into seeing what happens in other countries with OSS. Being American I think of my self as prett ignorant toward technology through the world. I appreciate stuff like this.

Re:Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140800)

Yeah, before reading this article, I thought all Egyptians hate Jews...and well after reading this article I can now say that pretty much all Egyptians hate Jews.

Listen here you terrorist muthafuckers, you go ahead and ban arcades and hate Americans and not want your money to come to America. When Saddam's grandson marries Osama's granddaughter, and comes walking down the nial, we will see who gets fucked like a $2 hooker in Cairo.

I know I shouldn't be critical of his linguistic (1, Funny)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140612)

skills but... email it is assumed equals hotmail, if you ask your average Egyptian about his email account she will reply with the username only).
So hotmail causes gender switching! There is an untapped market for M$ to exploit!

Re:I know I shouldn't be critical of his linguisti (4, Insightful)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140809)

True, it appears as though his english is a little rough. He probably should have just written his answers in his native tongue and let you translate yourself.

No language support (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140614)

I would have gotten a first post, but my egyptian keyboard hasn't shipped yet and carving all those little pictures into stone takes a long time. :)

Not only pyramids (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140621)

oh and BTW the act of playing computer games is commonly referred to as "tel3ab atari" "to play Atari"

Seems that they also invented l33t speak.

Glory be to Alaa... (2, Funny)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140630)

...for His responses are informative indeed.

Re:Glory be to Alaa... (1)

StormForge (596170) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140707)

Agreed! Thanks for the well thought out answers. It's fun to see interviews like these. -Bill

Re:Glory be to Alaa... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140768)

parent is not a troll. moderators?!

MOD PARENT UP! (1)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140792)

C'mon, it's funny....laugh!!! In fact, as i scrolled down, i was waiting for the Allah joke to show up!

Re:MOD PARENT UP! (1)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140851)

hahaha, it's because of my sig.

I was explaining to a friend how the mind of a slashdot moderator works. I showed him that even if you make a truly funny, informative, or insightful post, if your sig is something that others don't agree with, you get marked DIZZOWN!

Experiment successful ;)

Re:MOD PARENT UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140931)

Really? I thought it was that you got modded down when you're a fucking knob. Seems to be the trend you're going for anyway.

Re:MOD PARENT UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140982)

Well, ya obviously thought wrong!

Not really funny (1)

trashme (670522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141083)

That's exactly why it's not a funny joke. You were waiting for it. The joke was obvious.

A good joke throws in an unexpected twist. It's witty, that's what makes it funny. To make an Allah joke about someone using the name alaa is boring.

Do the FUDsters know? (3, Funny)

GoClick (775762) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140658)

Do the FUDsters know that Linux is being used by forign countries? If American teenagers can be terrorists with Linux imagine what terrorists will be?! Oh dear no! Vote YES on bill N0-31337 and stop the terrorists from using dangerous open source software!!!! aaahhh!!!! SCO SCO HELP US!

Re:Do the FUDsters know? (1)

hawkeyeMI (412577) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141001)

Careful, someone might take you seriously...

GNAA ANNOUNCES NICK BERG T-SHIRT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140668)

The Gay Nigger Association of America, in support of Iraq have comissioned a new t-shirt featuring the head of the now deceased oppressor "Nick Berg"

order yours today [peoplesprimary.com]

Thanks for the great insight... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140674)

That was an awesome read. Thanks very much to Alaa and Linux-Egypt for some incredibly in-depth answers.

I'd love it if Slashdot could do more interviews with computer users from other countries in the world. Linux or not, I find it fascinating to read about the state of IT and technology in other countries.

In an age when differences between nations and religion cause friction, it's nice to read about a subject which unites us all.

Re:Thanks for the great insight... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140733)

Perhaps we can have someone from Mississippi talk about how GNU/Linux is being used in those parts.

Re:Thanks for the great insight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140860)

Perhaps we can have someone from Mississippi talk about how GNU/Linux is being used in those parts.

So for you, a good alternative to interviewing raghead Linux users is to interview hillbillies? Jesus, thanks a lot...

Re:Thanks for the great insight... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140997)

"Perhaps we can have someone from Mississippi talk about how GNU/Linux is being used in those parts"

I would dare say it is being used a GREAT deal more than in Egypt....A couple of Universities there alone probably would tilt the balance. And while MS is pretty poor....it and the South in general are not all a bunch of ignorant bumpkins. No more that avg. across the whole US....

A local copy... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140685)

In case slashdot is slashdotted, here's a local copy - posting anonymous of course so that noone accuses me of karmawhoring

1) Computers in Egypt? - by Anonymous Coward

Can you give us some idea of the state of computing in your country? For example, are computers common in general home use, are middle-class types able to afford them, and so forth. I'm also curious about how the heat and sand are handled - are they problems?

Alaa:

Computer usage is very widespread in Egypt, official government estimates are 10% of families own computers, I'd say this is probably a correct observation (you never know with official government figures). this is significant if you put in mind other statistics about 40% of Egyptian population are illiterate, a rough 10% of those who received basic education return to illiteracy. with an average income of about 1000$ dollars a year and a about 60% or more of the population under 25 years old (most probably not buying computers for themselves) this means anyone who can use computers and can barely afford them is buying them.

almost all university students and graduates (we get about half a million university graduates per year), know basic computer and internet usage. everyone in the middle class has a hotmail account (email it is assumed equals hotmail, if you ask your average Egyptian about his email account she will reply with the username only).

Egyptian parents feel it is essential to buy their kids computers and teach them how to use them, the theory being you can't get any kind of job without computer knowledge, they're common everywhere in Egypt not just cities.

it is a rare town that does not have a NetCafe.

everyone uses whiteboxes assembled locally, only laptops are bought from big brands, a computer is relatively cheap when compared to other household apparel, you can assemble a basic system for about 150$.

but thats not the interesting question importing technology is easy, there is lots of computer expertise in the country also, the market is always expanding, computer related schools are the most popular places to spend your university years (after medical school).

most jobs are networking and administration jobs, there are lots of webdesign/webprogramming jobs (Egyptians love flash pages), and a big market for Visual Basic, Foxpro, Access and MS SQL Server based solutions. only big name in enterprise development in Oracle, although most of the oracle jobs are PL/SQL not Java based.

other programming jobs are quite rare but they exist, there is some work on embedded programming, some enterprise programming with Java, everyone is trying to get into the VoIP business, some companies are trying to start data warehouses. most companies are small software houses, I doubt they make any big profits but it seems their goals are to make a living not a profit.

The sand is not a real problem, contrary to what you guys seem to think we don't live in the desert, in fact this is one of the biggest problems facing us, the 70 strong million Egyptian population is living in about 2% of the land area crowded around the Nile valley and north coast which means we build our homes, roads, factories and cities on the little land we have that is fit for agriculture, we should be living in the desert but we aren't.

In Cairo however the dust and pollution are a very big problem, I have to open my PC and blow the dust out once a month, every few months one of my cards would stop functioning because the dust got between the connectors.

Heat isn't such a big deal, it probably means you can't overclock (personally I underclock), and servers are usually placed in freezing air conditioned rooms anyway.

Heat is indirectly a big nuisance though, lately everyone started buying air conditioners and they're overloading the aging power grid, it is very common to get power outages and blackouts in very hot nights (I can't thank the inventor of journalized file systems enough).

2) What is the killer app in Egypt? - by eltoyoboyo

Or more to the point, what is the first thing users want to do after the system is installed and running?

Alaa:

that must be IM, probably MSN followed by Yahoo Messenger and ICQ

thats what most computer users spend their online time doing, net connectivity is available to anyone who owns a computer through a series of free to dial numbers (billed by the minute for rates lower than normal telephone calls), broadband is creeping in slowly in the form of ADSL which starting from this month began to be slightly affordable.

the killer app when not online is probably Windows Media player, Egyptians enjoy the movies very much but don't usually go to the cinema (our cinemas are always barely surviving, sometimes they even get government subsidies and tax breaks just to remain floating), so watching movies on your PC is the way to go for computer owners.

we're talking illegally copied movies of course, there are some cheap VCDs in the market but most people just buy the movies from the guy under the bridge or copy them from friends, almost all Egyptian movies find their way to the pirated CDs market a few days after they start showing.

after that its Internet Explorer for browsing and email and MS Word.

anyone who uses any other apps is an advanced user

as for games FIFA 2003 appears to be the most popular game, football and car racing are very big here, even bigger than FPS.

strategy and RPG games seem to require a bit of knowledge in English, they're played but are not as big as FIFA.

network gaming is beginning to be popular, after the internet became available to all households CyberCaffes (which BTW never serve anything but the internet) began to offer loads of games and even organize tournaments with prizes and all.

one of the interesting peculiarities about Egypt is that Game Arcades are banned almost everywhere in the country, in the mid nineties they where very popular, in both rich and poor areas in large cities, now for some reason there is a loud enough group of Egyptians who prefers the government and police interfere with their kids than to try and raise them themselves. so calls to ban these shops that wasted the kids time and money where voiced in all public newspapers. and governerate by governerate they decided to save all the poor children and close the arcades so the kids can go back to study. The result is CyberCaffes have a very big market even if everyone gets broadband.

this situation of course means that very few CyberCaffes are interested in using GNU/Linux

oh and BTW the act of playing computer games is commonly referred to as "tel3ab atari" "to play Atari"

3) Pre-install questions or misconceptions - by dkh2

What were the most common misunderstandings among new or potential Linux users? Did you provide a place for newbie questions and answers?

Alaa:

well first of all the word installfest is a bit misleading when it comes to our event.

we assumed very few would bother to bring their PCs with them to the fest so we decided to make it a general Linux Festival, a day to present everything about GNU/Linux, Free Software and Open Source, so we had demonstrations and presentations, we distributed informational pamphlets with FAQ like Q&A, and we had a number of volunteers do nothing but chat with the visitors and answer their questions.

the main target for all this was newbies, so in a sense the whole festival was a place for newbie questions and answers.

I don't know if there was a most common misunderstanding, the questions we got this time were surprisingly smart.

I suppose the most frequently asked questions were all about compatibility with Windows, the fact that GNU/Linux is a separate Operating System is sometimes confusing, they don't exactly know where the PC stops and the OS starts, and Microsoft are not making it easier with their thick metaphors. questions about why GNU/Linux needs its own partitions and whether their Windows applications will run on it or not are very common?

once you explain to them that GNU/Linux is a completely separate platform they start worrying about whether their documents and media files will work or not?

to avoid complicated arguments about media files and patents we prepared a specially remastered version of Mandrake 10 CE to include PLF packages capable of playing back all sorts of media files so this part was easy.

of course some had confusions about the meaning of Free Software and Open Source, Free Software is actually the easy part when it comes to Arabic since we have separate words for libre and gratis, but our media tends to copy news from the web and translate it in a very shallow manner so its more common to see GNU/Linux referred to as the gratis operating system.

Open Source is always a bit confusing because the adopted translation means absolutely nothing to anyone even programmers.

4) More particularly - by Dlugar

I'm interested in: what's the best distro with regards to Arabic support? I've been studying Arabic for a year or two now and I enjoy tinkering around with Arabic on Linux, but sometime's it's so hard to get things to work! (I recently tagged some of my Arabic-language mp3s with Arabic Unicode in the id3 tags, and so far the only player I've found that will display the Arabic tags is the Beep Media Player (gtk2 fork of xmms).

Alaa:

that would probably be Mandrake, they work closely with Arabeyes.org, they offer a basic installation guide in Arabic (not full documentation), the installer itself is not translated to Arabic but their tools are and it comes with Arabic fonts, and it's about the only distro where Arabic filenames show properly out of the box on both Gnome and KDE, and AFAIK they're the only major distro to include one of Arabeyes projects in RPM form.

however it doesn't look like Mandrake tests their Arabic support (and unfortunately it seems the Arabic users community is not doing a good job of testing and bug reporting either), in Mandrake 10 OpenOffice would not render Arabic text correctly without installing FreeType packages made by PLF with the bytecode interpreter enabled, this problem is not inherit in OpenOffice since it worked fine with older versions.

apart from Mandrake there are a couple of Arabic distros, HayderLinux which I have no experience with. And Arabbix, a Morphix based arabized liveCD which probably has the best Arabic support yet.

as a rule anything not using GTK2 or QT3 most probably does not support Arabic.

Arabic support is getting better but its true that its still hard to get things to work, for instance this Mozilla bug http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=197375 is a show stopper and slowing the adoption of GNU/Linux here yet no one in the Mozilla developer community or the Arabic community is working on it.

if you want to help please vote this bug, if you know the Mozilla source base please look into it or contact Arabeyes.org and give them directions on where to look.

5) Politics, religion and software - by CdBee

Have the recent military actions taken by Western countries in the Islamic world affected attitudes towards software, bearing in mind the US-centric nature (Microsoft, Intel, Adobe) of commercial, closed-source software?

Alaa:

politics has, I don't think religion had any influence.

the continued support the US is giving to the state of Israel and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to a widespread boycott movement, most Egyptians don't want a single dollar of their money to get into the US, I think Linux-Egypt.org got many new members due to this trend. this trend is a purely economical one, no one is refusing software or any form of technology because they're the product of another culture.

in the case of software many Egyptians want to stop using M$ products specially when they're paying for them (beginning to be quite common among companies and government agencies)

local and Arabic media is covering GNU/Linux as a possible alternative that could allow for economical independence in the software market, and I'm sure this played a big role in the success of our event.

but there is a special resentment towards Microsoft, probably due to an incident few years ago when they put adverts all over Israel thanking the Israeli army. or maybe due to the perception that they have some influence over the Egyptian government.

note that these sentiments are shared by both Muslims and Christians in egypt, although of course the more extreme Muslims would voice them in very religious phrasing.

6) Motives for switching - by Rei

On the subject of national origin:

There is a widespread perception in the west that the Arab world is backwards in terms of technological knowhow, and in education in general. How do you, as a geek in Egypt, perceive this? Do you feel that the free software movement can help nations like Egypt achieve the sort of tech industry that nations like Israel have by increasing exposure to computers for the average person?

Alaa:

I don't know about the Arab world, but here in egypt it is basically true we are very much backwards.

Egyptian education is in a very bad state, it has been so for quite some time now and it keeps getting worse, high school graduates hardly learn a thing outside some math and basic mechanics, I'm a student in a Computer Science school and I know I almost learned nothing there, some places are better than others but the general state isn't very good at all, and most Egyptians would agree (we have this thing about not wanting to tell foreigners our bad news so you might not hear it often, but if you monitor any local media, or any local internet community you'll find the topic of how bad the education is brought again and again).

in theory and intentions our education isn't particularly backwards, the courses being taught are probably very similar to what is being taught in Europe and in the case of high school probably even more advanced than what you're used to in the states, the problem is rather in quality, of course its basically impossible to learn anything when your average classroom has 100+ students

in terms of technological knowhow surprisingly enough I don't think we're as backwards as it looks, a large enough number of people pass through the educational system intact and start learning the real stuff in post graduate studies, abroad or in their work environment, we got enough talented and well educated people to lead the way forward, and its surprisingly easy to find them, many Egyptians can even name them for you, ask them who is your top Genetics experts and they're bound to reply Dr Mostagir.

so the way I see it it's more a question of resources, infrastructure and of saving the crumbling educational system. And that is what worries me, the educational system seems to be a hopeless case, I'm sure if you pick a random sample of 1000 elementary school teachers and test them for language and math skills similar to what you test in SAT they'll fail miserably. as for resources and infrastructure almost all of it is controlled by a centralized government infested with corruption and with zero credibility among the people.

as I explained above the average person is more or less exposed to computers, this is not that part that is missing.

but yes I do believe that the free software movement can make quite a difference, by providing the source code, the documentation and a transparent development process you solve the educational part of the problem motivated individuals can teach themselves by joining this community, educational institutes too can rely on these resources and the free flow of information to achieve better education. The problem of infrastructure and resources is greatly reduced in the case of software, specially free software all you need is computers and an internet connection.

I don't know much about the tech industry in Israel; but I'm sure Free Software can help build a thriving software and computing industry, the knowhow is there (thousands of very talented experts out there), and a feasible way to improve the skill pool, the fact that we don't have to start from scratch and can benefit from all the advances of the international free software community with no cost is an essential aspect to it too.

I know many agree with me, we've done three seminars in different Egyptian Universities where these sentiments where voiced by both students and staff, that was a big part of what people talked about in the festival and its actually one of the goals of Linux-Egypt.org and my main personal motivation to help make this come true.

and for this rare opportunity to make our lives better we thank all the Free/Open Source Software community. believe me its greatly appreciated, even by the people you'd normally consider haters of your culture (we had a poster once send a thanks to RMS and wishing that god would lead him to the path of Islam so he can rest in heaven when the day comes!!!

7) Women. - by Mateito

I didn't look through all the installfest photos, but I didn't see a lot of women there. Okay, so hanging out with a lot of geeks configuring network services isn't most chicks idea of a hot date. But, nevertheless, how many females are involved with the open source crowd, and in the IT industry in general, in Egypt?

Alaa:

only word I have for you is "Ya Moftary" I don't know how to translate this, literally it means you despot, but actually it is used when someone makes a very clearly unfounded claim or accusation

Look in the photos again, 36 out of 103 photos had females in them (maybe you where not counting the veiled ones) their numbers where actually higher than what the photos would tell you, our photographer MaysaraOmar has quite individual notions of how photography should be.

first let me explain something, there is no Open Source crowd exactly, there is Linux-Egypt.org and a few companies using GNU/Linux and a couple of very small groups (a new LUG was just started in Cairo University few days ago, they where a great help in the festival) thats it.

I don't know about membership in Linux-Egypt, but we set up a mailing list for the festival visitors which had about 300 subscribers, judging by their names I'd say more than 40% where females, on the festival itself we gave up trying to do registration when the flow became very rapid but my estimate is no less than 25% were females (which I think is quite good for such events), most came on their own not tagging along with their husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles and boy friends, we even got a group of 4 female students who came together from TantaUniversity outside Cairo to pick copies of GNU/Linux and ask questions about their GNU/Linux based graduation projects. The only non Egyptian visitors we got where middle aged ladies.

we had with us 3 female volunteers (only 1 was involved in the technical stuff).

one of the visitors (who was quite good looking BTW) was starting her own software house and was scouting for talents (we had to restrain some of the volunteers

in IT in general it must be a very high percentage, most companies I deal with have more females in their staff, I'd say 50% of all IT jobs or even slightly more but probably the number drops the closer you get to the general manager (is it different anywhere else??).

there are many factors that would affect this, girls tend to do better in school (don't know why) and engineering and computing schools take the top high school graduates so they're usually heavily populated with females, IT is deemed a suitable job for a female since it does not involve much traveling, they don't have to order many men around as opposed to other engineering jobs where you got to deal with many workers and technicians (this isn't really a big factor when it comes to employment but no one tells them till its too late) and late hours could be done at home, alot of the job are still government jobs which are governed by strict rules relating to grades in school and university, age and stuff like that, there is no way to avoid employing a female who is qualified in a situation like this.

Egyptian girls tend to start looking for husbands very early, so their ideas about a hot date may surprise you

8) the competition - by TeamLive

I am wondering what the competition is for an operating system in the arab world. Is windows as big as it is here? Or do people use other operating systems (BSD, OSX, Solaris, Linux) most of the time?

Also, what is the most widely used distro in that part of the world?

Alaa:

you're kidding right??

of course windows is as big, its probably even bigger, the most widespread OS is probably windows 98, then comes WindowsXP, and then windows 2000, you get my drift??

most of it is illegal copies of course.

our government is almost 100% Microsoft, same is true for educational institutes (hell mathematicians write their papers in Microsoft Word here, there is this one guy who knows LaTeX, he makes a fortune out of Egyptian mathematicians wanting to submit papers to AMS Journals), although basic courses with GNU/Linux in them and research and graduation projects on GNU/Linux are starting to appear.

on the other hand our CS departments started teaching C# and .Net before they had any compilers ready.

Macs used to be popular in the printing and journalism field, some of our newspapers still have some aging Macs there and are having a hard time networking them with the new windows machines (hey maybe thats a good opportunity for Linux there), Mac OS X almost doesn't exist (I think it didn't have Arabic support till the current release).

big business and banks are Unix users, although most Unix vendors have closed their local branches, IBM is still supporting a bunch of ancient mainframes, frcu.eun.eg was running on a VAX/VMS machine till few months ago, but most of these aging machines are being replaced slowly by GNU/Linux or Windows boxes.

I only know of one company (an ISP) using FreeBSD, there are some embedded and industrial control work being done on QNX and NetBSD but its all small stuff.

GNU/Linux is slowly replacing all the Solaris installations around Sun basically pulled out of the Egyptian market, some of its old employees are opening GNU/Linux companies.

Apart from Microsoft, GNU/Linux is the most widely known and talked about OS, so I think at the moment its the only alternative (but its not real competition yet).

9) Popular Culture - by Anonymous Coward

How ingrained is technology/computing (including OSS) into popular culture in Egypt? In North America it is everpresent and accepted as part of the culture, as it were, but I seldom see the same side of other societies. Are geek topics common 'water-cooler' discussions?

Alaa:

I just heard someone on the metro/underground say he jumps around like a mouse on a desktop, how's that for ingrained??

we had some popular songs mentioning internet relationships (with comical video clips and stuff).

Egyptian cinema is still finding it hard to portray computers or computer users correctly (but hey Hollywood still does computers that beep and blink).

almost everyone has heard the word internet, some of the older folks think its the tool of the devil, this thing similar to satellite TV that corrupts kids and allows them to download porn, some just know the word but have no idea what it is.

most however have some almost correct notion, you must keep in mind that a huge number of Egyptians work abroad (the money they send is actually the second largest source of income), any technology that allows these people to call home is quickly adopted by the whole nation, in many cases these people are poor craftsmen from farming families with little to no education, don't be surprised to find the local whiz in the village passing from house to house establishing VoIP calls for the folks to see their granddaughter for the first time.

as for geek topics, I'm not sure what you mean by that, if its SCO, the DVD case, etc then no; Egyptians are unaware that their rights to use Encryption are being stripped away let alone being aware of what happens abroad.

if however you're talking about the release of a new Pentium by Intel, or SATA getting cheaper or the release of Microsoft's latest beta then yeah, its quite common to hear young people discussing these things (specially males), this is usually mixed with talk about cars and mobile phones (both more popular topics and more ingrained).

OSS is not ingrained yet, although many have heard the word Linux before, no month passes without a mention of Linux in at least one of the national daily newspaper and one of the monthly computer magazines (usually well intended misinformation).

oh and BTW one of the reporters who regularly cover OSS and GNU/Linux has the coolest family name ever, he is called "Al Batriq" which means The Penguin

I don't know how a topic would be considered a geek topic if it was ingrained in society and culture and to the point of becoming water-cooler discussion though?

10) Positive contribution? - by acceber

Do you feel events such as InstallFest have contributed positively to the growing awareness of computer technology in non-western countries?

Alaa:

this question is meaningless, it is based on an assumption that there is a lack of awareness of computer technology to begin with which is not true.

and please don't lump whole countries together like this, I'd say awareness of computer technology in Egypt or India is as big or bigger than in countries like Greece or Poland (I confess this is not a very well informed opinion but I'm sure the differences won't be as big as the question implies).

however naturally I feel that our festival has contributed positively to the slowly growing awareness of Free/Open Source Software in Egypt

I encourage all LUGs regardless of how western their nation is to organize similar events and please take a leaf from our book, don't make it an installfest only there is alot you can do with just a bunch of volunteers.

oh and use Wikis to organize such events you won't regret it.

-- http://www.manalaa.net ultimate_answer_t deep_thought(void) { sleep(years2secs(7500000)); return 42; }

Dot.Com.CEO (624226)
Dot.Com.CEO
spyros@daskaleas.com
&nbsp ; (email not shown publicly)
http://www.grownupgamer.com/
Karma: Excellent
Related Links
· Dev Tools DevChannel
· Online Operating System Books
· Online Linux Books
· Compare the best prices on: Software/Operating Systems
· http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/sh ow_bug.cgi?id=197375
· Alaa
· Linux-Egypt
· your questions
· More Linux stories
· Also by Roblimo
Interviews
Welcome to the interviews section - this is place to come to read the assorted conversations that Slashdot and the readers have had with various people involved in the Internet, computers, or anything of interest.

Re:A local copy... JUST TO BE SURE (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9141072)

In the unlikely event that Slashdot DOES get Slashdotted - AND the parent get's Slashdotted, here's a nother local copy. Er, of the, local copy...um...of the er, original, um, local copy. Yeah. OK.

And you can accuse me of whatever you want. I'm karmawhoring for "Anonymous Coward"...

---

1) Computers in Egypt? - by Anonymous Coward

Can you give us some idea of the state of computing in your country? For example, are computers common in general home use, are middle-class types able to afford them, and so forth. I'm also curious about how the heat and sand are handled - are they problems?

Alaa:

Computer usage is very widespread in Egypt, official government estimates are 10% of families own computers, I'd say this is probably a correct observation (you never know with official government figures). this is significant if you put in mind other statistics about 40% of Egyptian population are illiterate, a rough 10% of those who received basic education return to illiteracy. with an average income of about 1000$ dollars a year and a about 60% or more of the population under 25 years old (most probably not buying computers for themselves) this means anyone who can use computers and can barely afford them is buying them.

almost all university students and graduates (we get about half a million university graduates per year), know basic computer and internet usage. everyone in the middle class has a hotmail account (email it is assumed equals hotmail, if you ask your average Egyptian about his email account she will reply with the username only).

Egyptian parents feel it is essential to buy their kids computers and teach them how to use them, the theory being you can't get any kind of job without computer knowledge, they're common everywhere in Egypt not just cities.

it is a rare town that does not have a NetCafe.

everyone uses whiteboxes assembled locally, only laptops are bought from big brands, a computer is relatively cheap when compared to other household apparel, you can assemble a basic system for about 150$.

but thats not the interesting question importing technology is easy, there is lots of computer expertise in the country also, the market is always expanding, computer related schools are the most popular places to spend your university years (after medical school).

most jobs are networking and administration jobs, there are lots of webdesign/webprogramming jobs (Egyptians love flash pages), and a big market for Visual Basic, Foxpro, Access and MS SQL Server based solutions. only big name in enterprise development in Oracle, although most of the oracle jobs are PL/SQL not Java based.

other programming jobs are quite rare but they exist, there is some work on embedded programming, some enterprise programming with Java, everyone is trying to get into the VoIP business, some companies are trying to start data warehouses. most companies are small software houses, I doubt they make any big profits but it seems their goals are to make a living not a profit.

The sand is not a real problem, contrary to what you guys seem to think we don't live in the desert, in fact this is one of the biggest problems facing us, the 70 strong million Egyptian population is living in about 2% of the land area crowded around the Nile valley and north coast which means we build our homes, roads, factories and cities on the little land we have that is fit for agriculture, we should be living in the desert but we aren't.

In Cairo however the dust and pollution are a very big problem, I have to open my PC and blow the dust out once a month, every few months one of my cards would stop functioning because the dust got between the connectors.

Heat isn't such a big deal, it probably means you can't overclock (personally I underclock), and servers are usually placed in freezing air conditioned rooms anyway.

Heat is indirectly a big nuisance though, lately everyone started buying air conditioners and they're overloading the aging power grid, it is very common to get power outages and blackouts in very hot nights (I can't thank the inventor of journalized file systems enough).

2) What is the killer app in Egypt? - by eltoyoboyo

Or more to the point, what is the first thing users want to do after the system is installed and running?

Alaa:

that must be IM, probably MSN followed by Yahoo Messenger and ICQ

thats what most computer users spend their online time doing, net connectivity is available to anyone who owns a computer through a series of free to dial numbers (billed by the minute for rates lower than normal telephone calls), broadband is creeping in slowly in the form of ADSL which starting from this month began to be slightly affordable.

the killer app when not online is probably Windows Media player, Egyptians enjoy the movies very much but don't usually go to the cinema (our cinemas are always barely surviving, sometimes they even get government subsidies and tax breaks just to remain floating), so watching movies on your PC is the way to go for computer owners.

we're talking illegally copied movies of course, there are some cheap VCDs in the market but most people just buy the movies from the guy under the bridge or copy them from friends, almost all Egyptian movies find their way to the pirated CDs market a few days after they start showing.

after that its Internet Explorer for browsing and email and MS Word.

anyone who uses any other apps is an advanced user

as for games FIFA 2003 appears to be the most popular game, football and car racing are very big here, even bigger than FPS.

strategy and RPG games seem to require a bit of knowledge in English, they're played but are not as big as FIFA.

network gaming is beginning to be popular, after the internet became available to all households CyberCaffes (which BTW never serve anything but the internet) began to offer loads of games and even organize tournaments with prizes and all.

one of the interesting peculiarities about Egypt is that Game Arcades are banned almost everywhere in the country, in the mid nineties they where very popular, in both rich and poor areas in large cities, now for some reason there is a loud enough group of Egyptians who prefers the government and police interfere with their kids than to try and raise them themselves. so calls to ban these shops that wasted the kids time and money where voiced in all public newspapers. and governerate by governerate they decided to save all the poor children and close the arcades so the kids can go back to study. The result is CyberCaffes have a very big market even if everyone gets broadband.

this situation of course means that very few CyberCaffes are interested in using GNU/Linux

oh and BTW the act of playing computer games is commonly referred to as "tel3ab atari" "to play Atari"

3) Pre-install questions or misconceptions - by dkh2

What were the most common misunderstandings among new or potential Linux users? Did you provide a place for newbie questions and answers?

Alaa:

well first of all the word installfest is a bit misleading when it comes to our event.

we assumed very few would bother to bring their PCs with them to the fest so we decided to make it a general Linux Festival, a day to present everything about GNU/Linux, Free Software and Open Source, so we had demonstrations and presentations, we distributed informational pamphlets with FAQ like Q&A, and we had a number of volunteers do nothing but chat with the visitors and answer their questions.

the main target for all this was newbies, so in a sense the whole festival was a place for newbie questions and answers.

I don't know if there was a most common misunderstanding, the questions we got this time were surprisingly smart.

I suppose the most frequently asked questions were all about compatibility with Windows, the fact that GNU/Linux is a separate Operating System is sometimes confusing, they don't exactly know where the PC stops and the OS starts, and Microsoft are not making it easier with their thick metaphors. questions about why GNU/Linux needs its own partitions and whether their Windows applications will run on it or not are very common?

once you explain to them that GNU/Linux is a completely separate platform they start worrying about whether their documents and media files will work or not?

to avoid complicated arguments about media files and patents we prepared a specially remastered version of Mandrake 10 CE to include PLF packages capable of playing back all sorts of media files so this part was easy.

of course some had confusions about the meaning of Free Software and Open Source, Free Software is actually the easy part when it comes to Arabic since we have separate words for libre and gratis, but our media tends to copy news from the web and translate it in a very shallow manner so its more common to see GNU/Linux referred to as the gratis operating system.

Open Source is always a bit confusing because the adopted translation means absolutely nothing to anyone even programmers.

4) More particularly - by Dlugar

I'm interested in: what's the best distro with regards to Arabic support? I've been studying Arabic for a year or two now and I enjoy tinkering around with Arabic on Linux, but sometime's it's so hard to get things to work! (I recently tagged some of my Arabic-language mp3s with Arabic Unicode in the id3 tags, and so far the only player I've found that will display the Arabic tags is the Beep Media Player (gtk2 fork of xmms).

Alaa:

that would probably be Mandrake, they work closely with Arabeyes.org, they offer a basic installation guide in Arabic (not full documentation), the installer itself is not translated to Arabic but their tools are and it comes with Arabic fonts, and it's about the only distro where Arabic filenames show properly out of the box on both Gnome and KDE, and AFAIK they're the only major distro to include one of Arabeyes projects in RPM form.

however it doesn't look like Mandrake tests their Arabic support (and unfortunately it seems the Arabic users community is not doing a good job of testing and bug reporting either), in Mandrake 10 OpenOffice would not render Arabic text correctly without installing FreeType packages made by PLF with the bytecode interpreter enabled, this problem is not inherit in OpenOffice since it worked fine with older versions.

apart from Mandrake there are a couple of Arabic distros, HayderLinux which I have no experience with. And Arabbix, a Morphix based arabized liveCD which probably has the best Arabic support yet.

as a rule anything not using GTK2 or QT3 most probably does not support Arabic.

Arabic support is getting better but its true that its still hard to get things to work, for instance this Mozilla bug http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=197375 is a show stopper and slowing the adoption of GNU/Linux here yet no one in the Mozilla developer community or the Arabic community is working on it.

if you want to help please vote this bug, if you know the Mozilla source base please look into it or contact Arabeyes.org and give them directions on where to look.

5) Politics, religion and software - by CdBee

Have the recent military actions taken by Western countries in the Islamic world affected attitudes towards software, bearing in mind the US-centric nature (Microsoft, Intel, Adobe) of commercial, closed-source software?

Alaa:

politics has, I don't think religion had any influence.

the continued support the US is giving to the state of Israel and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to a widespread boycott movement, most Egyptians don't want a single dollar of their money to get into the US, I think Linux-Egypt.org got many new members due to this trend. this trend is a purely economical one, no one is refusing software or any form of technology because they're the product of another culture.

in the case of software many Egyptians want to stop using M$ products specially when they're paying for them (beginning to be quite common among companies and government agencies)

local and Arabic media is covering GNU/Linux as a possible alternative that could allow for economical independence in the software market, and I'm sure this played a big role in the success of our event.

but there is a special resentment towards Microsoft, probably due to an incident few years ago when they put adverts all over Israel thanking the Israeli army. or maybe due to the perception that they have some influence over the Egyptian government.

note that these sentiments are shared by both Muslims and Christians in egypt, although of course the more extreme Muslims would voice them in very religious phrasing.

6) Motives for switching - by Rei

On the subject of national origin:

There is a widespread perception in the west that the Arab world is backwards in terms of technological knowhow, and in education in general. How do you, as a geek in Egypt, perceive this? Do you feel that the free software movement can help nations like Egypt achieve the sort of tech industry that nations like Israel have by increasing exposure to computers for the average person?

Alaa:

I don't know about the Arab world, but here in egypt it is basically true we are very much backwards.

Egyptian education is in a very bad state, it has been so for quite some time now and it keeps getting worse, high school graduates hardly learn a thing outside some math and basic mechanics, I'm a student in a Computer Science school and I know I almost learned nothing there, some places are better than others but the general state isn't very good at all, and most Egyptians would agree (we have this thing about not wanting to tell foreigners our bad news so you might not hear it often, but if you monitor any local media, or any local internet community you'll find the topic of how bad the education is brought again and again).

in theory and intentions our education isn't particularly backwards, the courses being taught are probably very similar to what is being taught in Europe and in the case of high school probably even more advanced than what you're used to in the states, the problem is rather in quality, of course its basically impossible to learn anything when your average classroom has 100+ students

in terms of technological knowhow surprisingly enough I don't think we're as backwards as it looks, a large enough number of people pass through the educational system intact and start learning the real stuff in post graduate studies, abroad or in their work environment, we got enough talented and well educated people to lead the way forward, and its surprisingly easy to find them, many Egyptians can even name them for you, ask them who is your top Genetics experts and they're bound to reply Dr Mostagir.

so the way I see it it's more a question of resources, infrastructure and of saving the crumbling educational system. And that is what worries me, the educational system seems to be a hopeless case, I'm sure if you pick a random sample of 1000 elementary school teachers and test them for language and math skills similar to what you test in SAT they'll fail miserably. as for resources and infrastructure almost all of it is controlled by a centralized government infested with corruption and with zero credibility among the people.

as I explained above the average person is more or less exposed to computers, this is not that part that is missing.

but yes I do believe that the free software movement can make quite a difference, by providing the source code, the documentation and a transparent development process you solve the educational part of the problem motivated individuals can teach themselves by joining this community, educational institutes too can rely on these resources and the free flow of information to achieve better education. The problem of infrastructure and resources is greatly reduced in the case of software, specially free software all you need is computers and an internet connection.

I don't know much about the tech industry in Israel; but I'm sure Free Software can help build a thriving software and computing industry, the knowhow is there (thousands of very talented experts out there), and a feasible way to improve the skill pool, the fact that we don't have to start from scratch and can benefit from all the advances of the international free software community with no cost is an essential aspect to it too.

I know many agree with me, we've done three seminars in different Egyptian Universities where these sentiments where voiced by both students and staff, that was a big part of what people talked about in the festival and its actually one of the goals of Linux-Egypt.org and my main personal motivation to help make this come true.

and for this rare opportunity to make our lives better we thank all the Free/Open Source Software community. believe me its greatly appreciated, even by the people you'd normally consider haters of your culture (we had a poster once send a thanks to RMS and wishing that god would lead him to the path of Islam so he can rest in heaven when the day comes!!!

7) Women. - by Mateito

I didn't look through all the installfest photos, but I didn't see a lot of women there. Okay, so hanging out with a lot of geeks configuring network services isn't most chicks idea of a hot date. But, nevertheless, how many females are involved with the open source crowd, and in the IT industry in general, in Egypt?

Alaa:

only word I have for you is "Ya Moftary" I don't know how to translate this, literally it means you despot, but actually it is used when someone makes a very clearly unfounded claim or accusation

Look in the photos again, 36 out of 103 photos had females in them (maybe you where not counting the veiled ones) their numbers where actually higher than what the photos would tell you, our photographer MaysaraOmar has quite individual notions of how photography should be.

first let me explain something, there is no Open Source crowd exactly, there is Linux-Egypt.org and a few companies using GNU/Linux and a couple of very small groups (a new LUG was just started in Cairo University few days ago, they where a great help in the festival) thats it.

I don't know about membership in Linux-Egypt, but we set up a mailing list for the festival visitors which had about 300 subscribers, judging by their names I'd say more than 40% where females, on the festival itself we gave up trying to do registration when the flow became very rapid but my estimate is no less than 25% were females (which I think is quite good for such events), most came on their own not tagging along with their husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles and boy friends, we even got a group of 4 female students who came together from TantaUniversity outside Cairo to pick copies of GNU/Linux and ask questions about their GNU/Linux based graduation projects. The only non Egyptian visitors we got where middle aged ladies.

we had with us 3 female volunteers (only 1 was involved in the technical stuff).

one of the visitors (who was quite good looking BTW) was starting her own software house and was scouting for talents (we had to restrain some of the volunteers

in IT in general it must be a very high percentage, most companies I deal with have more females in their staff, I'd say 50% of all IT jobs or even slightly more but probably the number drops the closer you get to the general manager (is it different anywhere else??).

there are many factors that would affect this, girls tend to do better in school (don't know why) and engineering and computing schools take the top high school graduates so they're usually heavily populated with females, IT is deemed a suitable job for a female since it does not involve much traveling, they don't have to order many men around as opposed to other engineering jobs where you got to deal with many workers and technicians (this isn't really a big factor when it comes to employment but no one tells them till its too late) and late hours could be done at home, alot of the job are still government jobs which are governed by strict rules relating to grades in school and university, age and stuff like that, there is no way to avoid employing a female who is qualified in a situation like this.

Egyptian girls tend to start looking for husbands very early, so their ideas about a hot date may surprise you

8) the competition - by TeamLive

I am wondering what the competition is for an operating system in the arab world. Is windows as big as it is here? Or do people use other operating systems (BSD, OSX, Solaris, Linux) most of the time?

Also, what is the most widely used distro in that part of the world?

Alaa:

you're kidding right??

of course windows is as big, its probably even bigger, the most widespread OS is probably windows 98, then comes WindowsXP, and then windows 2000, you get my drift??

most of it is illegal copies of course.

our government is almost 100% Microsoft, same is true for educational institutes (hell mathematicians write their papers in Microsoft Word here, there is this one guy who knows LaTeX, he makes a fortune out of Egyptian mathematicians wanting to submit papers to AMS Journals), although basic courses with GNU/Linux in them and research and graduation projects on GNU/Linux are starting to appear.

on the other hand our CS departments started teaching C# and .Net before they had any compilers ready.

Macs used to be popular in the printing and journalism field, some of our newspapers still have some aging Macs there and are having a hard time networking them with the new windows machines (hey maybe thats a good opportunity for Linux there), Mac OS X almost doesn't exist (I think it didn't have Arabic support till the current release).

big business and banks are Unix users, although most Unix vendors have closed their local branches, IBM is still supporting a bunch of ancient mainframes, frcu.eun.eg was running on a VAX/VMS machine till few months ago, but most of these aging machines are being replaced slowly by GNU/Linux or Windows boxes.

I only know of one company (an ISP) using FreeBSD, there are some embedded and industrial control work being done on QNX and NetBSD but its all small stuff.

GNU/Linux is slowly replacing all the Solaris installations around Sun basically pulled out of the Egyptian market, some of its old employees are opening GNU/Linux companies.

Apart from Microsoft, GNU/Linux is the most widely known and talked about OS, so I think at the moment its the only alternative (but its not real competition yet).

9) Popular Culture - by Anonymous Coward

How ingrained is technology/computing (including OSS) into popular culture in Egypt? In North America it is everpresent and accepted as part of the culture, as it were, but I seldom see the same side of other societies. Are geek topics common 'water-cooler' discussions?

Alaa:

I just heard someone on the metro/underground say he jumps around like a mouse on a desktop, how's that for ingrained??

we had some popular songs mentioning internet relationships (with comical video clips and stuff).

Egyptian cinema is still finding it hard to portray computers or computer users correctly (but hey Hollywood still does computers that beep and blink).

almost everyone has heard the word internet, some of the older folks think its the tool of the devil, this thing similar to satellite TV that corrupts kids and allows them to download porn, some just know the word but have no idea what it is.

most however have some almost correct notion, you must keep in mind that a huge number of Egyptians work abroad (the money they send is actually the second largest source of income), any technology that allows these people to call home is quickly adopted by the whole nation, in many cases these people are poor craftsmen from farming families with little to no education, don't be surprised to find the local whiz in the village passing from house to house establishing VoIP calls for the folks to see their granddaughter for the first time.

as for geek topics, I'm not sure what you mean by that, if its SCO, the DVD case, etc then no; Egyptians are unaware that their rights to use Encryption are being stripped away let alone being aware of what happens abroad.

if however you're talking about the release of a new Pentium by Intel, or SATA getting cheaper or the release of Microsoft's latest beta then yeah, its quite common to hear young people discussing these things (specially males), this is usually mixed with talk about cars and mobile phones (both more popular topics and more ingrained).

OSS is not ingrained yet, although many have heard the word Linux before, no month passes without a mention of Linux in at least one of the national daily newspaper and one of the monthly computer magazines (usually well intended misinformation).

oh and BTW one of the reporters who regularly cover OSS and GNU/Linux has the coolest family name ever, he is called "Al Batriq" which means The Penguin

I don't know how a topic would be considered a geek topic if it was ingrained in society and culture and to the point of becoming water-cooler discussion though?

10) Positive contribution? - by acceber

Do you feel events such as InstallFest have contributed positively to the growing awareness of computer technology in non-western countries?

Alaa:

this question is meaningless, it is based on an assumption that there is a lack of awareness of computer technology to begin with which is not true.

and please don't lump whole countries together like this, I'd say awareness of computer technology in Egypt or India is as big or bigger than in countries like Greece or Poland (I confess this is not a very well informed opinion but I'm sure the differences won't be as big as the question implies).

however naturally I feel that our festival has contributed positively to the slowly growing awareness of Free/Open Source Software in Egypt

I encourage all LUGs regardless of how western their nation is to organize similar events and please take a leaf from our book, don't make it an installfest only there is alot you can do with just a bunch of volunteers.

oh and use Wikis to organize such events you won't regret it.

-- http://www.manalaa.net ultimate_answer_t deep_thought(void) { sleep(years2secs(7500000)); return 42; }

Dot.Com.CEO (624226)
Dot.Com.CEO
spyros@daskaleas.com
&nbsp ; (email not shown publicly)
http://www.grownupgamer.com/
Karma: Excellent
Related Links
Dev Tools DevChannel
Online Operating System Books
Online Linux Books
Compare the best prices on: Software/Operating Systems
http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/sh ow_bug.cgi?id=197375
Alaa
Linux-Egypt
your questions
More Linux stories
Also by Roblimo
Interviews
Welcome to the interviews section - this is place to come to read the assorted conversations that Slashdot and the readers have had with various people involved in the Internet, computers, or anything of interest.

Egypt is a dangerous place nowadays. (-1, Offtopic)

Power Everywhere (778645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140687)

Linux user or not. I point to this atrocity [67.72.101.21] as an example of the kind of extremism that makes it unsafe not just for Americans but any fair-skinned person to trudge about the Middle East. This is a shame, really, as Arabic support in Linux would benefit from more dialogue between the West and their Arab friends.

Re:Egypt is a dangerous place nowadays. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140788)

Egyptians aren't Arabs, dumbass.

Re:Egypt is a dangerous place nowadays. (2, Informative)

Power Everywhere (778645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140876)

Funny, they were the last time I checked...

1. Arabic dialect.
2. Part of Middle Eastern geo-socio region
3. Primarily Islamic
4. Phsyical features of the Arabian Peninsula

What am I missing?

Re:Egypt is a dangerous place nowadays. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140885)

They may not be arabs but most of them are muslim vermin all the same.

It's not the arabs who threaten and kill people, it's the muslims. Two different groups, albeit with some overlap.

Condescension (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140689)

Is it just me that finds about 98% of the questions to be on the whole offensive and myopic? Do you get sand in your PC? When will people realise that brown, yellow, pink or black, we're all exactly the same on the inside. This isn't flamebait, but using AC due to "morons abounding".

Re:Condescension (4, Funny)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140726)

Do you get sand in your PC?

I think he should have responded "Do Americans find it difficult to see their computer keyboards over their obese stomachs?"

Re:Condescension (5, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140730)

"Do you get sand in your PC?"

Russia: Do you get vodka in your PC?

Iraq: Do American soldiers torture your PC in prison?

Mexico: Does the hard disk perform very well when it gets covered in refriend beans?

Afghanistan: Does the heat from your PC disappate when you have the burkha cover on it?

USA: Do you get McDonald's fries in your PC?

Sure to offend everyone.

Re:Condescension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140775)

France: Have the Germans invaded you PC yet?

Re:Condescension (5, Funny)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140863)

In Canada we fill our water-cooling rigs with American beer, since it's pretty much water anyways. This helps lower the temperature and keeps the igloo from melting.

Re:Condescension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140913)

AHHAHahahha YOU'RE TEH FUNNEY

So presumably, you think Canadian beer is good eh? I suggest you visit Belgium or Germany some day.

Re:Condescension (1)

digitalamish (449285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140936)

USA: Do you get McDonald's fries in your PC?

All the time!

Re:Condescension contd. (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141086)

In case anyone didn't get offended:

France: Do you get french fries in your PC?
Sweden: Do you get meatballs in your PC?
Sweden again: Does Inga's hair get stuck in the CPU-fan?
India: Do you get curry in your PC?
Germany/Austria: Isn't it uncomfortable to sit in a computer chair with lederhosen(sp?)?
Scotland: Do you get whiskey in your PC?
USA: You lost the vietnam war. How often does war-cripples fall into your PC?

Re:Condescension (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140862)

I suppose that the fact that he said "Yes, I have to blow the dust out every month," in response, went unnoticed by your high moral elitist ass?

This is nothing like asking if "obese stomachs" get in the way for Americans. Rather, it would be like asking a Californian if the frequent earthquakes disrupt the telecoms grid. It's a question about the operating environment - if you'd check, you'd see that the "proper" temperature range for running a PC tops out below that of a typical warm day in Cairo and, as Alaa points out, people are JUST GETTING air conditioning.

There is a disturbing trend, to label without thinking any question about other people's living conditions as offensive. This is itself prejudice of the most destructive type, as it prevents the basic communication from whence understanding follows.

Re:Condescension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140911)

we're all exactly the same on the inside

That's fine. Dusty and polluted areas like Cairo affect all races alike. Sand is not discriminitory, so don't try to make an issue where there is not one.

Re:Condescension (4, Insightful)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140933)

and of course people from other countries always have an accurate idea of what things are like here in America. Actually hang out with people from other countries for a while you will soon understand that their conceptions of what life in America is like are heavily shaped by visual media. So now think of this question about sand and heat. Many people in America have seen movies about Egypt and think that is what it is like. If that is what Egypt was like it would be an interesting question to find out what creative ways they have found to deal with the problem. And now some people who did not know what it is really like now have a better idea.

Don't be so quick to judge. Assume not hate but rather a lack of knowledge and take the time to educate. The sand and heat question has nothing to do with people but rather with wanting to know how those people deal with their environment. The person answering the question seems to understand this and takes the time to educate and explain. You OTOH get upset on his behalf.

Re:Condescension (2, Funny)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140949)

maybe you all are the same inside, but i've taken case modding to a whole new level. my intestines now glow with neon light, and my eyes have blacklights behind them

Re:Condescension (2, Insightful)

AndroSyn (89960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141004)

Seeing that large portions of Egypt are in fact covered by sand, this isn't quite an unreasonable question. Mind you the majority of the people in Egypt live in the Nile valley or along the Mmediterranean coastline, but still, there is certainly a lot of sand in Egypt.

And yes we may all be the same physically in terms of our internal organs, but there is more to being a human than just what color our squishy fleshy insides look like. There *are* differences between people and cultures. Stereotypes an myopia are broken down by cultural exchanges, and this was in fact one way of that happening.

Re:Condescension (1)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141039)

How is the sand thing a problem? The vast majority of Egypt is covered by a desert. Alaa did have to say that they have crowded all the housing and development onto about 2% of the land area, which is not desert, so without knowing that, it's an understandable question. Even with that aside, Alaa did also state that they have excessive dust, which causes them to have to open up and blow out their PC's every month because of the desert climate, even if they don't live directly on sand.

I know there were some other ones that were myopic, and many that didn't get submitted were probably much worse, but lighten up a little. In the words of my father in law, "Ya don't know what ya don't know." So if the people who submitted these questions learned something to inform them better, then that's a good thing.

You Opensource fools (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140698)

You OpenSource fools.

You are giving them independence and taking away your economic stronghold by Opensource.

The only reason why stupid countries like that are still at bay without promoting their shitty beliefs is because of the economic power that the west has.

And by giving them the freedom to get over it, you are causing us harm.

IDIOTS.

Re:You Opensource fools (2, Informative)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140946)

Wake up, jackass. We americans are finally becoming part of a global society. Yes, the artificial protections that you refer to are being worn away, and it will be painful for us to adjust to a lower standard of living, while we watch them adjust to a higher one.

Too bad, suck it up, and get ready for it, or you're in for a rough time.

Too bad it is Linux, not *BSD (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140699)

Too bad it is not *BSD being discussed. Egypt has the best tombs in the world.

10% in Egypt... (2, Funny)

imidazole2 (776413) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140701)

...official government estimates are 10% of families own computers...

I wonder if thats more than in Canada? ;)

Re:10% in Egypt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140908)

Considering that 40% of the Egyptian population is illiterate.

And that "50% of Canadian adults can't work well with words and numbers." link [literacy.ca]

You never know how low we could be... heck im acutlay typing this out on a typewriter connected to phone line.

Re:10% in Egypt... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141038)

Yet he says computers are widespread. That's still only 25% of literate people. (see 60% illiteracy figure in the article)

I'm thinking it must be either a cultural misunderstanding on my part. Either that or a typo.

Canada's kicking ass (2, Informative)

GoClick (775762) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141066)

In my city roughly 80% of households have broadband...

No no that's not 82% of internet users ahve BB
Or 80% of homes have internet

It's 80% of single family dwellings have high speed Internet.

For example I have 5.1Mbit line (abnormaly fast most people only have 1 or 2)

I actually only know one two familes that don't have internet at all and neither family even lives in house. Neither one even has a phone because their pretty poor.

Now that's not normal but our whole province s dang high.

Now I suppose you clever people can deduce where I live but. Meh.

Fascinating (1)

Andrevan (621897) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140704)

Almost makes me want to fly to Egypt to attend one of these InstallFests.

RMS (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140705)

RMS and wishing that god would lead him to the path of Islam so he can rest in heaven when the day comes!!!

there is much for you to learn, my young paduan

Solar Cells (2, Interesting)

Elpacoloco (69306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140716)

It sounds to me like Egypt is in despirate need to install solar cells on every house to harness the abundant solar energy. (It's mostly a desert, so not a lot of cloudy days, right?)

Too bad they're so expensive.

Re:Solar Cells (1)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140961)

When I was at the Pyramids (OK, I'm from the UK, you gotta take a look right?) a couple of months ago it was raining. It certainly was not sunny. Also, as Alaa was at pains to point out in the interview, Egypt is a very green and fertile country (the bits where people live anyway) and there is no sand there. You gotta go out to the desert for that.

Bob

All Praise Be To Alaa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140720)

and linux-egypt of course

Anyone... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140729)

...want to knock that pyramid-sized chip off this guy's shoulder?

Re:Anyone... (-1, Troll)

Nick of NSTime (597712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140837)

Agreed, the guy did come across as a bit of an asshole. I mean, give us a break. All we know about Egypt has to do with pyramids and pharoahs.

Re:Anyone... (4, Insightful)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140920)

well, to put it nicely, he didn't seem to take some of the answers seriously. We do have a lot of misconceptions about the arab world and dialogs like these should be used to help learn about each other. answering questions with responses like "You're kidding, right???" or "[The] only word I have for you is 'Ya Moftary'" or "this question is meaningless, it is based on an assumption that there is a lack of awareness" doesn't do much to keep a dialog open between two unfamiliar cultures that should be friends.

So Alaa, if you're reading... Thanks for answering as detailed as you did, however no question is a stupid question. If we can't ask questions without fear of being made fun of, what reason do we have to keep asking questions?

Re:Anyone... (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140978)

He did fine, except for seeming to get rather offended over what seemed to be a perfectly innocent question about the number of women at the installfest.

I suspect some of his bluntness has to do with simple pride in his country, annoyance at simple things (to him) that he thinks should be known already, and just his personality. He could have controlled himself a bit better, but there's not anything wrong with it really - the whole thing's pretty informal anyway.

And if you're reading this, Alaa, thanks for giving a look at the geek culture of somewhere I won't be able to go to in person for a long time, if ever.

interesting (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140740)

I found it interesting to hear from a real live human in another country, we should get a little more of this type of "story".

I also found it interesting (but not surprising) that most people there don't want their money to go to the US... I wonder how many realize we've been giving them 1.5 Billion a year for 20 years.

of course they realize that! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9141005)

That's part of why they don't like the US!

They know we are using tax money to keep their corrupt government propped up!

"Supporters of Democracy" my ass, when America gives out billions to keep various authoritarian regimes propped up.

MS resentment (4, Insightful)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140754)

but there is a special resentment towards Microsoft

Yet, the killer apps and most used services are Hotmail and MSN messaging services. Then offline, Windows Media Player is the killer app.

Re:MS resentment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140956)

I see your (quite valid) point, but...

I didn't dislike those products until I had to use them.

My point being that options (i.e. GNU/Linux, F/OSS, etc.) are always welcome.

Myth debunked (0)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140812)

I'm relieved that the Bangles are no longer considered a national treasure there.

OMG!!!! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140814)

in IT in general it must be a very high percentage, most companies I deal with have more females in their staff, I'd say 50% of all IT jobs or even slightly more but probably the number drops the closer you get to the general manager (is it different anywhere else??).

there are many factors that would affect this, girls tend to do better in school (don't know why) and engineering and computing schools take the top high school graduates so they're usually heavily populated with females, IT is deemed a suitable job for a female since it does not involve much traveling, they don't have to order many men around as opposed to other engineering jobs where you got to deal with many workers and technicians (this isn't really a big factor when it comes to employment but no one tells them till its too late) and late hours could be done at home, alot of the job are still government jobs which are governed by strict rules relating to grades in school and university, age and stuff like that, there is no way to avoid employing a female who is qualified in a situation like this.

Egyptian girls tend to start looking for husbands very early, so their ideas about a hot date may surprise you

Man!! I want to move to Egypt right now!! Bring on the hot young female computer geeks!!!!!!!

*dies from overload of the fantasy brain*

Re:OMG!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140950)

Be prepared to be killed by a firing squad for taking her virginity out of wedlock.

Nice Sig (0)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140832)

Awesome sig.

I'm sorry to say that a lot of the western world thinks of the East as backwards. Maybe it's American cockiness, but we like to think of ourselves as more advanced. It's nice to see that notion being chipped away. It's great remind people that we're all on this Pale Blue Dot [berkeley.edu] together.

errr (1)

davez0r (717539) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140870)

one of the visitors (who was quite good looking BTW) was starting her own software house and was scouting for talents (we had to restrain some of the volunteers

links plz?

preferably to pix?

so egypt is mostly on dialup (1)

jbellis (142590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140881)

and yet email = hotmail?

holy crap, gmail is going to clean up there. :)

Best /. Original I've Ever Read (2)

slammin'j (532726) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140890)

This is going to be the most memorable article I've ever read on slashdot.

Re:Best /. Original I've Ever Read (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9140987)

You call reading the Slashdot interview of some rag-head geek memorable? I'll be more impressed when I read an article about CowboyNeal blowing his nose...

Hot date? (0, Offtopic)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140930)

Egyptian girls tend to start looking for husbands very early, so their ideas about a hot date may surprise you

Depending on the age and the culture I think a hot date can be quite a broad brush.
In public school (under 12) a hot date could be walking home from school together.
At the other extreme it might refer to a multipersonal sexual marathon.

Cheap systems? (1)

antarctican (301636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140939)

My question is about the first answer, speaking about how a system can be assembled for about $150. Now first, I assume that's American dollars they're talking about. But I'm also wondering about the system itself, are we talking older technology or is that a brand new system with current parts?

If so, why has noone setup an importing business yet? Yes, I bet there would be all kinds of protectionist duties, but even with a 100% duty it would probably still be cheaper then prices here (which are already fairly cheap).

My next question would be, are these name brand parts? As in, Intel motherboards and chips, Maxtor drives, etc. And if they are, why are we allowing them to sell to us at such inflated prices? If the parts really are cheap enough to manufacture that a system can be built for $150, the profits these companys (not the retailors, we all know about their razor thin magins) are making must be discustingly large.

Of course as I said, this is all based on the assumption that these are modern machines and not old 486s with a fresh paint job....

Super Interview (3, Informative)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9140973)

Well, laadeedaa. Guess what, Merikins? Them folks is smart.

Excellent numbers, responses and 'pricking' of stupid conceptions of what Egyptian tech is all about and what their society is all about.

About the schooling: his assessment is dead on. It is a shame but the social and economic structure of Egypt is really a reason why we see young men joining jihad oriented organizations, not their hatred of the USian Empire and 'Freedom.' If you can't get affirmation via the maninstream, you certainly can via groups that give your life a purpose. The whole revelation about how people slip BACK INTO illiteracy is most telling.

I suggest "The Transmission of Knowledge in Medieval Cairo: A Social History of Islamic Education" as great book to see how good it once was for all classes (under the Mamluks, I know). And these are the times that the Islamists imagine for themselves....

"hotmail" and the use of "she" (1)

zombiediv (668515) | more than 10 years ago | (#9141035)

>> (email it is assumed equals hotmail, if you ask your average Egyptian about his email account she will reply with the username only). Interesting the use of "SHE" in that phrase. Proper english would dictate "HE" or the more liberal and less traditional "HE or SHE". Does this imply that most computers are female OR that egypt is a more maternal culture? Someone brought this up below, but only to poke at Microsoft. heh. Great interview. I work on an international site, and I get to see lots of these missconceptions. Heck. I think the US is probably one of the least connected "first world countries" if i remember correctly.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?