Oman Free & Open Source Software Platform Launched

The official launch of the Oman Free & Open Source Software Platform, a joint initiative by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and the College of Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University, was held on Sunday, 28 April 2019 at SQU under the patronage of H.H. Sayyida Dr. Mona bint Fahad Al Said, SQU Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Cooperation. Oman Free & Open Source Software Platform is an initiative among a number of FOSS capacity building programs organized by SQU and ITA.

Through this platform, the organizers seek to promote awareness, training, consultation and technical support in Free & Open Source Software in the country. Awareness on Free & Open Source Software history, concepts, business models and local initiatives; specialized training in different Free and Open Source Software Technologies; Free and Open Source Software Consultation for Government and Private organizations; and technical Support on different Free & Open Source Technologies are on the agenda. So far, five requests for FOSS awareness initiatives, 220 requests for training, nine requests for consultation and three requests for technical support have been placed through the Oman Free & Open Source Software Platform.

Speaking on the occasion, Eng. Khalil Ibrahim Al Ma’wali, Executive-Projects, ITA, said that the capacity-building program in FOSS aims to develop human and research competencies through hands-on projects related to the needs of different institutions. “The free and open source software portal would serve as a source of knowledge, promote awareness and provide a number of awareness-raising and specialized workshops on free and open source software”, he said. A lecture on “the future of free and open source software” was delivered by Dr. Ahmed Saeed Al Maashari, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering. The joint projects between ITA and the University to support free and open source software were also reviewed.

The inauguration ceremony included a panel discussion entitled “challenges and opportunities for the adoption of free and open source software”.  Prof. Hadj Bourdoucen, Dean of the College of Engineering at SQU, Fahad Al Saidi, Director of the National Initiative to Promote and Support the Use Free Software, Mohammed Jidad, Head of the Maintenance Department, Public Authority for Civil Aviation and Khalil Al-Ma’wali, Executive-Projects, ITA participated in the panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ahmed Saeed Al Maashari.


ITA and SQU Organize a Workshop on Successful FOSS Solutions Utilization at Public Organizations

As part of their efforts to raise awareness and promote the application of free and open source software (FOSS) in public and private organizations, the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and Sultan Qaboos University represented in the FOSS Capacity Building Program Team has conducted the fifth workshop, under the theme of “the application of FOSS in the IT infrastructure at the Ministry of Health –opportunities and challenges”, Wednesday 10th April 2019  morning at Sas Center for Mobile Apps Development.

This workshop comes among a series of capacity building workshops on FOSS solutions to achieve the program objectives as agreed earlier in 2017 between the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) represented by the college of engineering.

The workshop was attended by IT specialists and managers from government and private entities. During the workshop, a number of systems and applications used successfully and effectively at the ministry of Health were showcased including SAMBA open active guide presented by Faiza Aljabri, director of IT Infrastructure Department, and network monitoring system (Zabbix) presented by Tamam Alsharqi, network Technician. The workshop also included a presentation entitled “FOSS Development in Ministry of Health” delivered by Shaikha Alnomani, a programmer at Ministry of Health. The presentations were also followed by open discussions where participants exchange feedback.

It is worth to mention that the FOSS Capacity Building Program is the result of cooperation and joint efforts between the Information Technology Authority and Sultan Qaboos University to build competencies and develop free and open source software in order to enhance the strategic partnership between the two parties and to implement the recommendations of the study on the adoption and dissemination of free and open source software in the Sultanate.

The program seeks to achieve a number of objectives including intensifying awareness on the benefits of using FOSS solutions in different administrative systems in government and private organizations and its role in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. It also aims at building competencies through training in specialized software and open source systems and developing the skills required for localization to benefit locally. In addition, it seeks to encouraging entrepreneurs to develop solutions and applications based on free and open source software, developing solutions and applications for public and private institutions based on free and open software, and Providing technical consultancy for projects that adopt free and open source solutions and applications in the public and private sectors.


LinkedIn open sources Two website's troubleshooting tools

LinkedIn has announced to have open sourced two new tools to assist engineers in automating the investigation of broken hosts and services: Fossor and Ascii Etch.

Fossor (Latin for gravedigger) is a Python tool, while Ascii Etch, another Python library, outputs information gleaned from Fossor in ascii-character graphs.

Python tool- Fossor’s design splits the two components of the program, the engine and plugins, to reduce the incidence of serious bugs. Whereas, Ascii Etch was originally created to draw the results from running Fossor.

Source : egyptfoss


Mir is a powerful display server that can meet your IoT display requirements

IoT is one among the hot discussion topic in these days. It changes the way in which we communicate with the devices surrounding us. The majority of IoT devices use sensors and other actuators to interact with people. While there is a class of devices which requires a graphical display to communicate with people.

Linux is the most popular operating system chosen by IoT manufacturers and researchers to build IoT devices. When we use Linux on IoT devices, we have handful choices. It includes selecting a complete display server to custimizing a simple toolkit. The Mir server is a display server that can be used a variety of devices.

The IoT promises to bring about a revolution in the way we interact with devices around us. While many IoT devices will be hidden away, from sensors that measure manufacturing tolerances in a factory to hubs that control lighting around the home, there are a class of devices that need to provide some sort of graphical output or display to the user. Some examples include digital signage, interactive kiosks, automotive in-car entertainment gateways, smart meters, and the plethora of display screens seen on everything from washing machines to smart thermostats. All of these examples need some way to output graphics to a screen display but in an embedded environment that is not always easy.

Linux is one of the most popular OS choices for manufacturers and solution providers to use in IoT devices and with it there are a few options available for graphical environments. From custom software to drive the display, through direct frame buffer access with toolkits such as QT, to a full X windowing server. All of these options have their pros and cons and often it is a trade-off between custom software and off-the-shelf components to speed up development. Custom software takes time and requires developers to continue to maintain a code base for the lifetime of the device, while using a graphical toolkit such as QT requires less code but comes with commercial licencing. The open source X windowing server is a popular choice but, being over 30 years old, has some shortcomings. It has been well documented that the design of X windows, although revolutionary at the time, has some security risks especially around application isolation and privilege escalation which has led to efforts to replace it by redesigning the graphical server from the ground up. One such effort is Mir.

Source : egyptfoss


Microsoft, Salesforce plan to open source major enterprise software products

Microsoft and Salesforce have separately announced plans to release some key software products as open source for anyone to use in their data centers.

Microsoft plans to release its Open Network Emulator (ONE), a simulator of its entire Azure network infrastructure that it uses as a way to find and troubleshoot problems before they cause network outages. The announcement was made by Victor Bahl, a distinguished scientist with Microsoft Research, on a Microsoft podcast.

Meanwhile, Salesforce announced its intention to open source TransmogrifAI, key software behind its Einstein AI product. TransmogrifAI helps build machine-learning systems at enterprise scale. The news came on the Salesforce Engineering blog by Shubha Nabar, senior director of data science at Salesforce Einstein.

Such actions by either company would have been unthinkable ten years ago and reflects how important the cloud and AI have become. More to the point, it also reflects an acknowledgment by both companies that on-premises isn’t going anywhere.

Bahl said the emulator works by mimicking the network, so when networking engineers and operators make changes, they actually are changing the emulator. “It mimics the network underneath so amazingly that you can’t tell the difference. So, once you make the changes, the emulator will then try them out and make sure everything is good. Once everything is good, it’s going to go and put it on the network below,” he said on the podcast.

Microsoft ultimately decided that ONE is too important to keep to itself. “We have decided that this is such an important resource for everybody that just hoarding it ourselves is not the right thing to do,” Bahl said. “So, we are making it available to the entire community so that they can now — and it’s not just for production systems, but also for students that are now graduating.”

The software will help large enterprises improve their network uptime by simulating changes to their network before rolling them out live.

Microsoft hasn’t disclosed where it plans to release ONE, but GitHub — which Microsoft is in the process of acquiring — seems the logical choice.

TransmogrifAI is an automated machine learning library for structured data, which makes sense coming from Salesforce, since its CRM products are built on the traditional row-and-column structure of a relational database. It’s written in Scala and built on top of Apache Spark, Apache’s in-memory analytics software.

Nabar said Salesforce customers are looking to predict a host of outcomes, but every customer’s data is unique, with different schemas, different shapes, and different biases introduced by different business processes. That means building thousands of different models.

“The only way to achieve this without hiring an army of data scientists is through automation,” she wrote.“Most auto-ML solutions today are either focused very narrowly on a small piece of the entire machine learning workflow, or are built for unstructured, homogenous data for images, voice and language. But we needed a solution that could rapidly produce data-efficient models for heterogeneous structured data at massive scale.”

TransmogrifAI promises an efficient coding process with just a few lines of code executing tasks, where a data scientist can automate data cleansing, feature engineering, and model selection to arrive at a performant model without hassles.

Source :egyptfoss