Re: Future of IT in Lebanon

Long delayed response started earlier with a martyr and some upheaval in between..

josephmouhanna wrote:
I have been busy for the past three days with the Lebanese IT delegations' agenda. Separate report on that coming soon...

I saw read and Marc's reports once, they're in my re-read & respond queue.

You can't separate developing and using. [..]

To your point: not necessarily. The bulk of the world's outsourcing (for software) goes to India.

Why? Because Indian programmers grow on trees? Because Indian DNA mutated so that new born Indians have pre-natal Java knowledge? Because India has the lowest per capita GDP? According to one source (, the honors goes to Cyprus (223), India is 143, Lebanon is incidently 121.

This outsourcing is all over the place, Windows, Linux, Java, .net, Open Source, Oracle, etc. you name it. For the most part this is work for hire, with no residuals. It provides daily jobs for a lot of engineers (one third of the world's software engineers are Indians).

And your claim that this not having any transformational effect on the society? That software production in India is not increasing software consumption in India?

I thought you said that this is about some experiment.

I did not say this was about an experiement. This is about avoiding engaging in an *experiment* when there's a real market to exploit. Lebanon cannot afford to misstep in this space.

So you recommend that Lebanese avoid engaging in an "experiment" that is successful elsewhere, because? So .net is not an experiment but J2EE is an experiment? So IIS is not an experiment but Apache is an experiment? So Longhorn is not an experiment and Linux is an experiment?

What's the objective criteria for sticking an "experiment" label on a

OK, so you included just about everything.

You left out anything that is open source.. :-)

This is not exactly a *lifeboat* excercise. For those not familiar with a *lifeboat* excercise, it goes like this: my ship is sinking, and I have very limited space in my lifeboat. What do I take along to ensure my survival and the survival of my party? Every gram counts.

Write a java program, deliver it on a website or on CD's. Java runs anywhere, the ultimate reduction of development cost over maximum reach ratio. Maximizes return on investment. Further, it gives you global reach as a bonus and you don't have to make any assumptions about the user environment except that the user has a JVM installed. If not you point the user to a site where the user can download freely a runtime environment.

If Lebanon has an infinite number of resources, and it can *experiment* in

Again, the condesending notion that anything open source is experimental. I see FUD at play (Fear, uncertainty, doubt).

an attempt to find what sticks, then by all means, let Lebanon's IT industry take everythign thrown its way. I prefer looking at this a bit differently: I have a finite number of highly skilled IT professionals in Lebanon, do I use them as guns for hire, or do I point them in the direction of creating *products* or *parts* of products, where they can realize the best returns on their resources (royalties, direct product sales, etc.).? My advice to the Lebanese IT delegation is that they should become primary product sources, while taking one-time jobs only as a last resort.

My advice to them had I been there is not to taking anything off the table. Use all tools available at your disposal. Don't discard a tool because it is free.

See above. Having outsourced translation in the past, Translation provides the lowest return on resource investment.

I am not sure we are talking about the same thing.. I am talking about localization (which includes translation). If a piece of software is gaining slow traction in a market because it is not customized for that market (doesn't not support local currency, dates, translations) then a localization effort can make a big difference.

You can't build an IT industry based on translation alone and it is not software development. Developers can take an Open Source product and build on it, and that's great, but a couple of issues: i) They still have to target an environment; ii) none of the products providing real revenue to corporations today are Open Source.

You mean real as in mega bucs? There is going to be a Microsoft size (in revenue) company in Lebanon any time soon so we are talking initially small.

Lebanon has to go with what works today, and in the near-term to mid-term future, and not *experiment*.

I fine with in principle.. We disagree where *experiment* in your view becomes condesending code word for open source.

A secondary point here is that the Open Source movement itself is changing radically. Open Source companies seeking better return on investment, are embracing and extending, doing the very thing they accuse the Emperor of having done.

Building a prime services industry around open source is fine and so is building a commercial product around open source components. I personally have more faith in a commercial product based on mature open source components than on closed source components.

Examples: Novell,

A closed source comany that acquired open source OS.. it is trying to shift to open source.. interesting to watch.. can not so far be used an example.. pending the outcome of the transition and how well it is managed.


A company building commercial services on open source.. a fine example.

etc. I'll remind you of what you told me at the start of this thread (when I downloaded something from Novell and had to register), you said that this is not really Linux.

It's value added. I am fine with that.. I just don't want you to confuse it with Linux. If it helps, think in terms of products: Linux Kernel is a product. The Novel Linux integrates the Linux kernel product with other propreitary products to come up with a new derived product.

Novell claims it is,

Marketting strategy.. god bless.. :-)

and a reminder to you also: a kernel is nothing more than a boat sink (if it's attached to a computer). It's all about what's around the Kernel.

Fine.. my problem is that, using your analogy, you should not call the boat sink.. call it boat :-)

Yes, it is about what's around the kernel. Here is an example along your line of thinking: you take a laptop, a projector and Powerpoint to a corporate meeting. These components are necessary to make a good presentation but to knocks the socks out of the attendees, you need to compose a good presentation. The presentation material is the stuff around the kernel. The kernel is the components (computer, etc.) My exagerated point is that you should not call the presentation a laptop.

Here's some reading: The Open Source Monopoly:

Thanks for the tip.. I added it to my reading queue.

How is producing self-booting CDs and DVDs going to help Lebanon's IT industry, if the PCs in the are are still nearly 100% Windows and MAC?

A) the media (CD/DVD) need the hardware to run (Intel, Apple) not Windows and Mac
B) Exchanging documents within an office that has other Mac and Windows happens using open document standards
C) Connecting to other closed-source machines (desktops/servers) through LAN is possible => no integration problem

How it helps the IT industry in Lebanon?

- localization leading to local markets (Lebanon, Gulf, etc. ) customizations => complete packages
- Gives the Lebanese IT industry a channel to distribute its wares
- Made-in-Lebanon distributions developes a local technical skill pool that can be used in other contexts (outsourcing for example)

The average customer (corporate or home) is not going to use this product.

It depends.. if copyright is enforced, corporates or homes face the choice of caughing up a fortune to stay legal *or* try one of those complete localized distributions that gives you functionally everything you need, maybe not as polished. What choice will it be?

They will have to learn a whole new environment,

Not necessarily, some environments mimick Windows.. if that's the *old* environment.

and settle for less than optimal performance.

Optimal performance? Means what? What are the metrics? Who's taking the measurements? Who's interpreting the measurements?

We are on the verge of some major changes in the Communications industry and the applications surrounding it. The applications in this space have not been established at this point, and this would be a great chance for Lebanon's IT industry to produce *original* works that other companies can license and pay royalties for.

I don't have any problem with this. Open source is just a tool among many, not and end.

You could say that this can be done in Open Source fashion, but given the blank slate, Lebanon's IT industry should act selfishly and switch to socialism (Open Source) when it can afford it, but in the meanwhile....

Again, more condensending: open source = [defunct] socialism closed source = [brave new world] capitalism

In reality, open source is smart capitalism [somebody does the labor you reap the rewards].

Microsoft commissioned a study to monitor the effect of software purchases on the local economy, and found that for every $1 spent on Microsoft software, the local economy generated $8 in related services, products, etc. I don't have a pointer to the study now, but I spoke to a Microsoft person about it on Friday to make sure I can freely publish this figure (and I emailed asking for a pointer to the study).

Looking forward to reading the survey.

What you're saying is that hardware is a constant for any environment. I'm saying that while this remains true, the requirements for running the OS on the same hardware are not the same.

Linux has a lower requirements threshold :-)

As I mentioned before after I retire a PC from Windows service, I install Linux on it :-)

I know of embedded applications of Linux. I think MS is going the embedding route for multimedia type devices. In the case of Linux, the kernel between the embedded device and the full blown PC is the same. Can the same be said about Windows?

There have been several versions of Windows, OS2 and other environments. These different versions of the OS were necessary to meet the mass market deployment requirements on the desktop, something Linux did not have to worry about.

Linux was deployed to a mass market but a radically different mass market.. so Linux catered to its users mass market and Microsoft catered to its users mass markets. :-)

I don't have to leave the Excel or Word environment to write macros either.

Yes you do.. Starting from Excel 2003, record a macro, edit, a new application opens, Check the about, it says Microsoft Visual Basic 6.3.

Now, why do I need to learn Microsoft Visual nonsense in order to program a spreadsheet macro?

As for looking up the syntax, go to the help section. As for intuitivity, the simple stuff is pretty straight forward, the more complex stuff is harder to do and requires programmin skills.

Visual Basic.. last time I checked VB programming is a distinctive skills that people brandish on their resume.

It's funny you mention intimidations. This would be like saying that Madagascar is in a position to intimidate the USA (in reference to SCO's ability to credibly intimidate IBM, HP, Novell, etc.)

Do you watch the Soprano's? It's fictionalized.. but the point is that the Soprano's intimidate not the entire USA but North Jersey. SCO try to intimidate users (not big companies) and at that users who don't have deep pockets. Anyway the case is going through the courts system and the truth will prevail. [Side note, did you hear the verdict of the S. Florida professor accused of terrorism? Not guilty on serious charges; deadlocked on remaining charges. Point: truth prevailed.]

If I'm making some bad assumptions, then it's seems as if I'm not in the minoroty.

More than 60 percent of the American public thought that Iraq was involved in 9/11. Point: mass-hysteria does not make good arguments.

In any case, we're splitting hairs here, and this has absolutely *nothing* to do with the IT industry in Lebanon. Minix, Linux, Microkernel, minikernel, monolithic kernel, who came up with the idea first, who copied it from the source code, or who used the architecture only, etc. is all irrelevant, except when it may come to an endless debate between two people coming at it from different directions :-)

As long as you concede the point the point that Linux and AT&T Unix don't share source code [an argument yet to be proven by SCO in court] you don't have an argument with me.

My point was that funding does not translate into resources, and that the resources put on Linux development now exceed the resources Microsoft puts on the development of the OS.

Actually, as I mentioned before, I am in agreement that more people work on Linux than Windows (for comparable OS functionality). The difference is that the former don't get paid for doing the work.


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