18:00 | 14.05.10 | Interviews | exclusive 10197

“Armenian” Linux meant for the widest circle of users

Interview of Head of System Programming Laboratory of Russian-Armenian University (RAU) Vahram Martirosyan and Head of Operational Systems Sector of the System Programming Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Rubanov to Mediamax Agency and Itel.am portal

- RAU Programming Laboratory is elaborating the Armenian version (distribution kit) of GNU/Linux operational system under NUR Linux name. How was the initiative for creating the Armenian distribution kit born?

Vahram Martirosyan: - RAU System Programming Laboratory was set up, given participation of System Programming Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), which coordinates our work, in particular, elaboration of the Armenian distribution kit of Linux. We have already for a long time “been friends” with Linux and we see that this operational system possesses numerous advantages from technical to license ones, which allow freely modifying and adapting the system to the needs of a particular user. And, of course, Linux is a free operational system. However, it does not yet find wide spreading in Armenia. One of the reasons is that average users do not know well what Linux is, and are not aware of the fact that besides pleasant novelties, there are all conveniences there they are used to.

NUR Linux operational system is exactly meant to facilitate the transition of Armenians users from other operational systems to Linux. NUR Linux interface is maximally close to Windows so familiar to all users.

Vladimir Rubanov: - Establishment of RAU System Programming Laboratory is a result of close cooperation, formed between the Armenian higher educational institution and RAS. We see increase in demand of free software support in Armenia and the fact that here the advantages of open source have not yet been fully assessed. Besides, toughening of requirements on observation of copyright will cause increased interest towards the software products basing on open source. The mentioned conditions led to the idea of setting up the Armenian distribution kit of Linux.

- Which are the peculiarities of NUR Linux?

Vahram Martirosyan:- NUR Linux is based on Ubuntu distribution kit. Its name NUR Ubuntu Reconstructed comes from that.

I should note that “Armenian distribution kit” idea does not mean that interface of the operational system will exclusively be in Armenian language. One of the quality differences of Linux from other operational systems is that the user may change the language of the operational system interface, without installing its new version, but by only choosing the necessary language on the menu and by restarting the PC, just like it is usually done on cell phones.

One of the main peculiarities of NUR Linux is the opportunity to read and create documents with ARMSCII Armenian alphabet coding (coding, which allows creating and reading tests in Arial Armenian, Arial LatArm, and other fonts). This became possible due to the first Armenian “non-Unicode” keyboard layout for Linux, created by us.

Taking into account the fact that more and more users in Armenia shift to Unicode coding, we created also a converter of texts for NUR Linux from ARMSCII to UNICODE and vice versa.

NUR Linux includes a quite volume package of “first need” programs, among which are the OpenOffice (free analogue to Microsoft Office), Firefox browser, archivers, free VLC media player, which allows playing media files of most various formats, etc. Moreover, there is a special emulator, which allows Linux users working with the same programs, which they use in Windows.

The Armenian distribution kit of Linux also has a few peculiarities, among which is the computer distance management program from a cell phone through Bluetooth, which we have elaborated. It allows, for instance, distance management of presentations, the media player, starting on and restarting the PC. I should also note that our team has elaborated and included a few games in the distribution kit under NUR Linux, “the close versions” of which are already familiar to a wide circle of users.

- When will the issue of the operational system take place?

Vahram Martirosyan:- Alfa version of NUR Linux Developer Edition has already been issued and is available at our http://www.nurlinux.org/ website. It is to greater extent meant for programmers, rather than for enterprises and home users.

Already this month, NUR Linux Office (for enterprises), NUR Linux Home (for home users) and NUR Linux Education (for educational establishments and ones, who deal with self education in this sphere), will also be issued.

- Taking into account the fact that the operational system will be distributed free of charge, which is the benefit of NUR Linux developer team?

Vahram Martirosyan:- NUR Linux is meant for the widest circle of users: home users, companies, governmental structures, educational establishments, etc. And for all those categories we plan to use a classic model, adopted in the world of free SS. In particular, we will hold paid training courses, help companies and governmental structures implement Linux (including specialized ones under the particular consumer of the version), as well as realize constant technical support of this operational system.

The duration for transition of the enterprise to the new operational system depends on the size of the company. For small companies, the preparation and transition process to Linux will make no longer than a month.

- How will NUR Linux promotion be carried out? What segments are considered target ones? How, in particular, did GNU/Linux promotion take place in Russia?

Vladimir Rubanov: - Today, Linux is perceived in Armenia almost the same way as it was in Russia 5 years ago. However, over these years, the picture in Russia has dynamically changed from practically complete obscurity of this program to wide popularity and practical domination in real use in certain segments. It is pleasant that the government was the locomotive of Linux promotion. Software support with open source code is applied in various governmental structures, including the Defense Ministry, which most of all realized the unpredictability of SS with closed software code, in which the authors may introduce dangerous “bookmarks” and thus create serious threats for information security of the entire country. Advantage of Linux and SS with open source code was rightly assessed also by RF Ministry of Education and Science. A large-scale project has been realized on implementing Linux in all Russian schools.

Analysis of the global and Russian experience allows making conclusion that analogous scenario of Open SS development is also expected to take place in Armenia.