Interview with Mohammed J. Kabir, author of the "Red Hat Linux Survival Guide"
by Mirko Zorz - Wednesday, 17 September 2003.
Mohammed J. Kabir (prefers to be called Kabir) is the founder and CEO of EVOKNOW, Inc. His company, EVOKNOW, develops email and GIS software. Kabir also leads a consulting group that helps corporations utilize Open Source software.

Kabir has written many books on Open Source technologies since 1996. His recent ones are: Secure PHP Development, Red Hat Linux Server 8, Red Hat Linux Survival Guide, Red Hat Linux Security and Optimization, and Apache Server 2.

How long have you been working with Linux? How did you get interested in it?

I started with Linux in the early 90s during my university days at CSUS. I remember downloading Linux from a prominent Finish FTP site into 20+ 1.44MB floppies. It took three days in a row to get base Linux with X Windows up and running on an i386.

Once booted for the first time, the system remained turned on until many of my friends had a chance to visit my apartment. Next, I was able to hook up a dumb terminal to the Linux box via a null modem. This became my roommate's Gopher/USENET browsing terminal. It was a lot of fun!

My interest continues to remain glued to Linux because it gives me a very powerful command-line, full remote access and the ability to tune just about every aspect of the OS.

How long did it take you to write "Red Hat Linux Survival Guide" and what was it like? Any major difficulties?

As it was not my first Linux book, I was pretty much at home with writing process. I remember worrying about the size of the book a lot as my goal was to give it a small profile. I was traveling a lot to Dhaka during the time when I was writing this. As power failure in Dhaka is an almost every-day event, I had a great desire to write about UPS and power management. But later I decided against it as I figured the target audience won't worry about power failure too much. Now that I know better, UPS/power management will be in the future edition.

You've written several books - out of all of your writing ideas how do you decide which ones to develop further?

There is no defined process. Whatever seems most exciting to me personally gets the most attention.

In your opinion, where does Linux need the most software development at the moment?

I primarily use Linux on the server side. Linux servers are the most cost-effective, reliable, and least demanding on the hardware. I would like to see more Open Source network and security management/audit tools that make it easy for any Linux administrator to do the job right.

Even though Linux desktop is getting better every day. It still remains too complex for average users. IMHO, Mac OS X has the best desktop in the market. I would love to use Linux on the desktop if it can someday provide Mac OS X like user experience.

What advice do you have for people that are considering switching to Linux?

For individuals, switching to Linux has become an easy transition thanks to tons of good books, helpful USENET groups, useful Web sites and easy to install distributions.

However, many corporations are still switching to Linux the old fashion way. Someone in the MIS becomes tired of rebooting the blue-screen servers and switches one to Linux. Then one Linux server becomes two and so on. IMHO, such a process often lacks a proper migration strategy and can result into expectation mismatch.

I think large corporations interested in switching to Linux must make a strategic migration plan and execute it with expert help so that expectation mismatch is avoided. A migration plan that includes user training, security measures, expert review can yield a long-lasting positive Linux experience for everyone involved.

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