Poetry in Arab World from Pre-Islamic Era to Abbasids and its Effect on Modern Poetry

Poetry has been a major tool to express the state of a community. Arab poetry played a great role in establishing, maintaining, and destroying political systems in Middle East and North Africa region from pre-Islam to now. It was used to promote religion, Sultans, and governments because it had a magical effect on people. They listen to it because of its beauty, so it can easily stick in their minds. Arab poetry or “Chi’ir” is totally different from novels, articles, or other form of Arabic literature because it is very advanced in term of language. Arab Poets or “Chu’ara” were playing with words by using the powerful ones that can affect people quickly when they understand the meaning. It cannot be easily interpreted that is why it was used to ruin the reputation of a Sultan without being caught quickly. It has many deep meanings that serve several purposes besides the ones that we already discussed. It is still used in education nowadays. It is a part of primary school program. However, they do not talk about pre-Islamic poetry because it is very different than the Arabic that is taught in schools. They teach students the types of poetry which are the free and the traditional. In pre-Islamic era, there was a single type of poetry which is the traditional. It had strict and hard rules to follow that is why it was very advanced. Each poem should have strict number of “paragraphs” and a unique song at the end of each line called “Quaf’ia”. It is the part that allows to people to sing the poem. In addition, each poem should belong to a ringtone called “Baher”. Arabic poetry has 16 ringtone or “Baher”, as they are named technically. On the other hand, free poetry appeared in 20 century. It served several purposes such as nationalism, love, and revolution of Arab peoples.  Nizar Qabbani used the free poetry to talk about love in an artistic way. Mahmoud Darwich used it to talk about the Palestine-Israeli conflict and show the words, from the power of words that he used, his opinion as a palestinian poet. One of Abu Al-Qasim Shabi’s poems is as a national anthem of Tunisia. It is a revolutionary poem that encourages people to change destiny because they have the power to do so. It was used to motivate people to push the colonial powers out of their motherlands which the language was not important because in North Africa region, especially Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, the Amazigh poem was a major tool in reaching people who do not understand Arabic. In fact, they were the soldiers of the Moroccan army at that time.

Pre-Islamic era poets put the foundations of Arabic poetry. The culture of this era was oral and what is discussed now in books is what the authors of after Islamic era transmitted to us. So, it is, somehow, biased because some actions of the pre-Islamic era were prohibited later on. For instance, the description of the girls’ bodies was allowed in pre-Islamic era and prohibited after Islamic  It was known by the dark age of the Arab peoples. In fact, it was not as Muslim authors described it. It is known as “Jahilia” which means the ignorance age. However, it is not the case because the level of language and the power of “Quraish” leaders’ speeches was advanced comparing to nowadays leaders’ speeches.  “Mu’allaqat” are the long poems that were in pre-Islamic era or “Jahilia”. They are written with a pure artistic language to describe the lives of Arab people in the Arab peninsula at that time. They were hung in Kaaba because of their importance. It is the origin of their name “Mu’allaqat” because it means, in Arabic,  something that is hung. They can be divided into seven types. Each type is known by a poet who are Harith Ibn Halza, Imru Al-Qays, Zuhair Ibn Abi-Salama, Tarafa Ibn Al-Abd, Amr Ibn Kulthum, Antara Ibn Shadad, and Labid Ibn Abi-Rabiaa.  Each “Mu’alaqa” talks about a different topic depending on the interest of each poet.

Harith Ibn Halza is one of the great poets in pre-Islamic era. He was writing about his tribe “Baker Ibn Wael”. He wrote “Mua’lasa Fakhriya” which was about promoting his tribe. In other words,  he wrote the pride poem in “Mua’laqat”. He was proud of his tribe, and Arab people were using his name to describe a prided person in their daily life by saying to him that he is prouder than Harith Ibn Halza. This “Mua’laqa” talked about the daily life of his tribe and pushing people to prepare to war.

Imru Al-Qays is one of the famous poets of pre-Islamic era. He wrote about love. He described in his “Mu’allaqa” his love to Leila who is a girl from his tribe. His story with Leila is similar to the one of Romio and Julliet. Qays and Layla story is a famous love story in the Arabic culture. He was known by describing girls’ bodies in his poems which was not accepted after Islam, so the authors who talked about him described some of his poems as obscene. He has been inspiring Arab poets such as Nizar Qabbani.

Zuhair Ibn Abi-Salama was writing his poems in one month and prepare them in one year which means “Hawl” in Arabic. His poems were called “Hawliyat” because of their long preparation. His poems were respectful in the sense that they were accepted after Islam. He was eulogizing people with what they are known with. Omar Ibn Al-Khattab named him the poet of poets due to his beautiful style. He was writing about what he knew about, so his poems were genuine.

Tarafa Ibn Al-Abd is considered one of the best poets of the pre-Islamic era. His poems are about ethics, Humanity, life, and Arab peoples  traditions at that time. He tried to show the shining side of the Arab peoples by describing their daily lives and how they were helping each other.  In addition, he was describing the tools and the industrial development that they were achieving. Historically speaking, his “Mu’allaqa” helped researchers to know the lifestyle of Arab people in pre-Islamic era and comparing it to after Islam in order to know what changes Islam brought to the Arab culture.

Amr Ibn Kulthum is another great poet from the pre-Islamic era. His poems were about motivating people to participating in the wars against his tribe. He was proud of it, and that is why he talked about it in a prestigious way in his poems. He was thanking brave people who belong to the same tribe. He described them as models of the others.

Antara Ibn Shaddad is one of the famous poets of the pre-Islamic era because he wrote about his love story and its relationship with the slavery life. Antara lived a different life from the other poets because his father is his owner according to slavery rules. He talked about his father’s wife because she was the source of its problems. She told his father that Antara is harassing her just to see him beaten every time. The interesting part of these stories is that she talked to his father to stop beating him whenever she felt that it is enough for him what he experienced. Antara’s poems were seeing the Arab culture at that time from another angle because he talked about the miserable life of the slaves. He showed to the world that the slaves can love as well. He is known by his poems about Abla who is his lover and cousin. He loved her, and he wrote long poems about her describing his deep feelings towards her. She was one the beautiful girl in his tribe, and he was meeting her secretely because meeting a girl at that time was prohibited. He went to his uncle in order to marry Abla. His uncle completely refused because Antara was a slave and black. He talked in his poems about the racism and how the slaves did not have the right to marry. The exact end of the story is not known because some authors said that he did not marry her and others claimed that he married her even if her father refused. Their story was inspiring many writers because it is seen as a love story model nowadays especially after the formalization of human rights.

Labid Ibn Rabia is the last poet of “Mu’allaqat” because he lived after Islam for a long time, so he is one of the poets who experienced the pre-Islamic and post-Islamic eras. He wrote about the hospitality of Arab people, wine, love, and pride of the belonging of his tribe. After he became Muslim, his poetry changed because he did not talk about what the Islam prohibited such as the obscene description of the girls’ bodies and wine. Labid is one of the poets that we can touch the change that Islam brought to the Arab peoples in the Arab peninsula at that time. Some of the topic that were dominant in the pre-Islamic era were prohibited after words. So,Islam changed the topics that poets can cover in their poems.

The era between “Jahilia” and Islam was a critical era because poetry was seen as unethical action that the Muslim can do because poets in “Jahilia” were known by drinking wine and obscene description of what the Islam prohibited. So, it was a critical time which changed the topics to the pride of belonging to a tribe, motivation to participate in wars, and promotion of the Islam and prophet.  

Hassan Ibn Thabit was one of the famous poets of that era because his poems were all about prophet Muhammad. Before Islam, Medina was divided into two tribes “Aws” and “Khazraj”. Hassan Ibn Thabit was the poet of “Khazraj” and Qaiss Ibn Khatim was the poet of “Aouss”. He was defending his tribe and talking about wine as a major element in the Arab culture at that time. After Hassan joined Islam, he changed totally the topic of its poems to the life of the prophet Muhammad. He wrote his poems to defend Islam and push people to join it. He was taking it as an intellectual war against people who attack Islam at that time. He was considering defending Islam by poetry is like defending it by weapons.

This transition era gave a birth of a new type of poetry. After the conflict between Muawiya and Ali which is the source of the division between Shia and Sunni, poets were in both sides. They were communicating their political opinion through poems. In the Amaoui State, a new types of literature was born. It is the Islamic literature which is another variation of the “Jahilia” literature in the sense that it respect the new rules that Islam set up to Muslims. In addition, another type of poetry appeared called “Naqa’id” which is about writing a poem that promotes a poet and ruin the reputation of the others. Al Akhtal was one of the great poets in Amaoui state because he was promoting Amaoui caliphs and firing the other poets who did not agree with the caliphs with his strong words. Jarir is another famous poet of this era. He was in a war with Al Akhtal because they were exchanging harm poems which showed to the Arab community the powerful mastering of the language and its beauty in transmitting messages without any offensive or disrespectful words. The other type which was dominant at that time is praise poetry. It served political purposes because the level of Arabic language of these poets was extraordinary that is why they were special and important in any era of the Arab history. Al-Tarmah Ibn Al-Hakim was one of the famous poets who were writing this kind of poetry. The new type is “Zuhd” poetry. It is what the Sufi movement used later on to express themselves. Hassan Al-Basri, the founder of the Sufi movement, used this kind of poetry to show to people the rules of Islam and push them to join it. In addition, he used it also in “Da’awa” to attract people to religion and forget the life to work for the life after death.  It appeared because of the effect of Islam on Arab people. They were looking for a way to get closer to Allah. “Zuhd” poets were different because they were not social. They believed that the real life is after the death. Poets should contribute in sharing Islam and defending it as well.

After the Amaoui state was destroyed. A new Islamic state appeared which were the Abbasids. They were more open-minded, so the topics of their poetry were more rich. In addition to that, other words were added to Arabic because of the translation of books from other language to Arabic. Moreover, the poetry had changed because of the new lifestyle of the Arab people at that time. The translation of the books influenced the topics of the poetry and changed its language. It was a revolution in poetry’s history because it started to use non-Arabic words. So, the poetry started to get out from the traditional and pure Arabic words that were used in pre-Islamic era and Amaoui state. This change produced open-minded poets such as Abu Firas Al-Hamadani, Abu Tayeb Al-Mutanabbi, and Abu Al-Alae Al-Maarri.

Abu Firas Al-Hamadani was a great poet in Abbasids era because he was the cousin of Saif-Al-Dawla Al Hamadani the governor of Aleppo at that time. The governor was discussing with Ulama and poets the situation of the State. So, he was meeting with Al Mutanabbi, Al Farabi, and  Abu Firas. Abu Firas became Amir of Manbij, but he faced some political problems with his ministers. Thus, they put it in jail for more than 7 years. So, his poems were about the patient and his hard experience in jail. His poems were full of negative emotions because he was suffering and transmitting what he was feeling in jail.

Abu Tayeb Al-Mutanabbi played a major political role in Saif-Al-Dawla state.  He was one of the decision makers in the state. He was proud of himself and his race. He was writing about himself in his poems. He was dreaming a lot that is why his friends were amirs and caliphs. He was praising them to get money and authority. He wanted to be a wali in the Abbasids state. He was writing about Saif-Al-Dawla. He lived a luxury life because of that. However, other poets wanted to create the conflict between him and Saif-Al-Dawla in poems. They succeeded to create it, and he leaved Aleppo. He traveled to Egypt, and he wrote poems against Saif Al-Dawla asking him about the cause that let him to trust the other poets. The same story appeared again with Kafur the governor of Ikhshidid dynasty. He talked also about the failure of some aspects of the intellectual revolution that appeared in Abbasids dynasty from his own experience and failures. He described how he was living in a luxury life and ended up with a miserable life. It was the main cause of the critical change in the topics of his poems. He stopped promoting caliphs and started talking about his miserable experience. His poems played a major role in illustrating the change between Amaouis and Abbasids dynasties. After the Mongols burned books in Baghdad and defeated the Abbasids dynasty,  the Arab world was introduced to a new era which is less productive and creative that what they experienced with the Abbasids. It was known by decadence age or “Al Inhitat”.

Abbasids played an important role in making Arab people more open-minded by discovering other cultures. However, as Al Mutanabbi stated in his last poems, the Arab world was facing a critical failure. So, the level of the poetry was decreasing. The important productions of that era was “Al Muqaddimah” of Ibn Khaldoune and “Lisan Al-Arab” of Ibn Mandour.

Arab world inherited some western concepts such as the political parties. They played a major role in creating the Arab renaissance movement or “Al-Nahda”. So, the poetry and literature, in overall, recovered from the critical status that it was facing. The topics of poems were enriched again because some of the Arab poets were living in western countries, and they integrated the western culture in poetry. In addition, the poems were fighting the concept of tabous. A new type of poetry was born based on the introduction that the Abbasids’ poets provided. They introduced the concept of free poetry which was different than the traditional one that was inherited from the pre-Islamic era. However, at that time, they changed just some aspects of the formatting of the poem. In “Al-Nahda”, they totally changed the free poetry because they changed even the ringtone that the poem should have. It served several purposes because of the development of the Arab world. Some poets chose it as a way to defend their nations such as Mahmoud Darwish. He used it as a tool to share with the entire world the Palestinian thoughts about the Palestine-Israel conflict. It was used also in the national anthems of several countries. For instance, “Al Qadar” poem of “Abu Al-Kassim Al-Shabi” is the official anthem of Tunisia nowadays. It was easy to understand comparing to “Mu’allaqat” which helped this new style to serve in promoting nationalism. Another example of the use of the free poetry is Nizar Qabbani. He used it to express his emotions towards women. He broke the taboo of talking about women in a sexual way. Ahmed Shawki was a great poet of that era. He wrote a lot of poetic stories for children that influenced the famous french poet “Jean de La Fontaine”.

To sum up, poetry is a powerful tool that can influence people easily. It was used by most of the Arab governors to control their peoples and to promote themselves. It was improved to share the political opinions and promote nationalism after the introduction of free poetry in the Abbasids era. It participated in identifying the history of Arab people before Islam and in defining their life style.

References

Daif, Chaouki. History of Arab Literature. Beirut: Dar Al-Maarif, 2008.

Hourani, Albert. A History of Arab Peoples. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1991.

Hussein, Taha. On Pre-Islamic Poetry. Cairo: Egyptian General Book Authority, 1926.

Stetkevych, Suzanne Pinckney. Early Islamic Poetry and Poetics. Farnham, Surrey, Uk: Ashgate/Variorum, 2009.

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How Linux Affected my Life?

I have been using Linux-based operating systems since 2012. I have been building a strong relationship with my favorite operating system Ubuntu. When I thought deeply about it back then, I realized that it is not just an operating system. GNU/Linux is a philosophy in computer science. It is an independent way of thinking. It brings us to talk about the open source projects. These kind of projects show that great things are made by many people who love what they are doing. They are based on contribution and combination of millions of developers around the globe who are different in many aspects of life. They have different religions, different cultures, and different languages. However, code and love of making people’s lives better unite them.

It affected my way of thinking, my behavior towards myself and my environment. It taught me that life is not all about money. Life is about helping other people even if they do not know who you are or what you are doing.  We gain good friends who share the same interest with us or maybe just respect us because we are doing something that they think it is valuable for them or the community in overall.  Some of them do not understand or give the necessary value to what I am doing, and they decide to leave because they think I have a boring and nerdy life. It is their problem because I believe I am doing the right thing for my personal satisfaction. Some of them encourage me everyday and teach me everyday in all life’s aspects, and they accept me as I am. I will show to those people that I worth their confidence.

It affected my decisions. When I want to make a decision, I think a lot about it. Linux taught me that there is no way to return to the previous state. When you type “sudo rm -rf /opt/folder”, there is no way (without forensics headache of course) to return back on time to the normal state. It taught me to be strong and precise in my decisions.  In addition, when you type “sudo” at the beginning of any command, Linux taught me to assume my responsibilities and to be professional in my decisions. It has two different states: normal and superuser state. So, it taught me to separate the professional and personal life. The professional one needs careful management and strong behavior.  On the other hand, the normal one cannot decide on some very important life decisions, so it can be handled without any additional stress or thinking.

It affected my emotions. I started to think in a binary approach. I do not take or think about the decision twice. When I decide on something, I assume my responsibility in terms of the consequences that it might have. So, in life either you get 0 or 1. I do not believe in 0.5. Adopting this approach causes consecutive failures in my social and emotional side. However, it is still clear in my mind because there is no such state between love and hate.

GNU/Linux is not just an operating system. It represents the way of thinking of millions of noble souls who made the Humanity great by connecting the individuals and providing a wonderful platform for the new technologies to appear.

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An External Approach of Seeing Education in the Moroccan Context

Since my childhood, I have been loving explaining a concept to my friend. I have been loving writing on the board and seeing my friends behind me. I do not hesitate when someone asks me to help him or her to understand a topic. I love reading what does not appear in the textbooks. I enriched this experience, after years of learning the basics of computer science, by volunteering in teaching web development during a summer camp. It was one of the best experiences that I ever had because I helped some high schools students to build their own websites. It was a unique experience that taught me how to deal with students, how to act in a classroom, and how to explain a hard concept in a fun and easy way. My interviewee was happy to see a student asking about his job because he told me that it is a good opportunity for him to talk about the problems that he faces everyday. He is an associate professor at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. He asked me to not include his name in the report. I was glad to meet him because I learned many things from a different mindset. The interview was as follows:

Ahmed Lekssays: What happens during a typical day?

Professor: I have a few hours of teaching, office hours, and independent research. Sometimes, I have some meetings with the administration about the supervision, curriculum, and students. In addition, I have to deal with students in some internships, capstones, and exit tests.

Q: What are the most important personal satisfactions and dissatisfactions connected with your occupation? What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

A: I believe that explaining well a topic  and see that students understand it well forms my personal satisfactions.  On the other hand, I believe that if the student did not get the point behind a topic is a dissatisfaction for me. The challenging part of my mission is to explain a topic which requires some prerequisites and background information because I need to explain the  prerequisites  and the actual course material in a short period of time.

Q: What kinds of problems do you deal with?

A: Some of the problems that I face in teaching are politics related problems with administration, lack of students’ motivation, and issues related to U.S. modern educational system.  The U.S. modern educational system reduces the meeting time with students, so professors do not play their mentorship role with students. Hence, professors do not affect their students. I think that the professors’ roles go beyond what is stated in the textbook. They should affect their students in other aspects of life such as ethics.

Q: What are the major qualifications for success in this occupation?

A: Success is relative. I will be answering according to my own definition of success. For me, it is making a difference in students’ lives. The 3 keys of success in this mission are sincerity, dedication, and patience.

Q: What special advice do you have for a student seeking to qualify for this position?

A: First, you should not take it as a job or just a position that guarantees an income. Second, you should take your studies seriously. Finally, you should keep learning outside the class and beyond what textbooks stated.

Q: Do you have any special words of warning or encouragement as a result of your experience?

A: According to my experience, you should always question your intention. Why am I doing this? Is it for money, fame, or status? This will help you to figure out the right reason. If it is based on money, fame, or status, just look for another mission. Teaching is not for you.

Q: What kinds of experience, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?

A: Tutoring would be a great experience, especially if it is not paid. By explaining a concept to someone, you will benefit as well. You should take it as a duty to help your environment understand a concept that you are familiar with.  

Q: How has your job affected your lifestyle?

A: Actually, it affected it in many ways, but the important thing is that you keep learning, and you are always surrounded by young people, which improves your energetic outlook.

Q: How do you see professors’ value in Morocco?

A: Moroccan society shows a high respect to professors in general. However, there are some professors who do not take their job seriously. Thus, they affect other professors who are serious about their mission.

Q: How do you see professor’s’ role in the development of nations?

A: The role of professors is fundamental in the development of nations. However, as I said before the professor should take teaching as a duty. The professor should have an impact in his or her environment. For example, “At Taalim Al-Atik” is a good example of having an impact on students because of everyday meetings. The students learn how to deal with different status. For instance, they know how to deal with him or her when he or she is angry.

Q: Is there anything else would you like to share?

A: I would like to keep my name hidden. On the other hand, I am very disappointed about the status of professors’ around the world. Some professors are teaching because of money, fame, or status. Thus, the work atmosphere has become negative.

I was inspired, motivated, and influenced by my interviewee because the interview contained what I was looking for. I needed to question myself in order to choose the right path. My interviewee sees teaching as I was seeing it. It is not only a job. It is a duty and a mission that can change positively a community. The main points that I got from the interview are hard work, patience, and dedication.

First, I learned that the professor is a hard worker who goes beyond what is stated in the syllabus or course material. The professor should have the ability to think outside the box in order to explain a concept to his or her students. This skill can be improved by looking for different resources and by analyzing different teaching strategies. Thus, the continuous learning is not always about the field of studies. It goes beyond that because it involves analyzing the background of students in terms of psychology, culture, and ability to grasp the information. A professor should have the ability to explain hard concepts in an easy way to help the students to understand it because the way of explaining reflects the understanding of the concept by the professor himself or herself. In addition, the professor should be open-minded because sometimes students know what the professor does not know, so the flow of information should be in both directions.

 Second, teaching is about patience. The professor has a fundamental role in his or her community. He or she is a source of knowledge that can build knowledgeable community. The professor should have an impact on his or her students who represent the next generation. However, it is hard under the American educational system because the meeting time is not enough to have an impact on them. The professor should be a model in different aspects of life because he or she is seen as a leader that the community respect and follow. So, the fundamental key if a student wants to pursue his or her path in teaching is patience. It is not a job that pays materialistically. It pays in terms of personal satisfaction and effect that goes beyond the personal goals. Therefore, it should be seen as a duty not an a source of money.  

Finally, dedication is another fundamental key is building a successful career as a professor. The professor should love what he is doing. He or she should play his or her role without expecting a reward from the community. The best example for a student to experience this job is tutoring, especially if it is unpaid. The student will learn how to give without expecting a reward. It can be unseen because it is not materialistic, but it enriches self-satisfaction which is my ultimate goal. Success can be seen from different perspectives, but I define it as reaching self-satisfaction by sharing knowledge with the Humanity.

To sum up, being a professor is not an easy mission because it involves many aspects such as personality, community, and personal definition of success. The main keys that the students should have in order to be a successful professor who has an impact in his or her community are patience, dedication, and hard work. Sharing and building knowledge is a noble thing because it helps Humanity in the path of development. This mission can be experienced by unpaid tutoring because it is a minimal version of teaching.

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Build a Simple Cloud Server Using the Open Hardware Technology

Abstract

Data storage has become a critical problem that facing computer scientists. Not only is it the huge amount of data; it is also also the problem of safety and privacy because of the revolution of information technology security. In order to find a possible solution to these problems, this project combines open hardware and open source software. It is based on Raspberry Pi 2, which is a single-computer board with powerful characteristics (Quad-Core CPU, 1GB in the RAM and 3D Full HD graphic) and OwnCloud, a file sharing web script. The main challenge of this project is how to combine eight (or more) Raspberry Pi and make them as one cloud server with parallel processing. Presently, a web server fulfilling these requirements is $2000, but the price of the same server made with Raspberry Pi is $500.

We aim to address the following questions:

  1. What is the Open Hardware Technology?
  2. How we can combine eight Raspberry Pi in a parallel processing?
  3. How we can make a secure file sharing environment using OwnCloud?

Only large companies can buy one due to the cost. On the other hand, the Raspberry Pi server can be made by anyone with the money. This simple cloud server is secure because the OwnCloud script will be configured with a SSL certificate to encrypt the user’s data to prevent the Man in the Middle attacks. Furthermore, the companies’ employers will be able to share their files privately without using any external drive, which avoids the transfer of viruses and malware. In addition, the companies’ files will be hidden from attackers because the server will be local. Consequently, they will be seen by the people who are connected to the same network with the server. This project uses a combination of open hardware and open software technology, so it will be developed and updated by developers around the world.

This cloud server will be made with two main steps: first, the building of the server (the hardware part) by installing and configuring Raspbian OS in the first Raspberry Pi, and then, the installation and configuration of MPICH and MPI4PY libraries and applying the same configuration in the other boards. Second, the preparation of the server to be able to run the OwnCloud script (the software part). That is will be made by installing and configuring PHP5, APACHE2 and OPENSSL packages. Then, we will configure the OwnCloud’s databases system and admin account. As a result, the server will have the following characteristics:

  • CPU: 7.2 GHZ / 32 Cores
  • HDD: 512 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Graphics: 3D / Full HD 1080p + 8 HDMI Ports

You can buy one for about $516.

Introduction

Raspberry Pi 2 is a single-board computer that allows us to create a lot interesting projects by programming this board to do the specific tasks with a suitable price. This board is created by Raspberry Pi Foundation to support the teaching of computer science around the world, and to promote the open hardware technology. We will discuss together the method of creating a simple cloud server with Raspberry Pi 2. This cheaper server will allow the people who are connected to the same network to store and share their files together on the cloud in a secure way. On the other hand, we will use OwnCloud script, which is a free and open source file sharing software. Therefore, our project will be a combination of an open hardware and an open source software to introduce what is called now the Open Cloud Technology. I believe that the Open Hardware technology can improve the creativity of the computer science students .

Building the server

Requirements :

To build this simple server we need :

Hardware :

  • 8 x Raspberry Pi 2
  • 1 x Switches 8 Ethernet Ports
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Hubs ( 2 x 4 Ports )
  • 8 x SD Cards ( 8 x 64GB )
  • 8 x Power cables ( Micro USB )
  • 10 x Networking Cables

Software :

  • OS : Raspbian OS
  • Apps :
    • Win32-disk Imager
    • MPICH sources
    • MPI4PY

The challenge of this project is how to combine of 8 Raspberry Pi that each one has the following technical characteristics:

  • 900 MHz Quad-Core ARM Cortex A7 CPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 4 USB ports
  • 40 GPIO pins
  • Full HDMI port
  • Ethernet port
  • 3.5 mm audio jack and composite video
  • Camera interface (CSI)
  • Display interface (DSI)
  • MicroSD card slot
  • BroadCom VideoCore IV 3D graphics core

So if we combine only 8 Raspberries, we will have a server which has these characteristics :

  • CPU : 7.2 Ghz / 32 Cores
  • HDD : 512 GB
  • RAM : 8 GB
  • Graphics : 3D / Full HD 1080p + 8 HDMI Ports.

Install and Configure Raspbian OS in the First board (Pi01) :

In this step, we will install and configure the Raspbian OS on the Raspberry Pi 2. First, we should write in each MicroSD card the number of the Raspberry Pi 2 ( Pi01, Pi02, Pi03, …) to organize our work. Take the MicroSD card (Pi01) and connect it to your laptop. After that, download Raspbian OS from this link

Download Raspbian OS and Win32-Disk Imager by filling out the form below:

After connecting your MicroSD card (Pi01), select it, click browse, and select your Raspbian image then click Write.

For more details you can read this documentation by Raspberry Pi Foundation :

For Windows : Windows Documentation

For Mac : Mac Documentation

Once the burning of Raspbian OS image finished, connect the MicroSD card to your Raspberry Pi (Pi01) this board will control the other boards to create a parallel processing system. Then, connect power cable, keyboard, mouse and Ethernet cable. You will see this screen below:

Figure 1 Raspberry Pi Configuration Screen

If not, try to type sudo raspbi-config . After that, configure the expand file system, overlock the Raspberry Pi to 900 Mhz, change the hostname to Pi01, split the memory to 16 MB graphics, and enable the SSH mode to allow us to control the board via another laptop ( in the same network). Before you reboot the board, enable the auto login by typing at the command line sudo nano /etc/inittab to edit the inittab file. Find this line #1:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty –noclear 38400 tty1 and comment out it by deleting ‘#’, and add this line in beneath it 1:2345:respawn:/bin/login -f pi tty1 </dev/tty1 >/dev/tty1 2>&1 . Now, you can reboot your board.

Configure the MPICH :

MPICH is an open source software that allows to us to create a multi-processing communication between computers in a parallel way. You can install this software by following these directions.

(Download mpich-3.1.tar.gz because it is the stable version)

  • tar xfz mpich-3.1.tar.gz ( Decompress the package )
  • sudo mkdir /home/rpimpi/ ( Create a directory which name is rpimpi in the home folder / You need the root permissions )
  • sudo mkdir /home/rpimpi/mpi-install (Create a directory which name is mpi-install in /Home/rpmi // You need the root permissions )
  • mkdir /home/pi/mpi-build (Create a directory which name is mpi-build in /home/pi/ )
  • cd /home/pi/mpi-build ( Open this directory)
  • sudo apt-get install gfortran ( Install GNU gfortran compiler package )
  • sudo /home/pi/mpich3/mpich-3.1/configure-

prefix=/home/rpimpi/mpi-install (Configure the build )

  • sudo make ( Determine which part of the program must be recompiled )
  • sudo make install ( Execute the MakeFile )
  • nano .bashrc
    • PATH=$PATH:/home/rpimpi/mpi-install/bin

    (Add the MPI to the BASHRC boot file )

  • sudo reboot (Reboot the device)
  • mkdir mpi-testing ( Create this directory to test that MPI is working for a single node )
  • cd ~ ( Change directory and Go to /home)
  • cd mpi-testing ( open this directory )
  • ifconfig ( Your IP will be like : 192.168.1.* )
  • nano machinefile ( Add your IP to it : 192.168.1.* ) ( Edit machinefile)
  • mpiexec -f machinefile -n 1 hostname ( Test of MPI)

If the console displayed raspberry pithe MPI is working.

Install and Configure MPI4PY :

We installed gfortran a C compiler, and we know that Raspberry Pi is a python coding environment, so we should install MPI4PY package to compile *.py files. You can follow these steps to install and configure MPI4PY :

(Download MPI4PY package)

  • tar -zxf mpi4py-1.3.1 ( Decompress MPI4PY package )
  • cd mpi4py-1.3.1 ( Open mpi4py-1.3.1 folder )
  • python setup.py build ( Build the setup.py file )
  • python setup.py install ( Execute the setup.py file)
  • export PYTHONPATH=/home/pi/mpi4py-1.3.1 ( Make PYTHONPATH variable )
  • mpiexec -n 5 python demo/helloworld.py ( Test if MPI works for Python )

Install and Configure Raspbian OS on the other boards :

After finishing this procedure, we will have another image of the Raspbian OS which is configured to be able to use it in the other boards ( Its size is greater than the original image). So we will clone this image to all the other MicroSD cards ( Pi02,P03,Pi04,….,Pi08).

We will use the same method for all the boards. First, you should turn off the MicroSD card from the first Raspberry Pi by taping:

  • sudo poweroff

Then, connect the other MicroSD card (Pi02) in your laptop, and burn the new Raspbian image in it using Win32-Disk Imager (like in the previous steps), and repeat that for all of the MicroSD card (Pi03, Pi04… Pi08). After that, you should install nmap to control your network by typing in the terminal:

  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install nmap

Before we continue, you should connect all the boards to the router and the power, and insert the MicroSD cards in each one. In order to configure the network status of each Raspberry Pi, you should determine your internal IP by typing:

  • ifconfig
  • sudo nmap -sn 192.168.1.* (Scan subnet for the boards on the network)

We should first connect to all the boards with ssh protocol and do the same configuration listed in chapter 1.2 (The Raspberry Configuration Screen) and change the hostname to Pi0* (the appropriate value) using these commands.

You will configure all these Raspberry Pi’s from Pi01.

  • Pi02
    • ssh pi@192.168.1.3
    • sudo raspi-config
  • Pi03
    • ssh pi@192.168.1.4
    • sudo raspi-config
  • Pi04
    • ssh pi@192.168.1.5
    • sudo raspi-config
  • Pi05
    • ssh pi@192.168.1.6
    • sudo raspi-config
  • Pi06
    • ssh pi@192.168.1.7
    • sudo raspi-config
  • Pi07
    • ssh pi@192.168.1.8
    • sudo raspi-config
  • Pi08
    • ssh pi@192.168.1.9
    • sudo raspi-config
  • mpiexec -n 1 hostname (Run the test file)
  • mkdir mpi_test ( Create a test directory)
  • cd mpi_test (Open the test directory)
  • nano machinefile ( Create the machinefile file to allow to the MPI to read them)
    • 192.168.1.2 (Pi01)
    • 192.168.1.3 (Pi02)
    • 192.168.1.4 (Pi03)
    • 192.168.1.5 (Pi04)
    • 192.168.1.6 (Pi05)
    • 192.168.1.7 (Pi06)
    • 192.168.1.8 (Pi07)
    • 192.168.1.9 (Pi08)
  • mpiexec -f machinefile -n 8 hostname (To test that everything is working)

Unfortunately, you will see that only Pi01 works because we don’t have the permissions to write and read the other boards. In order to solve this problem, we should create authentication keys by following the commands below.

  • This step will allow you to add the public-private keys to the boards :
    • PI01
      • ssh-keygen (Generate a new key and save it in /home/pi/.ssh/id_rsa without PASSWORD)
      • cd ~
      • cd .ssh (Open .ssh directory)
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi01 (Copy the key to a new file called pi01)
      • ssh pi@192.168.1.3 (Connect to Pi02 and do the same thing by following the commands below)
    • PI02
      • ssh-keygen
      • cd .ssh
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi02
      • scp 192.168.1.2:/home/pi/.ssh/pi01 .
      • cat pi01 >> authorized_keys
      • exit
      • ssh pi@192.168.1.4
    • PI03
      • ssh-keygen
      • cd .ssh
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi03
      • scp 192.168.1.2:/home/pi/.ssh/pi01 .
      • cat pi01 >> authorized_keys
      • exit
      • ssh pi@192.168.1.5
    • PI04
      • ssh-keygen
      • cd .ssh
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi04
      • scp 192.168.1.2:/home/pi/.ssh/pi01 .
      • cat pi01 >> authorized_keys
      • exit
      • ssh pi@192.168.1.6
    • PI05
      • ssh-keygen
      • cd .ssh
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi05
      • scp 192.168.1.2:/home/pi/.ssh/pi01 .
      • cat pi01 >> authorized_keys
      • exit
      • ssh pi@192.168.1.7
    • PI06
      • ssh-keygen
      • cd .ssh
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi06
      • scp 192.168.1.2:/home/pi/.ssh/pi01 .
      • cat pi01 >> authorized_keys
      • exit
      • ssh pi@192.168.1.8
    • PI07
      • ssh-keygen
      • cd .ssh
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi07
      • scp 192.168.1.2:/home/pi/.ssh/pi01 .
      • cat pi01 >> authorized_keys
      • exit
      • ssh pi@192.168.1.9
    • PI08
      • ssh-keygen
      • cd .ssh
      • cp id_rsa.pub pi08
      • scp 192.168.1.2:/home/pi/.ssh/pi01 .
      • cat pi01 >> authorized_keys
      • exit
    • We are in PI01: Add the other boards to the authorized_keys list :
      • scp 192.168.1.3:/home/pi/.ssh/pi02
      • cat pi02 >> authorized_keys
      • scp 192.168.1.4:/home/pi/.ssh/pi03
      • cat pi03 >> authorized_keys
      • scp 192.168.1.5:/home/pi/.ssh/pi04
      • cat pi04 >> authorized_keys
      • scp 192.168.1.6:/home/pi/.ssh/pi05
      • cat pi05 >> authorized_keys
      • scp 192.168.1.7:/home/pi/.ssh/pi06
      • cat pi06 >> authorized_keys
      • scp 192.168.1.8:/home/pi/.ssh/pi07
        cat pi07 >> authorized_keys
      • scp 192.168.1.9:/home/pi/.ssh/pi08
      • cat pi08 >> authorized_keys

Configure your File Sharing Cloud Server :

Download the needed packages :

After we built our server, we will work on Pi01 because it controls all the other boards. First, we should give it a static internal IP. (As mentioned before, the IP of Pi01 is: 192.168.1.2 )

Follow these directions to give it a static IP :

  • sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces (Edit the interfaces file)

Figure 2 /etc/network/interfaces file

Then, save, exit the file and restart the networking to apply the new configurations.

  • sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

After that, we check that our OS is updated.

  • sudo apt-get update

After we finish these steps, we will install :

  • Apache with SSL ( To make our server a web server and secure the file transfering by SSL Certificate. The URL of our server will be : https://192.168.1.2/ )
  • PHP5 ( To configure our server to read and host .php file )
  • PHP5 APC ( To increase to speed of the page loading )
  • sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 php5-json php5-gd php5-sqlite curl libcurl3 libcurl4-openssl-dev php5-curl php5-gd php5-cgi php-pear php5-dev build-essential libpcre3-dev php5 libapache2-mod-php5 php-apc gparted

Configure the downloaded packages :

Configure the PHP5 APC :

First, we should install the apc package:

  • sudo pecl install apc
  • sudo nano /etc/php5/cgi/conf.d/apc.ini (Edit the apc.ini file)

Add these lines to the apc.ini file and save it:

extension=apc.so

apc.enabled=1

apc.shm_size=30

Configure the APACHE2 and OPENSSL :

In order to configure the apache, you should first edit the file php.ini.

  • sudo nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

First, try to find upload_max_filesize and post_max_size . Then, change the value to 1024MB to allow the user to upload a file which size is 1GB.

Second, try to find externsion= and put the value to acp.so ( externsion=acp.so ).Save the file and exit.

  • sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default

When this file is opened, we need to change allow over ride to all from none.

  • sudo a2enmod rewrite
  • sudo a2enmod headers
  • sudo openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 1024; sudo openssl rsa -in server.key -out server.key.insecure;sudo openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr;sudo openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey server.key -out server.crt;sudo cp server.crt /etc/ssl/certs;sudo cp server.key /etc/ssl/private;sudo a2enmod ssl;sudo a2ensite default-ssl

( Configure OPENSSL )

  • sudo service apache2 restart ( Restart apache to apply these configurations)

The importance of OPENSSL is that he protect the user from Man in the Middle attacks which allow the attacker to steal the user’s personal data such as the email, password and transferred image in the network by encrypting the ingoing and outgoing connections ( See Figure 3 below ).

Figure 3 Man in the Middle Attacks

Configure the OwnCloud Script :

OwnCloud is an open source web-based script which allows to users to store and share their files between them in the cloud. The important thing about OwnCloud is that it support all devices (as you can see in Figure 4).

Figure 4 How OwnCloud Works

In order to install this script in our server, we should first download its package.

  • wget http://mirrors.owncloud.org/releases/owncloud-4.5.1.tar.bz2
  • sudo tar -xjf owncloud-4.5.1.tar.bz2 (Decompress the package)
  • sudo cp -r owncloud /var/www (Copy the directory to the web root)
  • sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/owncloud/ (Give the webserver permissions to access to OwnCloud directory)
  • sudo nano /var/www/owncloud/.htaccess (Edit the .htaccess file // Do the same thing of php.ini file change the size of upload to 1024MB)

Then, go to your browser and type
https://YOURIPADDRESS/owncloud(For us the IP is : 192.168.1.2)

You will be redirected to the setup main page.

Enter The Admin Username
Enter the Admin Password
Specify the OwnCloud directory location
Select the database system ( In our case SQLite )

As you see in the figure 5 below :

Figure 5 The Configuration Interface of OwnCloud

Conclusion :

To sum up, this cloud was made by a combination of 8 single-computer boards and a file sharing script. As you can see, if we use the Open Hardware Technology well, we can do creative projects at minimum costs. As a result, we made together a simple cloud server that will help companies employers with sharing their files without any risk with :

8 x Raspberry Pi 2 (8 x 35$ = $280)
1 x Switches 8 Ethernet Ports ($25)
2 x USB 2.0 Hubs (2 x 4 Ports) ($10$
8 x SD Cards (8 x 64GB) (8 x $25 = $200)
8 x Power cables (Micro USB) ( Included in Raspberry Pi package )
9 x Networking Cables (Included in Raspberry Pi Package + 1 cable we buy it with $1 )

Total: 280+25+10+200+1 = $516

However, the webservers’ price is: +$2000

References

How Advertisers Communicate with our Unconscious Mind?

Advertising is about targeting the masses. However, it is hard to target adults because they think critically about the products that they want to buy. So, they know if they need the product or not. After several studies that were made on children’s behavior , companies concluded that it is obvious that children is the weakest part of the community. Companies, nowadays, are targeting children. You could guess why?According to the documentary, children are a major force because they push their parents to buy what seems attractive for them even if they do not need the product. They spend over $40 billions of their own money, and they push their parents to spend another $700 billion annually. The documentary compared this budget as an equivalent to the economies of 115 poorest countries combined. So, they are a powerful demographic for marketers. In this paper, we will discuss the fact of targeting children by advertisers, the effect of advertising on children, and the objectification of male and female in the media, especially in TV shows and advertisements.

First, the documentary considers targeting children as an unethical behavior for several reasons. Psychologically speaking, children are easy to get influenced by something because they do not think critically about a product or an advertisement. They just consume what they are receiving from the media. They just make relationships between themselves and their environment. For instance, if children see their friends have a product that they do not own, they will ask their parents to buy it because they get influenced easily. In addition, it is considered as an unethical behavior because companies treat children as a vulnerable target. They care just about the money, so they consider them as objects not as human beings. Moreover, children follow celebrities which means they get influenced by their actions. Children see celebrities as models. So, they always try to behave as their models. Companies use celebrities to integrate children in a new culture which aims to increase their benefits. They link celebrities to their products in order to build a strong link between children and products. This link will push parents to buy those products because their children’s heroes use them. In addition, they play their game in the emotional side because parents always try their best to make their children happy. We can say that it is obvious that companies do not consider the ethical part in this process. entertainment programs.

The second main issue is gender discrimination between boys and girls in order to treat them as targets. Entertainment companies such as Disney try to build a culture that makes the difference between girls and boys. They want to have boys’ culture separated from girls’ culture. This new industrialized culture aims to link boys with the power. Boys cartoons and programs are all about violence and power. On the other hand, they want to link girls to care about their bodies, especially makeups. In those programs, they are transmitting an image about girls as their ultimate goal is looking cute to attract girls. On the other hand they trying to to transmit the fact that a successful boy is the one who attracts many girls. So, entertainments programs are creating gender discriminations which is against the laws and the ethics of media because they are using children’s innocence for their own profit.

To sum up, companies look for increasing their profit no matter if the used way is ethical or not. They target a large and vulnerable population which is children. Advertisements have effects on children’s psychology because they do not have critical thinking skills that will allow them to analyze what they are watching in advertisements and TV shows. In addition, they create gender discrimination culture by separating boys’ culture from girls one in order to create two different markets to increase their profit. Those actions raised urgent questions about the application of ethics in advertisements, especially the ones that involves children.

Image Copyright: Cargo Collective  http://payload196.cargocollective.com/1/9/315337/6235132/art_portrait_of_the_human_mind_905.jpg

A short discussion with my Hebrew friend

Since the first era of the social sciences with Ibn Khaldun in the 14th century, culture was a central topic because it involves the study of groups of people. As defined by Hofstede G., “It is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. It is what makes a human being belong to a group” (Hofstede 7). According to an article published by the University of Washington, babies begin to learn language while in the womb. They listen to what their mothers say in order to build a linguistic system which determines their mother tongue after birth. In addition, they start learning the other aspects of their parent’s culture starting their first hours in life. They begin the adventure of discovering what is around them by observing how people behave. By observing, they start to build their own experiences based on what their parents tell them, what they see in their families, and what they observe in the global environment. So, human beings are what they learned from what is around them. One of the important aspect that varies from a culture to another is accepting the other. The other in this case may mean a person, a group, or a culture that is different than yours.
In this interview, I compared how the Islamic culture differs from the Jewish one. I took some aspects such as dress code, marriage, and way of life which can be of a different religion, gender or ethnicity. And I asked a Jewish person about how she sees them. I wanted to experience the cultural relativism which is how people react towards a different environment and based on what they judge them to be superior or inferior than their own culture. On the other hand, I wanted to test my abilities to deal with a person who is literally different than me in ethnicity, religion, and gender. In addition to that, I wanted to discover a culture that is transmitted to us as a monster that we should not talk with or about. Even if they are a part of the Moroccan culture for a long period ago.

    First, dress code in the Jewish culture has some strict aspects. For instance, it is prohibited to wear a garment that consists of wool and linen. In addition, it is prohibited for a man to wear a women’s garment and vice versa. However, the priests are the main dressing aspect that is discussed in details in the Torah because it represents a reminder to the Jew to stick to what is written in the Torah. I found an interesting fact about the dressing code in Jewish culture which reflects the religious identification, social status, and the emotional state. For instance, a married Jewish woman must cover her hair to show to outsiders that she is no longer single. In overall, there is a law that governs covering the body, but it is more strict with women than men. Another interesting fact is that women cannot wear pants because they are strictly prohibited. Instead, they can wear long skirts, but it is prohibited to wear tights even if the legs are seen. All these aspects depends on what Jewish group Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform the Jew belongs to. However, they are influenced now by the other culture. Globalization brought the change in Jewish culture by changing some traditional aspects in the dressing mode. For instance, women start wearing pants, which was prohibited in the traditional dress code. At this point, the dress code of the Islamic culture is stricter, but it does not reflect the personal or social status.

     Second, marriage in the Jewish culture has some special conditions that surprised me when I compared them with the Islamic conditions. Jewish culture does not allow the intermarriages in any directions. This point led us to talk about both religious aspects. In Judaism, the mother is the central part of the family because if she is Jewish, her children will be Jews. So, if a Jew marries a woman from another religion, their children will not be necessary Jews. They might follow their mother’s religion. This fact explains why the intermarriage is not allowed. In addition, Judaism believes in the concept of soul mates which means that there exists another part of the Jew somewhere else with the same religion. Concerning the divorce, the man has the divorce a woman for any reason or no reason, but in the traditional Jewish law, the woman is not allowed to start a divorce process. In overall, it is considered an unfortunate necessity which is a common point between the Islamic and Jewish culture.
Finally, the ways of life differ from my culture and the Jewish culture in many levels. For instance, some Jewish groups think that they should not stay in one place for the lifetime because God sent them to be around the Earth. At this point, I discovered a new thing which is that some Jewish groups are against making Israel a state because building it contradicts about their mission that God assigned to them on Earth. In addition, I learned that the extremism has no religion because there are some extremist groups who represent Judaism and kill innocents everywhere. I tried to compare it with the extremist groups who represent Islam and kill innocents around the globe. And I found that these extremist group should not be linked to a religion because they represent themselves, not the religion.
To sum up, I learned new things by comparing my culture to the Jewish culture. First, the communication is the key. We should not have per-judgments before we really talk and interact with the other. Second, there are always good people and bad people in every religion, and we should not link the bad actions of people who think that they belong to a religion to the religion itself. We should make a difference between religion and people who believe in it. Finally, extremism is a mainly a problem of lack of communication and ability of accepting the difference.

References

Fishbane, Simcha. The Impact Of Culture And Cultures Upon Jewish Customs And Rituals :  Collected Essays. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2016. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 17 Sept. 2016.

Hofstede, Geert. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw Hill, 1997.

Leaman, Oliver. Judaism : An Introduction. London: I.B.Tauris, 2011. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 17 Sept. 2016.

Li & Karakowsky. Do We See Eye-to-Eye? Implications of Cultural Differences for

Cross-Cultural Management Research and Practice. The Journal of Psychology 2001.

McElroy, Molly. “While in Womb, Babies Begin Learning Language from Their Mothers.” UWToday. University of Washington, 2 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.

Image Copyright: Broken childhood, Mikayel Harutyunyan.

Hello, World!

Hello,

I am Ahmed Lekssays. I am a student. This is my first post here. I hope you will enjoy my learning adventures. I am happy because you are reading these lines. I will be sharing what I learn in my everyday life. I will be sharing my thoughts about different topics as well. So, don’t be surprised if you read about algorithms and communication theories in the same blog. And all what is written in this blog is originally written by me. I will be referring to any foreign idea or image in references and copyrights. This blog represents me as a person and represent my vision in several topics.

Looking forward to see you! Don’t forget to share code, love, and knowledge!