Sabily and its Use
Sabily is an “Islamized” version of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is itself a distribution of linux serving as an operating system that can be installed on your computer just like Microsoft Windows. An important difference between Windows and Linux distros is that (almost) all Linux versions are free and open-source while Windows isn’t.
Linux distributions do not support (.exe) files; however, there is a project called Wine that is continuously being improved allowing support for (.exe) files in Linux distros.
Sabily is just a modified version of Ubuntu customized to have an Islaamic look and feel, and packed with Islaamic and educational software. You can use Sabily as an independent operating system on your computer instead of Windows.
The design is very beautiful. All the major interface elements, from the login screen and the pointer to the desktop environment, have been “Islamized”.
The pointer is trailed with an animation displaying, successively, “سبحان الله”, “الحمد لله”, “لا إله إلا الله”, and “الله أكبر”, meaning “Glory be to Allaah”, “All Praise is due to Allaah”, “There is no god except Allaah”, “Allaah is Greatest”, respectively. The login screen, as seen on the right, is very neat and shows the Shahaadah (testimony of faith) above the login form.
A beautiful green wallpaper with an Islaamic calligraphy is set as the desktop background. The screensaver is gorgeous. It is basically a picture slideshow displaying (the English interpretation of) a verse of the Qur’aan related to the image. Thus, the overall design is very good and gives an Islaamic feel to a certain degree.
Sabily offers all the applications that you need for regular computer tasks. We can divide the type of applications into three: general, educational, and Islaamic applications.
The general applications include everything you need as an average computer user. These include:
- OpenOffice.org (a free open-source alternative to Microsoft Office)
- Photo editing tools like GIMP (free open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop), F-Spot Photo Manager, Inkscape (vector graphics editor), Scribus (publishing software), and many others
- Internet software including Firefox, Evolution Mail, Pidgin Internet Messenger, Transmission BitTorrent Client, and Remote Desktop Viewer
- Multimedia tools like VLC Media Player, a sound recorder, and a movie player
- System tools like a disk burner, a virus scanner, and a web filter (parental control software)
The educational applications include a software suite for children, a periodic table, a math expression solver, plotting and geometric constructions software, touch-typing tutor, vocabulary learning, and many many others. Though not really educational, there is also an entire section for games.
The Islaamic applications are:
- Zekr (powerful Qur’aan application with many features, including verse by verse recitations to played either loaded from the online service (in the mini version), or offline (in the full version); this software is also available for Windows)
- Othman Mushaf
- Thwab (for reading books in .bok format used by al-Mawsoo’ah ash-Shaamila)
- Monajat (displays popup supplications periodically)
- Minbar Prayer Times
- Hijra Applet (Hijri calendar)
Download and Installation
Sabily can be download by a torrent (recommended) or by direct link (HTTP). You also choose whether to download the full version with recitations, the full version without recitations or the small version. The full version (1.4 GB) has all the software included in it. The one with the recitations (2.8 GB) also offers offline Qur’aan recitations for the Zekr application. The small version (935 MB) mainly contains the Islaamic applications. To choose the version and the method of download, visit the Download page. Here is the torrent link for the full version without the recitations (if you don’t have a torrent software, try μTorrent):
After the download is complete you will have an (.iso) file in the download location. If you want to try Sabily as an independent operating system on your machine, burn this (.iso) file onto a disk using any burner (e.g. InfraRecorder). Remember to choose the option (Burn an ISO File) because if you burn the (.iso) file onto the disk as a data disk, it won’t work. The (.iso) file is like a zip archive only that it does not compress the files within it. After you burn the disk, place it in the disk drive of your computer and restart, boot from the disk and you will be presented with the welcome screen. Now you can either choose to try the disk without any changes to your hard disk (recommended before installing to make sure it works), or you can directly install Sabily onto your machine. The installation screens are straightforward and understandable. Do take note that in the step where you choose the location to install Sabily, the entire hard disk is chosen as default. This means that everything on your hard disk will be erased. If you don’t want that, choose the second option and specify a drive on your disk instead of the entire disk.
If you don’t want to run Sabily as an independent OS on your system, you can use a virtualization software. VirtualBox is an excellent freeware for this purpose. The benefit of this type of installation is that you can access the OS without restarting your main OS. The cost is that you need a lot of free RAM, disk space, and memory.
Finally, I would recommend this operating system for Muslim children. It is a nice (Islaamic) way to get them acquainted with the computer. I would also recommend it to the average computer user who does not have a special need for Windows. May Allaah reward the developers and purify their intentions for His sake.