Editorial AfreedIslam

Published on February 21st, 2014 | by Sunit Nandi

7

Unmasked: Afreed Islam, Prodigy behind ReVoBook and ReVo IX OS

Introduction

Being an avid web surfer and a facebook user (read ‘addict’), it’s hard to not come across the news about Afreed Islam. If you’ve been keeping track of tech news in India, you surely have heard his name from one of the many many magazines or newspapers that have featured him. The 16 year old prodigy who will be appearing for his board exams from March 3rd this year is said to have invented a new kind of microchip that has no moving parts and can be used to replace a typical hard disk drive as the primary storage unit. He is also said to have launched a hardware prototype of his invention, which is an ultrabook dubbed as the ‘ReVoBook.’ Further, his ReVoBook comes packed in with a new independently written operating system called ‘Revo IX’.

But of course, we’ve all heard that story. We won’t be repeating it here to become just another article describing his success. If you missed his interview, you can always check it out here:



 

Instead, we’ll have a critical look at this new invention. Scouring through the comments in pages like Digit and sites like The Hindu, we believe that this issue needs to be looked into a bit more critically.

Invention and Claims

Firstly, without looking into too deep, let’s state out this invention properly from the press release. This invention seems to have two components to it:

  1. The Microchip: A chip said to replace the hard disk drive, which is claimed to be 4x faster than a normal hard disk. It’s advantages are said to be that it has no moving parts and can store data upto 100-200 years.
  2. The Revo IX Operating System: An independently written operating system which powers the ReVoBook prototype. It is said to be able to run Windows, Mac and Linux applications together. And also claims to have the features of many operating systems put together in one.

A Critical View of the Microchip

Let’s start with the microchip. We think anyone who has kept up with technology can criticize this one. The answer is Solid State Drives or SSDs. We believe that an ‘invention’ should typically be unique, novel and strive to improve what already exists. However, we fail to actually see this as an invention. The claims of the microchip having no moving parts is nothing new either. SSDs were made to have no moving parts either. And they replace hard disks as well. Not to mention they are way faster. So, it’s actually hard to call this an ‘invention’.

Personally, we won’t call it an invention. Forget SSDs, we’ve all seen Pen Drives. It has no moving parts, it’s silent and it can store data. One can just as well install a Linux distro such as Debian or Mint to a pen drive and use it.

A Critical View of the Operating System

Anyway, moving on to the second point: The Revo IX Operating System. The amount of information released about this OS in the press release is extremely minimal. The facts we know for sure from media alone: The OS can run both Linux and Windows applications and it claims to be independently written.

As far as running both Linux and Windows applications go, we can make use of software such as Wine (for Linux-based OS) and andLinux (for Windows). Although not all applications will run this way, it can be used fairly well upto a certain degree. But of course, one can always argue that his OS may not be running Wine and maybe he came out with something new. Well, perhaps. Or, perhaps not. Read on.

Coming down to the topic of the OS being written independently, we have big doubts on this one. These doubts have already been confirmed by a different team but we’ll get on that one soon. First, let’s analyze what we have from the press release. We know from the release that it is independently written. But it’s actually extremely hard to believe. We sincerely doubt if a 16 year old can come up with an independently written OS in such a short time. It would involve writing everything from the bootloader to start-up scripts to filesystems to drivers to kernel and what not. Independently-written OS is a HUGE claim.

Well of course, one can counter argue that maybe he REALLY is a genius who actually did that. And yes, that’s a fairly valid and well-placed argument. We honestly don’t have a comeback against that.

wowmoron’s Findings

But someone else does. The team at wowmoron has actually gone pretty deep with their research regarding this incident (and even made a very detailed and sarcastic post about it) and have presented us with this photo of prodigy Afreed Islam and his ReVoBook published in The Hindu.

Afreed Islam and ReVoBook

If you observe closely, you can see that the ReVoBook is actually running a Plasma Desktop from KDE. The search bar and icon tooltips are obvious giveaways. The button at the right top corner is actually a menu that is used to customize the appearance of the Plasma Desktop. It’s KDE any way you look at it.

So, what does this mean? Well, firstly his RevoBook uses KDE. This means he didn’t code all the components of his ‘independently written OS’. KDE is obviously not written by him, let’s not even argue here. But this also means that he must be using one of the known kernels, namely, Linux, Unix or BSD. Again, let’s not kid ourselves by calling him the creator of those kernels because he is not. So, this photo confirms that he didn’t write the graphical interface of his OS by himself and also more importantly, it confirms that his OS uses a kernel already made by someone else before.

If that is the case, this also means that he must be using Wine (or something similar) to run the Windows packages. If all these components are not written by him, we think it’s plain wrong to claim the OS to be independently-written.

A link to the actual article by wowmoron has been posted at the end of the post. The inspiration to actually write this post comes up from wowmoron as well. Their findings also include numerous inconsistencies in the patent document and a photo comment thread on the actual inventor’s profile which goes ahead to reveal a lot of details about this invention as well as the inventor’s knowledge (or lack thereof) and of course, more inconsistencies. They have also revealed how the patent has actually not been filed for examination so far. Makes us a little more than just suspicious.

Patent

Media

No surprises here. Feed them some leftover bread and they’ll brag about it as pizza.

The moment this news hit the local channels, it has literally exploded. It propagated through local news channels to newspapers to even Digit and EFY Times. And this has again been pointed out by the wowmoron post. Surprisingly, none of these reputed and established media houses tried to verify these facts. It’s just the same press release being passed from one to another.

Even Digit took it from The Hindu. No questions were asked, no facts were verified. It’s understandable that regular journalists may not have the adequate resources and expertise to verify these reports but that excuse does not hold true for Digit and EFY. These are supposed to be in the business of bringing people technology news and happenings. They have a staff. They can atleast look a bit into the matter, maybe even send a few emails to the inventor in question.

We’ve seen the comments in Digit’s page about that post. Even the readers of Digit are smart enough to know what’s going on. They’ve stated everything on Digit’s page starting from Wine to SSDs. This is what’s wrong with media today. Trying to serve news that is fueled by emotions, and not backed up by proper facts. Wowmoron is right when they say that the media has been so focused on sensationalizing the fact that he is a 16 year old Indian kid that they have forsaken on trying to verify the story.

But what has happened is in the past. For what’s coming up, we would like to kindly request Digit, EFY and any other magazines or media houses publishing such news and stories to factually verify claims and features before releasing it to the public. News shouldn’t be just baseless stories taken from your neighbor’s newspaper.

Conclusion

To conclude, we have to say that we are a bit disappointed as to how things have turned out. Most of the members of TechnoFAQ are actually from the same city as Afreed Islam and it would have been a thing of great pride and joy if everything turned out right. However, from wowmoron’s report and our personal analysis, it doesn’t seem to be the case. With the harsh arguments backed up with an actual comment thread involving this prodigy, Afreed is going to have a hard time making a comeback.

As promised, you can read the report by the wowmoron team here.

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About the Author

I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.



7 Responses to Unmasked: Afreed Islam, Prodigy behind ReVoBook and ReVo IX OS

  1. Sameer Patel says:

    Sunit nandi-

    You sound like a pessimist. Your judgements are based on what you have heard from media or seen on tv/internet. I am ver sure you have not actually seen, touched or use the invention in discussion. Only losers have such opinion. Your pictures reflects that you are another kid who is trying to snatch someone’s else’s candy with self publicity. Be a man and publish an update after you physically touch the prototype.

    Sameer.

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      I may be a loser, but I’m atleast not stupid enough to call this an ‘invention’. Maybe you would like to put forward your opinion and counter argument in a proper detailed way? Attacking me isn’t going to get you anywhere. I’ve only stated what’s obvious. Refute my claims. I have no shame in accepting defeat.

  2. Joyashish Das says:

    So waht do you call dis?? Mr. Sunit Nandi
    http://www.techtox.co.nr/

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      You already have your answer. So I’ll just copy-paste it here.

      Quoting Aisheng Miso of wowmoron:

      “‘Worthless things’? Please disprove us technically. Did you start a new blog with a free .co.nr domain just for us? We’re honored.

      Edit: I stand corrected. The blog is run by Manash Bhuyan, the Manash Revolv MB guy in the comment thread. Of course, I’m not saying that he is taking any sides. He has our thanks as well. Coming up with a blog just to ‘expose’ a bunch of nobodies is indeed hard. We hope his blog is successful in the future, unlike our free wordpress.com blog.

      Btw, nice article. I have always thought of myself as a nobody, but if someone like you with a lovely .co.nr domain has the time to write about me, I would like to thank you. I hope it brings our little blog a bit more readers.

      Oh and I had a great laugh. But,
      1. What does this have to do with the ‘invention’?
      2. Why does SuperX hold any relevance to this issue?
      3. Please disprove me with technical facts.
      4. All the SuperX team members replied to you with trolls because you came with the same intention of spamming the group. For the first time in the group’s history, they had to delete posts.
      5. I replied to you with a proper solution asking you to use sakis3g. Oh and why don’t you actually use google? MMX dongles have had problems even with Ubuntu and as far as I know, SuperX is derived from it. I would have been more than happy to help an end user who wouldn’t spam a group hoping to collect screenshots to write an article. But go ahead c;
      6. If you think you can disprove this article by attacking SuperX, you can’t. Go ahead, we didn’t even unapprove your comment because we know we are right.
      7. For the record, I personally have no ties with SuperX. I left it due to differences between the team members.

      Did I write this out of jealousy? Yes I did. I’m jealous that someone with money can buy patents, get media attention and make it to national news when he has done nothing new in particular. This is no invention. This is like regressing SSDs to a past. I’m jealous because talented developers I have grown up with, who have taught me to work hard, to code for passion, are getting overshadowed by some kid who copies and pastes his arguments about unix from google.

      Attack SuperX all you want. I’ll be there to watch it. But I DARE YOU, boy. Disprove me technically. Let me see your facts. :)”

      Hope that helps.

  3. Saquib Ahmed says:

    Goodjob Team, in echoing the findings of wowmoron. I tried to ask Afreed a question after his permission, guess what he ran away!!! I feel sorry for the kid, so should everyone else!!

  4. any one interested in developing an OS, Programming language for the next generation of super computers based on micro chips storage systems for my project of Uni-world mobile phone based sales,logistics,delivery and finance system.

    I am looking for the safest, fastest, cheapest and user friendly system based on swift 2 / java for immediate release while developing the future based system from ground up starting from the op, hardware and software looking at the latest inventions and directions for the next 25 years coverage.

    If selected to join the group during the course of interview, work and teamwork capacity I am willing to fund the developers till the end and collectively as a team share the fruits of our labour equally depending on the weight age of their contribution. Once selected you will be coordinating with the Canadian company as co-partners for inventions in the field of Web marketing, transportation, logistics, delivery and financial systems that are unheard of before, safe to our partners and users and has a lot of new out of the box ways to doing business.

    Munawar Sardar
    1405 spring water cres
    Oshawa,
    Ontario
    Canada
    L1K2N4
    Tel: 01-2893853706

    p.s i am looking for the real afreed islam for a new microchip development and operating system for the ultimate use of an web marketeer that is bigger, better, cheaper, faster, reliable and better than the amazons, walmart, ebays and alibaba all put together for the next 25 years.

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