Home > Gnome > Inteview with Miguel De Icaza about GNOME at LinuxJournalInteview with Miguel De Icaza about GNOME at LinuxJournal Eugenia Loli 2003-04-25 Gnome 26 CommentsMiguel De Icaza is the creator of the GNOME desktop environment (among other things). Aleksey Dolya interviews Miguel about the process of creating GNOME and what he’s up to these days.About The Author Eugenia LoliEx-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 26 Comments 2003-04-25 6:04 pm Looks like Miguel’s got his head screwed on right.I always appreciate it when people talk straight about their projects. Miguel didn’t say “KDE sucks ass, GNOME 0wnz”, he simply made a comment that “I’ve heard it uses less memory” and then qualifies it with “well, that’s what I’ve heard”. He concentrates on the good things about GNOME, not what sucks about KDE, and acknowledges his competitors are ahead of them in some ways. Sounds like a good guy who’s in touch with reality.Gotta love “no favorite distro”, though .-Erwos 2003-04-25 6:15 pm After all, isn’t good competition a good driving force for innovation? I think the differences between Gnome and KDE are wonderful. There is definintly room in the community for both (not to mention room for all the WMs out there). 2003-04-25 6:57 pm We’ve been waiting forever for the new Ximian!! Is it ever going to come out???The last Ximian was great in its day, but its now quite dated, and I am afraid the new one would already be old by the time it finally makes it. Geez! 2003-04-25 7:56 pm Is gnome 2003-04-25 8:03 pm Is gnome continue to be ompetitive, when a DE like B.E.os will be ready ?Not sure, gnome still not have a great API and is pretty slow (like kde). B.E.OS or Gnustep represent the futur in a idealist world. 2003-04-25 9:09 pm What I like about Miguel is that he is a guy with priorities that are located on this Earth, contrary to Richard Stallman. Both of them are working with a similar enviroment, but with different goals: Miguel puts the “user experience” on the front of everything, while Stallman puts “software freedom”.I think my “freedoms” are pretty well defined in the Constitution of my country. Stallman should realise that “free as in free speech” software is not a “right” to anyone. It’s a great thing that such software exists, but I think Stallman should really direct his zealous energy towards things like world hunger and lack of drinkable water, which are obviously more important to mankind.As for me, if a particular piece of free software does the job better than anything else out there, I will use it. If a closed-source alternative is better suited for the task, I will use it instead, as long as it comes with an acceptable EULA. Choice and freedom are great things, too bad Stallman attempts to restrict them by trying to make everyone use “free as in free speech” software, even if it is vastly inferior to a non-free alternative. 2003-04-25 9:55 pm I like Miguel. He just seems like a really down to earth guy. He speaks intelligently about gnome, mono, and ximian.For the record, when I first heard about mono, I really didn’t see the point of it, but after reading several interviews and articles Miguel has convinced me. It is completely worthwhile, and I believe it will be helpful for the Linux community. 2003-04-25 10:00 pm > It is completely worthwhile,indeed it is. what would be even more worthwhile is if other languages (perl/python) change to use the .net VM. 2003-04-25 10:36 pm I think I like the idea of the mono and the dotnet framework. Mind you, I am not absolutely positive about dot net and I am not ready to go burn the boats, just yet. But, I do think with time there is some merit to mono.This is potentially a binary cross platform environment, that is friendly to proprietary software developers. Potentialy if ported, I could, use a version of Autocad developed for windows on a sparc or ppc using linux, all without the use of wine, or existing crossplatform api’s, with their respective licensing issues, or the lsb. not bad eh? 2003-04-25 11:26 pm Well i guess him not using kde at all is okay…but are there not some features he might like to put in his own software? GNOME is great. I love open source…but i think it would be very cool if projects started doing more polls/open suggestion boxes where people could say what they want in a project. People who dont want to code but really care about the evolution of the project. That would be sweet. 2003-04-26 12:54 am Well i guess him not using kde at all is okay…but are there not some features he might like to put in his own software?I haven’t used both enough yet to really form an opinion of which I like more, but I know one thing – if Gnome could incorporate a KDE-like file selector dialog, that would kick ass 2003-04-26 1:21 am Without Stallman’s GPL and gpl’d gnu tools Linux would notbe where it is today.You can diss him all you want, but if there is ever a Mt.Rushmore for Linux his is the first face that gets carved.If Jefferson & Hamilton were around today, they would probably written off as cranks too. 2003-04-26 3:32 am GNOME=linux neither MONO=linux or just runs on linux. SOme of the issues go beyond just the linux community. What about BSDs, Hurd, etc ? I wish Ximian developed their version of Gnome for these platforms too. Unfortunately some people are just too obsessed with Linux, and probably much so with De Icaza. 2003-04-26 3:42 am This is potentially a binary cross platform environment, that is friendly to proprietary software developers. Potentialy if ported, I could, use a version of Autocad developed for windows on a sparc or ppc using linux, all without the use of wine, or existing crossplatform api’s, with their respective licensing issues, or the lsb. not bad eh?It would be nice if mono reached that level of compatibility with .net; however, I don’t really know that this will ever be the case. I do see mono as being a simplified development tool that can increase productivity of linux developers. This means more linux software that works better produced faster. That is good not just for the mono team, but also for the entire linux community.If cross-platform binary compatibility happens, all the better. 2003-04-26 3:45 am GNOME=linux neither MONO=linux or just runs on linux. SOme of the issues go beyond just the linux community. What about BSDs, Hurd, etc ? I wish Ximian developed their version of Gnome for these platforms too. Unfortunately some people are just too obsessed with Linux, and probably much so with De Icaza.What you have said makes absolutely no sense. All you say is that “these issues” go beyond linux.First of all, mono works on freebsd.Secondly if it didn’t work on anything else would that be a problem? I mean, I agree with cross platform programming 100%, but everyone has the right to make what they want. I don’t see why it is worth picking on someone who chooses not to write freebsd software.Finally, nobody is “too obsessed with linux”. People tend to develop and focus on the platform they use. There is a reason you don’t see me writing OSX software. You know why that is? I don’t use it. Manuel uses linux. If his programs compile BSD, fantastic. Otherwise, how about a BSD user does the work to get it there? 2003-04-26 3:46 am I’d have to agree, men like Linus, Miguel, and Larry Wall, are much better figureheads than Stallman for the free/open source movement. They have far more appealing personalities. I can’t help but like them, the more interviews I read by them. In addition, they are not zealots that come off as total lunatics. Yes Stallman has done us all a great service, but honestly, what does he do for us now? Sure he wrote some very core parts of the GNU toolchain, but honestly, what TRULY USEFUL things does he do for us now? Linus, Miguel, and Larry all continue to make USEFUL code contributions, while Stallman chases windmills with his ludicrous idealism.I once interviewed him over e-mail for a report I was doing, and he was downright ANAL about how questions were phrased. I actually had to revise my interview questions 3 times before he would provide any answers to them. He essentially refused to answer any questions about open source as a general concept, instead sticking to the narrowest definition of it possible.In addition, it is very confusing that “free” software is actually less free than some “non-free” open source software. Honestly, what is more free in the common sense of the word free: the BSDs or Linux?Just some thoughts to ponder. Sorry about the rant.-bytes256 2003-04-26 4:20 am “I haven’t used both enough yet to really form an opinion of which I like more, but I know one thing – if Gnome could incorporate a KDE-like file selector dialog, that would kick ass ”No! I want a better one. Re: “B.E.OS”Well show me a faster, more efficient, just as powerful and easier to program desktop environment and I will happily switch to it. But so far all this talk is hypothetical and I believe that GNOME is on the right track. It really needs to perform better in many areas… But it’s not unacceptable bad and it still _can_ be improved.Mono is the development plattform I’m most looking forward to. Recently I came to the conclusion that plattform dependency is a fallacy. “Integration” is just an excuse for slacking on open standards, not a good reason to force everything to be based on one plattform.In Windows, I use Mozilla/Phoenix, jEdit and Gaim happily without having integration trouble. So why the heck shouldn’t I be able use Mozilla/Phoenix, jEdit and Gaim or Kopete in KDE or GNOME just as well? It’s getting there, luckily. 2003-04-26 4:48 am Well I like Miguel and Linus, but I like Richard M. too. I see no reason why I shouldn’t.Many people this days don’t like people who are a bit crazy or very idealistic. I think that’s a pity. Personally, I’m crazy and idealistic, so this is not a problem for me. Just because RMS sometimes takes it a bit too far doesn’t mean that I can’t like him. Especially because he never does any harm to anyone not disagreeing to him. GPL Software doesn’t do any harm either. How some people come to rediculous conclusions like this is beyond me.In addition, it is very confusing that “free” software is actually less free than some “non-free” open source software. Honestly, what is more free in the common sense of the word free: the BSDs or Linux?What do you mean? BSD is free. Completely free. No question. It is listed as a free software license at both http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.htmland http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.php .So what “non-free” open source software are you talking about?The difference is, that GPL protects your freedom, BSDL doesn’t. The BSD license is a great choice if you don’t care for this protection and that closed source vendors can rip off your work without giving anything back.Saying that RMS somehow “opposes” BSD or its license is nothing but cheap FUD.However, proteced freedom doesn’t make it any less free. That makes no sense. It’s not _more_ free either, just more protected. There is _nothing_ you can’t do with GPL software other than taking away any of this freedom or protection. 2003-04-26 5:49 am “Yes Stallman has done us all a great service, but honestly, what does he do for us now? Sure he wrote some very core parts of the GNU toolchain, but honestly, what TRULY USEFUL things does he do for us now?”Damn, brother, are you ever lost. You might as well inquire what use the American constitution is to present day America. Stallman was the spearhead of the gcc revolution…something os radical in his day are ours it has not been replicated.Creating a C compilers – never mind a compiler that also manages C++, Java, and so many other languages I have not experience with – was the core of creating that which we all use: GNU/Linux.No, I don’t align myself with RMS in every capacity, but to say “what is he worth” is so frightenly moronic I have to question why I read OsNews. 2003-04-26 6:24 am I’m surprised at how little people think of idealists and ideolouges like Stallman. There is more to life than pragmatism and hard results. I can understand why corporations might have a “bottom line” point of view, but individuals? Software has the potential to be as important as the scientific advancements of the 1800’s. It is going to be the dreamers like Stallman, not the business-like pragmatists, that decide whether the future will be free for everyone, or whether it will be controlled by select corporations that have no interest in the greater good. 2003-04-26 7:04 am Stallman is not the second coming of Jesus. As I have said in previous postings, he has done some incredible work for the community IN THE PAST. The problem is, he no longer produces code, which is truly the fuel of the revolution. He is ranting the same tired old rant that he’s ranted from the beginning of the FSF. Tired dribble, excuse me for removing him from my visionary list, but what new and amazing vision does Stallman have to offer us today?Yes it’s true that Linux would be nowhere without GNU, but honestly, where would GNU be without Linux? The HURD STILL is not done after how many years of development? It’s barely even at a useable state, that depending upon your definition of useable.My point was not to discredit Stallman’s acheivements, but to simply say that he is not ALL THAT in today’s world either. His disdain for important software projects such as the Linux kernel (yes he does DISDAIN the Linux kernel because it is not his baby) and KDE among others really do the community a disservice. Not to mention his conscious decision to muddy the waters by calling restricted software “free” software. The GPL places very important restrictions on software, which are not necessarily bad restrictions, but undeniably restrictions none-the-less.I hope this cleared some things up.-bytes256 2003-04-26 8:58 am I didn’t know the “de” meant that the person is noble. Now I have to call Miguel, errr, Senor Icaza, sir. 2003-04-26 9:10 am Without Stallman’s GPL and gpl’d gnu tools Linux would not Is there any proof that without GPL, Linus wouldn’t create Linus License? And even if Linus did use something non-copyleft, is there any proof that linxu would be nowhere? And without GNU tools, Linus wouldn’t use BSD tools for Linux instead?One thing for sure though, there would be Linux distributions doing what Transgaming did to Wine. (making it propeitary but with additional features not available as free software).Meanwhile, Jago’s point wasn’t on Stallman’s vision, but rather the means to achieve it. Trying to make using non-Free Software unethical doesn’t help. Trying to add functionality that would push users to Free Software works far better than trying to convince programmers earning 5-6 figure salaries that Free Software is ethical, and trying to convince users that lost of functionality and productivity is ethical.In other words, Jago is saying Miguel’s approach is much better than RMS 2003-04-26 9:11 am does anyone else got the feeling the gnome OK button is on the wrong side of the dialog ? 2003-04-26 9:13 am I do see mono as being a simplified development tool that can increase productivity of linux developers.That is nice, but of course, current Linxu developers aren’t interested (otherwise they would have bite on a lot of other things already). What I think it Mono’s best feature and should work on that is that porting .NET software from Windows to Linux would be far easily that without Mono. And if the future all the software is in .NET, especially custom apps, that is an asset. 2003-04-26 6:21 pm I must admit to mixed feelings about Mono. It could be a great platform for Linux software development. Not all applications should be developed in C/C++. Java could be a great platform for client side development, but Java applications just don’t mix well into the desktop.I think it is extrememly unlikely that applications written for Microsofts VM (especially applications from Microsoft) will run under Mono without modification. I doubt complete toolkit compatibility will EVER be possible. “However, even if complete binary compatibility isn’t possible, it will be an advantage for Linux to have a C# platform. There will soon be a lot of skilled C# developers. At a minimum, Mono will be Linux as a platform for these developers. It also provides the ability to write portable applications using cross-platform toolkits (similar to WxWindows).My mixed feelings come from worries about Microsoft’s control of the language. I am particularly concerned about patents that Microsoft has which may cover technologies in Mono. I’m not trying to spread FUD about Mono. The answers Mono have given about these issues make sense, but don’t completely address the concerns.