Health Check: Mono,Too much monkey business?
At the turn of this decade Miguel de Icaza was the unblemished hero of the free software movement and chief architect and co-creator, with Federica Mena, of the GNOME project, which had come into being as the free software response to KDE. Now de Icaza is regarded with suspicion because of his support for Mono. What happened to bring about this change?
KDE was the original custom desktop environment for Linux, give or take a dozen or three window managers. As of 1998, the K(ool) Desktop Environment was the first comprehensive integrated desktop environment for Linux, but KDE had a problem. It was based on the framework of Trolltech's Qt libraries which weren't available under a free software license.
Proponents and stooges
de Icaza hadn't come to GNOME from nowhere. He was the creator of Gnumeric and the Midnight Commander file manager, and had contributed to a number of Linux kernel developments, including the SPARC port, software RAID development and the SGI kernel enhancements. His achievements in the cause of free software didn't go without honour.
de Icaza was nominated one of Time Magazine's Innovators for the New Century in September 2000. In 1999, he received the Free Software Foundation's Award for the Advancement of Free Software for "his leadership and work on the GNOME Project", and in the same year he received MIT Technology Review's Innovator of the Year Award with an accolade by Richard Stallman, who noted that de Icaza was "not only a capable software designer, but an idealistic and determined campaigner for computer users' freedom."
de Icaza has a considerable history as a free software developer, which makes his current depiction as a stooge for Microsoft, and his own combative stance as a proponent of .NET, troubling to many.