Miguel de Icaza, Microsoft MVP

Conrad Knauer atheoi at gmail.com
Sat Jan 16 10:08:41 GMT 2010

On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 5:52 PM, Samuel Thurston, III
<sam.thurston at gmail.com> wrote:

>> http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/01/microsoft_names_ex-rival_mvp.html
> While I certainly don't agree with all of Miguel's choices, he's quite
> a guy.  He founded the gnome project... the guy deserves professional
> kudos from an industry giant.

And yet MS didn't give him the MVP for Gnome...

>> Miguel de Icaza is (and really always has been) chasing rainbows.
> I'm not really sure what you mean by this.

He basically has always wanted Microsoft to open source their
projects, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_de_Icaza#Early_software_career

"In summer of 1997, he was interviewed by Microsoft for a job in the
Internet Explorer Unix team (to work on a SPARC port), but lacked the
university degree required to obtain a work H-1B visa. He declared in
an interview that he tried to persuade his interviewers to free the IE
code even before Netscape did with their own browser."

I call it chasing rainbows because no matter how close you think you
get the rainbow always recedes towards the horizon; Microsoft will
never allow real freeing of code (well, as long as Ballmer is in
charge anyway).  Microsoft is getting him to do work that meets their
agenda, despite what he may believe.  Mono is open source, but has
serious liability from a truly free standpoint (e.g.
and entangles us too closely with Microsoft in general.

> He's making another
> language and spec work on a platform it was never intended for.  Do
> you, by the same token, chastize the WINE guys for what they do?

First I am going to quote Mark Shuttleworth:

(12:24:03 PM) jcastro: jcastro: QUESTION: Do you see Wine (and
Windows-compatibilty in general) or native Linux ports as the more
important ingredient in the success of Ubuntu, or do they each play an
important role?
(12:24:18 PM) sabdfl: they both play an important role
(12:24:30 PM) sabdfl: but fundamentally, the free software ecosystem
needs to thrive on its own rules
(12:24:41 PM) sabdfl: it is *different* to the proprietary software universe
(12:24:54 PM) sabdfl: we need to make a success of our own platform on
our own terms
(12:25:08 PM) sabdfl: if Linux is just another way to run Windows
apps, we can't win
(12:25:13 PM) sabdfl: OS/2 tried that

A while back I realized that all proprietary apps could (and should)
basically be thought of as legacy apps since the binaries themselves
don't change; they are static... if this is the case, then what you
want is basically a viewer for them, much like you might want a GIF
file viewer to view some old file on your HD.

Wine is fine for the occasional app a user needs here or there, but if
Ubuntu started including it by default it would be a red flag to me.

> There's less to complain about with respect to what Miguel does.  It's
> not as though mono will ever become part of the core infrastructure of
> a linux distro,

The fact that Mono is installed by default in Ubuntu means that has
already happened.

> and if it does it means two things
> 1) some technology in the windows/silverlight/mono culture fulfills a
> need that isn't better served by another technology, and therefore
> 2) the community has failed to capitalize on opportunities to build
> native apps superior to windows/silverlight/mono offerings.

I think it can be argued that the Mono-based apps in Ubuntu could be
swapped out for non-Mono ones, but this is a choice that has been made
and I really think we need to take a step back and ask if this is a
good thing or not.

Ubuntu could install proprietary video drivers by default, because
they are better (well, better with the hardware; see below), but that
is not a good thing for Ubuntu!

>> "when we tell people the right applications which are not unique to
>> Windows that doesn’t particularly help Windows. And so we’ll continue
>> to see and do things that are standard-based because that’s important.
>> And you continue to see us encourage developers to do things that run
>> uniquely on the Windows platform. You know, with the new Silverlight,
>> you can build Silverlight applications that are flash-like in the
>> sense that they run across platform. But you can also do things which
>> are even nicer which really narrow down and run only on Windows.  And
>> given that Windows is a billion units, you can afford to make
>> optimizations as long as they bring value and do your applications
>> that are Windows unique." -- Steve Ballmer
> I don't see why, if someone wanted to, they couldn't do the same thing
> with respect to linux, in the sense of building apps which work
> everywhere but have some added value only on the linux platform.

Maybe so, but we are talking here about a scheme set up to support the
current near-monopoly of Windows.  It does us no favors to go down
that path.

>> Linux has to try and claw its way onto machines
>> where it can, mostly used Windows systems for which the hardware was
>> not Linux-optimized.
> well, hardware has in general become less "windows optimized" over
> time (winmodems have gone the way of the dodo), however due to the
> monolithic kernel architecture and unstable ABI, most hardware vendors
> don't want the hassle of supporting linux drivers or can't due to
> contractual obligations.  Sometimes demand results in some ugly hybrid
> like the nvidia binary blobs.  But overall, this is an intentional
> design feature of the kernel.  They don't want a stabilized ABI
> because they don't want closed-source drivers.

Nvidia graphics is actually a really good example of the 'not
Linux-optimized hardware' that I was talking about; for Linux to
thrive it needs GPL-compatible drivers, NOT proprietary ones.  I have
in the past put Ubuntu Live CDs into computers that had Nvidia
chipsets and I can't get wobbly windows to work unless I install a
proprietary driver.  That is bad.  I actually went out of my way to
find an ATI card to put in that machine to avoid such hassles (old ATI
had a bad attitude about open source drivers like Nvidia does, but
after AMD bought ATI, things changed :)  My Intel-based netbook (which
came with Linpus Linux on it) runs fine without proprietary drivers.

The fact that I have to be careful at all when choosing hardware for
Ubuntu is an example of how Linux users are at a disadvantage; this is
another reason why buying Windows machines to turn into Linux ones is
an uphill battle.

>> If we follow that route, we will only ever be a 'Windows knock-off'.
>> We need to take a page from the ODF struggle and refuse to play the
>> game by Microsoft's rules.  I really think that collectively we need
>> to say no to Mono just as much as if Microsoft wanted us to use Bing
>> as Ubuntu's default search engine.
> Consider for a moment the prevalence of flash, or java, and where we
> would be without those platforms on a linux desktop.  Eclipse? out.
> Youtube? forget about it.  Either of these technologies missing from
> the linux landscape would make it a non-starter for most people.

Java is now GPL :)
which is one less thorn in our sides.

Flash is still a P-I-T-A. Projects like Gnash are nice in a
Wine-sort-of-way, but what we really need are websites to switch over
to purely standards-based equivalents... Youtube actually looks like
it's headed in that direction:

> Even office formats were once impossible to work with on linux...
> there would be very few if not an absolute void of companies and
> governments switching to linux without this migration avenue being
> open.
> making more possibilities on the linux platform is never a bad thing.

I don't have a problem with moving from closed to open, I have a
problem with a significant component of Ubuntu being under a dark
Microsoft cloud.


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