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Sellout or Savior? (14 Aug 2004)
Both determinedly idealistic and stubbornly pragmatic, de Icaza is in many ways the new face of the open-source software movement. A programming firebrand, de Icaza has rocketed in stature in just a few years from an unknown student at a Mexico City university to one of the leaders of the increasingly successful challenge to Microsoft’s hegemonic grip on computing. And though he remains deeply connected with the community of idealistic programmers who make open source possible, his meteoric rise is fueled in large part by a keen marketing sense. De Icaza recognized early on that to be truly popular with everyday users, the Linux operating system-the freely available operating system that serves as open source’s alternative to Windows-needed the same icon-based bells and whistles familiar from the Windows desktop and access to applications of the same variety and quality as those that run on Windows machines. Open source might offer cheaper and better software, but de Icaza instinctively recognized that it would only change the world if people actually used it.
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