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Gnome helps Linux grow up

May 24, 1999, 10:31 (16 Talkback[s])

Linux is ready to move onto the desktop and challenge Microsoft's dominance, according to open source developer Miguel de Icaza.

In an exclusive interview with Silicon.com, broadcast today, de Icaza explains that he wants to put free software onto everyone's desktop.

De Icaza is the coordinator of Gnome, a graphical user interface (GUI) project for Linux systems. He's been working on the GUI for nearly two years, along with a community of 288 developers around the world.

"It's going to enable people to use free systems on their desktops," he said. "So people like secretaries, kids, mothers, we want them to use free software instead of proprietary software."

Gnome is designed to look and feel very much like Windows - since that's what users are familiar with. The project doesn't have enough money to engage in costly market research which could modify the idea of the user interface. So instead the group is drawing on what's on the desktop already.

"I think that the first release of Gnome, which is the basic desktop, is pretty much what a Windows system would do or a Macintosh system would do at the very beginning," explained de Icaza. "The basic thing is that we're providing is a number of freedoms to the user. You get the freedom to copy the program. We give you the source code which means you can actually modify the code, and we give you the permission to do so. You can redistribute modified versions of the code to your employees or sister organisations."

Simon Earthrawl, of the UK Unix Users Group, said Gnome was important, but still needed time. "At the moment, the whole development of Gnome is embryonic and it needs a cross-fertilisation of ideas," he said. "Linux is growing up, everyone is arguing and trying to establish which interface is better, because Linux needs stability and it needs to be more business-friendly. This is helping it mature."

Sarah Left
Desktop Strategies
Enterprise OS

Julian Goldsmith
Deputy News Editor

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