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Linux Magazine: Eazel on Down the Road

Nov 25, 2000, 12:40 (36 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert McMillan)

"A legendary user interface design guru at Apple, Andy Hertzfeld got his first look at Linux in the summer of 1997 while visiting science fiction writer Neil Stephenson. Little did he know that three years later, he would be working late nights with some old friends from his days at Apple, developing one of the most ambitious components of the Linux OS -- the Nautilus file manager. Hertzfeld's company, Eazel, hopes that Nautilus will eventually become the platform for a new generation of easy-to-use Internet-enabled services and applications and that their GUI know-how will help bring Linux to the masses. Linux Magazine's Publisher Adam Goodman and Executive Editor Robert McMillan met with Hertzfeld, Eazel CEO Mike Boich and Hertzfeld's former boss and Eazel CTO Guy "Bud" Tribble in Palo Alto recently."

"Linux Magazine: Who came up with the idea for Eazel?

Andy Hertzfeld: It was mine, more or less. ... I got interested in free software in January of 1998... I thought: "Boy, the GPL [the GNU General Public License] allows the common infrastructure to be shared and owned by the community. That fixes all the problems." Potentially anyway. There are new problems created, but it could be a much firmer basis for an open, fair, and free software industry. So as soon as I understood that, I thought: "This is something I should work on." ..."

"LM: What was the reason for choosing to work on the GNOME rather than the KDE windowing environment?

Hertzfeld: I think that GNOME has a better architecture when it comes to the component model, which is very important to what we're doing with Nautilus. But beyond that, KDE seemed to be trying to clone Windows. That was unappealing to me. ..."

"LM: ... When you start talking about desktop software like Nautilus or Mozilla, the users are less technical. So how do you leverage open source then, when the users are not going to be able to contribute?

Bud Tribble: In the early days of any technology, you have this phase where the toolmakers are making tools for their own use. ... However, as technologies mature, they go into this phase where the toolmaker is making tools not just for himself but actually for a broader set of people. That's the area where I get excited, I think that's what excites Andy. That's what drove the Mac team, I think that's a lot of what's driving Eazel. It's the open source Linux world expanding beyond the point where toolmakers are making tools for themselves and making tools for the broader world. And it takes a certain type of aesthetic or empathy to do that."

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