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Business 2.0: The Penguin Takes Flight

Dec 05, 2002, 22:00 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Erick Schonfeld)

"Five years ago, Miguel de Icaza had what most hackers would consider a comfortable gig. A 24-year-old dropout at the national university in Mexico City, he spent most of his time in a cramped room as a computer technician for the nuclear sciences department. He had free Internet access--and the privacy to hack away at all hours.

"What little English Icaza knew (he taught himself through Internet chat rooms) was enough to communicate with a dedicated group of 'free software' enthusiasts like himself, programmers who considered it a higher calling in life to create applications that anybody could use, change, or redistribute. Icaza had recently persuaded his counterparts to start pitching in their time, and hundreds of thousands of lines of new code, in service of an impossible über-task: creating a free, easy-to-use interface for Linux, the operating system that was quickly becoming the standard-bearer of free software..."

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