LinuxPlanet: Helix Code: Beyond Project to Project

Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman have managed to turn the Linux
world upside down, first with the creation of Helix Code and then
with the formation of the GNOME Foundation. In this extensive
interview with Dennis E. Powell, Miguel and Nat discuss how they
plan on making money from GNOME (it involves selling to end users
online services associated with Helix Code software), where GNOME
ends and Helix Code begins (which seems to be a blurry line at
best), and why they find it necessary to totally tear apart
StarOffice in order to make it fit within the GNOME framework. Some

“Helix Gnome is going to get passed around. We have over a
quarter-million users. And in there is going to be the ability to
subscribe to our for-pay subscription service. It’ll be about $3 to
$5 per month, and it will provide you with a number of services,
built into the desktop, that will just improve the entire
experience for you. For us, this is about improving the web.”

“Well, right now we have a couple of applications to make up the
Gnome office suite: Gnumeric, a few others, Gimp, and the
StarOffice people are releasing their stuff open source next month,
and we’re going to be working with them to get that stuff ported.
What we’re doing is, we’re taking a hammer to StarOffice.
StarOffice is this big thing right now. We’re splitting it up into
a bunch of tiny pieces with a hammer. These are all called
components. They’re all going to be Bonobo components, and then
we’re going to reassemble them into an office suite which is
totally Gnome native.”

“We see ourselves as a distribution. We apply those patches that
are necessary to make things work. No one ever ships a Linus
Torvalds kernel. No single distribution ever ships a Linus Torvalds
kernel. There’s always some change they make before it goes out the
door. But I consider the things to be so small, and necessary and
important. You can’t ask maintainers to release new versions and to
be the distributors. There’s a step beyond project to product, and
that’s where we see ourselves. Every contribution we make, every
bug we fix, gets contributed back into the main Gnome CVS. It’s all
gnome.org for us.”