MSNBC/Newsweek: Software That’s Free For All

Miguel de Icaza, a 27- year-old programmer from Mexico,
thinks nobody should have to pay hundreds of dollars for the latest
copy of Microsoft Word for Windows-or any other software, for that
matter. He believes it should all be free….

“How can free software possibly be better than software from a
well-heeled company?”

“Gnome incorporates innovation into its software in a way that
[profitmaking companies] can’t. With software that’s open, people
are quick to make additions and changes. They will send their
changes back to the [Gnome developers], who will put them into a
new release. We at Gnome are developing features that we want to
see in the next generation, but often people want features other
than the ones we planned for. By accepting contributions from
users, we’ve been able to make software that has a lot more
features for the desktop. We have some of the most exciting
software out there.”

“What is the role of the big computer companies that support the

“Each company is contributing software products. For instance,
Sun is contributing word-processing, spreadsheet and other
applications. IBM is contributing Web-development software. But
Gnome is not owned by Sun, H-P or IBM. It’s owned by everyone. You
have as much right to use this software as anybody else on the