De Icaza uses OpenSUSE as his main desktop (with the GNOME interface, of course), says he likes Linux better than Windows, and says the Linux kernel is also "superior" to the MacOS kernel. "Having the source code for the system is fabulous. Being able to extend the system is fabulous," he says.
But he notes that proprietary systems have advantages -- such as video and audio systems that rarely break.
"I spent so many years battling with Linux and something new is broken every time," he says. "We as an open source community, we don't seem to get our act together when it comes to understanding the needs of end users on the desktop."
This coming from a man who has spent most of his career improving desktop and developer usability for users of open source software.
Now in Boston working for Novell, de Icaza was born in Mexico City. In 1997, he was interviewed by Microsoft for a position involving the porting of Internet Explorer to Sparc, but says he lost out on the job because he lacked an H-1B visa. Shortly after, he teamed up with computer programmer Federico Mena to create GNOME, the graphical user interface used in many Linux-based distributions today. "GNOME would not have happened" if de Icaza had gotten the job at Microsoft, he says.
MICROSOFT: 'We love open source'
Later, de Icaza co-founded Ximian, which built various free software applications including Mono, the open source implementation of Microsoft's .Net Framework. Ximian was purchased in 2003 by Novell, where de Icaza still oversees the Mono project, as well as the newer Moonlight, an open source implementation of Silverlight built by Novell in collaboration with Microsoft.
In the free software world, Miguel de Icaza is a man some people just love to hate.
In 2009, Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman reportedly called de Icaza "basically a traitor to the free software community." More recently, de Icaza turned some heads by saying he was "psyched" about Windows Phone 7, anathema to Microsoft-hating free software proponents. De Icaza seems to be more positive about Microsoft technologies now than he was last year, when he said, "People are scared of installing software on Windows."