Why Miguel is my hero

by davidnielsen

As was recently reported by Martin Owens, at this years Software Freedom Day Richard Stallman took his behaviour to a whole new revolting level by calling Miguel de Icaza a traitor. This wasn’t related to anything except Miguels recent decision to sit on the Codeplex foundation board, a foundation whose stated mission it is to further Open Source in business. It is no secret that Microsoft is the seed of this our newest member in the family of Open Source promotors, even earmarking a million dollars to that aim and dedicating time and personnel to let the foundation reach its lofty aim. In fact in recent years Microsoft has gotten quite involved with Open Source by releasing code of their own, getting licenses approved from the OSI and donating substantial amounts of money to existing projects. In a highly published move they even recently submitted 20.000 lines of code to the Linux kernel. They are no longer the bully of the 90’s, they are changing but their transformation is not complete, and it certainly will not be the instantaneous conversion some people expect of them.

Now Miguel is no stranger to abuse, in a personally shameful moment right after the famed Novell-Microsoft collaboration agreement, fueled by Bruce Perens’, fallacious, claim that the deal was in violation of the GPLv2 even I send the Novell Open Audio podcast an angry mail asking them to dedicate time debating this on the show. Miguel kindly wrote me a lengthy personal mail calming my fears and he never used a harsh word despite what I now realize were words far outside of rational discourse. I have since that moment had a tremendous amount of respect for Miguel as a person, he is probably the person in the community who faces the most opposition and abuse despite the amount of work he has done historically and continue to do to improve the free desktop. You might disagree with his methods of improvement but I have never seen Miguel use a tone of aggression in rebutting his opponents.

If I live to be a thousand years I will never master that level of calmness while under fire, I realise that with some degree of sadness. Had Richard viciously attacked me the way he did Miguel I am sure at tirade would have ensued, I know it to be my style. Miguels reply is nothing short of admirable. It is a constructive polite call for civility in the views on how to improve our community.

I am glad our community has someone like Miguel, I am glad he does the work he does and I believe that it fills a vital piece of the puzzle to get Open Source everywhere and turn former opponents into new friends. Utopia won’t be built in a day but Miguel certain laid his fair share of rocks to let it happen.