Miguel de Icaza

Miguel de Icaza (born November 23, 1972)[1] is a Mexican-American programmer, best known for starting the GNOME, Mono, and Xamarin projects.[2]

Miguel de Icaza
Born (1972-11-23) November 23, 1972
OccupationSoftware developer
TitleDistinguished Engineer
Spouse(s)Laura de Icaza


Early years

De Icaza was born in Mexico City and studied Mathematics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), but dropped out before getting a degree to work in IT.[3] He came from a family of scientists in which his father is a physicist and his mother a biologist.[4] He started writing free software in 1992.

Early software career

One of the earliest pieces of software he wrote for Linux was the Midnight Commander file manager, a text-mode file manager.[5] He was also one of the early contributors to the Wine project.[6]

He worked with David S. Miller on the Linux SPARC port and wrote several of the video and network drivers in the port, as well as the libc ports to the platform.[7] They both later worked on extending Linux for MIPS to run on SGI's Indy computers and wrote the original X drivers for the system.[8] With Ingo Molnar he wrote the original software implementation of RAID-1 and RAID-5 drivers of the Linux kernel.[9]

In summer of 1997, he was interviewed by Microsoft for a job in the Internet Explorer Unix team (to work on a SPARC port), but lacked the university degree required to obtain a work H-1B visa.[10] He said in an interview that he tried to persuade his interviewers to free the IE code even before Netscape did so with their own browser.[11]

GNOME, Ximian, Xamarin and Mono

De Icaza started the GNOME project with Federico Mena in August 1997 to create a completely free desktop environment and component model for Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.[12] He also created the GNOME spreadsheet program, Gnumeric.

In 1999, de Icaza, along with Nat Friedman, co-founded Helix Code, a GNOME-oriented free software company that employed a large number of other GNOME hackers. In 2001, Helix Code, later renamed Ximian, announced the Mono Project, to be led by de Icaza, with the goal to implement Microsoft's new .NET development platform on Linux and Unix-like platforms. In August 2003, Ximian was acquired by Novell. There, de Icaza was Vice President of Developer Platform.

In May 2011, de Icaza started Xamarin to replace MonoTouch and Mono for Android after Novell was bought by Attachmate and the projects were abandoned. Shortly afterwards, Xamarin and Novell reached an agreement where Xamarin took over the development and sales of these products.[13]

In February 2016, Xamarin announced being acquired by Microsoft.[14] One month later in Microsoft Build conference, it was announced that the Mono Project would be relicensed to MIT, Visual Studio would include Xamarin (even the free versions) without restrictions, and Xamarin SDKs would be opensourced.[14]

Advocacy of Microsoft open technologies

De Icaza endorsed Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) document standard,[15][16][17] disagreeing with a lot of the widespread criticism in the open source and free-software community.

He also developed Mono – a free and open-source alternative to Microsoft's .NET Framework – for GNOME.[18] This has raised much disagreement due to the patents that Microsoft holds on the .NET Framework.

De Icaza was criticized by Richard Stallman on the Software Freedom Day 2009, who labeled him as "Traitor to the Free Software Community".[19] Icaza responded on his blog to Stallman with the remark that he believes in a "world of possibility" and that he is open for discussions on ways to improve the pool of open source and free software.[20]

Preference for Mac over Linux

In August 2012, de Icaza criticized the Linux desktop as "killed by Apple". De Icaza specifically criticized a generally developer-focused culture, lack of backward compatibility and fragmentation among the various Linux distributions.[21][22] In March 2013, de Icaza announced on his personal blog that he regularly used macOS instead of Linux for desktop computing.[23]

.NET Foundation director

In 2014 he joined Anders Hejlsberg on stage during the announcements of the .NET Foundation and the open sourcing of Microsoft's C# Compiler. He serves on the board of directors of the .NET Foundation.[24][25]

Awards and recognition

Miguel de Icaza has received the Free Software Foundation 1999 Award for the Advancement of Free Software, the MIT Technology Review Innovator of the Year Award 1999,[26] and was named one of Time magazine's 100 innovators for the new century in September 2000.

In early 2010 he received a Microsoft MVP Award.[27]

In March 2010, he was named as the fifth in the "Most Powerful Voices in Open Source" by MindTouch.[28]

Personal life

De Icaza has had cameo appearances in the 2001 motion pictures Antitrust and The Code.[29]

He married Brazilian Maria Laura Soares da Silva (now Maria Laura de Icaza) in 2003.[30]

De Icaza is critical of the actions of the state of Israel towards the Palestinians in the Middle East and has blogged about the subject.[31]

De Icaza was granted US citizenship in January 2015.[32]


  1. "De Icaza mentions his birthday". Miguel de Icaza's Twitter. 22 November 2010.
  2. Young, Robert; Wendy Goldman Rohm (1999). Under the Radar. Coriolis. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-57610-506-1.
  3. "10 years of Ximian - Miguel de Icaza". tirania.org.
  4. "Interview with Miguel De Icaza". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  5. Midnight Commander authors. "Midnight Commander FAQ". Retrieved 2010-09-06. Midnight Commander was started by Miguel de Icaza and he is the maintainer of the package. Other authors have joined the project later.
  6. "Wine History". wiki.winehq.org. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  7. David S. Miller, Rutgers CAIP, and Miguel de Icaza, Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (1997). "The SPARC Port of Linux". Usenix Proceedings. USENIX Association. Retrieved 2010-04-18.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. Miguel de Icaza. "graphics.c". Retrieved 2011-11-19. Author: Miguel de Icaza
  9. "raid5.c". Copyright: (C) 1996, 1997 Ingo Molnar, Miguel de Icaza, Gadi Oxman
  10. Friedman, Nat (2009-10-31). "Startup Visa". Archived from the original on 2014-03-28. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  11. "Microsoft API and Reference Catalog". msdn.microsoft.com. Archived from the original on January 8, 2002.
  12. Mamone, Mark (2005). Practical Mono. Apress. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-59059-548-0.
  13. Friedman, Nat. (2011-07-18) Xamarin mobile products available now! | Xamarin Blog Archived 2011-11-10 at the Wayback Machine. Blog.xamarin.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
  14. "Xamarin Blog". Xamarin Blog.
  15. "OOXML. (Score:4, Informative)". Slashdot. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  16. "The EU Prosecutors are Wrong. - Miguel de Icaza". tirania.org.
  17. "OOXML: The Wins - Miguel de Icaza". tirania.org.
  18. "Mono and Gnome: The Long Reply". LinuxToday. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  19. Holwerda, Thom (2009-09-21). "RMS: De Icaza Traitor to Free Software Community". osnews.com. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  20. de Icaza, Miguel. "On Richard Stallman". tirania.org. I want to say that God loves all creatures. From the formidable elephant to the tiniest ant. And that includes Richard Stallman. As for me, I think that there is a world of possibility, and if Richard wants to discuss how we can improve the pool of open source/free software in the world he has my email address. Love, Miguel.
  21. Finley, Klint (2012-08-27). "How Apple Killed the Linux Desktop and Why That Doesn't Matter". wired.com. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  22. de Icaza, Miguel (2012-08-29). "What Killed the Linux Desktop". tirania.org. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  23. de Icaza, Miguel (2013-03-05). "How I ended up with Mac". tirania.org. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  24. Microsoft-Xamarin-Collaborate-Establish-.NET-Foundation (2014)
  25. Microsoft .NET released from its Windows chains... but what ABOUT MONO? on theregister.co.uk "Xamarin is a close partner of Microsoft, and De Icaza is one of three directors of the .NET Foundation, and the only director that does not work for Microsoft. The .NET Foundation was announced by Microsoft at its Build conference earlier this year, to host and support open source .NET projects." by Tim Anderson (Nov 2014)
  26. "1999 Young Innovators Under 35". technologyreview.com. 1999. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 1999 Innovator of the Year: Miguel De Icaza
  27. "Miguel de Icaza's web log". Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  28. "MindTouch.com". Retrieved 2010-03-21.
  29. Miguel de Icaza on IMDb
  30. Santos, Jurandréia (2005-09-10). "Entrevista Maria Laura De Icaza". Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  31. Israel: terrorist state. - Miguel de Icaza. Tirania.org (2002-09-03). Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
  32. Nat Friedman [@natfriedman] (14 January 2015). "Congratulations to @migueldeicaza on becoming an American today!" (Tweet) via Twitter.
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