Mandriva's Future Rosy or Rose Colored?

Mandriva Linux

It was over six weeks ago that rumors, later confirmed as true, circulated stating that Mandriva's financial situation was so dire that it was considering buy-out offers to try to avoid having to close its doors. This news struck many Mandriva users and developers hard and all held their breath waiting for further news and the release of Mandriva Spring 2010.1. Although the final release of 2010.1 is still absent, news that Mandriva S.A. might be saved was met with sighs of relief and a healthy dose of skepticism.

News broke June 22 on the French technology Website, www.lemagit.fr, that Mandriva would neither have to be sold or closed due to the appearance of some private investors. Mandriva CEO Arnaud Laprévote said that "the community and users no longer need to be concerned." However, some still are.

Laprévote neither named these new investors nor elaborated on any specific business strategies. He did say they were looking for a new business model, and this is what worries some observers. Mandriva has had several financial crises in the past decade and the community keeps hoping each is the last. Bankruptcy protection gave Mandriva some breathing room in 2003 and 2004. Creating a pay-to-join Mandriva Club brought in some slight revenue. Earlier, a donation campaign was waged in attempts to save the ailing company. In 2008 the company had to release several telecommuting contributors.

Mandriva has been providing enterprise and educational systems and support as well as selling boxed sets and USB drives of its desktop system, but they've always had difficulty competing with other Linux companies such as Red Hat and Novell in terms of revenue and the ability to land long-term contracts. Experts question Mandriva's ability to construct a profitable business model and users hope a freely available version will continue to be a part of the business model. Speculation on Mandriva forums has them abandoning the PowerPack and splitting their offerings into enterprise and community versions, much like Redhat and Fedora or Novell and openSUSE.

Even if Mandriva's future was uncertain, community members are questioning the commitment of Mandriva on the desktop since development has stopped on the latest version that was due for release June 3. Wiki feature pages have not been updated since May 15 and the expected release date for 2010.1 (June 2) was removed from the planning calendar when release candidate 2 was announced. It is still blank at this time. Even the official Mandriva blog remains silent. Developers are complaining of absent paychecks and Nicolas Lucreil and Pascal Terjan have already left the building.

Mandriva 2010, released last fall, was one of the best releases Mandriva had achieved in some time and many users were looking forward to the updates and improvements to come in 2010.1. Some find little comfort from Laprévote's words during this time while Mandriva is "reinventing itself." Others are guardedly hopeful. Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months, the storm is far from over for current Mandriva customers and users.

UPDATE: Anne Nicolas announced that the new Mandriva 2010 Spring ISOs should be released July 5. A planning wiki update soon followed.

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Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.

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Mandriva Scars Me!!!

Anonymous's picture

I have tried many Linux Distros to help find a good one for Win-XP Users to migrate to when they finally give-up the ghost. Mandriva was that choice. However, finding out all this news about Mandriva and finding a lot of it is also historical, makes me nervous! I have experienced fist hand!, being orphaned by a Linux Distro. It's no fun to put it mildly!

I am now evaluating Pardus Linux as it is even more simple than Mandriva! A really nice post-config helper app known as "Kaptan" makes it really!!! ease to post configure Pardus Linux. Something a Linux Novice from Windows could use effortlessly!

My Wife, a Linux Neophile, knew exactly what to choose in every dialog box! Now that says something about ease of use considering she has only been exposed to the Windows Platform!

I just downloaded Pardus today and have only one hour's use of it. I am really impressed and hope that keeps up. I'd like to have a place for my Win-XP Users to land when they make the move. Most have little or no funds so upgrading Windows from here-on-out is no longer an option for them.

Mandriva is the best

Arvi Pingus's picture

Thanks to its friendly installer, its Control Center and ease to get program sources and updates. What more should I say: I love it! :)

I think Mandriva still rosy

Luthfi Emka's picture

Mandriva (mandrake,exactly) is my first Linux Distro, until now. I also use the cooker version, the version that step ahead and close the next release, but it's buggy on last two month, so i get down it and use the 2010 agains the 2010.1 RC.

Meaby at July 7, 2010.1 it will be released.

Mandriva Out or In

Jake's picture

The last really great Mandriva Version was 2008 Powerpack. It's file sharing and permissions settings actually worked. Since Mandriva 2008 Powerpack - the security on files and the setting of any special permissions - just hasn't worked. I've had to go as far as complete installs in order to retrieve files that have either just simply disappeared or became unusable, or were able to be accessed by anyone on a network due to no locks on permissions or due to the sharing permissions not working. Mandriva also has issues on its big thick lines in its fonts. Having to go back and set every font so that it appears to be professional is tedious process that should had been dealt with in the lab before production. Mandriva has a lot of nice things about it but the best versions were the ones that ended with Mandriva 2008 Powerpack. Ever since then - working with Mandriva built with KDE 4.xxx has been akin to working with Microsoft Vista - actually worse.

We do need that many distributions

Anonymous's picture

I guess there are approximately as many distributions as should be. For example, a recent poll on Linux Questions reveals that if there were no Slackware its users would got to BSDs or Arch. So, only 3 options for a large group of people, 2 being not that good since the evident choice is Slackware.

Choice is good and vital. If all Linux is Ubuntu I will not look anywhere beyond Windows.

And yes, there are lots of things you can do in one distribution and not another if you find redoing what the distribution maintainers should do inappropriate.

However, I agree that having too many distributions is bad for Linux as far as "average users" are concerned, but the solution is not to reduce the number of distributions but to discipline developers severely so that the it is not necessary to have that many distributions. Unfortunately, I have no plan how to do that.

Mandriva Rocks my Socks!

Futureboy's picture

I've been using Mandriva since 2003. It was my well-researched first distro that I really worked with, have tried others and have found that they don't ever seem quite as well working and easy to use out of the box. As a (happily) paying PowerPack subscriber, I would be very sad to see this distro go but as I have no control over this situation, I will sit by and see what happens. I am not a fan Ubuntu or its variants as they just don't have the edge Mandriva has with hardware recognition and support. The Mandriva community is awesome and has worked me through the few issues I have had with the distro.

In the end, Linux will live on and should Mandriva (sadly) go away, I'll find another Linux home but Mandriva will always be my first love.

Mandrake was my first distro

xnomad's picture

Mandrake was my first distro when 7.1 came out in 2000. I gave up on it somewhere in 2008 when it still didn't support my wifi on my laptop, even after 3 releases. I raised the bug, I was even a paying member but the team didn't help me. Incidentally it didn't work for any distro either.

My boss had been pushing me towards Ubuntu the whole time but I was a fierce RPM/Red Hat based fan. I also thought Ubuntu was for dummies. Eventually Ubuntu were the first to fix the wireless issue on that laptop so I started using them. I now use Ubuntu on the Desktop and CentOS for our servers. Ubuntu has been great mainly because it's so popular it is well supported and easier to find fixes for things then it was for Mandriva.

Saying that though I have one laptop where wireless keeps dropping out in Ubuntu as well, and has been for the last 3 releases, so it has it's fair share of compatibility issues as well. Nevertheless I don't think I'll ever go back to Mandriva. It's good for me to get experience using Debian and Red Hat based systems. This keeps me up to date on the big two.

Odd model

macias's picture

I don't know how the others, but I was choosing distro for myself back in times (12 years ago) when Mandriva was Mandrake. I compared Mandrake and Suse because of user-friendliness. Suse won -- Mandrake had its CC with several tools, but I prefered one central point (yast) and besides it was a little more stable.

As time passed switching to Mandrake/Mandriva would be more and more difficult:
* financial problems
* strange model, there is a club, there is some payment, there is some free version which lacks something or not -- I don't wan to read a manual just to understand what I get, in case of Ubuntu/Opensuse/Fedora/you-name-it is plain and simple, for example in case of opensuse it is community version purchased or downloaded for free (your choice) or suse, which is business version. Even the naming is consistent
* experience (this goes for everything, once you learn something you rather switch for VERY good reason)

Mandriva is no doubt one of the best desktop distro

Anonymous's picture

I have never seen some thing like 'Mandriva control center' in any other major distros. I have used so many distros, but beleive me Mandriva is the fastest and the most responsive KDE distro. There are still so many users of Mandriva who always wish for the better future of our beloved distro. We donate and contribute to it. Mandriva is the only distribution which is really planning to implement the 'nepomuk' semantic desktop in full fledge and we are all waiting eagerly for the 2010.1 release which will finally give us a 'smart desktop'. Good luck Mandriva !

Mandriva

Maverick's picture

My 1st distro was Kubuntu 6.06 and enjoyed that so much that I stayed with it for quite a while. Then Mandriva 2009.1 came along and that was better. The upgrade to 2010.0 made KDE 4 work better and here is where I have stayed since. Have looked at all the latest distros coming out but stayed with Mandriva. I hope they find their feet as I like this distro best. It would be a shame to see it go under at a time when a march on the big OS's is possible.

Mandriva needs marketing and a name change

LinuxLover's picture

Look, not only has the name been tainted with their financial problems, it's downright an awful name. Mandriva needs to find a winning strategy without ticking off it's current faithful slew of desktop users in the process. It's well known that as a company, Mandriva has never had a clue. They once ruled the Linux desktop, but just kept angering users to the point they left town for PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, or something else. They've been completely out of touch with their users as far as business goes.

As a distro, they beat the pants off Ubuntu, IMO, on the home desktop - and always have. I have no idea why people bother with Ubuntu when such great distros like Mandriva exist. The only thing I can think of is the community. Ubuntu's community isn't as good as it was, but the Mandriva community isn't in the same league. Software-wise, though, Mandriva is one of the top distros out.

I've been using Mandriva

dsmith's picture

I've been using Mandriva going on for two years now, alongside other major/corporate distros (Fedora, Suse, Ubuntu) and two or three other, more obscure ones (sidux, Slitaz, Zenwalk). I enjoy using them all for various reasons (I also use Windows and OS X professionally, every day).

The most recent Mandriva releasse (2010) is easily the equal of any, and better than most, in ease of use and overall polish.

Having said that, though, I agree that the differences are relatively minor.

I would be sad to see any of the aforementioned distros go under, but I would like to see more differentiation and specialization among them.

Perhaps that is difficult with open source.

Difficult for open source?

mikesd's picture

How can it be difficult? We have distros for embedded devices, old hardware, and ones specifically built for eradicating viruses for the MS operating systems. So umm....no it's not difficult. Google around you'll find some.

--
That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Speculative supporter

Registered user had my name's picture

I've always been a Mandriva supporter. It was my first distribution and I've returned to it after a long spell using others. But the fact remains that it will always have the financial troubles. I really don't see Mandriva ever gaining ground financially. I've put my toes back into the distribution waters since this has happened and I'm quite pleased with the progress other distributions have made. I plan on installing this latest release knowing that it may be the last. And if it doesn't work out for me I've already got a distribution of choice lined up behind it.

I hope that Mandriva's Future would be Rose Colored

Eduardo's picture

I do like the Mandriva way of assembly its dist and do hope thay can remain on the market.

But, I do Agree with Doug either.

So many distributions Linux flavors out there.

"...This competition weakens the overall position of the Linux..."
Well said!

So many distros

Doug.Roberts's picture

Mandrake was the second Linux distribution that I used; Slackware was the first. I stayed with Mandrake for years before switching to RHEL, then Fedora, CENTOS, SuSE, Kubuntu, Ubuntu, UNR, and most recently Linux Mint.

You know what? They were all good. And they all had their rough edges. And we really don't need that many Linux distributions. The problem is that people get used to their particular favorite distro and then do not want to change. Ever!

The bottom line, however, is that there really is nothing that you can do in one distribution that you can't do in any of the others. In a way it is a shame that there are so many competing distributions out there. Sure, choice is good, but I can't help but feel that this inter-distribution competition weakens the overall position of the Linux desktop in the marketplace.

I am looking forward for

harbhag's picture

I am looking forward for Mandriva's new release
http://harbhag.wordpress.com/

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