Linux optimize

Mandriva in danger of closing its doors

Jack Wallen gives his take on the rumors of Mandriva closing its doors. January 16, 2012 is but a Monday away. Would the closing of Mandriva's doors have a lasting effect on the Linux landscape?

Nothing is sacred these days. In times of economic crisis, anything could go any way, at any time. Such is the case with Mandriva. By January 16, 2012 we could all see the end of a distribution that was just starting to make itself relevant again. After so many ups and downs, causing it to flounder in obscurity, Mandriva releases its latest Powerpack, which helped to make GNOME 3 a viable desktop for both businesses and home users. And then...a share holder issue reared its ugly head.

Mandriva began as Mandrakesoft and suffered through more ups and downs than most Linux distributions had to endure. In 2006, the company emerged from bankruptcy to become Mandriva and, for the most part, lived in the shadows of Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat, Linux Mint (and many other flavors of Linux). But when Powerpack 2011 hit the shelves it looked as if everything was going to finally turn back around for the French distribution. Mandriva finally had what looked like a major hit on their hands and, before Powerpack could gain any traction, the news of a possible shutdown seeped from under the doors of Mandriva.

What's going on?

It's fairly simple. In 2011 rumors began spreading that Mandriva was to be acquired by Linagora. But those rumors turned out to have no validity. That wasn't the end of the rumor mill. Only the next words to be whispered about, weren't so vapid. This time it was a regular contributor to the Mandriva community, Rapahël Jadot. On December 30, he spoke:

"Well, let's make it short: everything was fine, but there is a big problem: a minor shareholder (Linlux) refuses the capital injection required for Mandriva to continue, even though the Russian investor had offered to bear it alone. "Except turnaround Mandriva should cease activity Jan. 16…"

What this means exactly is this. Linlux SARL, a minority investor holding 42 percent of the shares, is blocking a move to raise new capital for Mandriva -- even though the majority shareholder (Townarea Trading & Investment Ltd.) has approved the plans.

Why is this happening?

It seems accusations are pointing the finger of blame at Marc Goldberg, the lead at Linlux, who doesn't want to see his personal investments in Mandriva reduced. This is not Goldberg's first attempt at blocking investments. It could be his last. With the community driven fork, Mageia, alive and well, it would be a no-brainer for the current community of Mandriva developers to migrate, en masse, to greener (less drama-filled) pastures. But even with Mageia in development, the loss of Mandriva would (and should) be felt across the Linux-verse. Mandriva has done a lot for the development of Linux (and the most recent Powerpack should prove that). Beyond that, losing any Linux distribution at the hands of shareholders who seem hell-bent on destroying something with a storied past is beyond shame.

But what drags this down a darker path is how this reminds me of the changes the Linux community has gone through. I remember well meeting the small crew of Mandrakesoft at a Linux convention. They were exciting, fun, and ready to bust loose on the world a fantastic Linux distribution that would certainly change the way people look at Linux.

Now? That joy-filled group is no more and the distribution they were so proud of is on the brink of disappearing. I hope this doesn't come to fruition. But should Mandriva go the way of Caldera Open Linux (and many other distributions), I hope Mageia continues on where Mandriva Powerpack 2011 left off. As well, I hope all of those that have put so much time, effort, care, and concern into Mandriva find new paths that will bring them success.

As for the shareholder that has done nothing but attempt to bring down Mandriva at every turn? Well, I hope he never bothers to invest in another Linux company again.

The really sad thing about this is that I'm not sure the loss of Mandriva will really effect Linux as a whole. There was a time when this news would have been a serious blow to the Linux platform. Now? Not so much. Mandriva's turbulent past has caused this distribution to all but disappear from the Linux distribution map. I would like to say this would have lasting repercussions on the Linux landscape; but sadly enough, I don't think it will. As much as I enjoyed the latest release of Mandriva, I believe the loss of this distribution will hardly be felt...especially with the Mageia fork in full-blown development.

What do you think? If Mandriva gives up the ghost, would its loss affect you? Do you have fond memories of this turbulent Linux distribution? If so, share them with your fellow TechRepublic Linux fans.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

26 comments
ds4211a
ds4211a

I first installed Linux as a project for a PC hardware class I was taking. I installed Red Hat 6.something I believe. The Red Hat manual at the time was, without a doubt, the most poorly written technical manual that I have ever seen. I think a class of third graders could have done better. Which brings me to Mandriva, witch was Mandrake at the time. I purchased a Mandrake program sometime after my Red Hat experience. I was very impressed with the Mandrake manual. The Mandrake manual was well written and did an excellent job of explaining Linux at that stage of development. I had nothing but praise for the French company that understood the importance of providing clear, easily understood, technical information. I subsequently had to laud the German company (at that time) SUSE for providing an Users manual and an Administrators manual. One thing about the Germans, they are always thorough when it come to technical information. But I still like many of the features that Mandriva Linux Software features. I find myself frequently checking out the latest Mandriva release. So far, Mandriva and PC Linux are the only releases that are able to perform the number lock function from the first install. In fact, I never have been able to figure out how to get other releases of Linux to perform the number lock. I suppose that shows my lack of sophistication with all the technical stuff required to run Linux. But I really prefer operating my PC instead of having to spend all my time trying to make things work. That is something I will miss about Mandriva.

Nader Newman
Nader Newman

I think that it would be a shame if Mandriva closed its doors. As many of you Mandrake was also the first distribution which intrigued me. The Mandrake / Mandriva distro always had a better user experience compared to Redhat or Suse. Unfortunately with later versions I experienced instability and limited hardware compatibility issues which caused me to move away. I am currently an adamant Ubuntu user and much of Ubuntu reminds me of Mandrake.

davbran
davbran

It's funny, roughly, 12 years ago I decided I wanted to "learn" Linux. I had tried my hand at Redhat, as long as I could find Howtos for everything, it worked great, but then Redhat decided to shift it's allegiances to it's Enterprise clientele. This changed everything for a little while. We didn't have a Fedora to jump on at the time. I remember combing my local Compusa for a hard copy of Linux with manuals. I laugh at this now because, finding decent write ups are just a google search away, but back then switching from Windows to Linux without support, was daunting. You needed two computers to go back and forth, and if you couldn't afford one, you were out of luck. Finally, after many months of research, I decided to pitch a tent with Mandrake. I believe it was Mandrake 10.2, which I purchased. I remember when, shortly after I purchased Mandrake 10.2, there was an announcement about Mandriva. I thought, "Here we go again." I followed Mandriva for a little while, and in 2007 I purchased one of their worst releases, IMO, and was completely dissatisfied. What I felt, at the time, was that I was a premium customer. Paying for premium content. I wasn't a part of the "Free" crowd, except that I wanted to be "Free" to use my computer as I saw fit. I paid for the premium package, expecting things to work out of the box, but that year, again if memory serves, Mandriva pushed Pulse as the primary sound server, and everything just felt broken. "Why am I spending my money on this?", I asked myself frequently. "Why am I, a paying customer, being pushed to the forums?" In short, I was done. The Mandriva, which I kept sending my money to, was just broken, to me. Every release required me to start fresh, at the time I wasn't virtualizing as my system just couldn't handle it. When I read that Mandriva was in danger of closing it's doors, I felt saddened, but in reality I closed my doors on them a long time ago. I think their presence will be missed, as their fan base is fairly loyal, but I don't think it's going to effect the Linux world much. New Desktop converts tend to pick up Ubuntu first these days. On the Enterprise level, they obviously have had customers, because their prices show how proud they are of their Enterprise level distro, but I have never heard people talk about Mandriva in the work force. Just Redhat/Fedora and Ubuntu.

twilp
twilp

(From the UK) I started with Mandrake some years back and it is good for newbies. Over the last three years I have been running a Silver Surfers Club and have had success with getting peeps onto Ubuntu at home and teaching with it in the club. Unfortunately the Unity Dtop has given me problems and I was contemplating changing to Mandriva but opted instead for JoliOS. I must say I do think it's sad that my choice has been 'validated', but s**t happens.

CFWhitman
CFWhitman

Back when I had first become familiar with Linux and wanted to run a distribution at home I purchased a Mandrake 6.0 box set. At that point (1999) downloading a distribution was still an undesirable ordeal since the only Internet available in my area was dial-up, and Mandrake was the most readily available distribution at the electronics store (I could have gotten SUSE at a book store, but it was much more expensive). Mandrake was very easy to use and I recommended it as a new user distribution for quite some time after I had moved on to Slackware and Debian for my own use. I had been considering trying a new version recently just to see how it was going. I've been using Xubuntu for the past few years for when I wanted to set up a computer quickly (mostly because of the extensive repositories and apt-get), but I would have expected Mandriva to still be one of the best ways for a new user to become familiar with Linux.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

There may be the odd person still on dial-up but I'm not sure the ftp install floppy image still exists. That was the way to do it over the network before highspeed though. Boy did I learn that quick. Minimal install from ftp install diskette reboot Install desired packages in small groups until complete system filled out This got around the issue of a bad download or lost ftp connection during initial install sending one back to the start of the process. My network installs now follow the same habit; minimal install for first reboot then personalized complete install on top.

Thmiuatga
Thmiuatga

I practically dived into Linux head first in 99 after constructing my first PC when I decided to set aside my Atari STE PC. I asked a friend about Linux and found his answer severely lacking so I decided to just investigate myself. I picked up the RH6.5/w Mandrake Enhancements and ventured into unknown territory. I later switched to Mandrake 7.0 and got hooked on the Star Office package which was included in it. Mandrake was the distro I used on a regular basis til I decided to try other distros as my desire to construct a personal file and print server but I always checked out the latest releases for Mandrake/Mandriva when I could get them. This distro above others I have used has saved me from losing data when I had troubles with MS Windows and I have had many sessions breaking my installation (lurking in the file system as root) and managed to lose data also. There is always hope that this distro will return in a new incarnation and hopefully that return will be soon.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I haven't seen a distro installer manage partitions as nicely as Mandriva does with the custom partition setup option. If it's just one of the other partition utilities, the installer wraps it in a very nice UI. Until recently, I still booted an old Mandriva install disk to partition the drive before rebooting from whatever OS was going on bare metal.

FireSnakeR
FireSnakeR

If this truly happens, then it will be a sad news. i never used Mandriva / Mandrake, however I do remember during Mandrake heyday, it was better than its closest competitor. Like Chaapala wrote "it just works." I do not think it will be a huge loss, except for its nostalgic values. For those of us who were there during its heyday, it is sad to see such a promising star suffers such a terrible fate.

pgit
pgit

Unfortunately, with the exception of 4 debian servers, all the servers I have deployed run Mandriva. I've never had a system breached, even though one of them was definitely targeted for attack. Now, a few of them are still running the 2009 release. Lets not go into the debate over "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," I'll cop to being lazy on the install side, but I monitor the heck out of my machines and the '09 boxes are as safe, maybe safer, than the latest. (I have one with a 3.x kernel) So if they fold, I have some hard decisions to make. First thing, I can update everything to 2011 and try to run that for a couple of years. But to be honest, I started testing alternatives in earnest about 1/2 a year ago, when I saw the move to networkmanager! I figured if they were abandoning such mature, functional and friendly tools for the 'upstream' coming out of fedora, why not use fedora then? I also deployed 2 of the Debian servers in this interim. I'm quite happy with them, but I wouldn't use Debian as a primary desktop system. Till now that was Mandriva, without reservation. This will be a huge loss for me. All the people I have set up with Linux desktops are running Mandriva, with one exception running fedora. (he liked gnome 3)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

offhand, why no Debian on the desktop?

pgit
pgit

I can only explain in esoteric terms... debian seems "soft," it doesn't have the sharp edge Mandriva seems to have. I may be wrong, but I believe Mandriva packages a lot more of the KDE upstream than is done for debian. If I (or another) use gnome 3, may as well go woth fedora, for the same rerason; things are more cutting edge, and seem more configurable. debian's KDE is a lot like suse in look and feel to me, (and other folks who have looked over a few distros together) a word I often hear is "stale." I know the guy who does all the tech for one of the local TV stations, all the transmitter, camera and IT stuff... you name it, if it ain't reading a teleprompter, he does it. He uses debian for everything. Even the (so-called) news writers are using debian desktops, though he's still running gnome 2. But all the graphics you see on TV are processed live on debian, everything that gets transmitted from a local source goes through one debian machine that doubles as this guy's own desktop. I will (of course) look into running debian on a desktop a little closer, when I get the time.

chaapala
chaapala

Circa early 2000's .. Coworker using RedHat: "How did you get such and such to work on your desktop?" Me: "I dunno. I'm using Mandrake, and it just works." This occurred many times. I will miss the distro. I have been a Silver Member/PowerPack buyer since the 1990's. It was my way of paying for and supporting Open Source software. Heck, even the latest Symantec NetBackup works on Mandriva.

ubducted
ubducted like.author.displayName 1 Like

Mandrake was the first distribution which caused me to make that leap of abandoning Windows. I was regularly active on the forums, paid for a Silver (I think) membership and stuck with Mandrake right through to Mandriva. For me, the loss of this distribution will mostly be felt like the passing of a great actor or actress. History is riddled with good ideas and products that flounder for one dumb reason or another. The loss of this distribution won't make a big dent in the Linux space. In fact, there are likely lessons to be had for other distributions (and perhaps open source products) that will make them stronger. And the talent behind Mandriva won't disappear but only serve to improve other projects elsewhere.

jred
jred

But Mandrake 7 (I think) was the first distro that made me take the leap from Slackware :) I spent some time with Caldera, too, now that I think about it. Oh well. Slack is still around...

pgit
pgit

"There was a time when this news would have been a serious blow to the Linux platform. Now? Not so much." That insipid phrase has now worked it's way into NPR's reporting. It's a conspiracy, I tell ya...

zhexo
zhexo

Mandriva was my fist contact with linux and make me fall in love immediately, is sad that we loose al that effort, welcome mageia.

sehamon
sehamon

But I constantly had problems with hardware compatibility, so I went with Red Hat for a while, and finally crashed on Ubuntu. But as to Mandriva being missed, it just reminds me of distros like Moblin and Meego. The inherint flaw in working on Linux distros is capital flow. Those who seem interested in investing seem to have short attention spans.

obxbiker
obxbiker

If it's not short attention spans it's probably just plain not paying attention.

KDJ3209
KDJ3209 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I started with 8.2 and continued to 2011. 2011 was not up to the standards I was used to so I moved to Mageia. Still it will be sad to see Mandriva go.

Toryoni
Toryoni

I applaud KDJ ... However, I too found Mandriva 2011 NOT up to its purported standard(s) ! Ergo I migrated to Mageia 1 and am excited with how their release is performing !!! Mageia for my personal use(s) provide(s) ALL that there is to develop in the software industry ... Further, I have yet to run into anything that would be considered a -WALL.

ykm
ykm like.author.displayName 1 Like

Darn....yet another case of corporate greed hindering software freedom. Regarding mandrake/mandrive be missed....yes it will be, but Mageia is still there. So it might not have lasting effects in the Linux world. I am sure the developers in mageia saw this coming and hence they forked mandriva. Free software should be community driven.....best to keep corporate wolves at bay.

wa7qzr
wa7qzr like.author.displayName 1 Like

Whenever I find something that works, someone/something comes along and kills/gets rid of it. Mandriva is the only Linux distro I've ever found that gets dual-head right. Plus, VirtualBox works very well with it. So, should Mandriva go the way of all great distros, I suppose openSUSE will be the only choice for a distro that stays usable for more than a couple of months. Magea looked good, at first, but they chose to use the very latest iptables, which some lunatic changed the default timezone to UTC, thereby screwing-up every timezone-sensitive firewall script written (as though we have nothing better to do than rewrite all those scripts to reference UTC instead of local time). The alternative is to create the Internet you use locally, then disconnect from the 'bogged-down by multimedia Internet' and just use the computer for writing letters, balancing one's checking account, solving quadratic equations and aiming your radio telescope. I mean, with all that going on, if your software works, don't worry about fixing it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai like.author.displayName 1 Like

For me, it's a nastalga loss like Palm was. Palm and Mandriva both provided products I spent a lot of time with and enjoyed but have since moved on from for various reasons. Both where companies I tried to stick with until competitive products overcame brand loyalty. Both where icons in there markets and will be missed. I hope Mandriva can make a go of it but if not, forks happen; there are other distros that can use the developer time. I do hate to see a retail distro close up shop.

beaverusiv
beaverusiv like.author.displayName 1 Like

First off; nostalgia* I haven't used Mandriva or Mandrake but I know how disheartening it is to hear about a beloved company going under. I hope we don't lose the talent behind it because of this. I always think if I got rich I would totally fund some linux projects (stuff like high-quality games etc), too bad the reason guys get rich is looking after their own interests ahead of what might be a greater good....

TNT
TNT like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I've never used Mandriva but do not discount the contributions the dev team has made to Linux as a whole. I hope the team, if they cannot work on this project any longer, turns their attention to other distros.