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Saving Mandriva

ComputerWorldUK - Simon Phipps - The new management at Mandriva believes that a community-centric approach is the way to save the company from bankruptcy and rebuild lost trust. Do they have it right?

Can new management and a new, community-centric open source approach rescue Mandriva from bankruptcy? Initially called Mandrake Linux, it was one of the early trailblazers of the open source revolution. Based on an early version of Red Hat, but with a KDE user interface, it became especially popular in France and emerged as a distribution in its own right. After merging with Brazil's Conectiva in 2004, it was renamed Mandriva and continued to be a key player in the European Linux market.

But by the start of this decade, it was in serious trouble after an acrimonious split with its founder. While popular in Latin America, Mandriva's star was small and dim next to Red Hat on the server, SUSE in Europe and Ubuntu on the desktop. Instead of falling back on its community, the company fell out with them. The result was a popular fork to create the Mageia distribution. Despite triggering this righteous uprising, Mandriva failed to make its numbers and fell into bankruptcy, surviving only at the grace of certain investors and the French government.

Fast-forward to today, and a new strategy. With a fresh injection of cash both from the Paris regional government and from Swiss investor Jean-Manuel Croset, the company is making up with its community and making bold plans for the future. Croset has taken over as CEO and has fresh, pragmatic ideas about how Mandriva can rise like a phoenix from the ashes of past mismanagement. He's brought OpenOffice and LibreOffice community veteran Charles-Henri Schulz on board as marketing manager to drive a renewal of community relations - a positively received development. You can watch my interview with them: