Mandriva : An obituary

Mandriva is certainly a rather unique company; it has also been the company for which I was privileged enough to work two times, one in 2003 as an intern for several months. Back then I used to handle the national resellers’network. The second time was ten years afterwards in 2012 and 2013, this time as a consultant helping them with their Open Source strategy and their marketing activities. One can see how this company is rather special for me. During my last “tenure” there I got to know what we now know to be the “last” team of Mandriva, its last incarnation as a company. Last week, we learned that the company has been liquidated, which essentially means not just that the company filed for bankruptcy, but that the company as such exists no more. Mandriva went several times (three times?) into bankruptcy, but was never obviously liquidated. At this stage I have no idea what became of the assets, nor its subsidiaries.mandriva-logo-opt

What I can say at this stage is that these news make me rather sad. It does not come as unexpected as the health of Mandriva as a corporate entity was never solid; I hoped in 2013 that it would recover. It seems I was wrong. I am sad because of the people who work(ed) there; many were good people, a few of them good friends of mine even. Most of them have been working round the clock to make Mandriva rise again from its ashes. The task seems to have been too difficult. While I was there it was obvious that while many opportunities were created, mastering the execution with the little resources there was often proved ill-fated. Nonetheless we – they tried. I would like to thank everyone, past and current employees from this company who tried really hard to make Mandriva the company that was true to the dreams of its founders. In a sense, Mandriva failed to make this dream a reality only in so far as it did not reach all the way to the success as a company. The dream behind the company, however, lives on elsewhere.

Mandriva’s dream was to create a Linux distribution anyone could use; a distribution that would be user-friendly, easy to manage, with great hardware support. Many readers would think of this description as fitting for Ubuntu, or Suse. They forget a major part of the history of Linux, a part that was written by Mandriva, née Mandrake Linux.

Today, Mandriva may have bit the dust for good, but its legacy lives on in direct line in two projects: Mageia  and OpenMandriva. These are two rather different projects technically speaking, but if you ever get the chance, fire a live-cd from any of these two. Run it as a test on your computer. What you will see is the philosophy of Mandriva, the one that has existed since 1998; in this regard, I can safely state that Ubuntu has not really invented anything: but it *did get more things right and took advantages from more resources*. To this day I am proud to have been part of this adventure, in various capacities, and at two distinctively different periods of Mandriva. I am happy to have been able to help bootstrap the OpenMandriva project; and I’m happy to have seen the birth of the Mageia project, announced a few days before the LibreOffice project. In any case, there are great people running two great (albeit different) projects.

Mandriva is no more; its children live and have an exciting future ahead of them; we should know how to put this behind us and help prepare what could be the next big thing for software freedom. Good bye, Mandriva.

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