Controlling Interest in Mandriva Sold To Russian Firm; Former Developers Fork Distribution

By Caitlyn Martin
September 20, 2010 | Comments: 6

Last Friday the newspaper Vedomosti reported that a Russian firm, NGI, has purchased a controlling interest in Mandriva. The Quintura blog published a short English language summary of the article today. NGI had previously purchased a 5% stake in Mandriva in July for an undisclosed sum as part of the €3 million financial rescue of the company according to the Vedomosti article. NGI and Ceychas Fund are investing an additional €2 million to acquire controlling interest, including purchasing shares currently held by two other investors.

Back in July Quintura published an English-language summary of another Vedomosti article in which Ilya Massukh, Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Mass Communications announced plans to develop a Russian national operating system based on Linux. In today's post Quintura added: "Mandriva could aim to bid to create Linux-based Russian national operating system." Mandriva would likely be competing with ASPLinux and ALT Linux. One of selection priorities is that development takes place in Russia.

On Saturday a Paris-based group of former Mandriva developers who lost their jobs when Mandriva liquidated Edge-IT, their development subsidiary, announced that they would be forking Mandriva and creating a new distribution called Mageia. The announcement, which features an impressive list of 56 former Mandriva employees and prominent members of the Mandriva community, was the lead news story in this today's DistroWatch Weekly.

The Mageia announcement explained the decision to fork Mandriva:

People working on it just do not want to be dependent on the economic fluctuations and erratic, unexplained strategic moves of the company.

Forking an existing open source project is never an easy decision to make, and forking Mandriva Linux is a huge task.

It was not an impulsive decision. We all spoke a lot before: former employees, Cooker contributors and users' communities. We collected opinions and reactions in the past weeks as we needed to get some kind of global agreement and to gather, before going ahead."

The structure of the new organization behind Mageia was also described in the announcement:
A not-for-profit organization will be set up in the coming days and it will be managed by a board of community members. After the first year this board will be regularly elected by committed community members.

This organization will manage and coordinate the distribution: code & software hosting and distribution, build system, marketing, foster communication and events. Data, facts, roadmaps, designs will be shared, discussed through this organization."

It will be interesting to see how the new Russian owners and developers of Mandriva move forward and how far Mandriva and Mageia diverge from one another. It does now seem certain that the popular distribution which has been known as Mandriva will continue and move forward, albeit in two directions with two different teams rather than one.


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6 Comments

This one should prove to be interesting.

In one corner a team of paid programmers in Russia giving us their vision of "user friendly Linux" based on where Mandriva is today. Futher developed by a team who has zero experience coding Mandriva or maintaining a distro.

In the other corner an experienced team of people, many of whom are French no maintaining a community based distro without having a corporate sponsor and/or overloard.

I would hope that both would create very interesting distros that I would want to run. Fostering innovation and a new way of looking at how Desktop Linux could look.

In reality I think the Russian team is going to run Mandriva into the ground and Magiea is going to produce another nice distro like Puupy, Mephis, or Arch Linux does.

Xenophobe much Elder Geek?

In reality I think the Russian team is going to run Mandriva into the ground and Magiea is going to produce another nice distro like Puupy, Mephis, or Arch Linux does.

You have no clue who is involved but you have already preconceived notion.

If Mandriva manages to be that mythical russian distro, good for them.
I think that everyone should have a national OS,...

As for Mageia, what are they going to do that PCLinuxOS hasnt done?

I hope egos and penises are sheated quickly and both groups can work together but in these new separate roles.
Both would benefit from the others (if the russians invest money and have plans for it) presence.

"As for Mageia, what are they going to do that PCLinuxOS hasnt done?"

Ah, the former Mandriva is a PClos clone!!! This has been always claimed..

But does (and since when?) PClos ship :

wxMaxima?

Sagemath? http://www.sagemath.org/

Qgis-Grass inetgration?

Nota : I only quoted three softwares in my (and tens of colleagues) domain of interest : they are *very* difficult to package, and even compile from sources.

This is not the first time Russia contacts Mandriva. ALT Linux was originally created as a Mandrake based distribution focused on the Russian language support (yes, at the times when THAT was a problem).

As far as I remember, there were no serious conflicts between them and Mandrake during the long period of the ALT Linux growth. So, peaceful and happy coexistence and/or cooperation with the forking team may be an option, especially if the Mandriva purchase is a strategic decision.

It may be a coincidence, but currently Linux in Russia has a chance to get some state money being installed in schools all over the country. The following link may give you an idea of the climate this happens in

http://www.altlinux.com/en/news/item/607/

Your article was very good and very informative, but the last sentence (out of ..) is a bit optimistic:

Mandriva will likely become a profit oriented society , with some national constraints ... There will be little efforts, if any, to incorporate new softwares (sagemath might make a student very happy) and new hardware (Mandriva was often chosen because new disks could be reliably handled with). It might be somewhat better than most of the nationalist linuxen, and worse than RH.
Mageia will have too many difficulties to find fundings, and the most sensible people will join Fedora, giving Fedorian users an access to scilab (some of my colleagues love it and Fedora could not package it -nor could I compile it reliably from source, though it is much easier..-)
That not so bright scenario (it is not the worst one, if mageian forget to join Fedora, it is worse) is at least as likely as the one you hint in conclusion...

It's then end of November, the Mandriva forums (counted 47 at one point) are busier than the Mageia forums (14 max at one point). Distrowatch has both Mandriva and Mageia at about 700, but today Mageia is currently doing alpha tests.

Being pessimistic, Major Dôme has some valid points, several committed star developers have migrated elsewhere. Mandriva seems to have lost some direction. Mageia hasn't taken-over the lion's share of Mandriva users yet.

Being optimistic, it is still hard to say with certainty which way this will go since you have to look at the long-term trend, which is that the Russians just obtained something new and still got to figure-out this massive asset called Mandriva - it's definitely going to take time to get any local_Russian developers up to speed to take the reins to move this forwards, so we'll obviously see a bit of stagnation/lag during this transition, assuming NGI is firmly committed to move this forwards. Mageia seems to have returned more to the roots of what I remember Mandriva was (example, KDE without the ROSA panel, and still includes the other desktops as options).

For now, go with what you find as your best choice, but keep an eye on what's happening with the other distro(s).

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