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Businesses Linux Business Mandriva Linux

Shareholder Fight Threatens Mandriva SA 193

Posted by timothy
from the many-fond-memories-of-mandrake-linux dept.
LinuxScribe writes "A shareholder fight (French [Google translation]) has put one of the oldest commercial Linux vendors at risk of shuttering on January 16. If Mandriva can't raise 4 million euro in capital by then, it will have no choice but to cease operations."
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Shareholder Fight Threatens Mandriva SA

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  • Dilution sucks! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:29AM (#38619328)

    An existing investor wants to make sure that his investment isn't marginalized through accepting additional investment at unfavorable terms, in turn reducing their effective ownership over Mandriva.
     
      can you blame them?

    • Something is better than nothing. Ask old GM shareholders.

      • by noh8rz2 (2538714)

        Something is better than nothing.

        False choice, mon frere. Investors are hoping for a negotiated solution that will be better than both "something" and "nothing". More power to them. to be fair, this isn't exactly high stakes. Some business drama over a third tier Linux distro that most people have never heard of. If the company goes under then somebody else will just run with the source code, just like Mandriva was born from mandrake code.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          Mandriva is not 3rd tier. That is Mandrake which goes 98 and connectiva to 95. Connectiva was part of the whole Open Linux initiative which history had turned out differently could have been the 1st tier distribution.

          Mandriva wasn't born from Mandrake code, Mandrake acquired other distribution companies like Lycos and added their stuff.

      • If you ask the shareholders, yes, but if you ask the "fund manager" no, s/he prefers you to keep junk papers, as long as you have somehow the illusion that it just might potentially have some value sometimes, so that you keep paying the manager to "handle" these funds...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And now he can own 100% of nothing, all to himself. Ain't he proud!

    • No, the manager of an existing investment fund fears that dilution will make him redundant, he repeatedly blocked any "way out" for Mandriva, his only interest is to keep being paid a yearly percentage of the "nominal value" of the investment for doing absolutely nothing useful.

      It is a general problem of our current brand of financial capitalism that the investor have in practice no direct contact nor real interest in the companies they invest in.
      The decision makers ware the investment fund manager, who man

  • It's a damn shame (Score:5, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:33AM (#38619356) Homepage Journal

    I was a Mandrake/Mandriva guy for years. Before Ubuntu, it was THE "newbie" distro. It's still very user-friendly.

    Once all this uncertainty started about a year ago, I switched to Mageia [mageia.org], which is a community fork of Mandrake.

    • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:49AM (#38619438)
      Same here. In addition to being user friendly, it was, in my opinion, rock solid stable. Mandrake is what got me using Linux not just playing with it. It was never right at the cutting edge; always one back from the latest release of KDE or Gnome or what have you. I stuck with it through the change to Mandriva and still use it on a couple of machines. I'll miss it if it folds.
      • Started with 7.0 myself in 2000. There were a couple of times when they left my old equipment behind (during one such time I used OpenSUSE), but once I had equipment that was more up-to-date I went back to Mandriva.

        (For those asking about the name, Mandrake merged with the Brazilian distro Connectiva and combined the names to get Mandriva.)

        Mind you, the latest version again doesn't work on my equipment, but Mageia does, so you know where I am.

    • by formfeed (703859) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @02:04AM (#38619478)

      Mandrake has a tradition of problems, basically since they were Mandrake. Back then, they used to be the more desktop friendly redhat. Being French, they had good i18n support before redhat did, switched to utf early one, provided international packages, and also multimedia. But at that time their community was registered users only, if you didn't have the current version purchased: no soup for you.

      Mandrake was always reluctant to share documentation. As a result, they cut themselves off from the larger community. Good innovations like a metapackager, that got users out of rpm-dependency hell long before redhat moved in that direction, or also mandrakes system of setting security level never made it back to a wider audience.

      • Re:It's a damn shame (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hduff (570443) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ffudtyoh}> on Saturday January 07, 2012 @03:40AM (#38619818) Homepage Journal

        Mandrake has a tradition of problems, basically since they were Mandrake. Back then, they used to be the more desktop friendly redhat. Being French, they had good i18n support before redhat did, switched to utf early one, provided international packages, and also multimedia. But at that time their community was registered users only, if you didn't have the current version purchased: no soup for you.

        Mandrake was always reluctant to share documentation. As a result, they cut themselves off from the larger community. Good innovations like a metapackager, that got users out of rpm-dependency hell long before redhat moved in that direction, or also mandrakes system of setting security level never made it back to a wider audience.

        I worked on the docs until the 8.x releases, IIRC. They wanted everything done in DocBook or your could not participate.

        The problems with wider adoption of urpmi, mcc and msec and other Mandriva utilities (including their installer) were that they were written in perl and the RedHat world used python. They would also get great ideas for some things and then never maintain them.

        And they had a leader who was more interested in computer aided "learning centers" and squandered a good deal of their cash.

        I still use Mandriva (stopped at 2010.2). I don't care for some of the folks at Mageia, so I'll be sad to see Mandriva go if it does (used it since 5.2).

        • by hduff (570443)

          Oh, and their artwork was always (and continues to be) childish and amateurish looking. Their user icons look like they belong in children's software.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mpol (719243)

        Yes, technically Mandrake/Mandriva was always innovative. I especially liked the installer and the DrakX tools. System-config-whatever doesn't even come close, and it's been 10 years.

        Financially they were always in terrible shape. First there was the investment or loan they had from I think an Americain investor. They controlled management, and decided to head into the directionm of education. The management didn't want that, they wanted to stay in de Linux distro business. That caused the loan/investment t

  • by mfearby (1653) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:43AM (#38619412) Homepage

    Since the Ubuntu desktop wreckage of late I've switched to Debian. couldn't be happer. cut out Shuttleworth's meddling and go straight to the source :-)

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You realize that as awesome as Debian is, it's initial release was in 1996, whereas Red Hat's was in 1993, right?. Considering Mandrake was originally based off of it, I'd say that if anything's the grand-daddy - it's Red Hat.

    • by bmo (77928)

      Oh look, it's an off-topic flame of Ubuntu with nothing to justify it.

      It's like I'm really on /g/

      --
      BMO

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:46AM (#38619428) Journal
    If they were profitable, or even revenue neutral, this wouldn't be a problem.

    I'm not saying anything bad about Mandriva, rather the summary who seems to blame the inability to get loans, whereas the inability to get loans is the natural way of the world. Eventually it happens to everyone.
    • Unless they are too big to fail.
    • there are a large number of profitable, and/or revenue neutral businesses that are closed all the time. why?

      because profit and revenue are not the only things that matter. sometimes politics matters more. and sometimes someone thinks they can make 'more profit' for themselves by closing down a profitable company than by keeping it open.

      the article explains all this very simply.

  • I'd say the real threat to Mandriva is Mandriva itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:56AM (#38619456)

    The phrasing in that letter is kind of torturous and very flowery, and Google translate misses in a few spots.. (But does shockingly well over all.)

    Here's a slightly cleaner translation (my own):

    To the associates and directors of Bryan Garnier:
    Mr. Olivier Garnier De Falletans,
    In this letter, we wish to bring to your attention the extreme gravity of the situation which we believe ourselves, as employees of Mandriva, to be the victims.
    We are determined to no longer sit back and endure this situation passively.
    In less than four weeks, our company could be effectively forced to file for bankruptcy and cease all activities because its indispensable recapitilization has been two times prevented by Linlux SARL, and this even though Townarea Trading & Investment Ltd, our other majority shareholder, was inclined to support entirely the cost, an amount of 4,000,000 euro.
    Now, Linux SARL, an organization which seems to be under your control and that of Mr. Marc Goldberg, your employee and manager, had itself no financial obligation and therefore could not be but a beneficiary of this salvage operation.
    The refusal which was offered by Linlux SARL to all the propositions made during the general assemblies of September 30th and December 5th 2011 is and remains for us absolutely incomprehensible and absolutely unjustifiable.
    There are no less and no more than 45 direct jobs between Paris, Brasil, our external personnel, and all the indirect jobs at our subcontractors and suppliers.
    In addition, following a reorganization already in progress, the operations in Brasil are almost breaking even, and a new business plan lays out the reorientation of the business with solid prospects for growth for next year.
    Very worried for the future of our company, we ask you please to immediately reconsider a decision, which will turn out not only extremely negative for our and your future, but also for that of the world of free software in Europe.
    While waiting for your prompt decision, we hope you will accept, Ms, Mr., our sincere regards.

    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @02:33AM (#38619600)

      (But does shockingly well over all.)

      French is one of the easier (easiest?) languages to translate into English. After the colonization of England by the French, the language was left with many words which haven't changed substantially in meaning from the original French, enough to form a fairly complete vocabulary. In fact, one can get by quite well in English without using too many anglo-saxon words. Moreover, the logical structure of the French grammar is a bonus for machine translation algorithms. It's harder to translate English into French, actually.

      • After the colonization of England by the French, the language was left with many words which haven't changed substantially in meaning from the original French

        This, frankly, is garbage.

        One, the Normans were of Viking origin and spoke a peculiar dialect of French. Two, even if they'd spoken the standard French of the time[1], it and modern French have had a thousand years to diverge.

        In fact, the most common words - family members, body parts, domestic animals, prepositions - are overwhelmingly of Germanic or

        • Its all on wikipedia laddie, look it up. Where do you think Great Britain got its name, from being great? Its Grand Bretagne, as in Bretagne, the northern French province. Most of the common words, for example anything ending in -ion is of French origin. England is indeed an upstart colony of France.

        • One, the Normans were of Viking origin and spoke a peculiar dialect of French. Two, even if they'd spoken the standard French of the time[1], it and modern French have had a thousand years to diverge.

          Of course they did not speak modern French, but your criticism doesn't follow. You might have a point if both French and English had evolved completely independently of the Old French spoken during the Middle Ages (and of each other), but this isn't true even approximately.

          While the peasant vocabular

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        Languages like Flemish, Dutch and German are certainly closer to English than French is.
      • by Cow Jones (615566)

        ... the logical structure of the French grammar...

        Euh? What is this that this is that that?
        (I've got four-twenty-ten-nine problems but my French ain't one)

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        In fact, one can get by quite well in English without using too many anglo-saxon words.

        Not if you want anyone to understand you, you can't. Most English speakers (at least in California) have only the most guttural of English understanding. Words like "venison" or "grandeur" are outside their realm of "comprehension".

    • by aurizon (122550)

      It will be interesting to see how the fall into bankruptcy is managed. With the connivance of the right judge to set the right trustee, who relays to one side what the Russian partners bid is, so it can be slightly beaten, then the Greenberg faction will own it all. Even if they pay a high bid, since Greenberg will win they will get most of the money back after paying creditors, and they will have control of whatever is paid and they can quickly divert the kitty to themselves by well known legal methods.

      Th

  • Balance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The problem here is that so many distributions are high-quality and free that these days, you need to offer something extra in order to either excite people into using and coding to support your distro and creating hype and popularity or giving them enough in support to encouraged a paid-for environment that works. With Ubuntu, it's been usability...it's such a far-reaching and diverse distro with several major window managers offered that it covers a lot of ground -- and handing out disks for free way back

    • look guy, this is not what happened. just take a few minutes and read the article. its not about products, its not about business models. its about one gangster mowing down a bunch of innocent people, robbing them, taking their money, and selling their clothes for a profit.

      this child like fairyland view of how high-stakes capitalism works: "build a good product, people will buy it, therefore if you go bankrupt, your product must have been bad", is just absolutely hilarious, and sad.

  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @08:47AM (#38620832) Journal

    I have been with Mandriva since version 9, it was the distro I picked which got me into Linux, so have been with the distro for a lot of years now. However since the beta of Mageia 1 came out, I jumped ship - I didn't want to deal with Mandriva's new menu system for a start.

    The problem I see with a shareholder revolt is, the company should have found a way to not fire their main developers in the first place. Now they are working on the community Mageia Linux [mageia.org] version, and who is left at Mandriva?

    IMO if they wanted a better distro, you should get more people to bother to report bugs so they can be investigated, not think someone else has found it. This should be made easy for non technical users so that others with more experience may try re-creating the bug. The various distro webpages to report a bug are way over the top for a new person to understand and report a bug.

    I myself among now lots of others reported various Nouveau free nVidia driver [freedesktop.org] issues where there are problems if you want to switch to the real nVidia driver to get 3D. Stuff like Compiz, Google Earth, or BZFlag won't work with the Nouveau driver.... but 2D stuff works fine with Nouveau.

  • This has been the history of Mandriva, originally Mandrake. And, it isn't because of being a desktop distro, but because management decisions at critical points of its life (or would that be mis-management decisions). Anyway, it does appear that this time, the large beast is in its final death throws.

  • Isn't Mandriva another MS partner? Like SuSE, Xandros, and Linspire?

    I think all the MS supporting Linuxes are going to die out. And it can't happen fast enough for me. Plenty of non-scam Linux distros out there.

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