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Mandriva Businesses

Mandrake Asks for Support 555

Many people wrote in with this news: "Mandrake Linux today reports having a short-term money crunch. They call for users to become members to help float them through the short-term viability issue. Membership dues are the preferred method over budget/project cuts."
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Mandrake Asks for Support

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:27AM (#3146836)

    Just stop paying your employees for about a year. I heard it worked for Loki... oh wait.

    • Damn. One of the things I liked about Mandrake 8.1 was that Quake 3 Arena played it, right out of the box. No downloading 20 different libaries and compiling them from scratch....
  • I've joined (Score:5, Informative)

    by miracle69 ( 34841 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:31AM (#3146856)
    There are currently 2,000 Mandrake Club members. If they can get 8,000 more, they're fine.

    There are multiple subscription options, all with the same priveledges. It's 5 bucks a month for the cheapest option (which I had to choose currently because of my financial situation).

    It's totally worth it to me. 8.2 is showing how mature Mandrake can make a desktop distro, and I'm impressed with not only their attention to detail, but their attention to security, as well as decreasing the learning curve. They warn you during install about what packages may be insecure and what might be seen by the world. They packaged the Bastille firewall into the distro. And their draktools now have an option to display what the GUI tools are doing to which log files.

    And to top it all off, 8.2 has had 4 betas and now 1 Release Candidate (which has some critical bugs, so expect a second RC). 60 bucks? Deal of the century. I run it on every machine I own, and install a copy on any Doze Machine that I build for friends.

    Surely there are 8,000 more people here on /. that use LM enough to fork over 60 bucks.
    • Re:I've joined (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jonabbey ( 2498 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:35AM (#3146884) Homepage

      Well, make that 7,999 members more, I guess, though I didn't see where they mentioned how many members they've got.

      I don't even run Mandrake, but I have been giving it serious consideration.

      It seems quite reasonable for a Linux company to operate like PBS and Public Radio do, to me.. free product? Used by millions? Sure, I'll chip in for that. They've even got premiums!

      Seriously, though, this shit can't go on forever, can it?

      • Re:I've joined (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Isn't PBS tax deductible?

        I (somewhat) seriously wonder if that would float over at Revenue Can. (IRS for most of you). :-/

        Wasn't there some similar deduction plan for investing in research technology?
      • Re:I've joined (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jred ( 111898 )
        Well, make that 7,999 members more, I guess, though I didn't see where they mentioned how many members they've got.

        It was mentioned in an email from Mandrake. I opened a browser to go see about joining, and saw this story here :)

        That said, Mandrake is my fave desktop distro. I've had many barely tech literate ppl use my PC & have no problems navigating. I use Slackware for servers, but that's mainly because I like to go barebones for servers. Desktops are where Mandrake shines, though.

      • by qurob ( 543434 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:27AM (#3148321) Homepage
        I can just see Linux torvalds and the OPEN SOURCE TELETHON!

        Pledge $400 and recieve this great Linux Penguin Doll!

        Pledge $1,000 and get this great boxed set of RedHat 7.2!
    • It's totally worth it to me. 8.2 is showing how mature Mandrake can make a desktop distro, and I'm impressed with not only their attention to detail, but their attention to security, as well as decreasing the learning curve.

      I generally download ISOs the first time and, if I like the product, buy a boxed set when I upgrade. I downloaded Mandrake 8.0 and loved it -- the easy installation, the quick support for the one problem I had, the tools. So I bought 8.1 and had all sorts of headaches, finally going back to 8.0 and just updating the kernel and the other things I care about.

      It's good to hear positive news about 8.2. I'll try it and if it works (have they fixed supermount?) pay for 8.3, or maybe register as a member. But right now, Yellow Dog is getting my money for their next release; Mandrake is back on probation.

  • Mandrake is a great product. It is easy to use and has been free so far. This time I will help out. I am still fairly new to Linux but love what I see so far. Mandrake is by far the easiest to use and it would be a real losse to the Linux world if Mandrake went away.
  • hmm.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. Awktagon ( 233360 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:32AM (#3146859) Homepage

    From the page:

    an award-winning Linux distribution that is a solid competitor to both UNIX and Window$

    Window$? Very unprofessional.

    All other trademarks are copyrighted by their respective owners.

    Trademarks are copyrighted? What does that mean??

    Well, anyway, I hope they don't go under, as I was thinking of switching from Red Hat to Mandrake on a new P4 (I always buy my Linux distros to support the companies, and so should you).

  • by cnelzie ( 451984 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:32AM (#3146865) Homepage

    Of course, like most Linux companies, most of that work is based upon the OSS that they use.

    I for one say that we must rally behind them and all other commercial Linux enterprises. Many of those enterprises pay to further the development of the programs that most all of us use. From GNOME to KDE and many other applications and environments.

    I for one say, enough of the preaching about how great Linux (Jesus) is, how terrible Windows (Hell) is and how bad the great Microsoft (Satan) is. Enough of forcing Linux (The Gospel) down people'r throats.

    We as a community have to back those companies that have brought Linux to where it is today. I do it and will continue to do so. I have a cable modem and can download a full 3 disc ISO in no time. However, when that distro hits the shelves, I pick it up and buy it. I am also going to be one of the first to buy a copy of StarOffice 6.0 when it is released.

    Why? Why am I so "Crazy"? The answer is simple, I believe in the power of Linux and OSS and I know that the companies that back and push Linux and OSS forward simply are unable to exist without any money. Do the research yourself, find out who is paying the money to have people code free software like KDE, GNOME and many others. Find out who pays to maintain the bandwidth for those groups servers.

    • So what you're saying is we should pay for free software, because the companies that make it better won't survive otherwise?

      Isn't that sort of what "commercial" software does?

      And thus my friend you have found one of the true problems with Open Source software. Having the source can only take you so far, since only a very limited subset of the computer using population even knows what to do with it. When it comes down to it, someone still has to pay for Open Source software.

      This post is not meant to bash OSS in any way. It is simply meant to point out one of the fundamental obstacles to furthering these systems. It seems that the most productive development of OSS comes from commercial development houses. If they continue to fail, then all that will be left is RedHat and a bunch of independent programmers. And that's not any better than what we have now.
      • You just dont get it.

        You are paying for a service. Heres your choice. Pay Mandrake to make your code. Or code it yourself.

        Its not about being free, its about us owning the informaiton, WE own the code, but someone has to write it. We are paying for the code to be written for us, its a traditional service, you walk into a store and you pay a person to make you a sandwitch because you dont have time or cant make your own.

        For the price of a mc donalds sandwitch every month, you can pay for enough source code to compete with Microsoft Windows and even surpass it.

  • Maybe if they didn't donate $1,000 to Rob Levin [], aka lilo, they wouldn't have as many problems?
  • by long_john_stewart_mi ( 549153 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:35AM (#3146881)
    ... with in-your-face-advertising. Something like the new ads on Slashdot. I was almost killed by an IBM banner replying to this post. At least it got my attention... =)
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markj02 ( 544487 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:37AM (#3146893)
    By all means, if you think Mandrake is the best thing since sliced bread, support them. However, I think given that they want to be a company that wants to derive profit from making a Linux distribution people will buy, one may well ask the question: why? There is nothing wrong with being for-profit, but if they can't make a good business out of it now, why should they be able to in the future?
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by nzkoz ( 139612 )
      There is nothing wrong with being for-profit, but if they can't make a good business out of it now, why should they be able to in the future?

      Well they're claiming that it's a short-term cash crunch. Often this sort of thing happens because businesses sign up for large contracts paid in installments. i.e $1m paid quarterly over 15 years. If they've got some big cash due in soon then this could all be temporary.

      But, this sort of situation is why companies go public (like mandrake did) and I'd wonder where their capital has gone. Perhaps they haven't been as frugal as required to survive in these recessionary times.

      They could well be able to survive (and thrive!) after this short hurdle. But given how close all this is to their IPO...... Maybe they won't

      • But, this sort of situation is why companies go public (like mandrake did) and I'd wonder where their capital has gone. Perhaps they haven't been as frugal as required to survive in these recessionary times.

        As the article suggests, they are paying for the screw-ups of the previous management. While the big management shake-up happened before they went public, it's not surprising that there are lingering costs considering how bad the previous management appears to have been.

        Some relavent links:
        MandrakeSoft loses more than CEO []
        Mandrake refocuses on Linux business []

        I remember reading another article that went into more detail on the past managements blunders, but unfortunately, I can't recall where. Sorry!
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bhsx ( 458600 )
      Because mandrake is providing a 'public service' without public support (i.e. government grants, tax monies). They don't receive tax money for any of the service they provide to the french population, let alone the rest of the world. They would love to contain 100% GPL code in their commercial box sets; but considering what they give you, it's just not possible. Their download versions however, if not as 'all inclusive' as their box sets, are quite a nice representation of just how usable, efficient, beautiful and refined a Public Service Software offering can be.
    • come on (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wunderhorn1 ( 114559 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @01:00AM (#3147004)
      I'm sure you can think of a few reasons why a small company in a niche market could have trouble getting started, but might still grow to be successful.

      And a few reasons why users of said company's products might have an interest in seeing that company survive.

      Especially when said users have probably been using said product for free.

      Personally, I've been downloading new Mandrake ISOs for 3 years now, and I'd much rather donate than buy a boxed version of the distro. More of my $$ go to fund development that way.

    • This is their business. They offer a service, no diffrent than AOL or your local cable company. Its more similar to a very good magazine.
      You subscribe to them, they offer you a community, and plenty of benifits, also you help with the development of Linux Mandrake.

      Basically they are offering us the choice. We can subscribe from our own free will, or with Mandrake 9.0 they will just force you to subscribe to download it like Lindows and Suse and others.

      They are giving us the choice to tell them how we want them to run their business, if you dont subscribe then you want them to run their business more like a Redhat or Suse, and sell to corperations and OEMs and not offer any free services, because a company in the red doesnt have the money to offer a free forum, mandrake expert, mandrake community pages, and so on.
      • This is their business. They offer a service, no diffrent than AOL or your local cable company. Its more similar to a very good magazine.

        AOL and my local cable company don't ask for donations; they have business models that has them provide a product, and people pay in order to get the product.

        if you dont subscribe then you want them to run their business more like a Redhat or Suse

        Well, there are several collaborative free operating system projects that do not have a commercial tie-in, so it isn't necessary. I just think it would be better if Mandrake declared what they actually want to be: a money-making commercial enterprise, or a community-supported system. I think it's not right to try to be both, because any company that tries to be both is basically just turning volunteer labor into profits.

    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Durindana ( 442090 )
      Please pay attention to what they said! It's not always the case that if you've generated business interest in a product, even signed some deals to distribute it to users, that you see an immediate revenue stream.

      Your customers are going to want to pay in installments, not in an up-front lump sum. Or perhaps by the service incident, as with many proprietary companies. Either way, it's very easy to see how they could foresee positive revenue growth a year away - but not be able to collect on that right now.

      I know this is cliche, but look at Amazon - nobody's run up that stock because it was making a profit at inception. Now it has double-digit market share after quarter after quarter of red ink. Business doesn't always pay off short-term - if you're going to support Mandrake, do it now. As they've made abundantly clear, they need it - now.

    • Service based, If thousands of us are willing to subscribe they wont need to sell anything.

      Cant you see whats going on? If 10,000-20,000 people subscribe they wont need to sell any CDs at all, they'll be set, we will be their busineess model.
  • by object.orient() ( 150871 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:39AM (#3146903)
    I mean, it's only $5 and it was the first distribution I thought got it right for intermediate/beginner Linux users. Folks like me who, at the time, knew quite a bit about computers and programming, but knew nothing about Linux. Plus it was the easiest to install early on for folks (again, like me) who had grown used to the relative ease of install and use of Windows and the Mac.

    FWIW, I first installed an early 5.x of Red Hat but got ticked when it didn't work with my sound card. It took me about a month to learn everything I needed to get sound working. After that, I muddled along with Red Hat for a while, but Mandrake came along and really added some value to what Red Hat had done, IMHO. The install recognized everything and even got X working properly. It also helped that the distro included more up-to-date packages (esp. of GNOME and KDE) and the -- probably worthless to me in the grand scheme of things, but still a factor -- pentium optimizations.

    Best of all, I think they've kept up their end of the bargain. They consistently provide a really good distro with up-to-date packages. They've done a lot of work on getting Linux to recognize hardware more seemlessly.

    Yep, all things considered I think they're worth $5.
  • When you can pay for software after you've evaluated that you like it and that it's worth paying for. The only other way is to 'borrow' the warez and then decide whether to pay for it.

    I like this system better. C'mon everyone, give them some money. They really have earned it!
  • Short Term (Score:3, Funny)

    by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:43AM (#3146929) Journal
    Mandrake is great and all (I use it), but how short term is this money crunch going to be?

    Could it be that they don't have any viable business strategy, and too much competition?

    I love linux and open source dearly, but when it comes to my money, I am cold and calculating. I'll send a check to Microsoft because they force me to. That's a business transaction. I'll use Mandrake's products that they give away for free, that's another business transaction (dumb on their part).

    But when they start asking for handouts, that's when I ask "Why don't you guys get real jobs?" I like your products and all, but I am not grateful, any more than I am grateful for any consumer product. I am not grateful for my TV set or my DVD player. Some engineer probably enjoyed designing them. Designing the specs may have even been like masturbating for him. I don't care. I bought a product. If a company was running itself into the ground giving me those things for nothing or next to nothing, I still wouldn't be grateful. I'd be happy, but my feelings toward the company would be those of pity.

    I mean it, start a viable company that actually benefits the capitalist system. Pay some taxes and fund a war or two in the Middle East, why don't you?
    • I can't help but notice from a quick scroll through your recent posts that you have not made a similar comment vis-a-vis slashdot. Any particular reason for the double standard?

      • Double standard? I simply haven't posted anything about the topic before. As far as slashdot goes, they are an entertainment company providing a service. They charge people through either commercials or for direct commercial-free access. If that makes them money, good for them. If not, well, I'm hardly about to start distributing my own personal coporate welfare.

        Mandrake may be trying to make money by suppling support, but it's a fools game. Either their product is so bad that most people need support and give up, or it's too good, and they still don't make money. Plus they have too many competitors. Well, time for Corporate Darwinism to the rescue.

    • Provide a service to us, or provide a service to other businesses.

      Mandrake is giving us the choice, do we want them to be like Redhat? OR do we want them working for us.

      If they provide services for us, we have to be their business model, their source of income, if we refuse to do so, they will provide services to people like IBM and other big companies.

      Its $5 a month, thats the price of a mc donalds meal which i bet you all eat every day. $5 a month people, I'm supporting transgaming, i'm pretty much broke, but i will support mandrake as soon as i get the money to do so.
  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:49AM (#3146952) Homepage Journal

    This seems to be a losing proposition, in the end. Begging users for handouts? Will Mandrake move to the public radio-method of fundraising? "Hi, your boot is interrupted this week to ask, 'User, do you enjoy Mandrake enough to pay $10 a month, or $20 a month? Become a member now, and we'll throw in a Signature Logo t-shirt, signed by RMS'"

    This is where normal businesses say "what we're doing isn't working--let's try something else". Mandrake (or any Free Software-based business) doesn't have to show massive profits, but it does have to keep the doors open.

    Selling the CDs don't work. Too easy to download ISOs, too easy to simply compile new apps. Selling services works, but only to a select few. RedHat may be able to get away with it, but isn't Mandrake a French company? Too far away, conceptually if not literally.

    What is Mandrake's raison d'etre? A desktop-friendly Linux, if I'm not mistaken. Mandrake used to be a rip-off of RedHat, before it matured.

    If Mandrake can cut costs by returning to that model--a "wrapper" around a RedHat install that caters to the needs of a desktop user. It can leech off RedHat for the hard stuff, and focus it's energies (and money) on keeping the doors open.

    I hate to see them die, but duplicating effort can kill a small company. Unless Mandrake decides to finance the nerds with MandrakePorn. That, I understand, is doing okay.

    • Its called a service. They beg users for handouts because they are actually trying to help the USER. They are giving us the option that Redhat didnt give us.

      Would you prefer they offer services only to businesses like Redhat? Please. The begging is for OUR benifit, if you ran the company you would become another Redhat like company and in order to do that, Mandrake cannot be the same Mandrake.

      No more forums, no more mandrake expert, in fact no free services at all.

      Mandrake would instead force you to pay $60 before you can even access member services, you wouldnt have free services.

      So you see, they are giving you the choice right now, if we the users offer them enough money to earn a profit, they'll base a business model around us, if not, they'll deal with businesses, and forget we exsist.

      Also Mandrake is no longer based on Redhat, that was 6.1, try using mandrake before you actually talk about how it works.

      Mandrake die? They arent in position to die, in fact they are going to profit either way, they are simple giving us the choice, do we want them to profit off of us, or off of businesses.

      I mean why should any consumer oriented businesses ever do anything for us if we prove ourselves to be greedy leeches, thats why they are focusing on PDAs and the server market and not the Desktop, or Gaming markets, because we havent PROVEN to them that we will pay.

      Well if you want these companies to work for us, then put your money up and force them to work for us.

      Its that simple, and just like with transgaming, if you want games in linux you'll subscribe, if you want a good Desktop Linux thats built based on what we want and not so much what businesses want, then you'll pay up.

      You have the choice, make your decision.
  • What's that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tester ( 591 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:50AM (#3146960) Homepage
    Why the heck would I want to subsidise a for-profit company? If they want money, they should issue more stock. This is a for PROFIT company. They seem to be trying to get money from people without having to dilute their stock... They are a publicly traded company (on some french micro-market). RedHat issued stock twice in a very succesful IPO and post-IPO offering. Why can't they do the same? If I give them money, I want to share the profits if there ever are any.

    This is not a charity! If you want to help Free Software, give to the FSF or SPI ( aka the debian foundation).. They will even give you tax deduction.

    Giving Mandrake Inc. money is just throwing it out of the window! If they can't make money as a for-profit company, well they should and they deserve to go bankrupt. At least, its all free software and someone else can maybe pick it up and make a business with a serious business model.

    Please stop that non-sense! If you want to give, give to a charity!
  • I always hear people making noise about supporting your favorite distro. Personally, I could care less if 90% of the Linux distros disappeared. Let Mandrake die... It's just a bastard distro of a bastard distro.

    Would anybody really be upset if we were only left with SuSE, Slackware, Debian (& RedHat I suppose). You can always make your own, and/or customize one of the existing distros to fit your needs.

    Save the money would would normally spend to bail out a distro company, and instead spend it on Linux apps. (Have you forgotten about Loki already?)
    • by dvdeug ( 5033 )
      Would anybody really be upset if we were only left with SuSE, Slackware, Debian (& RedHat I suppose).

      Mandrake does a lot of work in internationalizing code and has bought and freed several programs. As a Debian developer, I certainly prefer them around to SuSE, who rarely helps anyone but themselves.

      Save the money would would normally spend to bail out a distro company, and instead spend it on Linux apps. (Have you forgotten about Loki already?)

      Why do I care about Loki? What Linux apps do I want to spend money on? Mandrake has given me much more than spending money on any Linux apps would.
    • by ibbey ( 27873 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @02:21AM (#3147310) Homepage
      This is +4 interesting? I've rarely read more blatant Flamebait.

      As others have pointed out, Mandrake makes significant contributions to the Linux world. Mandrakes DiskDrake partitioning utility (for example) is better then some commercial I've seen. And unlike most other distributions, everything Mandrake does is GPL'd (politely correct me if this is wrong. At the very least, most of what they do is GPL'd).

      As for all of the other distributions, while some may be less relavent then others, they all contribute in one way or another. At the least, they come up with new ideas, some of which may eventually find there way into the big distros.

      Don't support them if you don't want to, but if they die, all Linux users will directly or indirectly suffer as a result.
    • Simple Economics (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cardinal ( 311 )
      This touches on an important point which most of the people posting in this article need to realize: The fact that Mandrake being a company that supports and sells Open Source software is completely irrelevant to the real issue here, which is Economics 101.

      There's a market for Linux distros. That's obvious. RedHat's making a profit, Mandrake's on track to. However, that doesn't mean there's a market for all the distros out there that want to make money on packaging, services, and support.

      If the market isn't large enough to support all the distros that are in business today, some of them have to go, plain and simple. Either through closing the doors or consolidating with another distro to lower costs. Once that happens (perhaps a few times over), the market will have itself a few distros who can actually operate profitably. And this is a good thing, even if it means we lose some distros!

      Sure, Mandrake wouldn't be my first choice to prune from the list, but that's not up to me, or to any of us as individuals, it's up to the market as a whole.

      I don't know why anyone feels commercial Linux distros should be treated as though they're special. They're selling a product. They're a business. Yes, they love Open Source, we do to, and we're glad they're here. None of that matters when it comes down to keeping the doors open, because if they can't keep the doors open on their own, the sure as hell aren't going to by panhandling before their userbase. And frankly, I'd rather see just a handful of Linux companies succeed than a whole lot of them scrape by.
  • by dstone ( 191334 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:54AM (#3146975) Homepage
    I see Mandrake as a fantastic Linux distro. I commonly recommend it above Red Hat and even above the otherwise really great (but more effortful to install) Debian. Definitely, it's what I suggest to my Windows colleagues for a taste of Linux.

    Anyways, that's what's kind of ironic about their plea for a subscription-based Member Club. Their perfect niche is Linux newbies, but those newbies probably won't grok the concept of why they should subscribe monthly for their OS. (In fact, it tends to be the Linux crowd shouting at them to NOT buy into evil subscription models that are coming down the pipe by Microsoft.) And those of us that "get" it and recognize how important Mandrake could be are likely "move on" to other distros like Debian (for their social contract [])), or maybe even dip into something like OpenBSD (for its priorities on security and robustness []). Anyways, as I'm skipping around installing different distros for different purposes, it's hard for me to buy into a Membership for just one. Sigh.

    Mandrake, your excellent installer has probably got you unfairly pigeonholed!
  • by Ashcrow ( 469400 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:56AM (#3146979) Homepage
    Mandrake makes a very good product. It's easy to isntall, update, and use. It is the distro of choice (for the most part) for those Windows refuges. I urge users of Mandrake that do not purchase the boxed sets to support Mandrake for at least a few months.

    I've noticed a few people posting saying that it is a bad idea to 'come crying to the users for money.' I see it a diffrent way all together. It seems that they are asking the community in which they have dedicated time and development to for some support to continue their work.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:58AM (#3146990)
    I use Mandrake, but I for one do not plan to send them anything. And I plan to continue using Mandrake, for free, because that is exactly what their business model calls for. If open-source is a viable business model, as is so often argued here, then it deserves to be judged by hard, cold, business metrics - namely, whether companies based on this model can survive on their merits alone. Contrary and au-courant opinions aside, it appears that most companies based on this model CAN'T survive, and Mandrake appears to be just one in what is a growing list of failures. Consumers AND the capital markets appear to have spoken somewhat decisively on Mandrake.

    And if Mandrake ultimately ends up surviving, by measure of donations/contributions, I'll judge it as a feasible example of a charity case. Because it seems clear that Mandrake is not going to survive on the merit of the saleability of its products and can only survive by appeals to the goodwill of the open-source community. But the long-term problem is (and it IS a long-term problem, not a short-term one as the source post claims), the community only has so much pocket change to give to so many panhandlers. There is no reason to suspect that a bit of cash here and now is going to somehow change the fundamental, underlying economic reality that there aren't many people willing to pay for software which by rights they don't have to pay for.
  • Support your Distro (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Apostata ( 390629 )
    I think anyone who's had a Mandrake system on their computer for more than two point-releases without paying for a box should join their Club or buy their boxed 8.2 when it's released.

    It's as simple as that. Try it out free? Absolutely. Test-drives are good. But if you're not moving to anything else (even though you swear that "some day I'm going to try ...") give back to Mandrake for turning their distro into something very distinctive.

    It would be a crying shame for this company to fall down at this point in their growth, especially when so many of it's users never spend a cent to support them.
    • It would be a crying shame for this company to fall down at this point in their growth, especially when so many of it's users never spend a cent to support them.

      Absolute rubbish. Just start calling it de facto shareware if, every time one of these companies goes tits up, you people are going to guilt-trip everyone who chose to believe that $0 price tag you guys were selling.

  • WELL worth the money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by enigma48 ( 143560 ) <jeff_new_slash@j ... m ['om.' in gap]> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @01:00AM (#3146996) Journal
    bias: I'm not a linux guru, but I've had other CS students ask me a thing or two about linux.

    Back in my early teens, I thought I was *the* power user. I wrote help files telling people how they could put "C:\BATCH" in their path and start up wordperfect, games, anything at all by just typing "wp" or "wolf3d".

    Thinking about starting my own ISP, I had heard about this thing called Unix and BSD being really, really good for running servers. Having lots of time on my hands, I got a copy of FreeBSD and threw myself at it, sans manuals or knowledge of "man" (at first) for 48 hours. I made SOME progress and can still remember how weird it was to have a hard drive as a file! (mount /dev/whatever seemed so stupid when I could just do C: before...) Eventually I got my system accepting modem calls from two modems, but it was painful.

    My ego smashed, I didn't touch anything resembling Unix for a while.

    I started playing around with Linux a few months before I started my CS program - not knowing that it'd end up being my developement OS for a few years - and I picked up SuSe, RedHat and Mandrake.

    Suse had hardware issues and I just didn't get like their config utilities. Redhat was a step up, but I tried Mandrake and found my distro of choice. Things weren't easy at first but with a minimum of effort, I got things going.

    After finding out "Mandrake = stupid user linux" and "Debian = if you are smart enough, THEN you can use this one", I started feeling I need to prove myself. Which put me back to my teen years and reminded me *way* too much of high school. This time, I didn't bend and I stuck with Mandrake - I could get things done, the company seemed to be going in a direction I liked and the software seemed to be fairly new and easily updatable (when MandrakeUpdate worked).

    Mandrake might not be the best linux for everyone. But I wanted to get something done, without learning EVERYTHING. I had time for that when I was younger.

    The $60US I just sent (direct credit card payment, SSL and took less than 30 seconds) might not save the company, but for the effort they saved me, it's not nearly enough.

    I hope Mandrake has a long and successful future, and if you are using Mandrake now - how much time has it saved you? Can you afford to eat if you give them $60 per year? Likely, yes.
    • I hope Mandrake has a long and successful future, and if you are using Mandrake now - how much time has it saved you?

      Well, Mandrake 8.0 was so buggy that it probably ended up costing me more in lost productivity than it saved. I switched to SuSE 7.3, which is what I'm posting from right now. SuSE has been, at least for me, a more stable OS, and nearly as user-friendly as Mandrake. In fact, I think YAST 2 is a far better install/update system than anything Mandrake has put out so far. So what do I do? Reward a company that didn't compete very well? I just don't know if I can do that. I could bring myself to pre-order 8.2. I haven't seen that offered yet. I guess I always thought that part of the attraction of Open Source was the competition: anyone can throw their hat into the ring, and the best solutions will win. Perhaps Mandrake isn't the best solution.

      Aw hell. I'm going to go recheck for an 8.2 pre-order form. At least then my dollars will be going to something more like a marketplace than a charity.

      And what the heck happened to all the cash that came in from their stock offering? Did they burn it off already? Geeze! Mandrake is going to lose out for having a more unstable product and poor financial planners. I'm not optimistic.

    • After finding out "Mandrake = stupid user linux" and "Debian = if you are smart enough,

      No, not really. I'm not a that smart, but I use Debian. It's very well-documented, and people in #debian are very supportive. I couldn't get Redhat to work(yes, what a loser I'm) but I could easy find help in document and #debian. You just got to do a lot more configuration with CLI than GUI, though.

      In my opinion you don't need to be very smart to use Debian, you just need to adapt to CLI. Once it is setup it's very easy to maintain. A `apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade -u` is a lot more easier than manually keeping track of individual rpm dependencies, isn't it? :)
  • by Fizzlewhiff ( 256410 ) <jeffshannon@h o t m a i l . c om> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @01:03AM (#3147019) Homepage
    I hope the Mandrake employees read this Slashdot news [] an don't float the company any personal loans or hang on too long without pay like Loki employees did.

    I don't know, it seems odd to me for a publicly traded company to post a notice like that asking for financial support in the form of donations. That seems like it would panic the shareholders and hurt them even more in the long run. The sensible thing would be to lay off those emplyees not contributing to the core of Mandrake's business and save some money in those non revenue generating areas.
    • I don't know, it seems odd to me for a publicly traded company to post a notice like that asking for financial support in the form of donations. That seems like it would panic the shareholders and hurt them even more in the long run. The sensible thing would be to lay off those emplyees not contributing to the core of Mandrake's business and save some money in those non revenue generating areas.

      It sounds to me like they're not so much asking for donations as asking people to subscribe to a service. They call it a "club", but basically it's an add-on to the OS -- access to extra tech support, extra programs to download, etc. I guess you can call it asking for donations, but it sounds to me more like they're trying to boost revenue from one product (the club) until they can get a boost from another product (the soon-to-be-released new distro).

    • by ( 188701 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @06:37AM (#3147922) Homepage
      Just for your information, MandrakeSoft has already
      laid off employees (around 10, I was one of them),
      and asked (on a *volontary* basis) others to accept
      salary cuts (being less paid for some time).

      So it seems they can't do more this way. There were already to much to do.
  • I will support Mandrake but my reasons are entirely selfish: I happen to like their distribution and wish to continue benefiting from it.

    In fact, I now support both Redhat and Mandrake for such similar reasons. Interestingly, the cost of of my support for the two is still a fraction of what Windows costs me.

  • Why should we, the people, who have just enough money to live an acceptable life, donate money for Linux, while Hollywood studios, big .COM's and huge corporations use Linux for free and save money?

    Does anyone have the numbers on how much,, etc. and hollywood studios give to Linux?
  • I hate to see an outfit like Mandrake go, but we have too many distributions of Linux. They're all using the Linux kernel, but the differences between them make third-party product support nearly impossible. Each distribution is dividing finite developer resources. To what effect? The value of choice is hopelessly overstated if, by "choice," we refer solely to choosing among the decisions of capricious developers (where files go in the file system, what desktop to use, etc.). There is no "value add" in such things.

    Yes, I think Mandrake suffers from the "it's pretty, but doesn't really take us anywhere" problem. In my experience, both RedHat and SuSE make products that are as usable as Mandrake, but with real reasons to use them. RedHat has nearly universal support from third-party vendors. SuSE is doing a nice job on enterprise functions. (In contrast, Mandrake's "upgrade" from 7.0 to 7.1 left me with a completely unusable system.) Perhaps it's time for Mandrake's efforts to get rolled into one of these other distributions.

  • It's a shame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Prien715 ( 251944 )
    I've been using linux for over 2 years and I still think mandrake is one of the best distros out there.

    Redhat has almost certainly stated that it believes linux is not destined for the desktop market. Loki went out of bussiness. Mandrake still claims to be very much interested in the desktop market, and IMHO, is the best for the job, and the only one I know of still interested in it.

    As much as linux users (especially /. readers) bitch about windows, mandrake is the only one with an installer you'd even think about letting your mother use.

    If Mandrake goes under, it will be because people do not support it. And if it does, I don't want to hear anyone complain about windows desktop dominance, because we let it happen.
  • When that one company decided to cut the slackware dev team, a friend of mine started the "Save slackware!" fund to help them out. I thought I would help out by carrying around the jar and asking for donations. The problem was, no one had any freaking clue what slackware was. They thought we were making some joke because of the name "slackware". I tried to explain to them it was just a linux distribution that they had their dev team cut. "What is linux? What is a dev team? Get a job!" We made like ... $50 though. That was after a few months, people starting using the jar to make change and things. I wonder if my friend ever turned it in.
  • Mandrake attempts to live in capitalist environment by rules of a charity. This is not very appropriate - though I don't say it is wrong. But there are better and fairer ways to do the same.

    The company must emit more shares (proportionally to the amount of money they want to borrow) and offer those shares to everyone, *including* free software people. We would buy those shares and become co-owners of the company. But Mandrake would lose some of share value due to this emission, and this is fair as well because more shares are printed.

    As it stands, Mandrake just wants free gifts. Instead, it should offer a deal: "you give me $100, I give you a piece of a company." That would be much more appropriate, IMO. I would *very much* prefer to own a piece of a free software company rather than a "membership" somewhere.

  • here's hoping... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tongue ( 30814 )
    that the /. effect can actually be a force used for GOOD. :)

    Come on people--put your money where your mouth has always been. We talk and talk about supporting open source and free software--that support can't merely be verbal. as the saying goes, "Freedom isn't free." If you really want to see free software succeed, especially on the desktop, then this is definitely a worthwhile cause.

    If you don't support mandrake now, you may not get the chance to later. and if you don't care for mandrake, then for the love of Linus support SOME distribution, be it Debian, Suse, RH, or even BSD. Penguins of the world, unite! take a stand!

  • ... the phrase TANSTAAFL. Puzzled? Try the Acronym Finder [] or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Mr. Heinlein.

    It wouldn't shock me if Mandrake as well as a few other distros don't make it through the current economic crunch. There are companies out there with rock-solid business plans that can't make money right now... is it any surprise that a company with limited IP can't make ends meet?

    Sorry to be so anti-warm-and-fuzzy,

  • by Laven ( 102436 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @01:50AM (#3147219)
    If you aren't comfortable with the $60 yearly subscription (or you can't spare $60 right now) please consider one-time donations at this page:

    You can even choose an individual open source project that you want your financial contribution will go toward development. Choices include KDE, Gnome, Kernel, PowerPC port, Sparc port, Alpha port among many others.
  • by q-soe ( 466472 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @02:54AM (#3147419) Homepage
    The fact is this points out the dichotomy in the 'free'and open source movement - the fact is that giving away things for free is not a good business plan when you have to develop those things. The flaw i see in the GPL is that it encourages people to use other peoples code and incorporate it into their own, this is a wonderfull idea except in the fact that you are trying to make money or stay alive on it alone, then youre in trouble.

    I see so many people on here commenting that they dont use mandrake so they wont join, or that they downloaded the software and its free so they wont pay, or even some claiming that corporations they have encouraged to use Open Source should pay.

    What sort of hypocrisy do you function under?

    Your money goes to helping a company survive, its $5 dollars for christs sake! If you think that the company is in trouble and that doesnt affect you then youre dreaming, what about Loki and the many other open source companies that have gone under, did they affect you ? what will ?

    The attack on corporates is even more laughable as im pretty sure in 99% of cases they are the ones who actually purchase boxed software and DONT download it, thus they have already contributed more than you have.

    The fact is this should scare all of you - open source is not at this moment in time a viable business plan and that means its dying and the pace is accelerating. Invariably it means that Open source will once again retreat to the dedicated coders and the academic arena and that will mean the death of Linux in corporates and home user environments.

    Donating to mandrake is supporting the movement you are part of. I have just joined even though i now use exclusively MS OS'es (issues with some things OSS and Linux wont do NOT a philosphical anti linux position) becuase i think this is something worth saving - there has to be an alternative and its time you all draw a line in the sand.

    Support Open Source or find another crusade - anything else makes you a hypocrite of the worst type as you wont put your money where your mouth is (and your heart is supposed to be).
    • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @07:33AM (#3148012)
      There are a lot of buisness plans that work well with open source. However, making money by selling distributions isnt one of them. Especially not selling distributions in an market which is as crowded as this.

      Any distribution created after Redhat is pretty much doomed. Redhat does the job well enough, it has the necessary marketshare and corporate mindshare, it has the best long-term chance of survival (of the commercial dists), and it's giving back enough to the community.

      The fragmentation in the distribution market does little good for the community. There is room for maybe two or three distributions total, and those would, in my opinion, be primarily Debian and Redhat. One is a not-for-profit, and one is a commercial vendor who has, since the beginning, understood that they wont make money selling free software.

      SuSE has been playing far too close to the line of proprietary to be well accepted among the Free Software people and, like it or not, those are often the ones who push linux internally in corporations, the market SuSE is after.

      Mandrake is nice, but began as RedHat+KDE, which aint exactly a major selling point. It has since improved and diverged, but the very diverging that makes it not-redhat makes it not-supported-by-vendors for server use. For the desktop market, what is needed isnt another distribution, it's improvement of the existing distributions. Ximian got that one right, but it remains to be seen if they can capitalize on it.

      The rest of the distributions have a snowballs chance in hell of ever making any money.
  • by Laven ( 102436 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @02:57AM (#3147426)
    Some people don't like the idea of "donating" to a publically traded company. I tend to think of it not so much a "donation" but rather

    1. My thanks to the great work done by the Mandrake developers.
    2. My investment in the future. Mandrake developers contribute heavily to Open Source. By giving them money, I invest in the future of Open Source Software. No matter what occurs in the future, their work will always exist for free and open usage. 5 years from now, I wont have to buy it again from a proprietary vendor.
    • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @03:39AM (#3147505) Homepage Journal
      You dont realize that people donate to AOL all the time when they pay $25 a month,

      This money isnt for the connection to the net, that prolly costs $2 a month for AOL to connect you to the net, you are paying $25 a month to pay for Mozilla, Netscape, Winamp, ICQ, AIM, etc

      All of this software is free because PEOPLE ARE DONATING MONEY TO PAY FOR IT.

      The diffrence is, AOL doesnt give people a choice.

  • Heh. I suppose this isn't really THAT funny, but I have a hard time taking it too seriously. In particular the timing after the Loki story is horrible ;)

    But also- there just seems to be something not right with asking directly for support like that, money crunch or no. I mean, support over and above what they produce... even though they do certainly work hard...

    As it happens, I DO have a money crunch, and I too have been working my butt off. If you go to ampcast [] and poke around, you'll find loads of newly remastered stuff all of which is going to have proper CDs available. I understand you can stream stuff just at random- if you register w. the site (I know, but hear me out) you can download it all free and I get a nickel for each DL without you having to pay for it, and if you _rate_ the tunes I can appear on the 'charts' they have- I ask for bad ratings too if that's your honest opinion, it's all feedback and there's somebody to like everything.

    Plus (and this is where the money crunch comes from) I've been placing orders for electronic parts. I'm the guy who puts out the GPLed mastering app Mastering Tools [] (which I use on all my stuff for Ampcast), and I've been building stompboxes and mixers and stuff for over a decade- and I'm onto a design that promises to be a _really_ slick mini-guitar DI that comes in three gain levels. Just a teeny box with two jacks on it, and you control volume from the guitar- the Anti-Line-6-POD- so I'm rationing food because buying 10 project enclosures, 50 .1 polypropylene capacitors, 100 battery clips etc was of course WAY more important. (any true geek would understand this without having to be told ;) )

    So yeah- I'm in a money crunch too. But here's the difference: _I_ saved enough money that I can buy cat food, some boring human food, etc. I paid all my bills at the beginning of the month and I completely paid a debt that had to do with a retroactive rent hike.

    So I'm not in a threatening money crunch- and I can afford to mouth off and make fun of my own foolish situation because I PLANNED IT and I'll get by even if everyone goes "God, not HIM again!" and scrolls on with an elegant shudder of geeky distaste ;)

    But there's a deeper level which I'm not sure if I can express. For starters- I've worked to the brink of RSI on my GPLed Mastering Tools program- but THAT is not for sale. That's free. I've got 7 finished Red Book CDs next to me, which are going to Ampcast to be duplicated on demand, and THOSE are for sale. My business is making them so good, making the packaging and the art and everything so nice that it's _worth_ having a proper one instead of some cloned thing with magic-marker label. I'm trying to make these guitar stompboxes- THAT is tangible, and my efforts of designing them are 'sunk costs' like the coding on Mastering Tools- it's what I can produce that people CAN'T just clone effortlessly, or the ways in which I can at least reward someone's good will (like in buying a CD). I'm OK with people having that good will but nothing I've done or ever will do will entitle me to it, and I refuse to ask for it without also wising off and de-hard-selling it ;)

    That said- it is not THAT unreasonable to encourage people to buy Mandrake dists. I'm Mac-based, and I bought the LinuxPPC dist, and kept it even though it didn't work on my main machine. Now I have another old Mac and this one will run it, so it's now installed on one of my machines. But if you asked me to donate money to LinuxPPC- well, I don't know. I'm not sure I like that as a motivation. I sure don't do my OSS work so I can ask for DONATIONS. I do it to make other stuff that I do, better. Then I share that part of the work.

    Coincidentally, when I loaded this comment page, the first thing that I saw was a ThinkGeek ad. It's the one about tiny radio-controlled desktop tanks for $58.99 that can play laser tag with each other. I know, because I went STRAIGHT to ThinkGeek to look at them. And if I wasn't in a serious money crunch, that would be terribly compelling- an argument to give money to ThinkGeek because they'd come up with something to sell me that was SO COOL that I just couldn't resist it.

    I don't know when or if I'll be on that level- to out-cool tiny robot tanks is quite an order, though my tiny two-jack guitar-amp effect box sounds some of the same notes (miniatureness, elegance, effectiveness, more miniatureness etc), but to me THAT is the area to emulate. That's where Mandrake should be heading... if it is even possible, with a Linux dist. It's just that 'toss a few bucks my way because _I_ am worthy' is a hell of a lot more nebulous than 'toss a few bucks my way and you can have one of THESE'... with the latter, it's a simple question of whether the thing is really cool or not, where with the former it gets into your evaluation of WHY the person is supposed to deserve support when there's a million people out there who deserve to pursue their work without money headaches...

  • Very simple.

    We'd prefer to bring in more revenue. We'd hate to have to change our business model to waste less money.

    Oh, its not waste? Then why are we not profitable?

    Oh, its R&D? This will pay off later? Is the CEO and other officers taking a significant paycut to help through these rough times?

    This is just a MONEY CRUNCH.... nothing more. just buy more of our games and we're SURE to recover..... oh wait... my bad.. this is Mandrake, not Loki.

  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @06:25AM (#3147900) Homepage
    instead of enriching those who use the world for support.

    I am no longer running Mandrake on any of my computers, but it was the best distro I've come across (only missing apt-get). The installer eased me into the world of linux, diskdrake is lightyears ahead of fdisk, and the command center is sorely missed in other distros. I never would have been able to learn linux without their help. An encrypted filesystem might be enough to convince me to upgrade to a supported video card and give Mandrake a fourth (lifetime... the other three have been given away) computer.

    Mandrake, and community software, are like public television... They do philanthropic deeds for many people, but philanthropy is never profitable. They need money? I own a box set, and I haven't had an income in 5 months, but Mandrake is worth it to me. Count my Donation.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann