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Mandriva Businesses

Interview With Gaël Duval of Mandrake Linux 157

jukal writes "Open for Business's Timothy R. Butler talked with Mandrake co-founder Gaël Duval about the company's past, present, and future. Worth a read, clip: "GD: For one year, we had a so-called "World Class Management" team that left us in a very bad financial situation, and engaged the company in ventures (such as e-learning) that we should never have been involved with. But that's all part of our history now, so I'd prefer to not dwell too much on that. ""
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Interview With GaŽl Duval of Mandrake Linux

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  • how funny (Score:4, Funny)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:49PM (#4234329) Homepage Journal
    is it that the saying at the bottom of the /. page was:
    "All problems are the fault of the last person who quit, until some else quits"?

    "problems? why, there the fault of world class managment, hrumph. hurumph. eveythings fine now though."

    I don't know there situation, and this isn't a comment about Mandrake per se, but I founf the coincidence very funny.

    • Re:how funny (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mudhiker ( 15850 )
      And if it's been ages since someone quit and that excuse don't work anymore, blame it on the NEW GUY!
    • Just blame Tibor!
    • The outgoing CEO sits down with his replacement and hands him two letters and says "You may get into some trouble you can't get yourself out of in this job. The first time it happens, open this letter. If it happens again, open this second letter."

      Sure enough, the new CEO gets into some hot water in about a year and decides he has to open the first letter. Inside it says "Blame everything on me." He goes out and blames everything on his predecessor and the problem goes away.

      Some more time passes and the CEO gets into some more hot water. He opens the second letter. Inside it says "Sit down and write two letters..."

  • They do deserve credit as they best distro linux can muster for the desktop.
  • by KNicolson ( 147698 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @11:09PM (#4234429) Homepage
    Plan v1.0

    1. Employ "World-class Management"
    2. ???
    3. Profit!

    Oops, that didn't work, let's try v2.0

    1. ???
    2. ???
    3. Profit!
    • v3.0

      1. Create free Linux distro
      2. Ask community for dotations
      3. Profit!

      OK, a bit sarcastic ;)
    • Come on, its unfair to quote failure of X.0 releases - everyone gets things right only with .2 - look at mandrake 8.2
    • They never had one (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mirnav ( 572204 )
      MandrakeSoft contacted us for financing some months ago, proposing a chunk of the company in exchange for a chunk of cash so that we would become significant shareholders.

      We were interested until the moment we realized that, although possessing a good distro with a significant user base, MandrakeSoft would never be a successful company because it never had a business plan. (Pause here for a chuckle at the thought of "world class management team")

      I have all the respect in the world for people who code/invent/create for the pleasure of that moment of coding/invention/creation and do not say that all such moments need be related to an eventual profitmaking plan. However, I do ask that from a company who asks us for millions with the promise of return in the (not so far) future.

      This is where you will ask about the ingenious subscription/donation plan of MandrakeSoft. In my humble opinion as a financial investor, this revenue model will probably keep the company afloat, but will never make it a very profitable company, because the subscribers/donators are only agreeing to this because they wish to see MandrakeSoft survive, not to see it thrive! Once the company starts making a little profit, these revenues will stop. In short, with its current "business model" based on subscriptions/donations MandrakeSoft can and will probably be a non-profit organization that can cover its costs... maybe with tiny little profits if its supporters are feeling particularly generous that quarter.

      RedHat entering the business desktop market is not good news for MandrakeSoft either - that is one market they could have earned real money from and now that chance is going... going... gone. How can they possibly compete? I have a company that already runs RedHat, who also provides me the service I need. Who am I going to choose for the desktops - RedHat or MandrakeSoft?

      I hope MandrakeSoft survives. They do cool software. However, their story would make a brilliant Harvard Business Review and should be taught in schools to show the perils of going ahead with an idea without a thought of how you intend to eventually make money with it.

      • Actually, if you have this vision of how doing money with Free Software, do it because there are very few companies that succeeded in this way. The perfect model is still to invent! And I'm very confident Mandrake is on the _good_ track for one year.
        • Your reply tells me you are French ("how doing money"="comment faire l'argent"?). Perhaps someone who works in/with MandrakeSoft?

          If your confidence in MandrakeSoft has any rational basis, then perhaps you should have shared it with us some months ago. Dunno... the management is a little confused there. They do not seem to know what a business plan is, nor why it is so important.

  • In the interview, Duval says:
    Nowadays, Mandrake Linux is in the "top 5" of Linux distributions with partners such as HP, IBM, AMD, and other big players.
    With AMD supposedly supporting paradigm, how does "free software" fit into the equation? Will MS try to make AMD cut it's ties with Mandrake? Will they try to get some sort of DRM put into Mandrake? Any ideas?
  • Mandrake Foundation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by InodoroPereyra ( 514794 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @11:32PM (#4234547)
    I read this article earlier and submitted the story myself. What really caught my attention was this paragraph:

    For the future, we are thinking about a "Mandrake Foundation" which would be a non-profit organization that focuses on developing the Mandrake Linux distribution exclusively. It would be financed partly by Club memberships and/or donations and/or by a "Street performer"-like system, and partly by companies that make money with Mandrake products, including MandrakeSoft. We think this approach would be much clearer for everyone to understand, and would also provide a more secure future for the Mandrake Linux distribution. It would also help MandrakeSoft become a more successful and profitable company by cutting most of its development costs.

    Uou. That is to me some pretty cool idea. I am not sure this is the way to go, but it sounds promising. The other viable model for Mandrake would be to sell solutions (customized desktop environments plus support) to big companies, which is what redhat seems to be trying to do with their upcoming "corporate desktop" thing. Mandrake should go ahead in the same direction. They have a much more polished desktop product.

  • by Screaming Lunatic ( 526975 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @11:41PM (#4234601) Homepage
    GD: For one year, we had a so-called "World Class Management" team that left us in a very bad financial situation, and engaged the company in ventures (such as e-learning) that we should never have been involved with. But that's all part of our history now, so I'd prefer to not dwell too much on that.

    The above quote is the answer to one question out of about a dozen. 3 lines out of a 150 line article. And is misrepresenative of the article. Duval answers the question and moves on. He tries not to bitch, he tries not to complain. What's this "I love X distro, Mandrake sucks!" crap?

    I mod this Slashdot story -1 Troll. Despite the fact it was a decent interview.

    If you don't use Mandrake that's fine. Is it kind of a Newbie-Linux distro? You could argue that. It was the first distro I used.

    There is place in the Linux-world for as many distros as anyone wants to put out. Deal with it.

  • by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2002 @12:06AM (#4234718) Homepage
    I was one of the people who responded to Duval's call in March. I thought I was doing a good thing (and actually still am)- giving some money to the company who created the distribution I had been using for one year on a couple of computers. The fact that I was getting something extra for my money was an even bigger incentive

    The months have passed and I have discovered that the "benefits" were only marketing "painting"

    the extra rpms were in their vast majority obtainable from their vendors

    StarOffice 6.0 - well, you actually pay for it. Only 120$+ members can get it, not the 60$ ones

    the unsupported rpms, made by volunteers, sometimes cause more trouble than .tar.gz source compiling

    direct trading ? yeah sure, what a benefit. Even if I were investing with my heart, I would still prefer a regular stock market.

    not to mention that we, mandrake club members, don't even have a priority ftp!

    Overall, I don't consider I was ripped off. The quality of Mandrake is reasonably good. And because the distro is so user-friendly I'm actually migrating my girlfriend to Linux as well (with some Codeweavers help). But there's no real advantage in MDK Club, and I fear the worst for Mandrake in the next year, when the 2001 March memberships will expire.

    The Raven

    • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2002 @01:33AM (#4235033) Journal
      Eventually put in 120 bucks . . .

      -The extra downloads are "extra" (consist of commercial packages) and only attainable from the Mandrake packaged distro not the mirrors. I don't think other vendors let you download Star Office.
      -Star Office is like $72 . . . you wanted it for $60 and were considering this charity?(for who?)
      -unsupported rpms are "unsupported," but I haven't had any trouble (are you using urpmi?). Plus, I found Mplayer that way, which has been worth the $120 (since I don't have enought time to find such software on my own)
      -direct trading only applies if you wanna own their stock, but this really is a revolution in the trading of equity (all they did is put up a little system that allows you to trade stock at volumes as low as 50 shares, without having to pay a 3rd party commission. Nothing special EXCEPT no other company seems to be doing this . . . ). So let me get this straight . . . if you had the choice, you would prefer to pay a 3rd party commission just to buy a stock that you have already decided to buy?
      - As far as the priority ftp goes . . . it is unfortunate. However, if you spent some time reading posts at mandrakeclub you would know that something of that nature appears to be in the works . . .

      I'm sorry the club isn't what you expected but calling it charity seems a bit of an extreme. I wish you could be more specific about what you want out of the club instead of what you don't like.

      ". . . I fear the worst for Mandrake in the next year, when the 2001 March memberships will expire."

      Mandrake 9.0 seems like it will bring in a lot of new members and another 13 new members joined in the last 24 hours so it doesn't seem as bad as you think. Of course, spreading your discontent here, instead of at Mandrakeclub really isn't helping the situation much (though I am sure a lot of mandrake folks visit slashdot on a regular basis).

      In conclusion, I really just joined at first to help insure that the distro would continue. The "services" (call them what you like) were really just extra treats. Since I graduated college, I really don't have time to fool around with Linux the way I used to. My job, though it pays well, treats me like a drone and does not allow me to implement most of what I learned during my days in college (both from classes and from playing with Linux). Mandrake is easy enough for me to still play with during my short breaks and the mandrakeclub allows me to give something back since I don't have enough time to learn how to code. Oddly, I don't consider either side of the realationship to be "charity."
      • One more thing. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by deno ( 814 )
        In case that wasn't clear enough: I can't stand beggars, and they stand no chance to get any money from me. On the other hand, I'm handing out a lot of money to street musicians. So, what's the difference?

        BEGGAR: this guy attempts to get money from me by showing how miserable he is. For many of them, begging is a profession of choice. Others really end up being beggars out of misery, but I live in supposedly "social state", pay high taxes, and demand from my goverment to take care of people who can't take care of themselves. Begging is a shame.

        MUSICIAN (anod other street performers): These guys entertain me, make my kid happy, and generally "make my day". I WANT to give them some money, because I WANT to see them again. Beeing a street performer is not very lucrative job (they can only reach very small public), but there is no shame in doing it. On the contrary, a town withouth street performers would IMO be a very sad place.
        • There's an important distinction in there somewhere.
          Seems like it has some similarity to tipping the headwaiter.
          Seems like something important gets lost when cost and value get too closely tied together.
    • I agree regarding Mandrake Club. I've resolved that it's enough for me to buy the boxed versions of Mandrake's major releases (so far that's the "Gaming Edition", 8.2, and the upcoming 9.0 DVD.) At about $60 a pop, that seems like a reasonable arrangement. I get a good OS for a (relative) beginner, and they get an extra $60 a year and my brand loyalty.
    • There's only one real benefit of the mandrake club, but it's a major one. You keep the distro/company alive so they work on your favourite distro!

      I'm not a member, I'm a debhead, but I don't think this is a "bad" business model. It's one way to pay for software.
    • by deno ( 814 ) on Wednesday September 11, 2002 @08:08AM (#4236064) Homepage

      I'm the guy who came with idea of the MandrakeClub in the first place, and I'm the one who developed it from "idea" into the status you can see today, and I can tell you one thing: MandrakeClub is NOT a charity. It's a busines model which has been used in various sectors for a long time, with more-or-less success, and which can work well for Linux because of the internet. Let me name a few sectors which have similar financing schemas:

      - churches
      - public radio stations
      - Non-governmental organisations

      Last but not the least important, there is a long tradition of "street music", which happens to be very strong in Paris, and which has given a name to this type of busines model ("Street performer").

      The fact that this model has not been used in software busines until recently is completely irrelevant, unless you want to apply for a "bussines patent" in US. But, I'm transgressing, let's go back to Club...

      You are right in one aspect: benefits one gets with MandrakeClub are peanuts compared to the value of MandrakeLinux distribution - which everyone can download free of charge.

      This isn't a secret, nor have we ever tried to hide this fact - In fact, this is clearly written on the front page of MandrakeClub site []:

      As explained in the announcement, your membership in MandrakeClub is, above all, a sign of your financial support. Membership
      fees are directly used to cover the costs of developing the distribution and the various services that are offered free of charge to
      all Mandrake Linux users. The Club isn't meant as a replacement for paid support or similar services -- you are here because you want to help make Mandrake Linux become even better in the future.

      Nevertheless, Club members do receive certain privileges and benefits.


      However, you are also wrong: MandrakeClub is NOT a charity, and even the direct/short term benefits are getting quite interesting with a time. Indirect and long-term benefits (most notably the influence club members have on future of MandrakeLinux) on the other hand are enormous, and yet many people tend to dissmiss them as not interesting, like you did.

      Let's take just the example of "RPM-voting" system which you were so quick to dismiss: this system gives you a chance to get new RPMs built because you asked for them. There is a testing stage, in which the folks who asked for a new pack are supposed to report problems, and in the end the system produces higher quality RPMs than what you'll usually find outside of the main distribution. RPM-voting system is now about one month old, and there are still some rough edges to streighten out, but it's quite clear that it's quickly developing in a right direction.

      That's a direct/immediate benefit. There is also an indirect benefit, which may be even more important: RPMs Club members ask for will eventually be given higher importance than those noone asks for, and thus the Distribution will change...

      The problem is...

      Now the problem is: You say that you don't feel ripped off, although you don't find the direct/short-term benefits attractive, so I assume that you actually understood the value of the long-term/indirect benefits, and that you may in fact be ready to remain in the club next year.
      At the same time, you discourage others to join the club by writing a comment which will be interpreted as "MandrakeSoft is lying about MadnrakeClub, don't join".

      This is sad. :-(

      We are not lying to anyone, and Club idea is clearly presented everywhere withouth any exaguration (on the contrary, I'm from Central europe, and can't stand false advertising - therefore Club benefits are rather deemphasised than emphasised), so why do you have this urge to present it in such a bad light?
      • MandrakeClub is NOT a charity.

        According to the Oxford dictionary I have here at hand, "charity" is defined as "a) giving voluntarily to those in need.... b) the help, esp. money, so given".

        MandrakeClub might not BE a charity, by the legal definition you're operating under, and I can understand from a PR standpoint why Mandrake would not want the Club or Mandrake to be viewed as a charity, for all the stigma that comes with the word.

        But by this dictionary definition, at least, it seems very arguable that MandrakeClub IS a charity. MandrakeClub appears to be a significant portion of the Mandrake "business plan", and it seems plausible that Mandrake instituted the Club because it NEEDS these contributions, and it seems clear to me that Mandrake is appealing to users for support as much as they are offering benefits that users really want. When there are people who are giving money to the club to "support" Mandrake, (as opposed to paying for whatever benefits are supposedly provided by the Club), the Club starts looking more and more like a charity.

        And yes, Charities do have business plans too.
        • Yes but...

          Does the Oxford dictionary have a word for

          "giving voluntarily, because you will be better off that way"

          or such? It would be really cool if we would have such a word to stick to - "charity" unfortunately doesn't say anything about your motives, and there is a BIG difference between:

          Giving because "someone" is in need and

          1) you are such a good guy
          2) he is working on something that is benefitial to you, and you want him to continue with that work.

          I don't expect folks to join the Club because "they are such good guys", I want them to join the club because they really appreciate our work and want us to continue with it.
        • Would you count the American Petroleum Institute as a charity?
          The Better Business Bureau?

          While I wouldn't call it uncharitable, it seems more like a business arrangement due to common interests.
  • Compare the download page one year ago [] and now []
    • I emailed them, and you can actually go right on through without paying (According to their support team)
      But they still should at least have a "I don't want to donate, but I want the software" button.

    • Yeah it doesn't exactly sound free, now does it? *pause for 20 secs to avoid robot filter*
    • I don't know how long it may have taken a genius like you, but it took all of two seconds to figure out that, yes I can download, and no, I don't have to pay for it.

      What do you think that Mandrake is supposed to let you download without knowing that people's livelihoods rely on your payment? Do you think they should take you out to dinner too?

      For someone who wants to USE their computer, Mandrake has the best distribution out there. There's a small learning curve compared to your other "high performance" Linux distros. They should get paid for that, or at least you should acknowledge that yes, you do want to take from the mouths of the people that put it together.

      Mandrake sells Free software. They've held up to their end of the bargain. Schmucks like you who'd prefer to i-opener Mandrake and then bitch when they make you think about it should just go back to downloading your Warezed OS of choice and leave the good-guys alone.

      I for one appreciate the value added by Mandrake. I appreciate that they are trying to protect the interests of the company by letting freeloaders^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H downloaders know that they are, in fact, abusing the system upon which they rely.

      You schmucks should go back to Warez; give the little guys a chance before you i-opener them into oblivion.
      • If downloaders are freeloaders, doesn't that make Mandrake a freeloader, too? After all, they do have LOTS of open source software. They even built upon another distro themselves. Plus, its not really ethical to force people to lie (click here if you're a member) is it? Especially when they're obligated by the GPL to offer the software for free, and they've got lots of nonprofit orgs providing them with free mirrors.

        I have a solution that would allow Mandrake to avoid what you would consider their current hipocracy.

        They can post a link which says:
        "We got most of our software for free and then tweaked it, mostly with the help of a large group of volunteers. However, we packaged it, and while we can't legally require you to pay for it, you should anyway. Click now here to see the list of mirrors."

        I give out my code for free. Other coders give theirs out for free. That's how the system works. Mandrake is just using the system to make money. Abusing the system would mean charging money for things you're not allowed to charge for, that is, not giving out your code for free.

        The little guys of open-source aren't in it for the money. They do it because they like it. I speak as one who uses one of the little distros [] which made it into the top 10 less than a month after it went beta, and which still doesn't make money (and doesn't plan to). And I have contributed a couple of improvements of my own to my disto.
        • The system works, not because programmers give away their code for free, but because they give it away so other programmers can help them improve it. It's an effort of a community. It's a giving culture that depends upon others giving back. The problem is, that most of the people who are coming into the fold these days have nothing that they can give back in terms of time or skills. They will be using the software, nothing more. The only thing they can give back is money.

          But when they don't even do that, the system is bound to break.

          And while you're speaking of Gentoo Linux, doesn't Daniel Robbins, creator of Gentoo, have a wife and child he needs to feed?

          The little guys may not be in it for the money, but there are plenty of wives and children that do need to eat.

          Freeloaders are the guys who don't give back time, code or money. Mandrake gives back all three. I'd say that makes them a pretty good community member.
        • If downloaders are freeloaders, doesn't that make Mandrake a freeloader, too? After all, they do have LOTS of open source software. They even built upon another distro themselves. Plus, its not really ethical to force people to lie (click here if you're a member) is it? Especially when they're obligated by the GPL to offer the software for free, and they've got lots of nonprofit orgs providing them with free mirrors.

          No, Mandrake is not a freeloader. The people at MandrakeSoft have created all-new software (most notably the Mandrake Installer) and have written a good chunk of code. They have worked to create an entirely new product which, while based on the products of others, does contain the fruit of their labour.

          The labour was not provided without cost. In the article, two points are clearly made: 1) there are a substantial number of developers working daily at MandrakeSoft and 2) the result of these costs is that MandrakeSoft is not profitable, i.e. they are NOT making money because they are working too hard to make a better product for you who wish to download it for free. The GPL, contrary to your belief, does not preclude charging money for software []. In fact, the idea that those who work should not receive any form of compensation is in itself absurd. If you are giving the fruit of your labour out under the GPL and did not want people making money from it, you chose the WRONG license. Perhaps a license such as that used for the Diku MUD code would better suit you.

          The little guys of open-source aren't in it for the money. They do it because they like it. I speak as one who uses one of the little distros [] which made it into the top 10 less than a month after it went beta, and which still doesn't make money (and doesn't plan to). And I have contributed a couple of improvements of my own to my disto.

          Let's face it. Right now any group producing a Linux distribution is a "little guy" in the Open Source world, with the possible exception of the NSA []. And I don't know that any of them are currently profitable entities, though several are corporate entities. It would have been a better deal for all of them to be nonprofit orgs perhaps, and indeed this is the direction, again stated in the article, that Mandrake seems to be going. Of course the problem with this model is it makes it tougher to get the money which has driven all of this. I think you are forgetting there are costs involved no matter what, for servers and bandwidth and people to work on this stuff. This is why these groups who are providing the software you want are trying to find services people will pay money for to fund that work. And don't think just because you are firmly esconsced in some random distro of the month that hasn't figured out it might have a big bill from its provider yet you are not profiting from this work. People all over on different distros, including lots of coders working for corporations working often on employers paid time are making improvements to tools you care about as we type. It is good that you contribute code. I applaud that effort. I want to encourage it. But it is unfair for you to discourage people from contributing monetarily, or distros from asking for such contributions. In fact if you one day wish to be employed as a professional coder you will find it is helpful if the company you work for has money to pay you with.

          The pursuit of money is a necessary evil in a Capitalist society. Money pays the rent and the electric and the help. Money makes this stuff possible. To deny this is folly. But then this is /. ...

      • > I don't know how long it may have taken a genius like you...
        > Schmucks like you ....
        > You schmucks ... Warez...

        Hey ! Wash your mouth out and consider the following instead of being abusive:

        The Mandrake download page [] requires you to either:
        A. Have previously *paid* them a minimum of $60
        B. *State* you *will* pay them a minimum of $60 in future

        There is no other option that allows you to download their software.

        What's to stop them hiking this 'download price' from $60 to $1000000?

        Sec 2.b. of the GNU license [] states that packages based on GNU-licensed software must also be licensed "as a whole at no charge to all third parties". What they are doing seems to violate this section, and Section 3 as well. (though I cannot say for sure).

        • Hey, sorry if you consider my post abusive.

          If you haven't paid for a Mandrake subscription, the Mandrake download page requires you to a)pay, or b)lie about paying. That's all. All they've done is remind you that you are abusing the system.

          There's nothing that keeps you from lying but your own conscience.

          • > Hey, sorry if you consider my post abusive.

            Thanks dude. I'm sure the parent to your original post would appreciate your candor here.

            About the rest of the post: I just wasn't comfortable with a Corporate setting a arbitrary price on all access to GPL code, but as I understand (see discussion below) there is a third unpublicized option for transferring sources.
        • Get a life. GNU licence doesn't say "you have to put all your work on public FTP servers, in a most convenient form for downloaders, send a letter to every citizen with a list of these FTP servers, and kiss their asses."

          As far as GNU licence goes, it would be perfectly OK to send CDs with sources of everything which is in the distribution

          Sec 1:
          You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an
          appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.

          You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee

          Got it? No need to make ANYTHING available for download on public servers, no need to provide ANY binaries to freeloaders, and a nominal fee for all the folks who ask for sources. Btw, sending these sources on 5 1/2` floppies by camel-post is (legaly) perfectly acceptable too.

          It's even legally acceptable to put a proprietary licence for installer and configuration tools if you feel so...

          It isn't NICE to do so, and MandrakeSoft is a nice company, but folks like you make me wonder...
          • Firstly, I'm no lawyer.

            However - I don't think the GNU license Sec.1 that you quoted (which deals with verbatim copies) applies to the Mandrake Distro. I think rather that Sec 2 and 3 (dealing with packages *based* on GNU-copyrighted works) apply. These are also the sections that talk about availability of sources.

            > Btw, sending these sources on 5 1/2` floppies by camel-post is (legaly) perfectly acceptable too.

            Yup, that's fine, except the offer isn't visible on the Mandrake website (I guess making the offer visible *isn't* required by the GNU license, but the offer itself must exist)

            IIRC, one restriction in Sec.2. is that media copying charge be reasonable. I'm don't think US $60 is currently a reasonable media copying charge for a couple of ISOs worth of data transferred over the *Internet* - so I guess Mandrakesoft have an unspoken , (possibly cheaper), offer to copy sources.

            > It isn't NICE to do so, ... but folks like you make me wonder...

            Get used to the wonderous world we live in!
            Seriously: I hope you got my drift. I'm not trying to suck Mandrakesoft dry. My point is if they can set an arbitrary price now for access to s/w, what's to stop this price reaching a zillion dollars in the future? What would people think about the concept of 'free software' then?

            To answer my own question: I guess its the 'reasonable' copying charge clause (for sources only) under the GNU license.

            I could be wrong about this but I wish this GNU license clause 2/3 had a sub-clause forcing the provider to publicise the clause somehow (like a statutory reference to the GNU license Version 1.1 somewhere in the sales page).
            • OK, my apologise.

              I thought you simply want to troll/FUD, but it seems now you may be really concerned. No need: Mandrake distro including sources is on public servers all over the place (as soon as the distro is done), so we have absolutely no means to do anything along the lines you are worried about.

              MandrakeSoft managment doesn't have the will to do anything of that type either (on the contrary), and the same is true to developers. If you want to look for some examples of the company which hesitate to publish the source code of the "derivare works", you are looking in a wrong direction.

            • Just thought I'd correct myself on one thing - parent poster is right in that Mandrake don't have to put their programs (DiskDrake etc) under the GPL since they aren't derivative works of existing GPL programs. However since they have done so (I think), most of my points above, stand.

        • > The Mandrake download page []
          > requires you to either:
          > A. Have previously *paid* them a minimum of $60
          > OR
          > B. *State* you *will* pay them a minimum of $60
          > in future
          > There is no other option that allows you to
          > download their software.

          Bear in mind, they're not required by the GPL to
          provide a public anonymous ftp server. What they
          _are_ required to do is to allow anyone who does
          acquire their software to also acquire the source
          code in similar fashion and with all the rights
          that the license grants. Translation: they can
          stop offering a public download and only sell the
          boxed set (with sources included), but they can't
          stop CheapBytes from purchasing one copy of the
          boxed set and burning copies of all the freely-
          licensed software in the distro and selling them
          at a reduced price. The public download is a
          service they choose to provide. Bear in mind that
          bandwidth costs money. They would be completely
          within their rights to shut down anonymous access
          to their ftp server and supply accounts to paid
          subscribers. Alternately, they could provide
          accounts only to mirrors, and make everyone use
          the mirrors instead of downloading from their own
          server directly. That would save them a lot of
          bandwidth and thus money. (Some of the mirrors
          might not care for it, though...)

          > What's to stop them hiking this 'download
          > price' from $60 to $1000000?
          Nobody is likely to pay that much.
  • I love Mandrake. It never gave me any problems with the install, it works incredibly well for all of my normal desktop needs, and it helps me with my Calc homework. I've also heard it works well in the server environment, which I never get to try out since I live in a backwards hick town that has little use for anything other than Windows.

    If Mandrake says they had problems with a third-party management team, I believe them. They have yet to give me a reason not to.
  • by namespan ( 225296 ) <<namespan> <at> <>> on Wednesday September 11, 2002 @01:01AM (#4234923) Journal
    Malcom Gladwell of the New Yorker [] recently wrote an article [] about some of the problems with "World Class" management teams, and in general, certain myths revolving around the concept of "talent". It's an excellent read.

    • Slashdot'ers read The NewYorker?

      Really, I'm shocked.

      Anyways, that was a *great* article and hopefully it will get more slashdot readers to think about reading some real articles. (well researched op/ed, features, etc)

      It's nice to see some people get it and realize that while a college degree *IS* worth something and does speak about commitment and a certain base level of info, it does not mean that GPA==success. I've seen it over and over again, especially in CS -- people who do the best in CS do the worst in the real world and are forced to stay within the towers of academia. As this article points out, the same is apparently true for business.


      • I've seen it over and over again, especially in CS -- people who do the best in CS do the worst in the real world and are forced to stay within the towers of academia

        No offense, davidu, but this is the type of drivel that people who do bad in school say to make themselves feel better about themselves (I'm not calling you one of those people, but the remark you made did increase the chances that you are). I'd be willing to listen if you had said that there is very little corollation between success in university CS and the "Real World" but to draw the inverse conclusion is offensive.

        People who do well in school often do so because they are smart and work hard. Those types of things pay off in the "Real World." Those "ivory tower" arguments just don't fly.

        I, of course, do not offer myself as proof of someone who succeeded in university CS and the real world.
    • Excellent read.
      Modern version of The Tortoise and the Hare.
      Pyramid scheme -- of talent!

      A few star performers is a good thing.
      Everybody a star performer -- doesn't really work.

      Risky business during boom times can be a good thing.
      But this only works for a *few* people.

      ( The New Yorker, but the *mindset* is very consonant with slashdot ;)
  • "and partly by companies that make money with Mandrake products, including MandrakeSoft"

    I'm not sure I understand the concept. Does it imply for me being a developer, I will be made to pay for using ML on the commercial basis?
    Anyway, will ML stay free?
    • MandrakeLinux will remain free as a bird if and only if we can afford it. No money no show, so we have following possible scenarios:

      1) Enough MandrakeLinux users understand the fact that producing the distribution costs, and join the Club/buy products form us so that MandrakeSoft can be a profitable and triving business.

      The more $$ we get this way, the more important Club will become, and eventually we come to a point where MandrakeSoft primarly produces a distribution for Club members (i.e. collects requests of all types from Club members, and fullfills them as good as possible).

      That's the one I would like to see. .-)

      2) MandrakeSoft gets much more money from B2B type of deals (OEM, professional training, high level services for companies, custom-made distributions) than it does from end users, and decides to "forget" about end-users. You can still download the distro, but nobody really cares about you anymore...

      This may sound good at first (it saves you some money, no?), but in the end YOU will have to use the distribution which was made for busines customers - for better or for worse, and have no influence on its development anymore.

      RedHat built their busines on this model. Nothing bad with it (I've used RH for years), but I prefer a distribution which is built to fit my needs...

      3) Someone with a different vision takes over MandrakeSoft, and we put a special non-free licence on all the software which has been produced by MandrakeSoft. No more free downloads, no more Mandrake CDs from cheapbytes either...

      SuSE managed to build their busines on this model, Caldera and TurboLinux failed. Personally i simply don't like it, even when it works.

      4) Finally, there is also a possibility that MandrakeSoft may go bancrupt and disapear. This is definitively NOT the scenario I'm interested in. .-)

      • "...we put a special non-free licence on all software which has been produced..."

        More fine FUD from deno the Mandrakian.

        Deno when are you going to stop lying out of your ass about other distros? I guess this would be the same time you stop deleting ever post from MandrakeForums that is slightly critical of Mandrake.

        Wrong deno. SuSE doesn't put a special non-free license on all the software that they produce.
        • Oh, sorry - I haven't noticed that Yast licence has been abandoned...

          • " Oh, sorry - I haven't noticed that Yast licence has been abandoned..."

            Then you also should also notice that they don't apply the license to every piece of software that they release.

            Go back to MandrakeForum. Your time is better spent there performing your petty censorship.
  • Mandrake has always been very close to the "Bleedng edge." Up until version 8.2 I would always install it, be very impressed but find a bug that I couldn't get around. I would revert back to some other distro.

    8.2 however has been rock solid for me. I'm hoping that 9.0 will also.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle