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Mandrake Appealing to Community, Again 687

An anonymous reader writes "It seems that MandrakeSoft's short-term financial problem is worse than was thought. A new page on the Mandrake web site says: 'Everyone who is concerned with the company's future is encouraged to read and distribute the following message. In order to reach the next release, MandrakeSoft currently needs to raise cash, and quickly complete the Increase of Capital.' Darn, and I thought they were almost over this hump. Looks like a good time to help recruit Mandrake supporters for the Club."
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Mandrake Appealing to Community, Again

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  • well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mut3 ( 634239 )
    they made money with selling the box distros, but that is certianly not enough for all the iso downloads. they make a soild distro, so giving them some cash would be good.
    • Re:well... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by avdp ( 22065 )
      Giving them some cash would not be good. It would only delay the inevitable (this is not the first time they do this). MandrakeSoft is a for-profit corporation. Clearly they can't make a profit - it is time to close.

      Who knows, Mandrake-the-distribution may live after MandrakeSoft dies. If it's that good of a distro (I wouldn't know, never tried) volunteers will keep it going.
    • Re:well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilAlien ( 133134 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:40PM (#4932847) Journal
      They aren't just asking for cash, they are appealing for people to purchase their products and services because they are trying to stay afloat. Read the history of the company. It is no secret that they dug a hole branching into the ill-fated e-learning initiative during the tech boom at the behest of Vulture Capitalists.

      If you like Mandrake and believe in Linux then the only way to show it is by actually supporting the products to believe are valuable. Free software, unless you mean free-beer, doesn't alleviate the producers of a product or service from the realities of economics. If you do not believe Mandrake is viable, despite liking their products, then don't purchase a MandrakeClub membership or box. If you do believe in the products, then support them.

      I've got a shiny new Mandrake 9 PowerPack, and I'm happy with it. I've replaced MS Office with StarOffice. Those who value the products should do the same, and those who don't value the products should not. I think Mandrake has a chance to get back into the black, and I've voted with my $.

      • Re:well... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vsprintf ( 579676 )
        I voted with my dollars when I joined the MandrakeClub. I really like the easy-to-use Mandrake distro, and I'm seriously considering upgrading my membership as long as it's a one-time (one year) deal.

        But, I still have some concerns. Is it a good thing to help a company recover from management mistakes? Of course, this is not Enron, and they got snookered by a fast-talking group of used-car salesmen, but what's to prevent it from happening again? I am not trying to undermine Mandrake, I use it. I'd like to see some policy statements.
  • Pardon? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't Mandrakesoft a COMPANY? Why should we help a company? Is this "Charity for Corporations Week" here?
    • Re:Pardon? (Score:5, Funny)

      by British ( 51765 ) <> on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:22PM (#4932688) Homepage Journal

      "Please help these needy software developers. Your donation can get a Linux developer a brand new system, a 100 gig SCSI drive, or maybe a clean t-shirt. For the cost of a Mountain Dew you can give a developer some Mountain Dew to develop trivial new Linux applications you might not ever use or understand. Is that too much to ask for a command-line driven utility?"

      For each Linux developer you sponsor, you will recieve a 45K JPEG portrait, and a monthly email detailing his progress."

    • Do you know the Shareware model ? Why an "OpenSource Ware model" would not be a smart way of doing business. Mandrakesoft have one of the most popular distribution and one of the best community approach
    • Re:Pardon? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hudsonhawk ( 148194 )
      "Everyone who is concerned with the company's future..."

      Clearly you don't meet this criteria, so don't worry about it.

      Personally, I think its unfortunate most people don't see it this way - its the reason great companies with great products get gobbled / trampled by the Wal-Marts, Microsofts, and Sony's of the world. Economic darwinism (the idea that if a company fails, they must've had an inferior product) is a complete crock of shit, and leads giant uncontrollable monsters like the RIAA et al.

      • Re:Pardon? (Score:3, Interesting)

        Personally, I think its unfortunate most people don't see it this way - its the reason great companies with great products get gobbled / trampled by the Wal-Marts, Microsofts, and Sony's of the world.
        Companies are not people, though the law treats them as such - how unfortunate! I dislike the idea of supporting a company because it is "good" (as opposed to "evil"). Unfortunately, a "good" company can become "evil" much faster than the Pope can turn into a serial killer. A CEO gets replaced, the company's "personality" changes. As to the future of the product - good products sold by weak companies aren't rare, that's true. One can only hope that the product outlives its company. Well, this sometimes happens, sometimes not. The free market is far from perfect (Surprise!).
    • Yeah, I was wondering about that also. I certainly care about the future of Linux and wish for it to prosper but there are better causes out there than a software company. A better way to contribute to the community at large might be to help out FSF [], instead of a corporation.
    • by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:47PM (#4932915)
      I got the karma to burn and after dealing with a very crashy server, I got the angst to burn as well.

      I swear . . . you people amaze me. You cry a river over Palladium and litter these message boards with cheers when some country decides to go Linux. You hate Microsoft - yet - when the most user friendly desktop distro is in financial trouble - you scorn them. I mean - wtf? If you believe in the cause and a major leader is having problems - you help them out. You help them out not because you want something in return, you help them out to keep the movement alive. And don't give me this market philosphy bullshit either. If you really believe that shit, stick with MS.

      I swear you people are incredible. You cry so much about the DRM thing yet you make it invetiable by turning your back on Mandrake. You're just proving to everybody (including the RIAA, MPAA) that you just want a free lunch. Nothing else. Nothing more.

      Go ahead - flame me to death and knock me down to the -1 country. I don't give a shit.
      • by cheezedawg ( 413482 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @08:25PM (#4933545) Journal
        when the most user friendly desktop distro is in financial trouble - you scorn them.

        No, its a company that has a crappy business plan and is not making any money. A company asking for cash donations so it can survive a little longer is one of the dummest things I have ever heard. Maybe they should rethink their business plan instead(what a strange idea- a business that actually makes money without donations?). You are not helping out the "movement" at all- Linux does not rely on Mandrake for survival. If you want to donate your money, that is fine, but you should realize that by donating you are just throwing your cash down the toilet to enable a crappy business to survive another week.

        And you should leave Microsoft, DRM, and all of the other /. buzzwords out of this -- they are not relevant at all to the topic.
    • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:50PM (#4932935) Homepage Journal
      Mandrake is not rich enough or annoying enough to send CDs to our houses like AOL does or have ads on TV telling us to subscribe to the club.

      If you want Mandrake 10 you'll subscribe to the club, and if you dont want it, you wont subscribe,the code costs money to produce.
    • Re:Pardon? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:11PM (#4933070) Homepage Journal
      Isn't Mandrakesoft a COMPANY? Why should we help a company? Is this "Charity for Corporations Week" here?

      I'm reminded of the number of products I've really enjoyed over the years, and can't get anymore because no-one even cared to write in, or buy the products. Worse, that which replaces it on the shelf, is often not as good or worse. I've had to settle for "other", over the years, more than I care to list.

      Sorry I don't, yet, have an informed opinion on Mandrake 9.0, as it just arrived in the mail a couple days ago (yeah, I did buy it because I do believe in supporting Linux distros with more than just words) and I'll be installing it during the next few days.

      I've had RedHat and wasn't overwhelmed with their product, it's ok, but I'd like to try another and picked Mandrake based upon positive user reviews.

      It was shipped late and I just got a very nice letter from Mandrake appologizing for the delay (which was actually only about 3 business days to process, not a big deal.)

    • It's not charity. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stonedown ( 44508 )
      Is it "charity" to send a few bones to Mandrake in return for all the free ISO's you've downloaded, or is it just evening the score? Is it "charity" for you to buy the latest version, after downloading the last 5 releases for free?

      If you haven't used Mandrake, or you've bought products from them in the past, then I don't think their request for support is directed at you.
  • Let them go (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The thing is, if Mandrake can't survive, all they'll do is pull down the rest of the Linux community.

    And frankly, after having bought a copy of Mandrake Linux, and being very unsatisfied with the support, I don't really think they should survive.
  • My appeal (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:15PM (#4932627)
    This is my appeal to the Slashdot community:

    I am a 31 year old male virgin and I really, really need to lose my virginity this year. At this point I don't care if you're a guy or the world's skankiest geekette. If you are willing to finally make me a man, please reply to this post with your address. I'll fly over next week.

  • by davie ( 191 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:15PM (#4932629) Journal

    Mandrake should either go non-profit so they can beg for money without being an embarrassment, or shut the doors.

    • Exactly...

      While they beg for money, I cannot influence how they do their business. For example why did they spend so much in something that turned out to be totally bad? I am in specific referencing their experiment in the education market.

      So while I do not find their appeal for money bad, it is how they spend it that I find bad.

    • by aoteoroa ( 596031 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:01PM (#4933004)
      Speaking of emabarrassment - I'm feeling a little sheepish myself because it is people like me who have helped get Mandrake in this awkward position.

      I have downloaded and used isos for:
      Mandrake 8.0
      Mandrake Single Network Firewall
      Mandrake 8.1
      Mandrake Corporate Server
      Mandrake 9.0

      At work everytime I have a server problem there is usually an easy Mandrake solution.

      At home I have used the most recent version of Mandrake for the last 3 or 4 releases. Yet to date I have not paid a dime.

      Well today is the day I will pony up and stop being a complete leach. Sadly I can't afford much 'cause this is an expensive time of year.
  • Thinning the herd (Score:5, Redundant)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:15PM (#4932630) Homepage
    Even if I were to give money to Mandrake, what sort of information do I have that would lead me to believe that they wouldn't just be in this hole again six months from now? Throwing good money after bad is a real pet peeve of mine.

    IMO, Mandrake is about to get thinned from the herd. And it'll be too bad, since they've provided a lot of leadership in terms of desktop Linux, but I think we're all a lot more realistic about business realities than we were a few years ago.

    • This is called the "Prisoner's Dillema". It's the reason people don't do a lot of small things, from vote to stop tailgating in traffic. It's because they think that no one will co-operate with them, and their action will be futile.

      Don't give in to the prisoner's dillema. Always do the right thing, and others will follow.
      • by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:28PM (#4932735) Homepage Journal

        You've failed to make the argument about why saving Mandrake is "the right thing".

        Not everything is worth saving, and particularly not everything with good intentions. Why does Mandrake offer that is so great that it's worth dumping $4M into? And note that that $4M is not going into new development -- it's to resolve outstanding debts from all the wasted money of the past.

        • by stonedown ( 44508 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:30PM (#4933178) Homepage
          If you don't use Mandrake, it's not worth saving, plain and simple. If you use Mandrake, and you like it, then getting Mandrake through this rough patch ensures that they'll be around for you to use their next release.

          Numerous polls show that Mandrake is the favorite desktop distribution by a wide margin, so there are clearly a lot of people who use Mandrake and like it, and if Mandrake goes out of business, they're all going to be moving to SuSE or Red Hat. Clearly, there are reasons that so many people opted to use Mandrake in the first place, so SuSE and Red Hat are going to be a step down for many.

          I am a standard member of the club, and I purchased the DVD set of Mandrake 9.0, because it was worth paying for.
          • I am a standard member of the club, and I purchased the DVD set of Mandrake 9.0, because it was worth paying for.

            Good for you.

            But you ought to be able to see the writing on the wall. Mandrake's business model is failing. You just can't justify the amount they spend on development and packaging costs with the amount they make selling Open Source software. And if you support them now, you better expect to dole out even MORE cash in another 6 months, more after that....

            Heck, RedHat is having a hard time, too, but they are at least treading water. In another five years the only full distro will be Debian, which is actually strengthening over time, as opposed to the weakening coming from Mandrake and the others. The reason is that you cannot make enough money selling Open Source software to support a company based on packaging. However, the collective community can do it quite well - thus Debian and its volunteers survive.

            It remains to be seen if companies like RedHat will be able to morph themselves into support companies based on Debian packaging (a HUGE win financially for RedHat - lose the devel and packaging costs, zero in on the cash flow).

            Note: I could care less how much you like Mandrake. Lots of quality products fail financially, and that is not a judgment on their quality, but on their market value. And, pretty soon, that market value will be less than zero.
      • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:31PM (#4932762) Homepage
        I'm sorry, I don't see how this applies.

        In the interests of promoting diversity in Linux choices, I can see giving a few dollars to help an otherwise viable company get over a particular rough patch.

        But this doesn't seem to be the case here -- rather, it's beginning to look more and more like Mandrake will never turn a profit. This brings up the spectre of the community supporting a supposedly for-profit company via donations, which just isn't realistic. So it's not a question of the "right thing", but one of eceonomic reality.

      • This is simply a matter of a company asking for a bail-out. The fact that it's a linux distro is simply tugging on your heartstrings, in the hopes that the plea will tug on your purse-strings.

        What this all boils down to is you have to decide how many chances you feel Mandrake should get. How many times will you give money to an entity that, although they make a nice product, seems incapable of balancing gains and expenditures. This is merely a business decision, one which occurs daily. The strong survive, the weak die out.
    • by Xerithane ( 13482 )
      IMO, Mandrake is about to get thinned from the herd. And it'll be too bad, since they've provided a lot of leadership in terms of desktop Linux, but I think we're all a lot more realistic about business realities than we were a few years ago.

      Damn straight. They follow too closely in the shadow of RedHat and have no way to break even, much less dream of a profit. So appeal to the community, again, and again. It annoys me that to download Mandrake they try to force you to join Club Mandrake.

      If I want to join a club, it isn't going to be Mandrake. I use Mandrake, and I actually like it quite a bit. If I were to pay for anything it'd be RedHat though. A company that can at least give me a return on what I pay for. Someone else pointed out that they should go NPO or close the doors, and they were right. I'll donate to an NPO, I buy things from a company. What do I stand to gain from Mandrake by buying? Nothing. I can just as easily use Red Hat, Debian, Slackware, or even *BSD. I'm pretty sure a lot of the target market feels the same as me.
      • What do I stand to gain from Mandrake by buying?

        You answered your own question earlier in your comment:
        "I use Mandrake, and I actually like it quite a bit."

        It sounds to me like you gained without buying. How about supporting the company that made that gain possible? What more to you gain from RedHat?
        • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:37PM (#4932827) Homepage
          It sounds to me like you gained without buying. How about supporting the company that made that gain possible? What more to you gain from RedHat?

          The real difference here is that RedHat isn't counting on sales of CDs or, worse, the altruism of the community to make money.

          Instead, they have displayed good business sense and are creating sell-able services surrounding Linux, such as training and subscriptions to time-saving services (using up2date anytime is worth $60 a server, IMO). This is working out really well for them -- they're suddenly in the black.

          If Mandrake can't do the same, well, that's life. They need to either develop a viable for-profit business plan (if they want to remain a for-profit business) or work out another way to survive (go non-profit or get aquired).

          That's just reality.

      • Reading your comment made me remember going to download from their site. You are presented with these two choices:

        I agree to support Mandrake Linux, please send me to the Mandrake Linux Users Club Registration page now.

        I'm already a member of the Club or plan on registering soon, please send me to the download page now.

        Pretty Tacky if you ask me...

      • I use Mandrake, and I actually like it quite a bit. If I were to pay for anything it'd be RedHat though.
        tell me you' re a troll, please. Please, don't let me know that people like you actually exists.
    • Re:Thinning the herd (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mosch ( 204 )
      From a technical perspective, I believe that they're getting culled for a reason. Mandrake is the 'bleeding edge' distro, and that used to have some value, because users used to regularly need the latest versions of applications, libraries and the kernel to be able to accomplish their goals.

      These days though, most goals can be accomplished with software that's stabilized and has been regression tested for a few months, thus making many other distributions preferable to mandrake.

      It's sad to see them go out of business, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't go bankrupt.

  • Boxed Sets (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xombo ( 628858 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:16PM (#4932636)
    I remember my first Linux Distro... It was Mandrake 6.0. It is the best one I've ever used, for it's bare-bones Red Hat compatability and ease of use. They are missing the boat by trying to compete with people like Red Hat because they know they can't steal Red Hat users. RH users are dedicated to RH and usually revere Mandrake as child's play. Mandrake needs to re-evaluate their position and make themselves a Linux for the working man who doesn't have the time to sit around for hours making it work.
    • Re:Boxed Sets (Score:2, Insightful)

      They have boxed sets at retailers, and WalMart sells their distro [] on really cheap PCs.

      Why aren't they making money?

      People like me who download it for free and install it on the half-dozen machines within their reach are a loss of market share, but there are millions of new PCs sold each year. You would think a small company could make a few bucks on a tiny part of that market.

  • I have an idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Morgahastu ( 522162 ) <bshel@WEEZE3.141 ... emove my fave ba> on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:18PM (#4932655) Journal
    how about they learn how to run a business then maybe I will purchase a product from them.

    Its not the responsibility of the consumer to buy their products and then donate money. Either a) raise the price of distro box or b) increase sales of the box by making it more appealing (subscription to slashdot(hah), intro to linux book, good manual, cd full of games, etc).

    • Here's a hint if you ever run your own business... generally the way to riches is to CUT prices, not raise them. :)

      The quickest way to bankruptcy when your business is hurting is to raise your prices.

  • by RobertTaylor ( 444958 ) <roberttaylor1234@g m a> on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:19PM (#4932659) Homepage Journal
    "If you are a qualified investor who would like to participate in the current round of financing, please contact with the amount you wish to invest."

    What if your loaded but stupid? I would have thought dumb rich people would be the way forward...
  • Enough is enough... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tongue ( 30814 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:19PM (#4932663) Homepage
    You know, the first time around, I gave, even though i didn't really have the cash. I considered it a good cause. At this point, that is becoming less and less so. First of all, they appeal over and over to people who already give and give. It reminds me of the kids in my neighborhood who are always hitting up the same neighbors for their candy sales, xmas card sales, donut sales, bake sales, and any other kind of fundraiser the den mothers can come up with. at some point, i get damn tired of buying crap off these kids, no matter how good a cause it is. Mandrake is the same way. I don't even use Mandrake anymore and i still gave last time around.

    Why don't they focus more on people who AREN'T already customers? do what real companies do--SELL SHIT! Yeah, yeah, i know they sell free software. so does redhat, they do alright. lindows seems to be making out alright, and i don't think they're as good a desktop as mandrake is. start holding the distribution ransom--don't release a major upgrade until you're operating in the black or something. but i swear to god if you don't quit whining and begging for money i'm switching back to windows! (ok, maybe not that far, but i'm definitely sticking with gentoo from now on.)
  • It's too bad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SiMac ( 409541 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:21PM (#4932681) Homepage
    That there's still no great open source business model. So far there have been "sell it under a different license" (MySQL) and "sell support" (Red Hat/MySQL/Mandrake) and "sell the CD image and don't provide it online, but make the software open source" (OpenBSD/UnitedLinux).

    The third one tends to work the best. The problem is, I think, that many of the target consumers of this software don't feel like paying for it. The third one avoids this problem by requiring that you pay for it, or that you spend more time than anyone would reasonably spend trying to make your own version.

    In the future, all open source projects may be forced to move to the third model. Not that this is such a bad thing, considering the only people who won't be able to get it are the people who caused the change in business model to occur in the first place.

    Just my thoughts.
  • So, here's a for-profit company that isn't making a profit. What do they do? They ask people to send them money. In return for sending this company money, people will get...a chance to send them more money the next time they ask.

    Mandrake is playing the so-called "Linux community" like it was one giant sucker.
  • I got the email also, I can understand it, but even a marketing guy should know not many people are going to buy a mandrakeclub membership for a friend.

    Kind of reminds me of the Friends episode where Chandler donates money to the New York Ballet in honor of co-workers for a Christmas gift.

    I doubt they'll make much off of this...

    Personally, I've tried mandrake, and thought that their control center was very touchy. It always seemed to lock up on me on the computers I've tried. I made the switch to redhat when mandrake released 8.1 and I tried that. That release made my server die, ended up having to reinstall from scratch.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:25PM (#4932712)
    The economics of valud-added distribution of a free product are intersting indeed. Maybe the best analogue is the market for bottled water - take a free product that is easily obtained, although not always in the best form, and package it for consumption.

    In any case, I don't see any viable market model for Mandrake. Even if someone were to pursue the Red-Hat aftermarket, its probably something best left to volunteers. The real competition here is in diversity - I am much more interested in (for example) Gentoo vs. Red Hat then Mandrake vs Red Hat.

  • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:26PM (#4932715) Homepage Journal
    What special does mandrake add that requires their existence?

    With Redhat I can see they contribute to developing software that hits the community. I use redhat so I know that much, but could someone elinghten me on the value added by Mandrake?

    You gotta provide a distinct service if you want to stay alive. I dont even pay redhat but I am considering joining the premium download club as one of my charitable efforts.

    Yes their for profit, but their is nothign wrong with donating to a for-profit if their heart is right.

    ***Besides, if you never donate to _anything_, you can never withdraw your donation support in protest of bad decisions.***
    • Take a look at their MNF (Multi Network Firewall)
      I use it all the time and it is the best that I have found. It includes statefull firewalling VPN caching server (SQUID) Intrusion ditection (prelude) and they are all setup through their slick web interface. This product alone justifies their existence in my opinion. That however is not to say that I agree with the way that they are raising money if they want money why not release some stock as I for one would buy it.
  • Me too (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pac ( 9516 ) <> on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:26PM (#4932720)
    I have a start-up company and we make stuff, you know. People like it, our stuff. But people have not been buying so much of our stuff lately and Christmas is expensive with all this gifts and foods and, you guessed, stuff.

    So, if you want to donate to my company, leave your email, phone number and the amount you would like to donate in a reply here. We will be contacting you soon (probably next year, Holidays being what they are). We will also send you a nice stuff T-shirt for you donnation.
  • The company's finances are slim, yet we suck down their bandwidth which they must pay for.
  • I think there approach is very smart in the Free Software community: in just a few year they succeeded to become one of the most popular Linux distro which very small means. For instance there are currently one of the most downloaded Linux distribution: It would be a pity that such great project disapears now. I wish them a very good luck and happy christmas.
  • by antis0c ( 133550 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:29PM (#4932742)
    But why continue to throw money into toilet? It's already started flushing man, get out while you can. When a company begins a downward spiral like this, the first instinct it to start throwing some money into it, putting out fires here and there. However the damage is too much and without a huge investment, and I'm talking more than the Slashdot community could ever raise, its going to continue all the way down.

    A second point to be made in this is Mandrake is a company. When they start begging for money like this to save the company, I want to see a plan. I want to know how my money is going to help. What they have is way to vague.

    Our current cash needs are approximately 4ME ($4M USD). This level of cash infusion would resolve outstanding debts, cover the expenses needed to become profitable, plus secure an extra amount to satisfy the needs of future growth.

    What kind of outstanding debt? Is my money going to pay for those 1,500 dollar Aeron chairs the executes who are already being paid 6 digit salary are sitting in? Is it to cover "corporate meetings" held at the Sheraton or some other overly expensive restraunt? Those are the things that bother me the most. I'd be more than glad to help a company that is going under due to the pressure of the market, but I want to know why they got to where they are now. Is it because of a sincere inability to raise profit and lower required expenses? Or is it because the executives demanded fresh squeezed juices while they sit back in an Aeron chair.

    I'm not saying Mandrake is like that, but I know plenty of companies that are to be overly cautious about investing any money into a company about to go bankrupt.
  • I understand their need to make money, but they should tweak their business model to make membership more valuable. Here's the letter they sent me today, which entices me to buy a membership in the Mandrake Club.

    Flash: MandrakeSoft's Future

    Many of you have followed the evolution of MandrakeSoft throughout the past few years. Everyone who is concerned with the company's future is encouraged to read and distribute the following message.

    Despite the many financial challenges of maintaining a fully open source business model, MandrakeSoft has always followed the Free Software approach, but in this normally joyful holiday season we are experiencing a serious short-term cash crisis.

    In order to reach the next release, MandrakeSoft currently needs to raise cash and quickly complete an Increase of Capital. Please take a moment to read this important message at the Mandrake Linux website:

    We know you may have read our previous appeals, but if you are truly concerned about MandrakeSoft's future, now is the time to mobilize and help spread the word.

    With the holidays upon us, a great way to spread some "Linux cheer" is by offering the gift of a MandrakeClub membership. The Club is a great way to support MandrakeSoft, and to help others too.


    The MandrakeSoft team.

  • Sigh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Emmettfish ( 573105 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:29PM (#4932750) Homepage
    You know what? I've had enough. These people have burned through how many millions of dollars already? Meanwhile, we work our asses off, and I'm still concerned about how to pay my rent next month. If we had the kind of money that Mandrake has likely paid in taxes alone, we would be producing ungodly amounts of software.

    By my watch, with the amount of money that Mandrake has already spent, they should have the absolute best commercial distribution of Linux available. There should be no question as to the performance of Mandrake compared to any other commercial version. They should be kicking ass and taking names. Unfortunately, the only ass they're kicking is the collective behind of the Linux community, and the only names they're taking are followed by credit card numbers.

    Meanwhile, we're a non-profit company that produces the absolute best-of-class general-purpose audio compression codec in the world, proprietary or otherwise. We've been through recessions and poor economic times before; Hopefully we'll live through this one, too. Everybody and their brother has a Linux distribution; Why don't you support the smaller projects that actually make a difference?

    Emmett Plant [mailto]
    CEO, Foundation []

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:09PM (#4933059)
      Your project is unique, as far as I know, and genuinley useful to lots of people. I fail to see how another Linux distribution, that when I tried it (version 7.0) was more or less a RedHat knockoff, is any sort of huge benefit.

      So people, if you are feeling the urge to donate to free software, give it to the Xiph guys. No matter what OS you use, OGG is available to you, and it's GOOD at what it does. If Mandrake dies, well, then they die and we are limited to only the other million and a half Linux distros. If Xiph dies, we don't get updates to Vorbis, and none of the rest of their projects come to be.
    • right fucking on (Score:3, Interesting)

      The early affection of the slashdot crowd for Mandrake was always mystifying to me, and by the looks of the up-modded posts on this thread, it looks like a few of them have finally figured out that they've been had. Pity it didn't happen a few years ago.

      Meanwhile, projects that actually contribute something unique to the community, as opposed to Yet Another Goddamn Shoddy Distribution, languish. I've donated [] to the Ogg project; have you?

      Emmett, any timeframe on getting vorbis support into the iPod? :)
    • Xiph could have followed a similiar route that Mandrake did. They hired the wrong people and made some bad decisions. I realize you are bitter, but your post does not help the situation.

      I find that Mandrake is a step ahead of the other distrobutions in general polish and usability. They are also closer to the ideals of the Free Software Foundation than any other distrobution.

      Mandrake has made a difference for me. I probably would just be using windows at this point if it hadn't been for Mandrake. This was back with version 7.0 that was just a RH clone, but with better hardware support. I have purchased just about every release since then. And I consider them to be a good investment.

      The Linux world will be a poorer place without Mandrake. This call for help was directed at the existing community of Mandrake users. If you do not want to support Mandrake, then don't. But don't use your position to degrade them and discourage others from supporting them. That makes you a very ugly person in my eyes.

      I have also supported other small and medium projects. With that attitude, I am not inclined to support Xiph though.
      • Xiph could have followed a similiar route that Mandrake did. They hired the wrong people and made some bad decisions. I realize you are bitter, but your post does not help the situation.

        What situation? The situation that a company that has bled millions of dollars is once again asking for more cash from their captive audience? You're right, I am powerless to bail out MandrakeSoft. As far as 'following a similar route,' I doubt it. We never had millions to burn in the first place, and it's never been our goal to start a company and turn a massive profit.

        I cannot and will not feel sorry for any company that burns through insane amounts of money like MandrakeSoft has. Just because they sell Linux services does not mean they get special dispensation; When they opted to jump into the corporate fray, all bets were off. You compete, or you die. It is often vicious. It is often difficult. It is often unfair. But that's the game.

        The Linux world will be a poorer place without Mandrake. This call for help was directed at the existing community of Mandrake users. If you do not want to support Mandrake, then don't. But don't use your position to degrade them and discourage others from supporting them. That makes you a very ugly person in my eyes.

        Call me crazy, but this isn't the first time that MandrakeSoft has done this. I think it's irresponsible. Where are they spending this money? How are they going through this much cash, this quickly?

        While you may be a huge fan of the Mandrake distribution, please understand that while they're a for-profit corporation, they're playing the for-profit game. When my phone bill comes, I don't ask my friends and family to help me pay it, just because I am a brilliant conversationalist. I have my own debts, I take on my own responsibilities. MandrakeSoft is acting like a college kid, calling home for pizza money.

        Imagine if all companies did this. Wouldn't you find it extremely offensive if McDonald's employees came up to you during your meal, asking you to help them out with some of their expenses?

        "Hi, how are you? I hope you're enjoying that Big Mac. You know, we work really hard on the Big Mac, and we'd like to continue making Big Macs for the next few years. Unfortunately, the current economy hasn't been too kind to us, and we're feeling a little less like Ronald, and more like Grimace."

        You would find it irritating. You would find it annoying. You might not ever go back there again, and you'd tell your friends about it. I'm just asking you to consider the nice little diner down the street when you're tired of being shaken down by the clown.

        Emmett Plant [mailto]
        CEO, Foundation []

  • My company, UG-WebDesign, uses Mandrake Linux. I use Mandrake for the Web Server that runs our primary site along with several of our Clients sites. In addition, I also setup Mandrake Linux to run as our internal E-mail server.

    The setup we are currently using is Mandrake Linux 9.0 running MySQL 3.23.52, Apache 1.3.26, and PHP 4.2.3. Along with the we are running Postfix and the IMAP server for our internal E-mail.

    We originally started with Mandrake Linux 8.0, but tried several competing solutions including FreeBSD 4.7, RedHat 7.2, RedHat 8.0, and Windows XP Professional. For our needs, we finally decided to return to Mandrake Linux as the best of choice. With this, we gave Mandrake Linux 9.0 a try and haven't looked back since. Our main reasons were that Mandrake Linux was the fastest, most stable option for us as our Hardware is slightly aged. We see minimal slow-downs even with steady work loads. This is especially noticeable when comparing Mandrake Linux to the Windows XP server we tested. The Windows XP server couldn't handle more than a few simultaneous connections before seriously beginning to slow down the entire network.

    We will continue to use Mandrake Linux 9.0. At least until the next Mandrake release. :)
  • maybe Gentoo, if we're gonna talk distros? Having done several installfests, my university LUG has had consistent problems with various versions of the Mandrake distro on a variety of pretty generic, stable hardware. Mandrake used to have a rep for ease of use and a slick installer, but these days all they're known for is bloat and instability, at least in my circles. All corporate wellfare issues aside, put your money where the product is; in the Linux realm, that means RedHat for everyday use and Gentoo for power use. Mandrake can go hang.
  • While I am a fan of the "Club" concept, let's find out if it is any good.

    If anyone that is a member of this "club" is reading, can you explain to those of us who aren't what is good (and bad?) about this club?

  • They weren't maintaining so many websites...

  • I'm about to quit bothering with Mandrake anymore. They removed their 486 distribution from the mirrors! It's nearly impossible to find now. I burned a CD of the 486 7.0 distro, and the next month it was gone. I use it as a simple way to put moderate functionality into some of these 486 boxes I have lying around. It runs ok on 486's around 50MHz+. However, I tried to go find txt_bootnet.img for it, and everything had vanished. Redhat 6.0 bootnet disks nearly work, and I did find something on a mandrake-CLE server in Taiwan. Don't know if it works yet.

    If Mandrake wants people to like and buy their distribution, they shouldn't actually go through the effort of wiping their old distributions out of existence. I though some of the ideas were pretty neat, but won't buy a distro that not only completely drops support for older systems, but makes sure you can never get the old distro again.

    Anyone want a mandrake486 cd? I'll burn you a CD free and send it for price of Priority Mail postage ($3.20). I'll only send out ten total, just want to make sure other people have it, so it won't completely vanish.
  • So now when Amazon isn't going to make their quarterly profit they should turn on the amazon 'donte now' buttons and we'll all save them out of the goodness of our heart?

    Oh no, Playstation 2 is behind schedule cuz it costs too much, donte money now!

    this is a bit on the weird side folks. maybe it's the codeine i've been taking for my surgery but this just don't work for me.

    • Mandrakesoft gives you free access to download software, they freely allow a programmer to work on KDE and the Linux Kernel, they freely give you a website, Mandrake Expert, Mandrake Forum etc,

      You cant donate some money to keep these free services? I guess you dont really want them.

      If PS2 were giving out free games why not donate $60 once in a great while?
  • Don't throw good money after bad. Your money will not save Mandrake. Instead, it will wind up in a few lucky creditors' (and their lawyers') pockets after bankruptcy proceedings.

    If you have some money that you want to donate to a good cause, pick one where it will do some good. I don't care whether it's the Salvation Army or the EFF, but be effective with your donations. Let the market take care of the less effective corporations--that's what it does.
  • by bmetz ( 523 )
    I'm sorry, but "we swear things are looking up" isn't going to cut it. Exciting new announcements? Come on, this vague language worked in the dot com era.

    Let me spell it out for you guys: show us graphs. Show us numbers. Let's see your exact plan for ending your reliance on our philanthropy. I wanna know what your assumptions are.

    The only data points I have right now are:
    - You sell something that you also give away for free, with little obvious value-add in the for-sale version
    - Your business model, despite mumblings otherwise, has relied in the past on the goodwill of the community
    - The goodwill of the community is running out
  • Who are we trying to kid? Slippery slope. There are too many commercial linux distro, with not enough to distinguish them and just not enough market to sustain all those jobs. You know it, I know it, we all know it, we just delude ourselves otherwise.

    Some commercial linux distros are going under, and Mandrake is showing all the signs that it's going to be one of them. Ask yourself this; if you bail out Mandrake (again), do you acccept that means that someone else will go under instead?

  • In May 2000, a new CEO and his management team joined MandrakeSoft. With this new management team, the company dramatically increased expenses (by 400%), hired many new employees, and entered into many expensive long-term agreements. Under this new management, the plan was to build the company into a worldwide leader in the area of e-learning, with only a link to Linux since the underlying platform and contents were open-source.

    By March 2001, the results of this strategy showed a marked decrease in income, while expenses increased by 400%. At its worst point, MandrakeSoft's "burn rate" was approximately 1.5 ME/month ($1.5M/month). As a result, it was soon decided to remove this experienced management team and to refocus the company's activities strictly toward Linux.

    So, because they've made poor business decisions in the past (to include hiring bad management and throwing away money) we're supposed to support them? Give me a break! Sheez, by this logic, someone should just pay off my credit cards and give me a house (any takers?).

    Feel free to mark me as troll.

  • ..the recent announcement by Sony & Matsushita, and their plans to develop Linux into a more suitable system for the home entertainment market.

    Mandrake has (in my opinion at least) always been more comfortable in the home / desktop environment (sorry, but I dont believe in using X windows, and graphical tools to admin a Linux server) - perhaps Sony and Matsushita could look at some kind of buy out for Mandrake, and put their expertise to work for them instead?
  • by ohboy-sleep ( 601567 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:41PM (#4932850) Homepage
    I think it's best we look at Hollywood to answer this little problem. What happened when George Newman needed money to save his UHF station, U62? Why, he sold shares in the company.

    Why should someone donate $50 or whatever to Mandrake and see the same benefit as the guy who donated nothing?

    Now all they need is Stanley Spidowski's Word Processing program pre-installed as well as Conan the Librarian's File-Sharing client.
  • RedHat posted its first profit ever last week. I don't recall them ever asking for donations. Maybe they should buy Mandrake and dislove it/convert their user base to RH 8.0.
  • I feel like mandrake has earned my money. With Redhat on the path to becoming the next Microsoft, I feel like there need to be more distros available and mandrake staying in business is a big part of that.
  • by kbielefe ( 606566 ) <karl.bielefeldt+ ... com minus threev> on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:44PM (#4932892)
    Since I regularly use Mandrake, I try to buy the distribution CDs for major upgrades. The price is well worth it, especially if you get the DVD. When I download the ISOs instead, I answer 50 or so support questions on for free. Since other people pay to ask the questions, this is a way I can indirectly support the product. My point is don't be a leech. If you use the product, find some way to contribute, monetarily or otherwise.
  • ...each user that uses Mandrake on one or more boxes bought atleast one boxed set from them, they'd be home free. Right?

    I haven't so far, but I will since I use Mandrake on a few machines. The price is a hell of a lot better than the price of WinXP, and they don't try to force any registration or similar thing on You.

    A feature that I really like about Mandrake is the "urpmi". I don't need to register anywhere, just point out where the upgrades live (on some ftp mirror) and have a "urpmi.update -a ; urpmi --auto-select --auto" in my crontab, and my system will be up to date and I don't even have to care.
    I even upgraded my 9.0 system to a 9.1 (the devel-version) this way. All I had to do was to point the urpmi to the devel-version and it took care of everything.

    I really hope they make it.


    Want to be a stable node []?

  • I can't speak for others, but I've tried to approach Mandrake about business partnerships in the past, and they never respond. They've got a phone number in the US which is never answered, and 'fill out this form' pages never get responded to. There may in fact be many other companies that would like to do business with Mandrake for mutual benefit, but they're probably way too focused on just desktop linux development to consider anything else (and, while their distro is OK, it's not really much better than anyone else).

    RedHat specifically is branching out into training and vertical markets ('advanced server', 'rh database', etc). I don't see Mandrake really trying to address any specific need beyond not pissing off the general linux community. That's just not enough to make a profitable business, imo.

    If anyone from Mandrake actually reads this message, please email me at Thanks. :)
  • Classic example. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by /dev/trash ( 182850 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:54PM (#4932955) Homepage Journal
    Give a man handouts every time he asks and he becomes dependent. A little tough love a year ago and maybe mandrakeSoft makes it out okay. Sorry but are you a business or a charity?
  • Linux PBS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BluedemonX ( 198949 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:14PM (#4933091)
    Why don't they just have membership drives twice a year, like PBS? That way they can waste tons of money producing content noone watches, save a few brie eaters who'll write their donations off against their taxes?
  • by Wonko42 ( 29194 ) <> on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:23PM (#4933136) Homepage
    If MandrakeSoft is in such dire straights, then what's all this about []? Just last week revenue was up 31%, operating costs down 42%, and they were giving themselves a big pat on the back []. And now they're asking for handouts again? What?
  • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:45PM (#4933297) Homepage Journal
    Let's see if I understand this:
    1. Mandrake gives away their primary product to anyone who has a fast enough connection to download it.
    2. Every year, more and more people get a fast enough connection to download it.
    3. The number of copies that they sell in retail packages is already too low to cover their expenses.

    Yeah. Sounds like a real solid business model.
    • Most people will find a way to rationalize why they should keep their money whenever possible. (Just look at all of the people that think it's okay to cheat on their taxes.)
    • People like to get bargains. Very few people would want to pay money for an OS when their friends downloaded it for free.
    • The majority of people who claim to be part of the "open source community" are just leeches who want free software. They don't contribute code, money, testing, documentation, or anything else.

    Mandrade could make money selling distros by following the OpenBSD model, copyrighting the ISO images and not making them available for download. Alternatively, they could write proprietary installers and configuration tools that are not open source, witholding those from people that download the OS components. What they have now is a losing business model that will only get worse as more and more people have access to broadband.
  • by deno ( 814 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:13PM (#4933741) Homepage
    In spite of the very unfortunate way MandrakeClub is "advertised" (ahem), MandrakeClub is not a charity, but a service.

    I am in charge of MandrakeClub, and i have worked very hard for last 12 months to build that place into something really special.It isn't finished yet, but it is indeed on a good way to become by far the best "service" for private users and small companies.

    I wan't bother you with the details (as if someone would care to read anyway), but there is a whole bunch of people there who are really happy to be Club members today, so I must have done something right after all.

    I know that everyone on Slashdot is telling you that Club is no-good, but maybe you should just go there once, and try to build your own meaning.

    OK, it wan't be a very excitiong trip (site is not made for anonymous users, and it is in fact even quite unfriendly towards them), but maybe you could still get a feeling that it isn't "just charity" by browsing trough FAQs, and looking at the discussion in the "future" forum on MandrakeClub.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken