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Mandriva Businesses

MandrakeSoft Files for Bankruptcy Protection 495

An anonymous reader writes "It's official: MandrakeSoft has filed a 'declaration de cessation des paiements' - the French equivalent of a U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. From a statement issued by the company: 'This reorganization of liabilities enables MandrakeSoft to continue its current operations, which are showing increases in revenue and significant decreases in expenses. MandrakeSoft's strategic partners are supporting the company in this process and the MandrakeSoft team is focused on continuing to deliver high quality services and products to its customers.' Best wishes to MandrakeSoft as they work through this process."
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MandrakeSoft Files for Bankruptcy Protection

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  • by jcannava ( 641086 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:12PM (#5088879)
    i'm surprised that more companies that make distributions of linux have not had this problem. Open Source in itself is not a great business model, being free and all, and you can only make so much money off of cd's. Anyone have any idea how the other companies are making it in a microsoft dominated world? I know RedHat has one of the more expensive certification exams, but other than that i'm not sure how any of these companies make it.
  • by Geekenstein ( 199041 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:22PM (#5088963)
    Sorry buddy, but the Sally Struthers approach didn't help your cause.

    I'm a capitalist, and I firmly believe that any business must make money through the sale of goods and services to turn a profit and survive. Look at RedHat. They took the same product, spent large amounts of capital developing a product, and sold not only that product, built on freely available technology, but support services and add-ons that people want to buy.

    The difference between them and Mandrake? They created a business model that works. Mandrake was built on top of RedHat, with most of the work already done for them. If Mandrake has been unable to attract investors in a Linux-crazy world, something must seriously be wrong with their fundamentals.

    So sorry, Sally. I won't be giving a failed company a handout. I'll continue to purchase products that warrant it. This is Darwin's theory of Capitalism at its finest....the strong survive.
  • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:26PM (#5088996) Homepage Journal
    Hate to tell you this but free software can survive just fine. It's a bloated company based on free software that cannot.

    Why the hell should I give my hard earned money to a company that isn't doing enough innovative stuff to be able to sell their product? RedHat and Apple don't seem to have these problems.

    Realistically how many people does it take to make a distribution? Patrick V of slackware probably doesn't do it alone yet I wouldn't be surprised if he did.

    If you really want to contribute just write free code. Otherwise stfu about "contributing" to a bad business model.

    To say it in french, "Je m'en fiche".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:28PM (#5089015)
    Umm . . . you mean the distro that's willing to try different things? To support diverse development? To suppport internationalisation? To provide the best KDE implementation? To provide a great user forum and widespread user participation? To provide an easy-to-administer and update Linux distro for anyone with a brain? Oh yeah, THAT Mandrake . . .
  • by labratuk ( 204918 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:31PM (#5089030)
    First we hear a rumor a week or so ago that Mandrake were going to file for bankruptcy.

    Then, yesterday we get a Newsforge article [newsforge.com] completely denying it.

    Now we hear this.

    Mandrake certainly do seem to have issues with being honest with people. Plus I think they have a history of this, don't they?

  • by PunchMonkey ( 261983 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:39PM (#5089077) Homepage
    If Mandrake dies a horrible and ugly death, it will not just be one more dead distro, it will be proof to all the closed source liscensing junkie corps. that "free" (as in beer) software cannot survive.

    I disagree.

    However, the fact that the user community will be able to resurect or continue supporting the project will prove that that "free" (as in beer) software can survive. This may prove to corporations that it's better to rely on these open-sourced projects as a result and benefit everyone in the long run.

    It still is a shame to see Mandrake fold, though.
  • by doorbot.com ( 184378 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:44PM (#5089110) Journal
    MandrakeSoft is a business.

    You're exactly right. The parent of this post needs to be modded up and it's parent modded down... way down.

    I'm still trying to understand why I should donate money to a for-profit business. Why don't I just give my money to Microsoft? Or the government? Oh that's right, because I don't "give" money to a business, I "invest" money. And I expect a return on my investment, or I'll take my money elsewhere...

    If you feel bad for Mandrake, get over it, and donate some money to the EFF or Debian. Or if you don't like their social contract, donate to a local LUG.
  • by scarpa ( 105251 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:55PM (#5089168) Homepage
    Well I'm a very green Linux newbie who has been playing with a Debian box at home for about 2 weeks now and I LOVE it.

    It was no harder to install than DOS, and I'm finding it extremely easy to use. Key things that I like: GREAT website and documentation, dead-simple to find configuration data, easy package management.

    Now, the disclaimer. It's a headless server, and will stay that way. I never *once* considered using Linux on the desktop. I looked at RedHat, Lindows and Knoppix and thought they were all a joke. IMO linux in general has a loooong way to go before being a desktop OS, but is absolutely wonderful as a simple server OS. I already have dhcpd, samba (as a PDC) and apache running on my box and am about to tackle mail. Nothing but port 22 will face the public until I know more of what I'm doing.

  • by johnlenin1 ( 140093 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @02:59PM (#5089197)
    Not everyone who wants to support open-source software is a coder. And I wouldn't dream of recommending Slackware or Debian to such types.

    Distros like Mandrake give the typical user a useable-right-from-the-box alternative to Windows, and this is a good thing.

    And Mandrake not innovative? Please. Multi Network Firwewall, MandrakeClub, letting the users pick the packages they want in the distro, all the Drak tools that make administration easier for a newbie, an installation easier and quicker than Windows...every bit of this is innovative. All this while maintaining a commitment to GPL sofware. I am happy to support a company like that.
  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:11PM (#5089269) Homepage
    There is a few comments urging for donations at this juncture.

    This might be a mistake. If you donate now the money might go into the distribution fund available to the creditors. Please email Mandrake (I did) asking them to set up a separate untouchable account that only becomes available once the appointed Judge has approved the bankrupcy distribution and reorganization plan.

    The fund should be earmarked for development as well.

  • by Drakonian ( 518722 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:22PM (#5089360) Homepage
    Correct me if I'm wrong, doesn't the GPL mean require them to release the source code freely? (As in publicly downloadable?) So a user could compile Mandrake free of charge? I'm not sure about this, but it seems to me that Free-as-in-GNU is a superset of free-as-in-beer. When you have to release your source under the GPL, how do you have to do that? If you CAN release it on a CD, how much can you charge for that? $5? $50? $500? Where does it cross the line?

    However I guess that would negate the essence of Mandrake - user friendliness.

  • Chance of Survival (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NeoMoose ( 626691 ) <`moc.demmapsed' `ta' `esoomoen'> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:31PM (#5089417) Homepage Journal
    This is the version of Ch. 11 bankruptcy and it does stand a chance of coming back. Unfortunately, not many companies come back from any bankruptcy filing.

    Really this news is trying to sound optimistic, but let's be honest... Mandrake doesn't have any real good sources of income. They are like a .com still surviving off of advertising. They are most likely destined for failure.

    This comes to me as very unfortunate news, my Linux distribution of choice is Mandrake. I like how it improves on Redhat. It's really too bad that it is in danger of ceasing to exist. Especially considering that it's possible failure will leave a gargantuan opening for open-source software's opponents to throw down as evidence for how open-source software can not succeed, despite how untrue that statement is.
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:36PM (#5089446)
    Given how widely used and well liked Mandrake is, I wonder if they would be better eliminating free (as in beer/herpes/cost) ISOs as several other distros have done before them. I am a paying member of MandrakeClub, because I use Mandrake 9.0 and generally find it to be a great Desktop Linux. Urpmi is awesome, finally addressing the biggest weaknesses of RPM vs. DEB/apt-get - at least it's a lightyear better than where RPM was a few years ago. The Mandrake install is pretty smooth even for a newbie. And Mandrake gives you pretty much everything you need for a power user (well, I still take some issue with some of their default RPM choices, but they are correcting these issues as we speak).

    Mandrake has done a fabulous job with 9.0 - amazingly good for a .0 release. The biggest weaknesses as I see it are that they still don't seem to release that if you are selling and marketing a desktop Linux distro, you MUST ship decent fonts and good anti-aliasing support built in. I had to download the Texstar RPMs to get Xft support working well and get my distro looking pretty. They are a company - they ought to license some damned decent TrueType fonts and ship em out of the box. Red Hat has a much better looking default desktop install, and it's not newbie-compliant to require two to three hours of tweaking a fresh install to get a decent looking desktop (the fact that their tool to import Windows fonts breaks ruggedly if you try to import from an NTFS filesystem - i.e. 80% of Win2k and WinXP installations is also unacceptable in a release-quality piece of software).

    I feel like if they just went not even an extra mile, but an extra 100 yards they'd have a fabulous distro. I've finally migrated back to using Mandrake much of the time, which I abandoned a few years ago (for my day-to-day desktop work) for Windows 2000 since desktop usability was just not there yet, and because I needed Outlook and Word on a daily basis for work. Thank god OpenOffice.org has solved the Word issue for me, and Ximian mostly addresses the Outlook issue (though thankfully I no longer need the Outlook calendaring features that everybody at my old company fucking loved).

  • Re:Sad to See (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:42PM (#5089488)
    Actually, I copied the config file from Knoppix at one point, since Knoppix is Debian based and worked perfectly. I spent a LOT of time working with the X config files.

    That was just one of MANY things I tried. Not one of the local Debian fans or anybody else I contacted had a good suggestion that actually worked.

    My experience is that many Debian people have forgotten the install because updates are so easy. That's the reason I wanted to change over. If/When I can get Debian working on that machine, I'll probably switch. In the meantime, it's Mandrake, which I got up and running quickly and even got all the extras (like firewire) working easily. It's my first Linux video workstation!
  • by vondo ( 303621 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:50PM (#5089518)
    Let me start out by saying that I've used Mandrake for years, I still do. Nothing I've seen comes close in terms of ease of install and automatically detecting and setting up my desktop hardware.

    But, unless they fundamentally change the way they do business, I don't think they can survive. Their primary products seem to be a boxed distro that you can download for free and MandrakeClub, which as far as I can tell is paying $60 a year to feel good about yourself. The subscription adds nothing of real value, at least to me. I don't really want the free but commericial software they have there (and if I do, I can download it elsewhere). I don't care to "vote" on which RPMs get packaged up next, etc.

    Here's what I want from a linux disto: The ability to use the OS. To not have to tinker with it. To not have to spend a week updating it just because I want to run a more up-to-date version of some program (GNUCash 1.6 comes to mind.) To not have to update the OS every year because the company drops support (and some here bitch at MS for dropping Win-95 support!).

    Simply put, I think Mandrake would be better off concentrating on making less versions of their OS, supporting them better, and helping people move forward without updating the whole system. They could easily charge for access to their servers, etc. a. la. the Red Hat Network.

    With Red Hat's recent decision to only support their Linux distros for 12 months, I think the market is ripe for something with real support for the end user at a reasonable cost. Move away from the hacker market who DOES like to reinstall every few months chasing the latest and greatest.
  • by breser ( 16790 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:56PM (#5089566) Homepage
    That's precisely what I ask in the OpEd piece that I had been writing for a while and just finished this morning before this news broke. I've included a lot of details that aren't generally clear without a lot of digging or without being really active in the Mandrake community as I myself am.

    You can read the piece here:
    http://ben.reser.org/rants/invisible.cgi?month=01& day=15&year=2003&t=00 [reser.org]

  • by kdart ( 574 ) <<keith.dart> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:05PM (#5089634) Homepage
    Of course Mandrakesoft is in business to make money. They are simply relying on the "honor system" to do that. The real shame is that there is little honor left in the world that anyone, or a company that relies on it, can depend on.

  • Re:Sad to See (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:09PM (#5089675)
    I'm just going to play the devil's advocate here..

    You complain that debian was hard to install.
    This is good! Because:

    *) Like you said, you learned a lot in the process.
    *) It forced you to realise that some packages aren't totally free, and made it just that tiny bit harder to get them - that's a good thing.
    *) If you weren't smart/compentant/knowledgable to install debian, then what use are you to us?
    *) You used the new found knowledge to make money, and so I assume helped someone else move/use linux, and possibly develop for it - definetly a good point.

    Over the years of helping on a chat channel, I've noticed questions have gone from "How do I check dma is on on my hard disk" to "How do I use kmail?","How do I add a bookmark?", "".

    I've noticed more than one person complain/comment on this. If you feel I'm being elitest, just imagine all those AOL'ers suddenly using linux and clogging up the irc channels with really dumb questions.

    At the moment, the linux community wants people that will help and develop. Even if that is in translating docs, writing docs, doing art, etc.

    Having said that, there are some useful points to having the general AOL'er using linux:
    *) More people = hardware companies taking linux seriously.
    *) More people = games companies taking linux more seriously.
    *) More people = UI considerations taken more and more seriously. (Good as long as the UI only becomes easier to use, not dumbed down and reduce efficency of those who know how to use it)

  • by Whatthehellever ( 93572 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @06:48PM (#5090685) Homepage
    I've been a Mandrake user exclusively for two years. I love thier distribution.

    I'm saddened to hear that they filed for the French version of Chapter 11, which I understand means certain death for them.

    However, if they're smart, they'll move back to their US offices and continue from there. If they die off completely, it'll be a smack in the face to Linux, even though the problems were caused by bad management.

    I'm aprehensive to use a new distro, Mandrake has been my life-blood for many years.

    Luckily, Debian, Suse, and Gentoo exist for me to evaluate as a Mandrake replacement. (I won't go the Red Hat route, they've become the Microsoft of the Linux world-- It's their way or the highway.)

    The best part of Linux is that there's choice. I shed a tear for Mandrake. I'll miss it.

  • by grundie ( 220908 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @06:57PM (#5090720)
    This will be bad for the Linux community, especially the new users. I'll admit Mandrake had its quirks and its testing could have benn better, e.g. the dodgy supermount in Mandrake 9.

    What set Mandrake apart was that it made getting in to Linux easy for new Linux users. I have installed Mandrake on several peoples PC and they have since abandoned Windows completely. Could you do the same ewith Debian or Slackware? I know SuSE and RedHat are claimed to be easy for newbies, but RedHat is too corporate for some and SuSE is just too big for someone wanting to check out Linux on a 2 gig partition.

    Mandrake gave the world an easy to use, compact version of Linux, which must have gained the Linux community a fair few converts.

    I wish MandrakeSoft luck and I hope they pull through.
  • by Anti-HanzoSan ( 637209 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:12PM (#5091518) Journal
    The more winners, the more free software WE get you dumb idiot fool!!!

    Did it ever occur to you that if you spend your money supporting the losers just to keep them afloat, rather than spending it on a viable distro that has a chance of winning, that you deprive the possible winner of resources, and thereby risk both distros going out of business?

    If that happens, then you get no free software.

    Think about it for a while. Just for the novelty of it, really think about it for a while.
  • by leonbrooks ( 8043 ) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:43PM (#5091687) Homepage
    8.2 updates almost outweigh the distro itself now.

    Mandrake did a faux pas when they hired that management team a few years back which defocussed them. Their current business model is working fine, and but for that mistake they'd be way profitable. All they need is to survive to about June and the rest will be easy.

    The problem is not that their business model can't fly, the problem is that their business model had about 20,000 feet lopped off the altimeter not so long ago, and its nose pointed at the ground. Now their nose is pointed up, they have flight speed, everything's going nicely except for the minor detail that the ground is much too close.

    Kicking something back in for what you've used will push the ground down a bit for them. Mandrake pay for hackers to fix stuff (KDE, for example) that everyone uses. Mandrake GPL all of their packages. RedHat 8.0 has software (entire packages) in it from Mandrake (as they should). If Mandrake goes kerplonk it will cost all of us developers, and credo, and the UnitedLinux pound-of-flesh business model and LindowsOS source-what-source business models will reign supreme, and who wants that?
  • by jfp51 ( 64421 ) <jfp51 @ h o t m ail.com> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:50PM (#5091739) Homepage
    I agree with you 100% I believe it has to do with the fascination with which school you attended that is prelavent in France. Basically, where you go to school determines your whole career! There are elite universities called Grandes Ecoles that produce great theoreticians, but piss poor implementors. One of the guys, Francois Bacilhon there has written three thesii (SP?)! Great, but how does that qualify him to run a business. Plus he comes from one of the most prestigious universities in France. The only guy that knew what he was doing was the creator, Gael Duval, who never went to one of those big schools.
  • by egghat ( 73643 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @06:06AM (#5093151) Homepage
    OK, you can download the ISO for free. Fine. Fair.

    You can buy the box, but weeks (!) after the ISOs are ready.

    So the time the box gets available, I (or some friend with broadband connection) has downloaded it already. Why the heck should I buy the box (unless I want to support Mandrake)? I don't need a manual. I don't need the CDs.

    Mandrake has to change this.

    Full ISOs are fine, but I would give them to Club members exclusivly at least for 4 to 6 weeks.

    Then the box has some weeks to get into the stores and then you can add a free download for everyone.

    Remember that a normal club membership (bronze level) isn't more expensive than one box one time a year. So at least for me it's a bargain.

    Bye egghat.

    (silver level MandrakeClub member).

"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