When the going gets though, as the saying goes, the tough gets going. That is usually a test of character. When it comes to software companies in a financial mess, that old adage can be paraphrased as: When the going gets tough, we dump our software on the (open source) community.
It certainly was true of HP/Palm and their webOS mobile operating system. Oracle did something similar with OpenOffice.org (now Apache OpenOffice). And is that not what Sun Microsystems did with Solaris/OpenSolaris? And recently, there has been calls from some quarters for Research In Motion (RIM) to do the same with its mobile platform.
Mandriva SA, the French technology outfit behind the Mandriva Linux distribution, is the latest company to follow this trend. Mandrake Linux, as it was called before the name change to Mandriva, was one of the earliest Linux distributions, founded by Gael Duval, who was later kicked out when the suites took over the distribution’s development. Now that the company is in a financial mess, it has decided to “transfer the responsibility of the Mandriva Linux distribution” to the open source community, where it all began.
This was announced in a very short post by Jean-Manuel Croset, the CEO of Mandriva SA. While the post was short in details, this much was made pretty clear: The relationship between Mandriva SA and the new community distribution will be akin to that between Fedora and Red Hat, Inc., and what is developing between Open webOS and HP.
While that is to be applauded, we need to know what will become of Mandriva PowerPack, the subscription-based edition of Mandriva Desktop. Is it going to become part of the new community distribution? The fate of Mandriva SA’s enterprise products also needs to be addressed. It is still early into this process, so I am sure that these matters will be addressed with time.
The full text of the announcement from Jean-Manuel Croset follows:
Dear users, friends, fans and supporters of the Mandriva Linux distribution,
after reviewing all your messages, suggestions, ideas and comments, Mandriva SA took the decision to transfer the responsibility of the Mandriva Linux distribution to an independent entity. This means that the future of the distribution will not be arbitrary decided by the Mandriva company anymore, but we intend to let the distribution evolve in and under the caring responsibility of the community. Mandriva SA will of course be a part of this entity and will support it with direct contributions. It is expected to fulfill this move within the next months and a workgroup of community representatives is being setup right now. This workgroup will be assigned the task to define the structures, processes and organization of the new entity and will start to work in the next few days.
We believe that this new approach is the best to achieve a better relation of Mandriva Linux with its community and to encourage the contributions that will lead to issue the best possible products.