May 18, 2012, 7:41 AM — Just days after the Mandriva community started its own plans for the next release of the French Linux distribution, its commercial sponsor has formally announced that the community will take the lead on all Mandriva Linux development moving forward.
In a blog post on the Mandriva SA site, CEO Jean-Manuel Croset ceded control of the Mandriva Linux distribution back to the community at large.
"[A]fter 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," Croset wrote.
Mandriva SA will not be completely out of the picture; Croset emphasized that the company will still maintain an active voice within the Mandriva development community. But, given the well-publicized financial troubles the Paris-based company has been enduring of late, it is not at all clear how the company will be deriving revenue from a Linux distribution over which they have even less control.
Mandriva SA hasn't had an easy time of it, even after emerging from bankruptcy in 2006. Formerly MandrakeSoft, the company merged with Brazilian Linux vendor and former UnitedLinux partner Connectiva in 2005.
Even as the Mandriva releases received fairly positive reviews, the company never seemed to have much of a direction, and its developer community continually declined in strength. The company's decision, for whatever reason, to let founder Gaël Duval go alienated the company from its development community. The popularity of Ubuntu on the desktop and the one-two punch of Red Hat and SUSE on the server side has also put a strong squeeze on Mandriva.
In 2011, there were rumors that French open source firm LINAGORA would be acquiring Mandriva, but those rumors turned out to be just that.
By January of this year, it became almost a running saga of announcements from Mandriva executives, one indicating the vendor was in dire straits, followed by another saying that the company wasn't quite dead yet.
This week, the Mandriva community decided to take matters in their own hands, not wanting to wait to start on (presumably) Mandriva Linux 2012. The new community leadership includes, according to the new Mandriva Linux 2012 Development wiki page, Per Øyvind Karlsen, who will be acting as (de facto) project leader for the course of Mandriva Linux 2012 development, with Bernhard Rosenkränzer and Matthew Dawkins as release managers.
Today, that same wiki page is adorned with a new boxed announcement at the top of the page, also from Croset:
"This page--and in general this wiki--will be part of a global move of the Mandriva Linux Project to the community that will be finalized soon. Mandriva SA wishes the project to be managed by the Mandriva Linux community under a proper governance. We (Mandriva SA) will contribute to the Mandriva Linux project in the future and would like to see it grow. We do not wish to comment below the following line and want to emphasize that the present wiki is the community wiki, while being hosted for the time being on a mandriva.com domain."
Also not clear moving forward is the status of the Mageia Linux distribution, a community-oriented distro that forked from Mandriva Linux in 2010 precisely because of issues some in the Mandriva community had with Mandriva SA.
"We do not trust the plans of Mandriva SA anymore and we don't think the company (or any company) is a safe host for such a project," the initial announcement from the new Mageia community said at the time.
Now that control of Mandriva has been donated back to the community, it's very natural to wonder how this effects Mageia. Will that estranged community come back to the Mandriva fold now that Mandriva SA is starting to let the Mandriva distribution go?
This would be a welcome outcome, I believe, because the two communities would probably be stronger as one.
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