The fall and rise of Mandriva Linux

Richard Hillesley ponders the future of Mandriva.

It looks like Mandriva, the Paris based Linux company, continues to be a fig leaf away from financial breakdown.

A recent report in LeMagIT, claims that Arnaud Laprévote, the company's chief executive, has found unnamed investors who are prepared to rescue the company, following months of rumours of financial turmoil, unpaid staff and other troubles.

Loosely translated, Laprévote says that he has had "found investors that have decided to invest in the company to return the group to balance and find a good business model," and that "community and users" no longer need to concern themselves.

Mandriva has a loyal following across Europe and Latin America, and can still claim to be one of the most friendly and innovative of GNU/Linux distributions. Sadly, its financial base hasn't been equal to its technical prowess. Unlike Ubuntu, Mandriva has never had the cash reserves it has needed to steady the ship and fund its growth, and has failed to trim its business model to take advantage of the prevailing winds.

For "confidentiality reasons" Laprévote was unable to disclose the identity of the investors, but most commentators assume the most likely candidate to be Linagora, a successful French open source company which expressed an interest in buying Mandriva earlier this year.

Linagora may look to be a perfect match for Mandriva and can bring the partnerships and know-how in the public and private sector that Mandriva has not capitalised on in the past.

There has also been speculation on Mandriva forums that a new look Mandriva might abandon the costly 'Linux in a box' PowerPack distribution, and spin off a community distribution similar to Fedora and openSUSE. This would allow the company to focus on partnerships and subscriptions, the kind of model that has sustained Red Hat so well.

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