[conspire] More distro politics: Mandriva to Mageia. OpenIndiana.

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Sep 21 20:43:36 PDT 2010

For a very long time, Mandrake Linux, renamed to Linux-Mandrake, 
renamed to Mandriva Linux (after trademark claims by the Mandrake the
Magician publishers, and acquisition of Conectiva of Brazil) was
considered one of the leading RPM-based distributions.

Mandrake got its start as Yet Another Red Hat Linux Variant, except with
really good KDE support and really good support for various European
languages.  It was/is headquartered in Paris.  

Unfortunately, it's had a long slide because of business problems, many
of them having nothing to do with the Linux distribution.  (The company
got committed to a money-losing training business.)  Release schedules
and other activities became noticeably erratic.  The troubles came to a
head recently when the company, Mandriva S.A. (nee MandrakeSoft), after
emerging from a 2003-4 bankruptcy and trying for some years to be
self-supporting through 'Mandriva Club' memberships and other measures,
did a mass layoff of essentially all of its Linux developers.

On Sept. 18th, the other shoe fell, rather predictably:  The laid-off
Mandriva developers and a number of external participants returned the
favour and laid off Mandriva S.A. by forking the distribution under the
name Mageia ('magic' in Greek), forming a non-profit umbrella
organisation, essentially picking up Mandriva Linux's software goals
without the corporate-induced erratic behaviour.


It will be interesting to see what they do, and whether they cooperate
with Bill 'Texstar' Reynolds's PCLinuxOS, a 2003 fork of Mandrake Linux
9.2, except in the form of a live CD using Debian's apt package manager
instead of Mandriva's urpmi, and with an exclusively desktop focus.

I mentioned earlier the leaking of an Oracle memo disclosing that they
were silently killing OpenSolaris -- something that came as no surprise,
and arrived almost simultaneously with a number of traditional Solaris
developers forming the Illumos project, to finish the job of
open-sourcing OpenSolaris and permanently free it of corporate bullshit.
(I freely translate.)  

Semi-independently but under the same Illumos Foundation umbrella group,
'OpenIndiana' has been launched to do specific OS releases based on the
Illumos development codebase that will be binary-compatible with
Oracle's Solaris releases going forward.  (To explain the name, Sun's
leading-edge effort to revamp traditional Solaris was called 'Project


Quoting the OpenIndiana wiki:

  Q:  What is the relationship between OpenIndiana and Illumos?

  A:  OpenIndiana provides a complete, ready-to-use operating system
  (distribution) similar to the OpenSolaris distribution. The Illumos
  Project develops the core software for the operating system such as the
  kernel. As Illumos is not a distribution, OpenIndiana will combine the
  Illumos core with additional software that Oracle still develops in the
  open. This is analogous to how Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu all use the
  Linux kernel and software from the GNU Project, but combine them with
  additional software to produce a complete system.

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