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September 20th, 2010

Mandriva to be Forked Into New Distro: Mageia

We reported on Friday that Mandriva’s financial situation continues to worsen and that nearly all paid staff have been laid-off. Soon after publishing that report, we received news from Paris, where Mandriva is headquartered, that a group of the distro’s former employees and contributors have decided to fork the project into a new distro that will be called Mageia.

According to an announcement posted on the new distro’s web site, the decision to create a new distro from the Mandriva code base stemmed primarily from the current situation at the financially beleaguered company:

“Many things have happened in the past 12 years. Some were very nice: the Mandriva Linux community is quite large, motivated and experienced, the distribution remains one of the most popular and an award-winning product, easy to use and innovative. Some other events did have some really bad consequences that made people not so confident in the viability of their favourite distribution.

“People working on it just do not want to be dependent on the economic fluctuations and erratic, unexplained strategic moves of the company.”

The announcement goes on to indicate that within the next few days Mageia will be established as a not-for-profit organization, presumably under French law, which will be managed by a board composed of “community members.” After a year, this board will be “regularly elected by committed community members.”

It appears that even though the new distro will begin life being a mainly a fork of Mandriva, we can quickly expect to see Mageia follow it’s own development path and become a distro in its own right. The site promises to include more details soon on the direction the new distro will take.

In many ways, Mandriva was the first of the “easy to use” distros and for years had the reputation of being the newbies distro. Founded in the late 90s as Mandrake, the distro started as a fork of Red Hat’s desktop OS using KDE as the default desktop instead of Gnome. In 2005, shortly after acquiring Brazilian based Linux company Conectiva and after having lost a trademark case filed by Hearst Corporation (who owns the rights to the “Mandrake the Magician” comic strip), the company changed its name to Mandriva.

In 2003, Mandrake filed for bankruptcy, emerging in good financial health the next year. However, the company has had trouble getting traction for its server OS and has been deeply affected by the global financial crisis that began in 2008.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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