Mandriva has become the latest Linux distributor to publicly reject the prospect of a patent deal with Microsoft. This is great news I think, a lot of people will be indifferent and say that Mandriva doesn’t really matter any more but I still think it’s a big step. You see, while Mandriva is admittedly a shadow of the once great Mandrake Linux it still carries some weight.
Many industry pundits were convinced that Mandriva would be the next to succumb to Microsoft’s advances and wallet waving, it seemed they’d even closed the book on it but they were proved wrong by a post on the Mandriva Blog.
Mandriva CEO Francois Bancilhon – “As far as (intellectual property) is concerned, we are, to say the least, not great fans of software patents and of the current patent system, which we consider as counterproductive for the industry as a whole,” – “We also believe what we see and, up to now, there has been absolutely no hard evidence from any of the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) propagators that Linux and open-source applications are in breach of any patents. So we think that, as in any democracy, people are innocent unless proven guilty, and we can continue working in good faith.”
In many ways Mandrake should have been the distro that took Linux into the publics consciousness in the way Ubuntu is now, they were perfectly placed back in 2000 but somehow things went wrong for them and they missed the opportunity. They’ve had hard times in recent years with a bankruptcy and a few internal management battles. That’s why I think it would hard to blame them for making a deal with MS, they need it more than many others. It would’ve been easy for them to fold and take the money MS were offering but they didn’t and in many ways I think that’s a much braver decision than that of Red Hat or Ubuntu. I think Mandriva should be wholeheartedly applauded by the rest of the Linux community for what they’ve done. They stood up for us when the chips were down and that’s not an easy thing to do by any means.
Mandrake was one of the first distros I really got into using and while I’m not rushing back to it now, I still have a soft spot for it. When I was at university everyone was talking about Mandrake, “Have you tried Linux?” “You should check out Mandrake”. I even knew one guy who did his final year dissertation on it. It was still Mandrake in those days before the company merged with Connectiva to become Mandriva. It was the easy to use, friendly Linux distro of choice for so many people in the community back then. Now Ubuntu seems to have stolen Mandrake’s thunder as friendly Linux and really run with it in spectacular fashion. You can’t blame them for that, as a great man once said “You snooze you lose” 😉