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Mandrakesoft's Whole New Version

Weeks after emerging from bankruptcy reorganization, Mandrakesoft has released Mandrake version 10 (MDK 10).

The latest release is the result of Mandrake's new process for issuing official releases, which extends the testing period in an effort to ensure optimal stability and performance.

MDK 10 includes the 2.6 Linux Kernel, KDE 3.2.2, Samba 3 and a host of Mandrake tools under the newly redesigned MandrakeLinux Control Center (62 tools at least by my count) that are supposed to make it easier to configure, migrate and update various parts of the system.

Florent Villard, distribution development coordinator for MandrakeLinux, sees the evolution and improvement of Linux itself as part of the innovation in MDK 10. "Innovation could be divided in two parts," Villard told internetnews.com.

The "first one is innovation from the free software world. I mean software not directly developed by Mandrakesoft. In this regard I think that the 2.6 kernel is the main major step. And second, innovation from our own tools I would say the work done to have them more and more integrated into one coherent tool, the Mandrakelinux Control Center. Everything is not perfect yet, but a lot of work has been done."

According to Villard, over 2000 people downloaded the 3 CD ISO set on its first day of release via BitTorrent, with an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 additional people downloading it from FTP mirrors. Mandrake also runs an optional survey for people that download their software that gives them a better understanding of their user demographic.

"Each day, at least 5000 persons install a Mandrakelinux," Villard said. "And the most incredible thing is that more than 40 percent of them are newcomers to Linux, which means that each day at least 2000 person in the world switch to Linux and more specifically to Mandrakelinux"

Quandt Analytics principal analyst Stacey Quandt said she believes Mandrake fills a particular niche, though it is under increasing competitive pressures. "Its installed base among companies within the small to medium business market is primarily in France," Quandt said. "This market faces pressure from SUSE and Red Hat. Mandrakesoft's relevance as an enterprise Linux distribution is limited with its greatest significance among a community of end-users."

The Mandrake community itself has undergone an evolution leading up to the MDK 10 release. "We now use the same tools as the salaries (salaried employees of MandrakeSoft) for building our packages, whereas previously we were separated," said Guillaume Rousse, Mandrake's community volunteer and package maintainer.

"The difference between MDK salaries and contributors are gradually diminishing, it means more homogeneity and more efficiency."

Rousse contends that Mandrake has always been influenced and even partly created by the community that contributes to it.

"I'd say the organization is better for three points, better communication, better tools and community consciousness arising," he said.

Though Mandrake is primarily known as a consumer desktop distribution, Mandrake Founder Gael Duval explained to internetnews.com that the company would be focusing on corporate enterprise customers. MandrakeSoft's PowerPack+ 10.0 boxed set includes DrakPark, which is an enterprise updating utility.

Duval said a new version of its Mandrakeonline tool, which allows for instant security updates and alerts across an enterprise, would be launched soon. "Furthermore, a new product is going to be launched in the fall, Mandrakelinux Corporate Desktop, dedicated to desktop deployment in a corporate environment," he said. "And the new Corporate Server is also on its way."



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