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Farewell to the creator


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Thanks, solarian. My mistake.


I'll leave the interview posted in any case, just remove the reference to dexter11... :)


Edit: the English translation of the blog is there intermittently - it may still be amended but this is a copy of what was there...


Fired, simply fired.


Fired. Yes. Simply fired, for economical reasons, along with a few other ones. More than 7 years after I created Mandrake-Linux and then Mandrakesoft, the current boss of Mandriva "thanks me" and I'm leaving, sad, with my two-month salary indemnity standard package. It's difficult to accept that back in 1998 I created my job and the one of many other people, and that recently, on a February afternoon, Mandriva's CEO called to tell me that I was leaving.


Bad mood, yes. For two reasons: it's a pity that Mandriva still needs to fire people since we had put the company break-even in 2003/2004 et that it was decided that it should keep on that way. The second reason of course is that I'm part of this lay-off. Hard to swallow.


Obviously, I should have expected to be fired since my recent switch of activity at Mandriva certainly fragilized my position, so I could be thanked at first opportunity. What are the reasons why I've been fired? Without entering into details, I guess that my relationship with the current CEO (and soon President of the Board) which hasn't been excellent, has been a factor. But I didn't think he would do that.


Back in 2005, under his pressure, I stopped my activity as the head of the Communication Department. At the same time I was happy to leave this mission which was extremely difficult to handle with a no-budget, and was pleased to have initiated and finished the big corporate website reorganization which is providing a more professional image to Mandriva.


So, we agreed on my suggestion to create a new role at Mandriva: a "Community Department" which was intended to improve Mandriva's image inside the Linux and IT community. This new mission was announced by my CEO as an "essential ingredient" to the future success of Mandriva.


A few days ago I was suprised to learn that I was part of the « redundancies expenses judged to be non-essential »


So it seems that it's not needed anymore to work on the future or to launch new projects like I did so many times these past years (new ergonomy for Mandriva Linux, Mandrake Move...).


Actually, I've always supported the idea that Mandriva's userbase was the heaviest pillar on which Mandriva could rely, and that the best way to do some business was certainly to extend this userbase at the max and then to sell value-added services to a small portion of it. I've always been defending this position at Mandriva, which implied the idea to release better quality products and to value our image inside the IT and Open Source community, because the community recommends, or not, Linux products. This approach gained its better results when I wrote myself the webpage contents which encouraged people to subscribe the Mandriva Club: this has generated the biggest cash-flow ever. But it wasn't the main policy at Mandriva. And the fact that the "community department" has just been canceled is, in my opinion, very meaningful about the current policy.


I don't know where the company is going. My feeling is that they are focusing more and more on the corporate market. Mandriva is more and more looking like a standard company, which is trying to sell services to fortune 500 companies, abandoning its initial roots. But at the same time, it's keeping on released geeks products. This sounds like a fuzzy strategy, made from, in my opinion, the concatenation of current opportunities.


So it's the end of the Mandrake/Mandriva venture for me. I'm just going to sue Mandriva for abusive lay-off, since I doubt that the real reason was economical for me. I have the very bad feeling that my initial project has been wasted and this sentiment is reinforced since I have alerted my president twice in 2005 about the bad trend in the management and business.


Nevertheless, I will try to remember the good time in priority. I also want to testify of my sympathy and recognition to all the developers and contributors who are building the Mandriva Linux distribution. They all deserve admiration. Keep on the good work, guys!


Now it's time for me to think about the future. I'm certainly going to launch new projects with the ambition that they could ideally change the world, or at least the way people use computers, while providing a living to me, my wife and my little daughter.


I've been working for one year during lost hours on a new project of Open-Source operating system called "Ulteo" (the concept has been proposed to Mandriva at the end of 2004, but not "selected"). I hope that I can launch a first version of the product in the next weeks. If this concept can prove itself to be valid, it could imply an important change in how people are using Linux in particular and operating-systems in general. Check contents and subscribe at http://www.ulteo.com if you want to learn more in the future.


On the other, in a very different domain, if you plan to send civil and semi-autonomous drones to the other side of the earth (by water, ground or air), I'd be highly interested to participate and work in this area as well!


Last but not least, it's likely that a book about Mandriva/Mandriva will be released eventually. I just have to finish it and find a publisher.


Long life to Linux and Free Software!




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Josks link shown in his post is well worth the read if you haven't already done it..

Mandriva, congratulations. Microsoft, SCO and others of their ilk manage to constantly shoot themselves in the foot/feet. You (mandriva) have managed to shoot yourselves in the head. We will soon find out what happens to a headless chook, oops, sorry, Mandriva.


Edited by AussieJohn
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Josks link shown in his post is well worth the read if you haven't already done it..

Mandriva, congratulations. Microsoft, SCO and others of their ilk manage to constantly shoot themselves in the foot/feet. You (mandriva) have managed to shoot yourselves in the head. We will soon find out what happens to a headless chook, oops, sorry, Mandriva.


I think we already have....

I always had the opinion that the marketing types were dragging Mandrake from one thing to the next like a headless chicken and Duvals post makes it quite clear he has been shunted about for the new 'business heads' who have probably got MBA's from Harvard but no idea what linux is or how it works or even understand the community that use it.


Good luck to Duval...

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Wow, it's all gone suddenly very pessimistic in here, did the sky fall down when I wasn't looking?

I mean, sure it's bad news for Gael and I'm sure his contribution will be sorely missed. I'm equally sure his contributions in the future to other projects will be highly valued. And unless I'm mistaken, (and I hope I'm not!), when I get home my Mandriva will still run the same as it did yesterday, right? Or do I have to immediately look for another distribution now?


Can us poor, backward, living-in-the-past Mandriva users still come here for all the invaluable tips, suggestions, help and support that we've been enjoying up till now??

All this talk of shooting in the head, and grave-digging sounds kinda over-the-top to me, any effects won't be felt by us until the 2007 release at the earliest, right? Unless I'm missing something? :unsure:

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I agree with you, neddie,

it's a very logical statement that you do,

but my choice to ditch Mandriva is a political one (just as the choice to kick Gael out of Mandriva was),

I don't want to support such people as Mandriva seems to turn into,

and by kicking Gael they have kicked me too.


It's idealistic and a bit stupid, I agree, but an OS is something more than just a tool for me,

it's the community and principles that stand behind it that matter to me too.

I don't plan to leave this board and, what little help I can give, I will, because this is an awesome community in this particular board, but I don't want anything to do with Mandriva anymore.


I think that some others feel simmilar too.

Edited by solarian
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Aye, we are lucky that we are not only a Mandriva board but a more of a general linux board, aren't we? :rolleyes:


Yes, this all sounds very pessimistic. And there is a reason for that. If Duval leaves, then I ask myself: will the free edition will be ditched someday in favor of a complete corporate distro? I don't want that to happen, but I have the impression that this is the way the Mandriva CEO wants it to be. Sure, our Mandriva-boxes will work for years and there is no need to switch, but still, this all leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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Can us poor, backward, living-in-the-past Mandriva users still come here for all the invaluable tips, suggestions, help and support that we've been enjoying up till now??

In short, yes.


In long, many of the long-time members of this board have moved on from Mandriva to other distributions. I say "moved on" because we found that Mandriva was not challenging enough. Yet, we still come here, we still answer questions, and we still help this community grow. The reason for this is bolded in that last sentence ;)


Whether or not we agree with Mandriva's corporate decisions shouldn't effect this board. Why? Because Linux is Linux, and as long as someone is using Mandriva, they will be looking for answers, and we will be here to help them. :)

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I'm staying with Mandriva, purely because I have too many systems to reinstall (see my sig) :P


I always test other distros from time to time anyway, so I have alternatives. I just like Mandriva, it just works for me. If/When it goes like Red Hat and is no longer free, then I'll make my new distro choice from then. I can already happily use Gentoo, and pretty much any Red Hat clone (Fedora/CentOS), and slowly working my way through arch now as well.


I think the distro will still be available free for a while yet, I can't see it changing. But when they go Corporate, all you're like to have for free is Cooker. At least I think so :D

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To bad that it have come to this :mellow:

But they have been better off if they announced very clean what their intensions, goals and what'n'where they want to go so people know where they would stand and what they might get in the near future. It's to blurred right now.

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Well, reading Gael's post does clarify for me that this was a corporate type of decision, and it seems some of the "original" people were targeted for deletion. We see this quite a bit in the US anytime two companies merge together, whether through merger or buy-out.


It sounds like the old team had learned some from ignoring their users, but the new team hasn't learned that lesson yet! If this is the case, Mandriva will indeed struggle. I am very interested in the new project. Sonce I always have at least one other distro installed, I do not expect much of a change in my usage.


Do you think adamw was warned about coming here? It sounds like Mandriva is running in a 1960's style management scheme! I'm keeping my eye on the new distro/project.

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Interview of François Bancilhon, CEO of Mandriva, posted on club.mandriva.com -


Many news have been circulating over the web concerning Gael Duval's departure from Mandriva. Users and community members are concerned by the lay off of a key founder and would like to understand what happened and what is the impact.


So let us start with the Gael situation: did you fire Gael?

Gael was not fired. This term would imply something wrong on his part, which was not the case. He was laid off.


Why was he laid off?

The company lost money in the October-December 2005 quarter. This means that we spent more money that we generated. We can do this temporarily, because we have cash in the bank, but doing this over a long period of time would permanently damage the company. So we had to make the reasonable but hard decision to cut expenses. The expenses cuts were done in a way we estimate will not keep us from generating revenue. Everyone works very hard at Mandriva and fulfills a useful task. So, when you have to cut, it means you need to cut people who were doing a good job and a useful one, so it is painful for everyone, but you have to make the hard choice.


Why is Gael suing the company?

You need to ask this to Gael. France has labor laws that give strong protection to employees and make lay offs long, expensive and complicated (but not impossible). Many employees (about 1 out of 4) sue their employer after a lay off, most of the time to get the employer to pay extra cash on top of the “regular” severance package (about 5 months for people with some seniority).


Was there a disagreement between Gael and the company management?

Not that I am aware of. We had and still have within the company and the management lively debates about the strategy and its implementation. Gael was part of some of these debates, even though he was remoted. I don't think we agreed on everything, but I never got the impression we had fundamental disagreements. I've always valued his opinion, and I still do.


Gael mentions a new project, Ulteo. Were you aware of it?

Yes indeed. Gael brought this to me about a year ago I think (I might be wrong on the date). I looked at it carefully, we discussed it for some time with Gael and Jacques Le Marois. Our joint conclusion was that it would make more sense in a separate entity, which would have a partnership with Mandriva. I started looking for someone who could help Gael on this project on the business side and found a potential candidate. Then Gael came back and said he wanted to work further on the technology before discussing this and we left it there.


Let us now turn to the company strategy: is Gael's departure a sign of a shift in strategy?

Absolutely not. We believe the current strategy is sound.


So let us try to understand that strategy better. Many users have a hard time understanding your strategy and finding their way in your product offering. Are you aware of this?

Yes, we need to make our story more readable, we have some action in process to improve that situation.


So help up clarify it: who are the target customers of Mandriva?

We have two quite different targets: individual users and organizations. For these two targets, we have different products and offering, different sales channels and different strategies. As we move forward, we will try to distinguish more the organizations taking care of both segments.

The individual users made the original target users of the company, this is what MandrakeSoft was servicing, and we have a large numbers of individual users worldwide. We are fully committed to these users and to delivering exciting technology to them. We address them through retail stores and distributors worldwide, through e-commerce, through the club and through OEM agreements with large hardware vendors such as HP, Dell, IBM or NEC and local players such as Positivo in Brazil. The products are Free Mandriva, Discovery, PowerPack and PowerPack+ and the key service is Mandriva On Line. For these users, we have recently announced Mandriva One and Mandriva Kiosk, from which we expect a lot. We are committed to our individual users. A large part of the Mandriva team is dedicated to the individual user market both in terms of engineering, services, marketing and communication.

About 3 years ago, we announced our decision to start developing a new business line for organizations (enterprises and government agencies). Thus we have put in place a new product line (Corporate Server and Corporate Desktop), we have put in place a consulting, training and support organization. We address this market essentially through our direct sales organization in France, Brazil and the US. We have announced for this market the new administration tool, Pulse and put in place our Corporate Club offer. We also offer specialized and embedded services.


Is one of these targets being developed at the expense of the other?

I don't think so, I believe on the contrary that they complement each other: they have some common r&d investment in the kernel and on hardware certification. We also find often that they feed each other: some individual users have learned about Mandriva from their enterprise and in many enterprise sales situations, we are meeting some of our individual users.


Is Mandriva going away from providing a free version of its products?

There is continuous rumor that we want to depart from the open source model, that we want to charge for things that were free, that we want to drop individual customers. So let me restate what I have said many times: First, everything we develop and distribute is distributed under GPL. Second, we remain committed to provide a complete free distro (Free Mandriva and soon Mandriva One) and to make its update free.

However, and we've always been clear on this, we want to be profitable, so we need to generate revenues. We do this by providing, besides the free products some commercial products and some services that we charge for. As we provide more technology and products, we try to bring both more free stuff and more commercial stuff.

For instance, in the new Mandriva One + Kiosk offering, there is free stuff (Mandriva One) and stuff we will charge for, or make part of the Club (Kiosk). Look back at the three past years: we have never turned a free product or service into something we charge for. I'm not asking anyone to just take my word, I just say: please look at our track record.


People get the sense that some of your products are free, but that you want to charge for updates. Do you charge for updates?

We do not: for Free Mandriva, Mandriva One, Discovery, Power Pack and Power Pack+, updates are freely available and provided by us. We provide on top of this Mandriva On Line, which is a service that makes the updates easier: an icon on your desktop gives you the status (green you're up to date, red you're not), when the icon is red, you can ask for update by a simple click. We charge 20€ annually for this service. What you pay is the ease of use, not the updates.


What is Mandriva One?

Mandriva One is a Mandriva 2006-based distro, which holds on a single CD and which is both live and install. It's coming out any day now. It will first go to club members (because we like to give them an advance peek at things), then it will be free for all.


What is Mandriva Kiosk?

We have found that non technical users find it difficult sometimes to install new products and new versions of products. So the Kiosk is a response to this. The Kiosk will have a library of Bundles (a bundle is a set of RPMs that make a consistent application) and downloading and installing a bundle is done in a single click. Kiosk will be available as a paid service and will be free for Club Members silver and above.


Are you a company out to make profits?

Yes absolutely; our goal is to be profitable and growing so that we can develop great products, provide great services, and pay our employees. There is however one important difference with an ordinary company: in a standard company, you have to keep happy your customers, your employees and your shareholders. We do this at Mandriva, but we also have to keep happy our contributors, the community and our “free” users.

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Let us now turn to the company strategy: is Gael's departure a sign of a shift in strategy?

Absolutely not. We believe the current strategy is sound.

The current strategy is that they don't have a current strategy. :huh:

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