Mandriva Spring right on time!
We are delivering our Spring Distro on time, i.e., on the very same day we had planned 6 months ago. Thanks to the hard work of the developers in France, Brazil and elsewhere, thanks to the help of all the contributors, without whom none of this could happen, and thanks to Anne’s – how should I put it– gentle, but very firm stewardship. It’s a great distro and we’re proud of it.
Contributions to the Kernel
The Linux foundation recently published information on who contributes to the kernel development. Out of the 30 or so companies which contribute significantly to the kernel, there are only three distribution editors: Red Hat, Novell and Mandriva (and none other). We are happy and proud to do it. And please remember, when you buy Mandriva products or services, you help us contribute to the Linux kernel.
We reached the end of our first cycle of Manbo Labs. We set up this joint development effort with our friends from Turbolinux in the Fall of 2007. It was not easy at first since we had different cultures and approaches, but we learned how to work together. The first delivery of Manbo Labs now serves as the core of our Mandriva 2008 Spring distro. Turbolinux will base its next product on the same core. We are happy we did this together, it allowed us to invest more in the core technology. As announced, the core components are all available under a free and open source license
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The fifth pre-release of Mandriva Linux 2008 Spring is here. This pre-release includes the all-new artwork for the 2008 Spring release, further improvements to the Mandriva software management tools, WPA-EAP support in the network configuration tools, KDE 3.5.9 and available 4.0.1, some new default applications in KDE and GNOME, and the latest pre-release of OpenOffice.org 2.4. See here for download information.
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Our recent announcement concerning the creation of a joint lab with Turbolinux has generated some controversy. Even PJ, from Groklaw, a site we like very much at Mandriva, showed some concerns and signaled her intention to stop using our Distro.
So I would like to clarify some points:
- Signing he Manbo Labs agreement does not change anything to our policy or our commitment to Free and Open Source software and our position with respect to software patent, nor does it change anything to the statement we made about Microsoft partnerships.
- Our position about software patents is that software should not be patented and we have supported in Europe the fight against software patents.
- Our support for principles of open source remains what we have always stated
- everything we develop and distribute is under GPL
- we develop, maintain and distribute for free a pure GPL distro (Mandriva Free)
- we develop, maintain and distribute for free a live and light distro (Mandriva One)
- We are aware and acknowledge the Turbolinux position with respect to Microsoft, and we know that it is very different from ours. The agreement is written so that Mandriva can fully maintain its commitment to Free Open Source.
- As for Manbo Labs:
- The scope of work is about 100 low level RPMs, all in GPL
- Product will be available for public release under GPL
- Development is public, made on our Cooker environment and associates the community
So we believe that, by setting up Manbo Labs, we are contributing to the development and use of Linux and Free and Open Source software.
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2007 was a challenging year during which we made major progress:
- We went through a new capital injection in the company. It was a complex and long process, but it went smoothly. In the process, we gained a new major shareholder with an important stake in the company: Occam Capital is now seriously involved and our reference shareholder. Many of our major shareholders also participated in the round.
- We acquired Linbox, a French free software publisher with excellent technology and references. We have now properly integrated the Linbox team: we created a Corporate Business Unit, which includes Linbox and the Mandriva employees working on the French corporate market. We have defined a road map for Pulse 2.0, convergence between the original Mandriva Pulse product and LRS, Linbox Rescue Server. The first installments planned in this road map have been delivered and are being deployed on customer sites. We have won several new major customers with this technology: we are for instance deploying the system for a French customer who will use it to manage 90,000 desktops, and we’re very proud of this deal.
- 2007 was the year when the first low cost computers finally made it to the market, focusing on emerging countries. The OLPC is on the verge of making a real impact on the market, the Intel Classmate made an interesting debut, and the Asus Eee is a slick and interesting machine. We put a strong focus on OEM agreements in emerging markets and saw results in countries such as Brazil, Argentina or Nigeria, through agreements with companies such as HP, Positivo, Qbex and Intel.
- We drastically changed our traditional Linux distribution business: the product line was simplified, a strong focus was put on our free products (Mandriva Linux One and Mandriva Linux Free) and on their easy download, prices were drastically reduced, Mandriva Club membership became free, we invested a lot in improving our relationship with the community and our contributors and a complete new web site was put in place. We got a globally warm response to all these changes.
- We kept our policy of investing heavily in technology: for instance, Metisse was introduced and is now a standard part of our distro, through a partnership with the University of Paris XI which keeps investing into the technology. We were a key player in putting together a Free Software technology cluster in the Paris Region, part of the “Pôle de compétitivité Systematic”.
- We kept developing our network of partners: we added countries such as Turkey, South Korea, and Lithuania. We are happy to see the success met by some of our partners in Russia, Poland, South Korea and Nigeria for instance.
Our numbers for the last quarter of 2007 will show signs of improvements and will confirm the validity of our new strategy.
We will pursue these efforts in 2008:
- On the corporate side, we plan to confirm the positive results of the Pulse product by continuing to deliver on the product roadmap, by gaining new customers, and by starting to push the product internationally in Brazil and through our partner network.
- On the low cost computer market, we believe OLPC, Classmate and Asus Eee were just the precursors: in 2008, we will see more exciting machines, many of them in preparation right now. Linux will play a key role in there and we intend to be very active on this market. We will accelerate our effort, benefit from the continued growth of that market and should be able to announce in Q1 a major partnership in that space signed in 2007.
- On the community side, we will increase our openness, listen to the community, strengthen our relationship, improve and consolidate the free Club.
- We will keep investing in innovation: we expect to see new funding for cooperative project, such as, for instance, Deskolo, an R&D project focused on ecological management of large IT infrastructure.
So I look forward to a great 2008 year and I wish all our friends, customers, contributors, partners and users a very happy new year.
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This is my second trip to Angola. I went there last year for the first IT Forum, the local annual IT event. Last year, I initiated the discussions that led to us signing our first contract with the Angolan government. We now have a team of Brazilian engineers on site doing training and consulting. I went back this year for the second IT Forum, to check on the status of our current contract and to discuss future projects.
As in most of my trips, I haven’t seen much: from the airport, to the hotel, to the conference center and back. But I could not help be impressed by gigantic traffic jams, a visible haze of pollution, roads in terrible conditions, people quietly siting on sidewalks as if in their living room, continuous lines at gas stations, lack of public transportation besides the white and blue minivans, young people everywhere, women carrying huge baskets on their head, young peddlers selling the usual stuff and the most usual (stethoscopes?) from car to car in highway traffic jams, a no left turn policy forcing you do to long and convoluted detours, huge SUVs everywhere, garbage dumps and favelas, dust covering everything and turning into mud at the first shower, Chinese workers building highways, huge strange trees (at least strange to me), large and modern new development areas, major work on sewage (“the water is flowing better” says my friend Eric), steel and glass building emerging in the middle of the city, Wifi but little Internet bandwidth behind it, a beautiful conference center, etc.
The country has a major challenge developing its infrastructure quickly enough to keep up with the growth: Angola is the fastest growing economy in Africa, with an 18% annual growth, and it’s been going at this pace for more than 5 years now thanks to oil, diamonds, and agriculture (and peace).
Part of the infrastructure development is mastering and using IT. The man behind the development and use of IT in Angola is Pedro Teta, the Vice-Minister of technology and the head of CNTI, the national center for information technology. He holds a PhD in computer and control, speaks 8 languages, is smart, hard working, fast moving, visionary with an attention to detail. He understands one of the key issue is people and training.
Most companies and people at the conference were from Angola, Brazil or Portugal. We make sense here because of our Brazilian team.
Microsoft Africa’s Chairman was there and give a speech just before mine. The main topic was open source, so I assume I was one of the reasons for his presence. He made a few strange statements which I am not sure match the official Microsoft position: according to him, because of Nicholas Negroponte’s OLPC project, Africa lost four years waiting for a machine that never came. He also said that Angola is the richest nation in Africa, so it should buy expensive computers (by which I suppose he means high powered machines running Windows). And he finally explained that open source and Free Software are not the same thing (at least he got this one right).
I gave a talk on low cost computers in emerging markets. I presented the Intel Classmate and the Angolinux distribution we installed on it: as part of the program we have here, together with the local community we built Angolinux, a localized version of Mandriva. It is now getting a lot of attention and excitement and with the Classmate was one of the hot topics of the trade show. Lots of people came to the booth to get copies of the system and to play with the machines, and many wanted to see if they could buy it.
I had a formal meeting with the Prime Minister. Pedro Teta took me and a Romanian professor to meet him and present two projects: a project of academic exchanges with Romania and the Classmate PC/Angolinux project for school deployment. The meeting was very formal, with translators, pictures and interviews with the press at the end.
So, I found Angola a fascinating country, taking the right path to accelerated development, and we’re happy to participate in this process.
On another front, it seems that our position Nigeria is improving and we remain involved in the project. It is too early to give precise facts, but things are better. So it seems that the attention drawn on the situation is helping towards a positive resolution.
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