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RIP Mandriva Linux

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It was the year 1999 when I first booted Linux and the only distribution that I managed to install successfully was called Mandrake Linux. It was the only distribution whose installer would automatically create a sensible partition default. This focus on ease of use was what kept the distribution formerly known as Mandriva and even formerly known as Mandrake Linux, alive till 2011.

The best part about Mandrake Linux (pre-2006 era) was that it singularly focused on consumer ease of use. Besides its superb installer, its *Drake tools (drakxtools) were a joy to use. In a sense its contributions to UI-based configuration indirectly led to Linux eventually becoming accepted in the mainstream. Other distributions saw what Mandrake was doing right and went in their footsteps.

So what really happened to this distribution that it eventually closed shop? Well the name change to Mandriva did not help, but that was mostly an annoyance rather than a killer blow. urpmi, its package manager wasn't too good and did not hold a candle to apt-get. Ubuntu made it big in a short timespan by shipping free CD's to everyone. Mandriva's management fired the father of Mandrake Linux - Gael Duval. Its enterprise side of business never really took off due to stiff competition from RedHat and Novell's Suse. I'm guessing its paid support memberships for regular joes also never took off. Eventually it became a classic case of death by a thousand cuts.

There do exist projects which in spirit carry Mandriva Linux forward. There is Mageia by Gael Duval which shows promise. There is also OpenMandriva whose community just came out with their first stable release. But whether these eventually become as loved as the distribution-formerly-known-as-Mandrake remains to be seen. RIP Mandrake/Mandriva and thanks for those wonderful memories.

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