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Friday April 18th 2014

Should Mandriva Have Focused On More Than Just the OS?





If you follow the Linux scene, it’s been hard to miss the brinksmanship with bankruptcy that Mandriva has been involved in. Susan has been covering the drama, and many OStatic readers have weighed in on it, some bewildered at how a respected platform went so awry, and some not surprised at all. Among those who follow commercial Linux vendors, though, there is a growing concensus that Mandriva S.A. failed to offer more than just an operating system.

IT World has a post out which considers whether Mandriva’s problems are a signal of more problems to come for companies concentrating on standalone Linux distributions:

"More and more, Linux vendors aren’t just selling Linux… They’re selling Linux as a vehicle for their big idea. For Red Hat, it’s virtualization and the cloud. For SUSE, it’s the appliance creation of SUSE Studio. For Canonical, it’s a push towards mobile, cloud, television… their big idea seem to be moving Ubuntu into every platform they can think of…But regardless of whether you think these ideas are good ones, it does not change the fact that the Linux vendors exhibiting some success are pairing the Linux operating system with some sort of larger product/concept that they market to their customers."

There is some truth to this analysis, although I wouldn’t necessarily agree that a "big idea" is a necessary complement to today’s commercial Linux distribution. Red Hat, for example, is achieving some success with its virtualization and cloud computing efforts, but the company’s shining sales proposition for years has been sterling support, as we noted after its last quarterly report, which was rosy. 

Red Hat’s bread-and-butter is supporting its open source software portfolio, and it steadily gets renewals for support subscriptions from all of its top subscribers. Many open source-focused companies are mimicking its support-based model, which remains strong. There was no hiccup for Red Hat in the latest quarter in terms of support subscription growth or renewal, despite the fact that the company remains squarely Linux-focused.

So far, Mandriva officials have found creative financing solutions that can create a short-term lifeline for the company, but the company needs a focus that goes beyond just its operating system. To be fair, Mandriva does dabble in network management and other pursuits, but it’s a squarely operating system-centric company. In 2012, we’re likely to see whether just focusing on an OS is a viable model anymore. 

 

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