Mandrakesoft on Monday announced it will release a transitional Linux product as it absorbs technology from Conectiva, a Brazilian Linux company it acquired in February.
The French company also announced that it is slowing down the release cycle—now to take place annually—on its Mandrakelinux products in order to give itself and its channel partners more time to develop new features and functions. Mandrakesoft has also concocted a new naming scheme, with products being named after a given year.
The company wrote in a release that the changes are motivated by requests from partners and distributors for a more convenient release cycle.
“For a long time, distributors and resellers have asked us to adopt a longer release cycle that is more adapted to their specific constraints,” the release reads.
Mandrakesoft has also received user and customer requests to slow things down, according to the release.
Stacey Quandt, a senior business analyst for Robert Frances Group, said the companys move to an annual release cycle is designed not only to meet the needs of end users, partners and resellers, but also to follow the strategy of competitors Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux AG to help IT executives align Linux with business objectives—a move that will be particularly helpful for small to medium-sized businesses that desire alternatives to Red Hat and SuSE.
The transitional version of Mandrakelinux, Limited Edition 2005, will be released sometime in the spring.
The new version will provide up-to-date and newly released open-source software, including KDE 3.3, GNOME 2.8 and Firefox 1.0.1.
It will be available as a DVD and a CD set through Mandrakestore and Mandrakeclub, and will be downloadable.
Limited Edition 2005 will not be available via retail channels, however. Nor will support and services be offered for the product.
By the fall of this year, a new, boxed release, named 2006, will fully integrate Conectiva technology and Mandrakesoft online services.
That product will be released via retail channels as well as directly from Mandrakestore and Mandrakeclub and will offer all support options and related services.
Both the Limited Edition 2005 and the 2006 versions will be released in 32- and 64-bit editions.
The release of a transitional version of Mandrakelinux that supports open-source packages such as KDE 3.3, GNOME 2.8 and Firefox 1.0.1 will be appreciated by developers, Quandt said.
A drive toward specialization
Overall, the consolidation of the Linux distribution market is driving companies such as Mandrakesoft toward specialization, Quandt said.
“The acquisition of Conectiva will enable the company to increase its market segmentation among users who appreciate the benefits of Debian features … but [who] also value the ability to use Red Hat Package Manager, a command-line tool for installing, uninstalling, verifying, querying, and updating software packages,” she said.
Dan Kusnetzky, program vice president of IDCs System Software Enterprise Computing Group, was less sanguine.
Kusnetzky said the move is yet another manifestation of Mandrakesoft attempting to bolster its position outside of Europe—an attempt that wont necessarily be successful.
“Mandrakesoft has only had a strong position in Europe (primarily in France) and has not really been able to generate a worldwide presence,” Kusnetzky wrote in an e-mail.
“Conectiva, on the other hand, has been a player in Latin America. It has also not been able to generate a worldwide presence. Its not at all clear that putting these two organizations will create a worldwide player regardless of the strength of the technology theyve individually developed.”
Kusnetzky said that while Mandrakesoft has been focused on desktop Linux and has developed a “very competitive package,” Linux is still a bit player in the land of for-profit software.
“Linux only holds about 2.6 percent share of the paid or revenue-producing shipments of client operating environment software worldwide in 2003,” he said.
“While Linux continues to grow, it is unlikely to come anywhere near the 95 percent share Microsoft holds with its Windows product family.”