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Mandriva SA, the French company that used to control development of the Mandriva GNU/Linux distribution, has become something of a joke.

After months of prevarication, and announcements that sounded as though they were emanating from a publication like Pravda, the company now says it will turn over development of the distribution to the community.

The man who made the announcement, chief executive Jean-Manuel Croset, appears to have a poor memory. The horse bolted some time ago - a goodly portion of the development community, fed up with the company's dithering, forked the distribution in 2010 and created the Mageia GNU/Linux distribution.

Now, Croset, after another of his meaningless announcements, each of which is just a series of words strung together providing next to no real information, apparently wants to split the community into two - one developing Mandriva, the other Mageia.

And Croset is apparently not cognisant of the fact that the remaining developers also decided earlier in the week to take development into their own hands. The man really had no choice - after all how do you do development without developers?

Rather than repeat what I have written before, I would direct you, gentle reader, to this if you want to know what has gone on this year in the portals of Mandriva. And here is a history of Mandriva's financial struggles right from 2003.

It appears that, with Croset's latest announcement, we have a company that apparently has nothing to do - something like a free-floating apex. Another announcement, from the community this time, says the company will invest time, work and money in the new community that's going to develop the distribution.

Judging by all that has emanated from the community and the company, it will mean that about a year is wasted in meaningless announcements. That's the right way to go if you want to reassure businesses that are running your product.

Nothing is clear at the moment - apart from the fact that there is total confusion, a bunch of suits who know nothing  about running a GNU/Linux business, and a bunch of developers who have split up into groups out of sheer frustration.

Of course, any business that is running Mandriva would be urgently looking to switch to some other distribution which is run in a more sane manner. Canonical, Red Hat and SUSE are all waiting in the wings to pick up those who want to move.

One big client already has moved over to Ubuntu.

No doubt all those involved in this mess have good intentions. But one would do well to remember that the road to hell is paved with just such intentions.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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