French Linux distributor Mandriva SA has outlined its product plans and focus as a war of words has broken out between the company’s founder, who was recently fired, and its current management.
Paris, France-based Mandriva detailed plans for its Mandriva One live and install CD package and Mandriva Kiosk one-click installation service on Friday but has also took time to respond to criticism from the distribution’s creator, Gael Duval, who was recently laid off as part of cost-cutting measures.
In a blog posting late last week, Duval said he plans to sue Mandriva for abusive lay-off since he believed the reasons for his redundancy were economic, and noted that he had voiced concerns about the company’s performance to its current management team
I have the very bad feeling that my initial project has been wasted and this sentiment is reinforced since I have alerted my president twice in 2005 about the bad trend in the management and business, he wrote.
Mandriva’s CEO, Francois Bancilhon, has denied a falling-out, however. We had and still have within the company and the management lively debates about the strategy and its implementation, he said in a statement. Gael was part of some of these debates, even though he was remote. I don’t think we agreed on everything, but I never got the impression we had fundamental disagreements. I’ve always valued his opinion, and I still do.
Nevertheless, there seems to be a difference of opinion between Duval and Bancilhon in terms of what should be the key target audience for Mandriva. I don’t know where the company is going, wrote Duval. My feeling is that they are focusing more and more on the corporate market.
Mandriva is more and more looking like a standard company, which is trying to sell services to fortune 500 companies, abandoning its initial roots, he added. But at the same time, it’s keeping on releasing geeks products. This sounds like a fuzzy strategy.
Bancilhon responded by maintaining that the company is able to target to distinct audiences with its consumer and corporate product lines. We have two quite different targets: individual users and organizations, he said.
Is one of these targets being developed at the expense of the other? I don’t think so, I believe on the contrary that they complement each other: they have some common R&D investment in the kernel and on hardware certification.
We also find often that they feed each other: some individual users have learned about Mandriva from their enterprise and in many enterprise sales situations, we are meeting some of our individual users, he added.
Bancilhon also maintained that while the company is committed to open source and always having a free product offering, it is also very much interested in making a profit, and cited the forthcoming Mandriva One and Mandriva Kiosk products as an example of this strategy in action.
Mandriva One is a new version of the company’s Mandriva Linux 2006 distribution that combines the elements of a live CD distribution and an installation package. While Mandriva One will be available completely free of charge, the company is also releasing Kiosk as a paid-for service. Kiosk will include a library of product bundles to make it easier for non-technical users to install Linux packages.
Duval left Mandriva as the company implemented cost-cutting measures last week following disappointing first-quarter results including a net loss of 590,000 euros ($602,475) on revenue up only 1% at 1.95m euros ($2.35m).