Mandriva goes under as Canonical considers IPO

The same year Canonical expresses plans to go public, Mandriva is being liquidated.

melting dog
Credit: paul pod/Flickr

Mandriva, a publicly traded French software company and one of the few that tried to compete with Microsoft for the consumer desktop, is being liquidated.

Mandriva was formed back in 1998 as MandrakeSoft. It underwent a name change after losing a legal battle with the Hearst Corporation, which holds a copyright on the comic Mandrake The Magician.

The company enjoyed great success as they focused on making Linux more consumer-friendly. In 2001 they decided to go public.

They enjoy a huge user base in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In 2007 they made news as the Nigerian government planned to replace Windows with Mandriva Linux for school children.

However, that was also the time when Ubuntu started to take over the open source landscape. Ubuntu was funded and founded by Mark Shuttleworth who made a fortune by selling his company Thawte to VeriSign for approximately $556 million.

Ubuntu was extremely easy to use, just like Mandriva. However the funding from Shuttleworth helped it reach out to new markets. Canonical started a ‘Ship It’ program where they would mail Ubuntu CDs for free to anyone around the globe. Ubuntu, due to their code of conduct, created a massive community around the project which increased its popularity.

While Ubuntu was getting stronger with each release, Mandriva was getting weaker. In 2010, Mandriva liquidated its subsidiary EdgeIT, resulting in the firing of all employees. A majority of those employees were software developers working on the OS. Those developers created a Mandriva fork called Mageia. The fate of the company was sealed the moment Mageia was formed.

Mandriva continued to struggle to survive, and by 2012 it almost filed for bankruptcy as its shareholders rejected the recapitalization schemes proposed by the company. In 2013 it managed to generate revenues of €553,000 but it wasn’t enough to keep them afloat. Fast forward to 2015. The same year Canonical expressed their plans to go public, Mandriva is being liquidated.

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