Re: Mandrake Demonstrated How to Implode a Distribution by Corporatizing
"All was well in the Mandrake world - until it envisioned becoming a money making corporate enterprise. That single act, coupled with the inability (or incompetence) to balance a fiercely free and open-source minded community and its corporate goals led Mandrake into a death spiral from which it never recovered."
You're misremembering. Mandrake was always (trying to be) "a money making corporate enterprise", from the beginning. It was a for-profit company and its only business was making a Linux distribution. If it didn't make any money it would've failed much faster.
What caused all the trouble and ultimately killed Mandr* was, in three words: Mark bloody Shuttleworth. Before Ubuntu came along, Mandrake was the premier "user friendly" Linux, and in commercial terms looked pretty generous: the other major commercial distro was SUSE, and our (I used to be the community manager, and did some packaging work too) terms were rather more generous. There was a free edition of Mandrake but no free SUSE at the time, for instance. The major free options were Debian, which is of course great but not a new user friendly choice (even less so at the time), and Fedora, which we still had solid competitive advantages over at the time - better package manager, nicer installer, better proprietary driver support (which was an anti-feature for Fedora but something Mandrake users appreciated).
Then Uncle Bleeding Moneybags showed up with his business model of "let's do everything Mandrake does, only I'll pay for everything so it'll be free". How exactly is a business that doesn't have a multimillionaire sugar daddy supposed to compete? With bloody difficulty, that's how.
That's what led to the Club (especially the earlier, more exclusive incarnation) and some other desperate money making schemes you probably remember. Nobody was willing to pay us sixty bucks for a distro in a box any more when Shuttleworth would mail you one for free (this was still in the days when many people couldn't easily just download ISOs...), so we had to try and get creative.
Didn't do a blind bit of good in the end, of course. We never had a shot after Ubuntu showed up. The end was dragged out by a few rounds of financing from people we managed to convince, god, I have no idea how, and some EU financing, but it never covered losses.
Am I still bitter? Yup! Yup I am.