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Interview with Gal Duval on the release of Mandrake Linux 9.1

(March 24, 2003)

   With the release of Mandrake Linux 9.1 at hand I had a chance to chat with Gal Duval, founder of Mandrake Linux, and co-founder of Mandrakesoft. The betas of 9.1 have shown some interesting changes that have had me anxiously awaiting the release of the final version. As you will see, Mr. Duval was clearly excited himself. The topics cover what's new with the release of version 9.1 and a few other topics as well...

I've seen several exciting new features in the Beta versions of Mandrake Linux 9.1. Can you tell us about some of them?

Mandrake 9.1 is a major release because it provides very visible changes. We have worked much on improving the ergonomics and the look of Mandrake. So users are going to find a new installation procedure which is much more simple than the previous one. It is mostly automated and needs very little information from the user. Anyway, we wanted to keep intact the power of the previous installer so we included several "expert buttons" everywhere, which lead to more sophisticated configuration areas. In the end there is also an installation summary where users can see and change what has been configured, and also enter expert areas. The installer also provides a new, more modern, look. The other part of the work has been on the desktop itself. KDE and GNOME now comes with a Mandrake look - "MandrakeGalaxy" - which has been designed in cooperation with Everaldo Coelho, the designer of the KDE Crystal theme. He also worked with us on a new set of icons. We now have anti-aliased fonts in most applications, which provide a great comfort to users. The result of all that gives, in my opinion, the most enjoyable Linux distribution so far :-) Combined with a new and improved QA process and great new features such as NTFS partition resizing, ZeroConf network configuration, WiFi support for a number of devices, ACPI Power management support and so on, I'm very confident and well... excited! about this new Mandrake 9.1.


Which kernel version and xFree version is 9.1 using?

Linux 2.4.20 and XFree 4.3.


How about the KDE and Gnome versions?

KDE 3.1 and GNOME 2.2, which include several patches and fixes from the development branch.


Are there any new networking features you can tell us about?

There is the "ZeroConf" network configuration, which lets two machines linked by Ethernet to talk to each others and auto-configure their network. Besides pure networking new features, there is the inclusion of Apache 2 as default web server. We have made it available along with upgrade/downgrade scripts that let administrators switch from or to Apache 1.3 very easily and safely.


I see several new options for purchasing 9.1. Can you tell us about these?

Mandrake 9.1 is already available for pre-ordering at has several different packages or CDs only. And we have refined our range of packs, now the ProSuite is a server/desktop solution dedicated to small & medium businesses, the PowerPack is a multi-purpose product for power users (including programmers...), and the Standard is a desktop/workstation product. They all include number of additional software, such as special drivers and commercial software (FlashPlayer...), that are not in the download edition, plus printed documentation and support.


When do you expect the first orders to ship?

Mid-April. MandrakeStore customers can now track their orders on the site. And MandrakeClub members benefit from a 20% rebate in addition to all the benefits they already have :)


I was able to purchase Mandrake Linux 9.0 at a retail store. Are there any plans to expand the availability of Mandrake 9.1 in retail stores?

Yes, because it makes Mandrake more known to a larger audience.


I see Star Office isn't included with the Power Pack anymore. How did this come about?

We now ship OpenOffice 1.0.2 instead. We will see if Mandrake users find it good enough, which is what we think at MandrakeSoft.


What do you see as Mandrake's advantage over other Linux distributions?

Firstly Mandrake is certainly one of the most innovative Linux distribution. It also offers unique features such as supermount or the dynamic-device desktop. The hardware support is also one of the best available on the Linux distribution market so far. Internationalization is also a key-point because only 40% of our users speak English.


The Mandrake Forum and Mandrake Club have merged. Why the change?

It made sense to offer Forum features as Mandrake Club free content. We are trying to reduce the number of our websites.


Why should someone join Mandrake Club?

Because it's the complement to Mandrake Linux products. We launched MandrakeClub without knowing exactly where we would go, with only a few features. It's true that it wasn't very exciting at the beginning. But now it offers incredible features including:

  • The right to vote for applications to be included in Mandrake (which started to happen with 9.1)

  • An extended list of FTP mirrors where to download Mandrake products

  • A unique repository of 50,000 applications that run on Mandrake and that users can download directly

  • Its also a unique place where users can help each other, and chat about Mandrake

  • Significant rebates on MandrakeSoft products

Starting from 9.1 MandrakeClub users can easily enter their MandrakeClub login/password in our RPMDrake tool to get access to all the additional applications (including commercial ones) available at MandrakeClub.


Mandrake has been visible on the server side of things lately. How is this going and where do you see that venture headed?

We introduced two major server-oriented products for businesses recently: a product called Multi Network Firewall which is an "all-in-one" solution to deploy a network infrastructure, including VPN and firewalling. We also introduced a new server version of Mandrake called "Mandrake Corporate Server 2.1", mostly based on Mandrake 9.0.We are also going to release a clustering solution  - "MandrakeClustering" - based on the CLIC research project. We do products for which we have a demand in businesses, and of course, all these products are designed to be easy to use. As a result we are more in competition with MS products than with UNIX products.


How are things going on the financial state of Mandrakesoft?

Things are going better, but the restructuring is not finished yet.


What other new stuff is Mandrakesoft working on?

We are working hard on all these new server projects, and we do have ongoing ports on these products for AMD-64 and IA-64 processors because the industry always needs more computing power.But Mandrake 9.1 is really a great step for us and we can't wait for users' feedback on it.

 I would like to thank Mr. Duval for taking the time to chat with me. He has always been very friendly and approachable, just like his software!


For more information or to order Mandrake Linux 9.1, check out the MandrakeStore.

More links HERE.





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