1. Why the kernel 2.4.21-pre+Mdk patches was chosen instead of the ("stable") 2.4.20?
GaŽl Duval: Because we need the best kernel possible in Mandrake, and our 2.4.21-pre+ MDK patches (and others) is the best we can provide.
2. When can we expect the boxes to be available to the shops and why the release of the download edition is not closer to the release of the boxed release (which could potentially help financially)?
GaŽl Duval: The sooner the cash comes inside MandrakeSoft, the better it is. And as most of the money we do on selling packs comes from direct sales, it's better to launch pre-orders very soon in the cycle. The money we get from external sales comes only 3 months after the packs start to sell, which is not a very appealing financial model.
The packs are going to be available in the shops between April, 8th and April 20th, depending on countries.
3. How is MandrakeSoft holding up these days financially? What is more prefered by MandrakeSoft, box purchases or Club memberships?
GaŽl Duval: The business has been growing regularly for two years, and it's still growing. We are more or less at break-even now, but it remains fragile. 9.1 sales and club subscriptions are going to be key. Actually purchasing a Mandrake Pack at MandrakeStore is good, but it's still better for us to get a Club subscription. Actually we've started to move all the business model towards something subscription-based. It's far more efficient than trying to sell something that most Mandrake users just... download :-)
4. Without doubt, your bigest competitors in the Linux market are Red Hat and SuSE. What do you think of their latest releases? Did you have a chance to get a pick on their new features, and how do you think Mandrake 9.1 stacks up against them?
GaŽl Duval: In addition to all the unique features that Mandrake offers, it's clear that the whole Mandrake project provides something to users that is much more than only a product. Collective intelligence, interactions between users and the product, global project for all people everywhere... these are things we've always tried to organize. And besides concrete technology things users can judge about Mandrake, they certainly trust us for offering them something still better tomorrow, in line with a number of ideals.
5. Why did MandrakeSoft decided to the creation of a new common KDE/Gnome theme, named Galaxy?
GaŽl Duval: We've been so much in the Linux desktop since 1998 that we were a bit surprised by all this desktop hype that happened last year. It was a time when we tried to focus much more on the server sides of things, so we were taken by surprise. So we had to clearly show that
1) Mandrake and the Linux desktop has a long tradition of excellence
2) we can come back in this field stronger than ever, and very quickly.
The new KDE/Gnome theme was one of the most visible aspect of this "re-generation" process.
6. Where do you see Linux in the next 2-3 years?
GaŽl Duval: It seems that after a break, Linux is gaining much momentum again nowadays. So I think things are going to go faster than expected, and I'm pretty confident that we're going to see Linux more and more in action everywhere. It's incredible to see the number of Linux projects in so many different fields of activity. And besides the technology, I think Linux is going to totally gain the OS battle in less than ten years now, for a simple reason: it's very much more affordable than any other operating system. Good enough and cheap. Wasn't it what made MS-DOS successful twenty years ago? The difference here is that Linux is far better than just "good enough".
7. Why isn't MandrakeSoft provided the ISOs of the 9.1 download edition first to the Club or new Club members before the general availability download version?
GaŽl Duval: We discussed this option but
1) it would have been a technological mess to organize
2) it would certainly have led to another mess: Club members put the ISOs outside and we start to see wild FTP mirrors starting everywhere, first reviews before the official announce and so on, in total confusion
3) it's not because Club members pay for a number of benefits that we have to start being ignorant or arrogant with other users, the ones who aren't subscribed to the Club.
As a result we decided to offer an extra list of download areas to Club members and it seems that many of them are very happy to access to this list. I used it today and it actually provided me several excellent and not saturated locations.
8. What can we expect to see in the next Mandake release? Even if you can't give us exact details, what will be the general line that you will follow feature-wise?
GaŽl Duval: Which one? :) First we are going to release Mandrake 9.1 for Mac/PPC. After we're going to release a few professionnal products - a Corporate Server and a Clustering solution - for the AMD-64 and IA-64 processors. And then the 9.2. Unless we jump into the new fashion-wagon and directly release a "Mandrake X". For certification life issues or glibc incompatibilities. Of course.
Again we're certainly going to work much on the desktop things. We're condemned to improve :) But really I think that Mandrake 9.1 already offers a number of things we're all going to take time to discover and play with before we need a new Mandrake!