The future of the popular Mandriva Linux distribution is looking murky, with the vast majority of those working on the project upping sticks and striking out on their own.
The new distribution - dubbed Mageia - is a fork of the existing Mandriva Linux, and comes following a decision by Mandriva to liquidate Edge-IT, a company it acquired back in 2004 and for which the vast majority of Mandriva distribution coders worked.
In a statement on the Mageia home page, those who were laid off as a result of the liquidation have stated that "we do not trust the plans of Mandriva SA anymore and we don't think the company is a safe host for such a project." Accordingly, they've launched the fork - "a community project [which] will not depend on the fate of a particular company."
Mandriva's handling of Edge-IT's liquidation has certainly given the Mageia project the manpower it needs - the list of contributors to the new fork reads like a Who's Who of ex-Mandriva members, including ex-R&D bod Nicolas Vigier and the company's ex-information systems manager Romain d'Alverny.
Despite the concerns of ex-employees, the Mandriva distribution is far from dead. According to OSNews, the company has stated that the layoffs were necessary to stem a cashflow crisis that has seen it lose €30 million over 12 years, and pledges to "hire people to replace [leavers]," with the majority of desktop developers to come from Brazil where Mandriva sees "a real Linux desktop market."
Forking an open-source project has its advantages and disadvantages, and while Mageia might have taken the cream of the crop from Mandriva, its progenitor will maintain the edge in name recognition - and, if it can solve its cashflow issues, in marketing budget.