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Mdv Aims to Become Linux-Desktop Player

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Mandriva, with the recent purchase of Lycoris, a U.S. Linux desktop distributor, is expanding rapidly, but analysts ask whether it's growing fast enough to compete with the major Linux vendors: Red Hat and Novell/SuSE.

The French Linux distributor Mandriva SA, the former Mandrakesoft, has been acquiring other Linux companies in the last few months.

In February, the company acquired Brazilian Linux distributor, Conectiva SA. Then, in June, Mandriva acquired Lycoris, makers of a Linux home-user desktop distribution and a Linux distribution for tablet-based PCs.

While François Bancilhon, CEO of Paris-based Mandriva, has said about the Conectiva acquisition that the goal is to "have a strong worldwide presence that we'll continue to extend," some analysts see small Linux companies struggling to survive.

Dan Kusnetzky, IDC's system software vice president, said he sees these moves as an attempt to stave off financial failure.

According to Kusnetzky, all three of the companies have struggled financially. Indeed, Mandrakesoft emerged from bankruptcy protection in April 2004 with a plan to replay its debts over the next nine years.

More recently, Conectiva and Mandrake have both posted small profits. Lycoris, however, had been unable to find capital and, by the time of the acquisition, was down to only one employee: Joseph Cheek, its founder.

Mandriva is using these acquisitions both to bolster its desktop offerings and to become a global enterprise-Linux player. The company recently released both a server and a desktop for the business market.

While technically, the Mandrakelinux Corporate Server 3.0 does well, it doesn't have the same breadth of enterprise hardware and software support certifications of rival corporate-targeted distributions from Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.

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