Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Mandriva began life in July 1998 as Linux Mandrake in France in Gael Duval's bedroom after he ported a KDE 1.0 desktop onto Red Hat Linux 5.1, uploaded the result onto two FTP servers, went away on holiday, and came back to find that he had a popular and successful Linux distribution on his hands.
KDE 1.0 had just been released (12 July, 1998), but Red Hat had yet to include the desktop environment because of reservations about the licensing of the Qt C++ cross platform GUI toolkit, on which KDE was built.
Duval not only included the latest version of KDE, but added touches of his own such as making "access to the CD-ROM and Floppy drives transparent (e.g. no need to mount disks by typing "mount /dev/...")." When Duval returned from his two week holiday there were more than two hundred messages waiting for him, "including new ideas, one patch, and two companies (located in the US and Australia) announcing that they had already started selling Mandrake on CDs."
The combination of Red Hat and KDE proved a winning combination for Linux Mandrake, and began a roller coaster ride for Mandrake/Mandriva and its developers that has continued to this day.