Does The Linux Community Need Corruption?

There is no secret that Mandriva as a company was on the brink of bankruptcy not so long ago.

It was a good time for some external investors to take over the company. And there were such investors. Investment fund NGI bought a stake in Mandriva. Since then, things have changed in the company.

Let’s look at what NGI is. This is a Russian-owned investment fund where Mr.Leonid Reiman has control. Same fund, by the way, controls another Russian company PingWin, but we’ll come back to that later.

First, let’s look at Mr.Reiman himself. Who is he?

Leonid Reiman was the Russian Minister of Telecommunications (later Minister of Transport and Communications) and then Presidential Counsellor. During that time he was several times accused in bribery, holding a stakes in Russian telecom companies and other illegal affairs. Some of those affairs leaked as far as Wall Street Journal. During the reign of Mr.Reiman a relatively small company North-West GSM transformed into Russian market leader currently known as Megafon. It is the company from the “big three” of Russian GSM operators. Mr.Reiman, of course unofficially, held own interest in NW GSW / Megafon.

There is no secret either that Russian government is very corrupted. There are very few decisions which are made with clear concious. Most of the decisions are made for someone’s lobbied interest. But actions of Mr.Leonid Reiman were too much even for Russian government. That’s why he was moved from Government to Presidential Counsellor position, and later abruptly resigned.

So, the ex-Minister invested his money into Mandriva. At the same time he started new Russian company ROSA Laboratories. And same fund NGI also acquired another Russian company PingWin.

If you look at the sites of ROSA Labs (English version using Google Translate) and PingWin (English), it is easy to notice, they are located at the same address in Moscow: number 14 at Presnensky Val. Do you need any more proofs of their affiliation?

Now let’s come back to Mandriva. Recent release of this Operating System, called Mandriva 2011 Hydrogen, was very revolutionary, if not say more. Mandriva dumped all the Desktop Environments, except for KDE. Distribution itself grew in size more than twice. And even KDE itself was reworked significantly with the help of… surprise-surprise: ROSA Labs. As a result, we got a monster operating system with oversized distribution, slow performance and very arguable interface. Reading all the reviews of Mandriva 2011, I have found no one where the reviewer would be absolutely happy with new release.

But was happiness of users the task of Mandriva and ROSA Labs? Maybe the answer is in another area? Let’s look at another asset of NGI fund: PingWin. What does this company do? It promotes Free Open Source software, and one of the targets is… Russian public sector (English version): ministries, municipal and federal organisations and so on! Who can promote a company among public sector better than ex-minister, especially if we talk about Russia?

And Russia is not alone in the scope of NGI-owned companies. Another target is Brazil. Mandriva was chosen as a vendor for Classmate PC project.

Having governments of these two countries in the pipeline for the projects, who would bother with rest of Mandriva user base? Definitely not the person who took his own interests above the public (remember the Megafon story).

And now it is time to ask a question, Linux users: does Linux community need this type of distribution? The one which is led by people with doubtful reputation? The one which puts its own interests above the community?

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