Inside: How did you come to start using Mandriva Linux?

Douglas Tabajara: I already knew it when it was still Mandrake Linux, but I only used it on a few desktops because I still used Conectiva Linux more. After the merge between the two, it became natural for me to migrate to Mandriva - even if it was more Mandrake than Conectiva, it served for me and here I am! ;-)

Manoel Pinho: It's a long story but it is necessary to tell it all to understand how I started to use Mandriva Linux. My first Linux distribution (after a quick use of FreeBSD) was Slackware, at the end of 1996 and beginning of 1997. My objective at that time was to be able to use a Unix system in PCs, since I could not use a Sun workstation with SunOS as I used at college for work. After buying some CDROMs of Walnut Creek CDROM (http://www.cdrom.com) containing some Linux distributions, I discovered Red Hat Linux and I found it much more friendly.

I started to use Conectiva Linux at version 1.0 "Parolin", launched in October 1997 (http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conectiva). Conectiva Linux, which was based on Red Hat Linux, had many advantages over Red Hat and all the other Linux distributions at that time as it had the best support for the Brazilian Portuguese (pt_BR) language and for the low cost (and generally low quality) hardware brands and models that were much more common here than in the USA.

From then on I was a Conectiva Linux user for my personal computers and I bought the boxes of that distribution at each launch of a new version. The last version of Conectiva Linux I used was 10.0. During all this time I participated actively of the discussion lists maintained by Conectiva, including as a moderator. In the last years, I actively frequented the CCL-BR site (Brazilian Conectiva Linux Community - http://www.ccl-br.com.br), which was a unofficial community site of Brazilian Conectiva Linux users that no longer exists.

Among all the discussions in the CCL-BR forums, an idea appeared to create a central repository of unofficial packages for Conectiva Linux, made by many people. The archives remain housed at ftp://mirror.de9.ime.eb.br/clcontrib/ but the project currently is stopped because all the contributors have now migrated to other Linux distributions.

About two and a half years ago I happened to become involved in the project to migrate to free software hundreds of computers at the university-level public institution where I work as a professor. There was a strong determination to use free software where it was possible and the biggest difficulty was the lack of people with free software and specifically Linux knowledge. The staff in the department responsible for the computing infrastructure of the institution did not have enough knowledge for the migration, so I and some other professors started to train the staff of that department and to perform the first installations of Linux and consultations to establish open source policies internally and to develop new internal systems. Mandrake Linux was the Linux distribution preferred for desktop use by most of the technicians we trained because of the excellent automatic hardware recognition and the existence of graphical tools for system configuration. Although I still continued using and preferring Conectiva Linux, I wound up using Mandrake Linux at work for standardization and because I liked several features of the distribution, especially the great amount of packages, much bigger than the amount available for Conectiva Linux.

I: Where did the idea for Mandriva Brasil come from?

DT: It appeared first from Manoel Pinho, but really it came because Brazilian users need information and help, but for several reasons (amongst which the main one is the lack of an international credit card) many cannot join the Mandriva Club. These people felt like "orphans" of Mandriva, so Manoel and I initiated the community to support them. Originally the idea was published in the Cooker-BR development mailing list for Brazilians.

MP: The reasons were published (in Portuguese) in the mandrivabrasil.org debut news item (http://www.mandrivabrasil.org/site/content/view/12/34/). To summarize, I noticed the following problems:

1: There was no community site especially for the Mandriva Linux distribution in Brazil and even in other countries using the Portuguese language, only in other languages such as English and Dutch. However, several other Linux distributions, even commercial ones, had community sites for Brazilian users.

2: Mandriva Club costs money (unhappily not everybody can afford to participate, especially with the average Brazilian income level), requires an international credit card for registration (which excludes even more people and almost entirely excludes the student population, who make up the greater part of the Linux users in the country) and the information available in the Portuguese language is still minimal. Many Brazilians also do not understand that much information is accessible from the Club site even for non-members of the Mandriva Club. Also there is no Portuguese language forum in the Mandriva Club and there is no plan to create one because of the lack of staff to oversee it.

3: There was a general lack of information in Brazil about the Mandriva Linux distribution and some former users of Conectiva Linux still have the false impression that Conectiva was bought by a foreign company in order to kill the Conectiva Linux distribution Linux and that there would be no more development and Mandriva presence in Brazil. The former users of Mandrake Linux in Brazil also had never organized themselves in communities of users and I thought that it was necessary to try to bring together the former Mandrake Linux users and the former users of Conectiva Linux who had decided to use Mandriva Linux 2006 into a single community of users. I also thought that the new users of Mandriva Linux (who are also new to Linux in general) pre-installed on the computers supplied by the "Computador para Todos" ("Computers for All" - http://www.computadorparatodos.gov.br/) governmental program would need much help and Mandriva specific information in Brazilian Portuguese.

I: What are your favourite parts of Mandriva Brasil? What are your aims for the site in the future?

DT: My preferred area is the Forum since it is mostly there that I can help those who have difficulties or are just starting out in the Linux world. For the future I would like the site to be as big and well publicised as others that exist in Brazil, like the sites of the Debian or Slackware communities, with a big number of users and many members! To achieve this we will have to keep searching for new articles and all types of research material with the best possible quality!

MP: The site is still beginning but I believe that the most important parts are the forum and the articles section. In my personal experience, beginning users like more to use forums than discussion mailing lists and they like very much complete articles about the topics most important to them. Therefore we started with a long and complete article about package installation in Mandriva Linux. There was much ignorance and doubt among Brazilian users on the use of urpmi and the existing medias for Mandriva Linux.

I: How big and active is the Brazilian Mandriva community?

MP: Sincerely I don't know. Even participating in several forums and mailing lists related to Linux, I never came across organized communities of Mandrake Linux Brazilian users, who could give an idea of the number of users. As a great part of the Mandrake Linux Brazilian users were novice users, exactly because of the easiness of installation and configuration of the distribution - and these users usually do not participate actively in discussion mailing lists on the internet due to lack of knowledge - it is difficult to have an idea of the number of users. The community of users and former users of Conectiva Linux is not very big but there are several of them with active participation in the Brazilian Linux universe. However, we still don't know what percentage of them migrated to Mandriva Linux 2006.

I: How was the merger between Conectiva and Mandrakesoft received by Brazilian users of Mandrakelinux and Conectiva?

MP: As I said, I saw some heated discussions and positions in favor of and against the merger. The pessimists saw the merger as a strategy of a foreign company to destroy the national market of Linux distributions, eliminating the first and biggest national Linux commercial distribution and the possibility of Brazilians to work on the development of the distribution. The optimists, like me, saw the merger as a way to preserve the excellent team that worked on Conectiva because of the financial viability of the resultant company. I believed that it was much better to merge with another commercial Linux distribution than to hand over control of the company to another business without any link to free software, such as a bank or an investment fund, as had already happened to some other distributions. I still believe that eventually the excellent ideas created by Conectiva would have the possibility of bigger use and world-wide projection. Mandrakesoft also had an incentive to invest in Brazil in the increasing and very active market related to free software, with concrete governmental initiatives aimed at promoting the practical use of free software, in comparison with the prejudices and inertia that exist in other more developed nations.

The suggestion that I give to Mandriva for success in Brazil is to always keep a good dialogue with the user community and with the Brazilian Linux community. Here, much more than in rich nations like the U.S.A., it is fundamental to keep the community spirit characteristic of free software. The Brazilians who are enthusiastic about Linux are already annoyed with the attitudes of the big proprietary software companies and even with some commercial Linux distributions. I believe that there are many opportunities for Mandriva in Brazil in the training and consulting areas because there is still much ignorance of Linux and free software among computer science professionals in Brazil. Most of the Linux user base still consists of students, academic professionals and self-taughts enthusiasts.

I: Do you feel there are good links between the Brazilian user community and the Mandriva offices in Brazil and Paris?

DT: In general I believe "yes" because we always see the Mandriva staff participating in the mailing lists and many of the staff at Conectiva as was participated in a community that we had here, the CCL-BR. I believe that with time they will join even more with the users now that there is another meeting point in Mandriva Brasil!

MP: I am not certain. I know some advanced former users of Conectiva Linux who participate in the cooker-br mailing list (cooker-br@mandrivalinux.org)

I: How was Mandriva Linux 2006 received by the Brazilian user community? How do they feel about the new projects, Mandriva One and Mandriva Kiosk?

MP: We published the notice on the Mandriva One launching and I also already downloaded and quickly tested it with success. We intend to make an analysis article of the product soon. We still didn't have discussions about it in the site because I think that few Brazilians have had access to the ISO image because it is only available using bittorrent and only for Mandriva Club members. Live CDs still are the most easy way to introduce people to Linux and many Brazilian users know linux through a national distribution (kurumin) based on Knoppix and Debian. It would be an excellent idea for Mandriva to distribute Mandriva One CDs to schools, as inserts in periodicals or magazines or to mail out CDs by request freely or for the cost of the CD.

On Mandriva Kiosk, I only know what was said in the Mandriva Club news section but I think the idea is very good and believe that it will increase the advantages of being a Mandriva Club member. I think that the Brazilian office of Mandriva must provide more easy methods of payment and improve the pt_BR translation of Club content so that more Brazilians become members of the Mandriva Club.

I: Speaking personally, what are your most favourite and least favourite things about Mandriva Linux?

DT: Apart from the stability, I most like the appearance! Moreover, I also find the installer very easy and intuitive.

What I don't like is that the standard for package selection in installation is not so cohesive as it was in Conectiva Linux. For example, in the installer you find the same packages appearing in many places unnecessarily. Another thing is the fact that the Mandriva Control Center doesn't have a text interface like SUSE Linux's Yast. If it did, it would be a very good thing since the majority of administrators access their servers using SSH.

MP: What I like most in Mandriva Linux is the installer, the Mandriva Control Center and how easy it is to have a desktop with MP3 support, video, proprietary drivers, etc.

What I like least is the included GNOME (even though I use and prefer KDE I believe that GNOME support must be improved), the standard themes, wallpapers and screen savers (they were improved in Mandriva 2006 but some of them still look like childish pictures and Conectiva Linux was excellent in this point) and the excessive number of daemons automatically enabled, which increases the RAM consumption unnecessarily.

I: What do you hope to see in the future from Mandriva, in Mandriva Linux 2007 and other products?

DT: I hope for a wider integration of the technologies and the "thought" of Conectiva because some very good Conectiva ideas still have not been included in Mandriva Linux and this union would help the distribution become even more powerful.

MP: I hope that we have in the distribution more of the good ideas and technologies originally created by Conectiva and competing distributions, a lesser amount of bugs at the launch of a new version, a bigger offer of advantages and facilities for Mandriva Club subscription (especially for Brazilians) and a bigger number of public FTP/HTTP mirrors in Brazil (the ideal would be in the main Brazilian universities, that have very fast internet links, as already happens with other Linux distributions). In the next year it will be vital that the X.org included with the distribution has support for at least one of the desktop OpenGL acceleration technologies (AIGLX and/or XGL), because of Windows Vista launching with similar features.

I: And finally, if Brazil and France meet in the final of the World Cup, who will win? :)

DT: In 1998 France played at home and this meant they had a natural advantage, but as this year will be in neutral territory the possibilities of Brazil are very great! And, moreover, we have the best players in the world! Good luck! You will need it! ;-)

MP: Brazil, obviously...we have the best soccer in the world and we will not let France win easily as in 1998.
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