A bit of various things I quickly want to write something about:
Mandriva decided to end the contracts of at least Adam Williamson, Mandriva’s community manager and Oden Eriksson, maintainer of the Apache, MySQL, PHP stack and other related packages. I’m disappointed to see that all the trouble Mandriva has gone through during the past years, still has not ended yet and that people who play such an important role for the distribution, have to leave the ship now. This has triggered a heavy reaction from the community now, with a public letter to the CEO being written, an online petition and people deciding not to spend money anymore to Mandriva, but instead spent it on other free software projects.
While I totally agree with the support for and the solidarity with the people who are victim of these cost cutting, and while I think that this definitely was not the smartest move from the management, I’m not sure these actions are really a good idea. I fear that it’s only a matter of time, until the big sites will start to pick up this story, resulting in yet more negative publicity for the distribution, which will definitely not help preventing this kind of trouble in the future. I can already imagine the style reactions this would provoke on Slashdot: “Mandriva is dead, I left them years ago for X”, “Does anybody still care about Mandriva?”, “Now competitor X can hire them!”,… Now of course, if the management had not decided to end the contracts of these people, this would never happen… Actually I was doubting for that reason if I really wanted to post this here on my blog, but on the other hand: this blog is not that popular anyway, so, it won’t make it worse than it already is :-)
I’m not too sure what to expect from Mandriva in the future. The lack of manpower has always been a problem, and this will only become worse now. Especially seeing that most Mandriva employees are currently working on OEM stuff, and almost the whole Cooker distribution is now maintained by the community. Even big updates like KDE 4.2 beta, X.org 1.5 and others, are almost entirely being done by the community. While there is nothing wrong with a community based distribution (I’m thinking of Debian), together with those contract endings it gives me the feeling that the community is more and more seen as a cheap way of distribution development for the benefit of the company.
Today a broken Evolution update was released as an official update for Mandriva 2009.0. It’s disappointing that there are not better QA procedures to prevent such a major breakage. Packages were just being uploaded to the updates repository, while these updated package did never get even the most basic testing. These kind of serious problems together with the many other annoying and sometimes major problems in 2009.0, make that I really cannot recommend this release for normal computer users. KDE 4 is too unstable and unfinished (even the 4.1.3 update does not fix that. The first time I started KDE after the update and clicked on the Mandriva menu button in the panel, plasma crashed…), even GNOME has annoying flaws (the gnome-screensaver-dialog hang when the screen is locked is a major annoyance for me, because I hit this problem numerous times a day), OpenOffice.org is still an RC version with known and fixed bugs,…
Speaking about music, it’s really time that I get some decent hi-fi gear, because my old stuff is actually crap and barely works anymore. I need a stereo amplifier, tuner and a pair of loudspeakers. I’m tempted by the Focal Chorus 816V speakers, which seem to get positive reviews, together with a Marantz amplifier (I have some experience with them, and like them a lot). I was thinking of a Marantz PM8003, but I don’t think it’s yet available here, and I really need something now. Either I could get the older PM7001 KI, or just the PM7003, about which I read some positive comments on a Dutch forum. The Denon PMA-1500AE could be yet another alternative. I’m not sure about this yet, so if anybody has any comments or experience, you’re welcome :-)
Last week I ordered the tuner already. It’s a Marantz ST7001 DAB tuner. While I’m quite skeptical about the quality of DAB (160 kbps MPEG 1 Layer 2 defnitely cannot be CD quality), and DAB reception quality could be difficult here (it’s very realistic that there will be drop-outs in the signal now and then, so maybe I’ll need to try with a better antenna), I can always fall back to plain FM with this system.