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Open Source Projects Don't Die, They Get Reborn as Forks

  • July 9, 2012
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

Open source users are a powerful bunch. The core freedom that open source licenses provide enables developers and users to avoid lock-in. It also enables projects that otherwise would die, to get a second life.

This past week two notable Linux projects got a second life, thanks entirely to the passion of community and the open source model.

Mandriva Rejoins Mageia

The saga of the strange, slow death of the Linux distribution created by Gael Duval and once known as Mandrake, turned a new page this past week. Mandriva has stood on the precipice of total collapse for months (some might argue years).

Now Mandriva has revealed that the goal is to have two code bases for the project. The server base will take its lead from the forked Mageia project. The desktop base will be derived from the distribution currently known as Mandriva.

The community base of Mandriva is now also changing its name, though we don't know yet what that new name will be. Mandriva is currently running a poll soliciting users to vote on list of potential names for the future of Mandriva. The list of names includes: OpenMandriva, Commundriva, Dracanea Linux, Drake Linux, Mana Linux, Mandala Linux, Mira Linux, Moondrak, NorthStar Linux, Open Drake, Pulsar Linux and Tulipa Linux

"In the future, Mandriva as a brand name will remain the name of the company (Mandriva S.A.) but the community itself will have a different name and a different branding, although it is also possible that the brand and the name will keep a tight connection with Mandriva," Mandriva community leader, Charles Schulz wrote in a blog post .

MeeGo Lives on as Jolla

While Mandriva is the root cause for it own problems, the mobile MeeGo project was unceremoniously cut to shreads by Nokia. After first strongly embracing the MeeGo approach, which was a joint Nokia/Intel effort, Nokia ditched Intel in favor of going the Windows Phone route.

MeeGo however was always open source and now a group for former Nokia pros are giving MeeGo another Go in a new company called Jolla.

"Nokia created something wonderful - the world's best smartphone product," Jolla's LinkedIn corporate profile pagestates. "It deserves to be continued, and we will do that together with all the bright and gifted people contributing to the MeeGo success story. Together with international private investors and partners, Jolla Ltd. will design, develop and sell new MeeGo based smartphones."

GPLv3 Forked

Now unlike Mandriva and MeeGo, the GPLv3 license is alive and well, five years after it was born. But it too is now in the process of being forked in an effort originally called GPL.next and now known as Copyleft.net. Red Hat legal counsel Richard Fontana is leading the effort, though he stresses that it's not an effort associated with Red Hat or any other corporate entity.

"Copyleft.next is an experimental "-ng"-type modification of the GNU General Public License, version 3," The copyleft.net about file explains. "Contributions of patches, ideas, and criticism are welcome. The goal of this effort is to develop an improved strong copyleft free software license."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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