I just updated a system running Mandriva Linux 2006 and in the release notes I discovered that not only will it upgrade a Mandrake system, but it can now upgrade a Conectiva system. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, given that both used RPM as their package format/database, but I really had the impression that Mandriva was primarily Mandrake with some extra stuff from Conectiva. It’s nice to see that there really is a true upgrade path for both distributions.

The Mandrake/Conectiva merger has had a chance to sink in. I’m almost getting used to the name Mandriva. But I’m still trying to figure out last week’s announcement that Mandriva has bought Lycoris—or rather, has “purchase[d] several assets from Lycoris.” The big news is that they’re combining Mandriva Discovery (their entry-level desktop OS) with Lycoris Desktop/LX.

The main thing is, I can’t make out just what Mandriva has and has not bought. I can’t figure out whether there’s anything left of Lycoris, the company. Their CEO is moving to Mandriva to head up the new product. Their software collection and user forums are moving to Mandrake Club. Their flagship product is being merged with one of Mandriva’s. But the wording of the press release implies that they haven’t bought everything. If I were to guess, Lycoris might start focusing on their Tablet PC line.

What does seem to be happening is that Mandrake has begun collecting a number of the smaller commercial players in the Linux arena. Who knows? They may be in a position to challenge Red Hat and Novell soon.

Well, that was faster than I expected. Two months ago, Linux distributors Mandrake and Conectiva merged. Last month they announced the combined product line (basically Mandrake Linux with Conectiva’s own stuff merged in.)

Now they’re changing their name to Mandriva. I know the portmanteau is a logical choice from a purely linguistic perspective, but at least to my English-speaking ears it sounds like something out of a low-budget horror movie. Beware the Mandriva or Mandriva, the Terror from Beyond Source. Or maybe a fictional Central American country, the Republic of Mandriva.

Eh, I’ll probably get used to it. I wasn’t too enamored of Linspire, either. (Come to think of it, I still think that one’s a bit clunky.)

At least this should put to rest their long-running trademark dispute with the owner of Mandrake the Magician. Even if they started out with a penguin in a wizard hat, I still don’t think people are going to get a Linux distribution mixed up with a crimefighting comic book magician.

It looks like SuSE’s the only big-gun Linux company who hasn’t changed their name (if you count the Red Hat/Fedora spinoff), and now that they’re part of Novell, I suspect it’s only a matter of time. It’s probably the lack of corporation that’s kept the Slackware and Debian names intact.

Remember UnitedLinux? It was a consortium of Conectiva, SuSE, TurboLinux and Caldera to build a common distribution that could compete with Red Hat. That effort got derailed, in part because Caldera decided they could make more money by changing their name to SCO and extorting suing the market into oblivion. Now Novell owns SuSE, TurboLinux is facing competition from Red Flag, and Conectiva is merging with Mandrake.

Mandrake’s a nice OS. I keep trying to switch, but I keep coming back to Red Hat Fedora. While my own experience with Conectiva has been, shall we say, less than stellar, they did port Debian’s outstanding package manager APT to work with RPM, and started the development of Synaptic, which should (in my opinion) be the standard way to install and upgrade software on any package-based Linux distribution with a GUI.

For now it looks like they’ll be maintaining separate brands based on a common core (hmm, sounds familiar), but I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up merging the products in a few years.

Hey, if it means Mandrake replaces their clunky update system with APT and Synaptic, I’m all for it.

(See also CNET’s take.)

For several months I’ve been providing installable RPM packages for the Dillo web browser. Since many different distributions use RPM packages, I’ve been getting requests to add various Linux distributions. I started out just installing to extra partitions, but then I started building virtual systems with User-Mode Linux.

Well, people have been requesting RPMs for Conectiva, a distribution from Brazil and partner in UnitedLinux. I built a UML virtual system, but was never able to get Dillo to compile or to get the imitation network driver working. So, tonight I decided to install an actual copy.

With most Linux installers, you can choose where to create a new partition, and set it up to add existing ones to the system. This has worked fine with every version of Red Hat, Mandrake, and SuSE I have installed. The installer will create the new partition, leave the others alone, and mark them to be visible in the system you’ve installed.

Conectiva didn’t leave the existing partitions alone. Each partition I had marked was gone: my main OS partition (currently Red Hat 9), my home directory, and all my download and media files. Fortunately I had backups of the most critical files from last Saturday, and I was able to recover my entire home directory with Tomsrtbt and Parted‘s rescue function. And I don’t mind losing my main OS, since it’s not that hard to re-install it – all I need is the configuration, and I’ve got that backed up.

That leaves my entire download and media archive. I always figured, “I can just re-download all of this, right?” And most of it I can. Much of the rest either isn’t important, or hasn’t changed since the last backup (which I’ll admit was a long time ago), or can be recovered from CD, or can be re-scanned. The few photos that hadn’t made it into last week’s backup turned out to still be in a temporary folder on my website. Still, there are things that will be hard to find again, and probably some that will be impossible.

Just in case, I’ve got a recovery tool scanning the lost partitions in hopes that it will come up with something.

I’m not touching Conectiva again – or any other distribution I’m not already familiar with – until I get a spare system set up, or maybe spring for something like VMWare. And I’m seriously considering picking up some sort of backup solution that will hold more than a CD-RW, so I’ll be more inclined to save everything instead of picking and choosing what to put on a few discs.

Update 7:45am: I got the download/media partition back. The tool I ran overnight didn’t seem to find anything, but when I ran parted again this morning (after remembering that it was on PAUD, the Parted And Utilities Disk, not Tomsrtbt) it was able to find the partition.

So now all that’s missing is the primary OS (I’m running off of one of the “extra” installations right now), and I can reinstall that easily.