I am not a big Ubuntu user, I stay familiar with it. I can’t help but think, why us Ubuntu so successful. I know I am quite biased but when I try to take my biased glasses off, I still can’t help but wonder, why did Ubuntu succeed and Mandrake fizzle out? At the time, Mandrake (later Mandriva) was a great distro, the Mandrake Control Center was fantastic, URPMI (package manager) was incredibly reliable, had a great community but just faded. I know that there were business decisions that contributed to Mandrake’s demise but what do you think was the ultimate reason?
I was a Mandrake user when I was first introduced to Ubuntu, near the end of the Warty period. Mandrake had been a big step forward from the dependency hell of SuSE, but suffered from its hybrid commercial/free approach, poor quality control and reliance on external repositories for a functioning system. Every day I used Mandrake, something new broke.
Ubuntu at that time was truly the Debian for people who couldn’t install Debian. I was one of them, and I was blown away by the engineering, reliability and curation of the repositories and package management which had been inherited from upstream. I’d avoided GNOME up to that point (having found it ugly) but soon found it suited my workflow better than KDE3. It wasn’t long before I was hooked, and I’m now so entrenched that I don’t think there is a way back.
Whilst I get nostalgic for SuSE and Mandrake at times, I’m afraid they were light years away from Debian/Ubuntu in terms of reliability and polish. Ubuntu has thrived by survival of the fittest.