MandrakeSoft raises bar on open-sourcing by launching innovative open-sourced services, MandrakeExpert and MandrakeCampus, in the form of e-marketplaces focused on e-learning, courseware and other GNU(*) LINUX support.
Linux WorldExpo New York and LinuxExpo Paris, January 31st 2001 -MandrakeSoft, the leader in US GNU Linux retail sales last year (Source PCData), announced the acquisition of Coursemetric Corp., an ASP-software and information services company specialising in the provision of Web-based evaluation tools for education and training organisations. The company also
launched a new Open-Source e-support and e-learning marketplace that will
leverage the Mandrake community to bring expertise to customers and GNU Linux users worldwide.
MandrakeSoft acquires Coursemetric Inc.:
MandrakeSoft announces the acquisition of Berkeley, California-based
Coursemetric Corp. http://www.coursemetric.com
An Open-Source version of Coursemetric's Web-based evaluation system will be an important extension of MandrakeSoft's comprehensive Open-Source learning strategy. "Education will
play a critical role in growing the Linux community and accelerating the
adoption of Open-Source software applications. Coursemetric has a brilliant solution and unparalleled expertise in emerging technologies for education.
They are a necessary component of what we think will be a sea-change in
e-learning and offline training", says Henri Poole, MandrakeSoft's CEO.
Coursemetric's Web-based software provides a communication infrastructure
which links learners, instructors and programme-administrators and offers an
objective basis for evaluating education. The ability to assure the student of the quality of the educational experience will be an important part of MandrakeSoft's commitment to Open-Source education. "This is an exciting
opportunity!" explains David Harden, Coursemetric founder and CEO.
Coursemetric engineers will rebuild the company's system so that all of its
component technologies (Web-server, application-server, database, etc) will
be developed on Open-Source tools. Coursemetric will be deployed as a key
component of MandrakeCampus.com, MandrakeSoft's new e-learning platform,
providing critical and constant feedback from learners, instructors and
administrators to optimise the quality of MandrakeSoft's training products.
Coursemetric will be integrated with MandrakeCampus.com and deployed in
support of offline training as a quality assurance measure for MandrakeSoft Certified Training Centers.
MandrakeSoft launches MandrakeCampus.com, an innovative e-learning platform and commits to Open-source its courseware:An industry first is MandrakeSoft's step to Open-source the curriculum of its market-leading Linux Training Programmes and launches the first building block of a new online e-learning platform.
Despite the obvious user benefits of Open-Source Software, the IT industry
and Linux publishers in particular, have failed to see the benefits of
applying the core Open-Source ideology inside their learning departments,
having kept their documentation and educational material proprietary in order to sell it at a premium.
"Courseware and documentation is expensive to produce, translate and update in the fast-paced information technology era, it therefore makes logical sense to open-source and develop it collaboratively, quasi-organically, so that whenever a new feature is embedded into an Open-Source software product for instance, contributors can simultaneously patch a corresponding module into the documentation and supporting courseware," explains Poole.
To be effective, training for Linux and for Linux-based applications must
adopt the same fluid realities of constant evolution as the Linux
distribution itself, which is why MandrakeSoft will begin by releasing course content for Linux Desktop Administration, Linux Network Administration and Linux Server Applications in French, English and German. "Our objective," explains Poole, "is to convince companies and organisations to make their courseware available for free, either via MandrakeCampus.com or, if they
prefer, using their own e-learning platform, by simply downloading the
MandrakeCampus solution from our Web site (MandrakeSoft.com), which will of
course be made available under the General Public License (GPL) in the coming weeks."
MandrakeCampus will initially provide Linux courseware and basic
functionality to allow users and contributors to submit content-related
remarks and suggestions. By September, it will offer full e-learning platform
functionality and will be made available commercially and for free download.
In particular, MandrakeCampus will provide authoring tools, allowing
contributors to load their own courseware, a fully functional delivery
system, including synchronous and asynchronous learning, video and audio
conferencing as well as student registering management functionalities.
A similar 'tipping' system as the one being introduced for MandrakeExpert
will also be integrated, allowing users/students to reward teachers for their service on a spontaneous basis.
Launch of MandrakeExpert.com:
Alongside MandrakeCampus.com, MandrakeSoft launches MandrakeExpert.com, an e-support marketplace which aims to tap into the technical knowledge of the MandrakeSoft community in order to bring maximum value to users and customers and to inject value back into the community.
MandrakeExpert.com allows users to submit Linux-related questions to
registered experts of their choice, based on the latter's expertise and on an innovative user rating mechanism. The real novelty is that MandrakeExpert.com will shortly be equipped with e-commerce functionalities allowing registered experts to indicate if they would like a 'tip' for their service and the ideal amount that they are seeking and users to reward them if they feel that they have derived value from their answers. In a further illustration of MandrakeSoft's support for the Open-Source philosophy, registered experts will have the option to donate their tips to Open-Source projects of their choice.
"The whole system of MandrakeExpert.com is based on community involvement,
extending involvement to our users. While there is no contractual obligation to give back, it goes without saying that if some users systematically fail to 'tip' Experts or give back, they will be less likely to receive help in future" explains Poole.
"Our solution is in marked contrast with what's already out there" adds
Poole, "since other e-support marketplaces require users to agree to up-front fees. Our solution will also allow for questions to be submitted and
answered for free. The customers will be free to compensate the experts for
their advice, though not required to do so. The Open-Source movement has been
nurtured by individuals who derive pleasure from helping others. They aren't required to do so, they do it from their heart. Our payment system is being designed to facilitate giving from our customers back to the community. Now, for the first time, they will have a simple way to give back to the individuals who have supported their needs by donating directly to them or to their favoured Open-Source projects."
MandrakeSoft in the UK
In addition to these new developments, MandrakeSoft also announced the
opening of offices in the UK, headed by Barry Cochrane. Mr Cochrane, a veteran in the IT industry deeply involved in the Linux movement, having launched LinuxCare in Europe, will also be responsible for the establishment,
management and development of MandrakeSoft in Northern Europe and Africa.
"I am personally excited about MandrakeSoft's online support and training services especially as they fully involve the Open-Source community," Barry Cochrane stated. "Training is an area which has long been neglected in the
community and our free training services will prove a valuable asset in
attracting more people using GNU Linux. "
Mandrakesoft provides a trusted interface between users of information
technology and open technologists. The company offers customers in the small
office, home office (SoHo), small and medium size enterprise, government and
educational sectors a set of GNU Linux and Open-Source software and related
services, user-friendly and highly competitive information technologies at a very attractive total cost of ownership. In addition, Mandrakesoft offers technologists committed to open software and courseware a trusted channel to offer their services.
The company has technologists in over 20 countries, and has received funding
from major banks and venture capital institutions, including Azeo Ventures
(Lazard Group), ABN AMRO, Viventures, AXA Placement Innovation and OFIVM. The
Linux-Mandrake distribution, which became the leader in US retail sales last year (PC Data), received the awards for "Best Product of the Year" and "Best Linux-Distribution/Server" at LinuxWorld Expo 99, as well as the PC Answers Platinum Award in April 2000, the Linux Magazine Editor's Choice Award in September 2000 and the Chip Magazine "Best Technique and Winner of the Test" in December 2000.
"Born on the Internet" in late 1998, MandrakeSoft established headquarters in Pasadena, Berkeley (U.S.), Montreal (Quebec), England, Germany and Paris
(Europe). Please visit the Web site, http://www.mandrakesoft.com
Alan King or James Delves
Strategic Alliance International
tel: 44 (0) 1494 434 434
fax: 44 (0) 1494 434 224
Email : alank or firstname.lastname@example.org
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