Linux WorldExpo NEW YORK and LinuxExpo PARIS, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- MandrakeSoft, the leader in U.S. GNU Linux retail sales last year (Source PCData), announced the acquisition of Coursemetric Corp., an ASP-software and information services company specializing in the provision of Web-based evaluation tools for education and training organizations. 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. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000807/SFM051 ) 1. 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 program-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 optimize 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. 2. MandrakeSoft launches MandrakeCampus.com, an innovative e-learning platform and commits to open-source its courseware: In an industry-first, MandrakeSoft takes steps to open-source the curriculum of its market-leading Linux Training Programs 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 organizations 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.com 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. 3. 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 upfront 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 favored Open-Source projects." About MandrakeSoft: 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/Serve" 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 and Paris (Europe). Please visit the Web site, www.mandrakesoft.com for more information. (*) The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like operating system to be made available as free software (GNU is an acronym for "GNU's Not Unix") Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel Linux, are now widely used; though these systems are often referred to as "Linux," they should more accurately be referred to as GNU/Linux systems. NOTE: Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Mandrake and Linux-Mandrake are trademarks of MandrakeSoft. All other trademarks and copyrights are owned by their respective companies.