MandrakeSoft has traditionally relied on sales of its boxed product for revenue. With version 8.1, though, the company has begun a subscription program called MandrakeOnline that gives members notification of security patches and other software updates, discounted technical support and an e-mail account.
The subscription cost is $20 for a month, $55 for four months or $100 for six months, the company said.
The service resembles the Red Hat Network, which Red Hat announced a year ago, which offers more sophisticated abilities than Mandrake's service. For example, the Red Hat Network checks a system for needed patches, downloads and installs them.
MandrakeSoft braved a chilly investment environment and held an initial public offering in July on the unregulated Marche Libre market in France. The company raised $3.95 million (4.3 million euros) in the offering.
Mandrake version 8.1 includes several new features. Among them is the new version 2.2.1 of the KDE desktop interface, released Sept. 19. KDE 3.0 is scheduled to be released in beta version in December and in final form in February.
Other features include MandrakeFirstTime, which lets users configure their e-mail software; DiskDrake for configuring a hard drive before installation; Draknet for configuring network settings; PrinterDrake for dealing with printers; KOffice 1.1 for office software; Grip 2.96 for writing CDs and the Nautilus 1.04 file manager.