Mandrake Linux 8.1 is available as a download, but the first CDs of the product were supposed to ship "by the end of September, the company said. In an e-mail message to those who have ordered the CDs, the company said it ran into unexpected delays after deciding to move production to the United States.
"Getting 8.1 production up and running in North America has been a slow and expensive process," the message stated.
But the CDs should ship soon. "We're hoping to get them out next week," a MandrakeSoft representative said.
MandrakeSoft is based in France, but most of its business is in North America, Chief Executive Jacque le Marois said in an e-mail interview. Half of sales are in the United States and 4 percent are in Canada, while France accounts for 5 percent of sales.
MandrakeSoft moved North American production to the United States because tariff laws for imported products effectively increased the manufacturing cost by a factor of two or three, said Jean Mar, business operations manager.
"Importation tariffs, we have discovered, are extremely high," he said.
Version 8.1 updates several software packages and uses the latest version of the Linux kernel. In addition, the package introduces MandrakeOnline, a subscription service that allows features such as automatic notification of software updates.
MandrakeSoft competes with Linux leader Red Hat as well as Caldera International, SuSE, Turbolinux and others. Linux, a clone of Unix that also competes with Windows, is established for use on networked server computers, but MandrakeSoft is trying make inroads on the desktop as well.