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The last time I tuned into Mandrake Software, the founder of the France-based Linux company was begging Mandrake Linux users to send in contributions to keep the company afloat. Then, silence. Well, it turns out Mandrake survived--just barely. Now it has a new name, a new strategy, and a new lease on life.

Francois Bancilhon, who has led the turnaround as CEO, dropped by today to put Mandriva--the new name--back on BusinessWeek's radar. He's charmingly self-effacing. ("I got the job because nobody else wanted it," he quips) But he also has a plan that could turn Mandriva into a viable alternative to the Red Hat and Novell distributions of Linux, mainly in the BRIC countries. That's Brazil, Russia, India, and China--where a lot of the growth in tech over the next years is expected to happen.

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