Mandriva Linux is a complete, easy-to-use Linux distribution. It is suitable for a wide range of uses and there are several "flavors", including home desktop, live CD, corporate desktop, and server, most in 32 and 64 bit versions.
Mandriva offers both free and commercial versions of their distributions, the major difference being the ability to obtain support and enhanced package selection. For all users, they now support an online distribution model through "Mandriva Club", although the free versions are available throughout the world on many mirror sites.
Mandrake originated, like many distributions, as an offshoot of the early Redhat Linux distribution (around 5.1). Mandrake's claim-to-fame was/is: a much improved installer, better hardware detection, many more packages, optimized compilation for modern CPU's, and great management tools.
As an RPM based distro, Mandriva maintains good compatibility with Redhat/Fedora and adheres to Linux Standard Base (LSB). The package management system is based on Urpmi and the admin tools are written in Perl.
Mandrake became "Mandriva" when it bought the Connectiva distribution and merged it into their offerings many years later, making it the largest distribution in both Latin and South America. When SuSe was purchased by Novell (USA), Mandriva went from the #2 to the #1 largest distribution based in Europe. Mandriva has a strong following in other countries, including the USA.