I doubt this means they're going out of business. I think they're raising all they can, so they can make 8.2 extra extra good, and then push it hard against RHL and SuSE. I'm personally willing to throw a few hundred bux their way if it means I get a buttoned-down 8.2 to install on my new MPX box.
The real issue IMHO is the fact that nothing's really free. Back in the day, Linux was developed by hobbyists for hobbyists. Now that so many consumers are involved, the demand for features has shot up, but the pool of volunteer developers hasn't kept up. To keep in business, companies like MandrakeSoft must find some way to bring in income to pay the staff. Caldera hasn't had much luck with the pay-only route, so that's not a money-maker. Charging for commercial support is a catch 22, since you need to attract that commercial base in the first place. Asking for developer support can be tough when your biggest fans are script kiddies.
I think it's a stroke of genius to simply ask for donations from grateful users. I've always purchased the boxed version of the distros that I use, even though I'm usually running from the ISO images that I've downloaded long before the box product shows up. I have no problem paying my way, and am willing to cough up some cash for things that I want to stay around. Seems there are more than a few folks that feel the same way. But apparently it's taboo for a for-profit compant to accept donations.
That's where the Mandrake Club comes in. Club members can pay yearly dues, as little or as much as they want for the same services. One bonus is that I can get the extra RPMs that come with the boxed product right away. That saves me the wait (or extra work), and it saves Mandrake the cost of producing the media and books I never read. Win-win! To the consumer, the club is like a subscription service, but infinitely more flexible. To the supplier, it's a source of income, but of course time will tell if it makes enough income to be worthwhile.
T-R has been going through many of the same financial realities that MandrakeSoft has. Now that the Reaganomics hucksters have looted the dot-com industry and recoil is in full effect, it's a challenge to operate a commercial grade website. For many that means going back to the basics of commerce: "Do you like our product? Are you willing to pay for it?" I think the Mandrake model opens the door for a new golden age of commerce, one with positive values like trust and respect taking the front seat. Honest people could support good content, while cheats could become spam magnets. I hope.
The problem with any society based on goodness is the jerks that prey on the same trust that makes things good. The success or failure of the new dot-com economy will depend on how the parasites are handled. Just so I'm clear, I'm not talking about folks who truly can't afford to pay. I'm talking about people who can pay, but refuse to. People who choose to get rich by abusing the honor system. If we can find a way to limit the damages from the leeches, the future of free software and free e-press looks bright.
You are false data.