I have to agree that this post sounds as though posted from someone that has never used Mandriva. I run Ubuntu on one machine and Mandriva 2006 on the other and far too often I find myself preferring Mandriva. I'm no n00b, and spend the bulk of my time in bash, but the administrative tools (and installation process) really are quite a bit ahead of Ubuntu's. Using urpmi, you have most the power of apt-get available as well. In terms of free distros, Ubuntu is ahead in that it will inform you when new updates are ready...you don't find yourself having to change package mirrors as often as you do with Mandriva's free servers. Additionally, apt-get is much faster than urpmi. But to say Mandriva is dead and Ubuntu is the best is ludicrous and uninformed. Don't forget, as well as Mark Shuttleworth has guided Ubuntu thus far, it's still a pretty new distro, and has plenty of time to improve.
I'm pretty excited to read about parallel init in the new Mandriva. Maybe I'll take this distro for a test drive soon. But like everything else in life, "don't knock it till you try it."
(Side note: As a company, I'm not too fond of Mandriva. The way they ousted the original head of the company is reprehensible, and obviously I like what Ubuntu does for the community much better than I like the actions of Mandriva.)