Note that smartpm relies on apt, urpmi, yum or rpm-md (yum 2) metadata being present in the repository, so smartpm isn't exclusive with any of the other methods...
Btw, having worked at Conectiva and knowing quite a few of the Mandrake developers, I expect there to be very few culture or language based communication problems between the developers - they're all familiar with open source culture and many of them are contributing to (international) open source projects.
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