Now here's a thing. Just as the world is beginning to warm to open source, just as the coalition government considers Lib Dem advice to give open source software a crack of the whip and just as Android phone sales starting hitting the stratosphere, Dell decides that now is the time to pull Ubuntu machines from its website and sell Windows only.

Dell is not doing this because it thinks that Ubuntu is some sort of inferior system, no sirree Bob. In fact, it's gone out of its way to talk up the security aspect of the operating system “Ubuntu is safer than Windows,” said Dell in an advice document at the time. “The vast majority of viruses and spyware written by hackers are not designed to target and attack Linux. Linux has been around for nearly 20 years. The software itself is not only stable and reliable, but also pervasive."

Well, security is not enough, stability is not enough and pervasiveness is not enough - so what is?

It's a strange way to behave. How mahy other industries would behave like this? Can you imagine Ford saying "We had a choice of two engines for this car - one's cheap and perfectly stable, the other one's a lot more expensive and does come with a risk of catching fire...yeah, we'll go with the latter."

The trouble is that virtually every other company is making the same decision. So, Ford can make its choice safely, knowing that General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen are all making the same decision.

What's really, really lunatic about the Dell decision is that it's still offering Ubuntu machines by phone but not online. So, if a heavy-duty computer whizz, who's been using PCs since nursery school, has experience of three different open source systems and who conducts his entire life online, is going to have to use a phone to order from Dell. But if you're a computer newbie who's not even sure what the Internet is, you can use an online ordering form - something there doesn't sound right to me.

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