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Dude, your cryptic hand gestures are baffling and utterly inadequate

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Letters Re: Dude, you've got selective amnesia!

Michael Dell might think he can wave away - or twirl away questions about Dell's aborted consumer Linux strategy - but Register readers aren't impressed.

The question remains, why devote 150 staff to a business unit, spend millions investing in start-ups, only to can the exercise a few weeks later?

Several of you point out that technical workstations with Linux are available from Dell US, but this isn't the same thing at all. Meanwhile, WalMart steps where Michael Dell fears to tread: and sells a consumer PC pre-loaded with Linux for $199.

Many letters on this subject, summarized by Tom Glascock:-

"Michael Dell's lip service should be brought front and center, as should CHomPaq's."

But the company does perform some strange circumlocutions:-

"Dell is (apparently) shipping boxes with free DOS, which is basically a way of selling Linux machines without having to provide after-sales support for the OS," writes one regular who asks not to be named.

"It ties their hands to the extent that it's pretty hard to refer to Linux in the promotional material when Free DOS is actually in the box, so it's not as good as installing Linux itself, but assuming that Microsoft did pressure them, it's a pretty good try."

"Which thoroughly backs up your central thesis, i.e. (note, I see Ballmer felt the need to tell the court what "i.e." means - in case they confused it with "Internet Explorer"?) that Microsoft pressured Dell not to do Linux so enthusiastically.

This correspondent particularly enjoyed Ballmer's testimony.

Redacted material provides endless entertainment. What I find most fun is when you get a tiny little "desert island" of text in between two blocks of redacted material. As in:

[discussion starts about OEMs still having the option to put 3rd party icons on the desktop. Then suddenly questioner asks whether Ballmer was in charge of talking to the press about this subject, then it goesblank]

[oceans of redacted material - ]

[and then:]

18 Q. Do you remember having any
19 discussion with the press following the issuance of
20 the OEM flexibility policy about why the new policy
21 did not apply to these other forms of Microsoft
22 middleware?
23 A. I talked to a couple of press
24 people. I don't know whether the matter came up or
25 not.
0268

[then more oceans of redacted material]

But we digress.

Even the technical workstations are hide to find, or as one reader notes:-

"It took me a few minutes to find it because it's well hidden. But it's there." Matt Johnson observes that at this page, it says "Linux is everywhere".

"Perhaps it should read, 'Linux is everywhere', but anywhere obvious from our website," he asks.

Lewis Mettler sums up the story from trial documents.

" 1. Microsoft held a series of meetings with Dell in regard to Linux
2. Meetings involved both Gates and Ballmer
3. Microsoft does not sell a Linux distro
4. Microsoft needs to remind Dell why it is smart to partner with Microsoft
5. Dell feels a need to discuss Linux with Microsoft? (does he need permission from the godfather?)
6. Ballmer is urged to make certain that Dell understands it is untenable for Dell to be marketing Linux
7. Ballmer suggests that Gates give Dell somewhat of a hard time (Ballmer suggests that Gates brown nose Dell)
8. Dell in June of 2001 informs Microsoft that Dell has canceled their Linux business unit
9. Does not smell like lack of market demand at all."

We guess the truth will eventually come out, although right now it feels like squeezing an ancient tube of toothpaste.®

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