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Mandriva bigwig (nearly) accuses Ballmer of b-word

17,000 Nigerian Linux boxes mysteriously switched to Windows

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Mandriva CEO François Bancilhon has asked Steve Ballmer what it feels like to look at himself in the mirror.

In an open letter to the Microsoft head honcho, posted to the web late last night, Bancilhon claims that the Nigerian government has somehow decided to install Windows on 17,000 brand new PCs already equipped with Mandriva Linux. And he questions whether Ballmer and company used dirty tricks to make it happen.

According to Bancilhon, Mandriva just shipped 17,000 Intel Classmate PCs (CMPCs) to the Nigerian government for use in local schools. And naturally, all 17,0000 were pre-loaded with the company's latest Linux distro, Mandriva 2008.

The Paris-based Linux outfit recently opened a new headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, hoping to spread open source tools throughout West Africa. But it seems to be facing some stiff competition from that software behemoth in Redmond.

Evidently, Microsoft had urged the Nigerian government to choose Windows for those 17,000 school machines. But in the end, Mandriva won the day.

"We presented the solution to the local government, they liked the machine, they liked our system, they liked what we offered them, the fact that it was open, that we could customize it for their country and so on," Bancilhon tells Ballmer. "Then your people entered the game and the deal got more competitive. I would not say it got dirty, but someone could have said that. They fought and fought the deal, but still the customer was happy to get CMPC and Mandriva."

Well, Mandriva won the day temporarily.

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