If You Can’t Buy Friends, What Do You Have Left?

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Linux and Unix - Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Mandriva, the French Linux distribution, and Microsoft recently got tied into a little drama over in, of all places, Nigeria. And speculation went wild, and when the truth outed, it proved beyond anybody’s guess.

So, Mandriva sells 17,000 Classmate PC laptops to the school district of Nigeria, and the laptops will have Mandriva pre-installed. The intrigue is already thick here, because the Classmate is Intel’s competition to the OLPC (One-Laptop-per-Child) project. So, instead of getting Red Hat on an AMD, they’re getting Mandriva on an Intel. You can hear Negroponte’s teeth grinding already.

But no sooner is the ink dry on the contract than Mandriva CEO François Bancilhon is informed that they’ll still buy the computers, but now they’re going to be wiped and have Windows XP installed on them. Not Vista, mind you, but XP, because Vista can’t even make it in Nigeria. François wrote a scathing blog post about it.

So Mandriva scooped Red Hat and got scooped by Microsoft. But now the Nigerian government stepped in and said “Not so fast, you can’t bribe our school like that.” Bribe? Well, yes…

Microsoft is still negotiating an agreement that would give TSC US$400,000 (£190,323) for marketing activities around the Classmate PCs when those computers are converted to Windows.

…bribe! There’s a low shot coming up here, and I might as well take it: maybe they got turned down because the transfer of funds would involve emailing strangers to assist? “HELO, I AM NIGERIAN OFICIAL WITH A EMERGENCY REQEST FOOR URGENT BUZINESS RELATIONSHIT. FRST, I MUST SOLICIT YOU STRICTLY CONFIDENCE IN THESE TRANSACTION. THIS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATUR WAS AS GOING BE UTTERLLY CONFIDENTAL…” Hey, that’s not half the fscking that Slashdot’s giving them.

As ZDNet puts it, Microsoft is trying to strangle open source adoption in the crib. Their next move is in Russia. They know that children, unlike adults, don’t have decades of Microsoft brainwashing, and so take to Linux like a duck to water. All my kid-having friends who run both Windows and Linux report that the kids switch between both systems freely.

One more interesting nugget. An event happened in between Mandriva’s indignation and the Nigerian government’s action. Stuart Scott, the chief information officer of Microsoft, just got fired. It was sudden, nobody saw it coming, and nobody will say why, except that it was for “violation of company policies.”

And United States law has it that it is illegal for US citizens or corporations to bribe anyone, anywhere in the world, for any reason. Hmmmmm…

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