Let's remember that Dell did this Linux thing once before - it went big on Red Hat in the year 2000, offering the distribution on a similar number of machines, and then promptly quit doing so a year later. Reason? The accountants weren't happy.
Look at some of the statements Michael Dell made at Linuxworld in San Jose, California, that year: "We're making it easy for customers to get Linux from Dell. The only thing growing faster than Linux is the number of Linux systems Dell is shipping - shipments of Red Hat Linux increased 500 percent year on year.
"Dell is now the No. 2 provider of Linux-based systems worldwide and the first major manufacturer to offer Linux across its full product line. Dell has prepared for wide-scale Linux adoption by investing more engineering resources to Linux than to any other operating system. We're doing this to make it easy for our customers to run Linux; configurations of all Dell products are now designed, tested and certified for Linux. Our factories can now customize each system - from PCs to servers - with Linux."
No wonder the US of A is the number one generator of greenhouse gases - speeches like this which are so full of hot air make a major contribution.
Michael Dell's decision to sell Ubuntu is driven by one thing - he's hoping to get ahead of HP on this one. Having been beaten into second place by HP on PC sales last year, he's had to come back to the company and take the reins.
If he was hoping that Windows Vista would sell as fast as the people in Redmond were projecting and give him a little more spare cash, he has had to adjust to reality very sharply. The only reason he's been able to continue to offer XP on Dell is because the cash register isn't ringing - if it were a political decision, Microsoft would have had him by the crown jewels.
But when it means that money isn't coming in, even Microsoft has to sit by and watch. After all, the Redmond company has made no secret that its aims are simple - extracting every stray rupee, kopek, dollar, pound, mark, euro, shilling, dirham and dinar from pockets worldwide.
Vista sales are slow, no matter what spin Microsoft puts on it. The hardware requirements are a bit too onerous and too heavy on the pocket. And then there's the little matter of DRM.