Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has an excellent blog entry describing the way the Ubuntu/Dell deal will impact driver development, Dell's business, and Linux in general. Most notable is his assertion that the "free software approach is a better device driver development model" than the closed-source model.  I wholehartedly agree with this, because once a driver is mainlined in the kernel, the kernel devs maintain the driver interface to the kernel.  The only work left for the hardware vendor is supporting their hardware.