But it is showing no inclination to do so.
After a lot of hemming-and-hawing, Dell has decided to accept the verdict of its IdeaStorm users and sell pre-installed Linux.
The company said it is already in the process of certifying the Novell Suse distribution, but will work with others as well.
This reluctance to choose among distributions might be sound in some areas, but if Dell really wants to change the game, and not just follow a few cranky customers, it should be openly favoring one distribution or another.
Even if that means following the Microsoft line, which favors Novell.
The fact is that Dell is far, far behind the curve when it comes to Linux. Instead of certifying operating systems and stacks, it should be certifying applications and verticals. It should be building relationships with VARs who can move metal by the ton, not throwing a DVD into a box after making certain it loads.
Dell should understand that this is not primarily a desktop play, but a server play. Many big companies are placing big orders for Linux servers, and Dell's dithering means it's losing orders.
If the dateline on this story were 2004 I'd say cool. If it said 2005 I'd say OK. But it's 2007. Those who want to get into the Linux game today need to get in big or go home.