Aside from the fact that Dell has been prematurely linked to AMD, the second largest microprocessor manufacturer, way too much in the last few years, there has also been a lot of rumours about Dell going mainstream with Linux.
Dell has already started selling Linux-based servers for some time now and has also provided with the option to get FreeDOS - an obsolete but open sourced form of Disk Operating system - on its desktop. Dell has been advertising a triplet of relatively cheap workstations bundled with Linux.
Mind you, "workstation" and "cheap" rarely go hand in hand and for the money, those Precision workstations represent very good value. But don't expect to find Ubuntu on that Precision, Dell is actually using Red Hat Entreprise Linux which is cheap but not as cheap as free.
Some analysts and industry observers have been questioning why Linux is suddenly introduced as an alternative to Microsoft Windows XP Professional in Dell's Workstation Range. One hypothesis resides on the fact that Workstations target businesses rather than individuals and it makes more financial sense to go after those customers.
Not only will they be aware of Linux most of the time but more and more have requested that Linux be installed on their machine. But that's not all, using Linux not only reduces price but also provides with an interesting opportunity to bring in added services like support.
Now that's clever. All in all, Dell can invoke the customer demand to explain why Linux is being presented as an alternative, but the real reason may at the end of the story, lie somewhere else.