Dell Ubuntu LinuxCanonical, promoter of Ubuntu Linux, has plenty of momentum on the desktop. But as Canonical gears up for a server push, one key Ubuntu partner plans to sit on the sidelines. Indeed, Dell has no plans to ship Ubuntu on its servers, according to a Dell source who spoke with The VAR Guy today.

First, a little history lesson. Dell in mid-2007 began pre-loading Ubuntu on selected desktops and notebooks. (Yes, The VAR Guy now has one.)

Plenty of folks -- The VAR Guy included -- assumed Dell would jump on the bandwagon as Canonical makes a stronger Ubuntu server push this year. That assumption was wrong, according to a member of Dell's Linux team who chatted with The VAR Guy today.

Dell does plan to support Ubuntu 8.04 (code-named Hardy Heron) on selected desktops this spring or summer. (Here's an early look at Ubuntu 8.04.) But it's hard to blame Dell for taking a "wait and see" approach to Ubuntu on the server. After all, Red Hat and Novell are both firmly entrenched in the Linux server market.

And for Ubuntu to succeed on the server, it will need a critical mass of integrators, consultants and software developers willing to sell, service and support Ubuntu-centric systems.

To be sure, some companies are testing the Ubuntu server waters. Sun Microsystems continues to get cozier with Ubuntu on the server. And servers will be a big theme at the Ubuntu Live event scheduled for this July in Portland, Oregon.

Also, Canonical has introduced an administration tool -- called Landscape -- that could make Ubuntu servers and desktops easier to manage.

But this isn't going to be a sprint. For Ubuntu to succeed on servers, Canonical will need to prepare for a marathon.

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