Sometimes, reporters spend too much time looking at a tree and never see the bigger forest. For instance, lots of folks are writing about Novell changing its channel chief. Excuse The VAR Guy as he yawns. In fact, something far more strategic -- and interesting -- has occurred at Novell.

The company -- which frequently misses big market opportunities -- is finally gaining some traction with its desktop Linux strategy. That's important news for partners, customers -- and (potentially) Novell investors.

During the summer, Novell was left a bit embarrassed when Dell decided to pre-load Ubuntu Linux -- rather than Novell SuSE Linux -- on selected consumer desktops and notebooks in the US. The VAR Guy began to wonder if Red Hat Linux (on the server) and Ubuntu (on the desktop) would put a fatal squeeze on Novell here in the states.

What a difference three months makes. Recent international wins are reason to think Novell -- at long last -- is getting its desktop Linux act together. First, Lenovo announced plans to support Novell SuSE Linux on some notebooks. And now, Dell has agreed to preload SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) on selected systems in China later this year.

Is Novell a software powerhouse again? Nope. Will desktop Linux make Novell rich? Probably not. Is Novell finally relevant again? That's a solid maybe. To learn why, rewind to the 1990s, when Microsoft used its Windows desktop dominance to gradually make a run at the server.

Now, apply that lesson to Novell. If Novell can gain critical mass on the desktop in key geographies, it will certainly strengthen the company's server business. And that server momentum will feed back to more Novell desktop deployments.

Now that you've seen the bigger picture, you can learn more about Novell's channel chief change over here. Yawn. Sleep tight.