Call it a small but strategic step in the right direction. Following in the footsteps of Red Hat and Novell, the folks at Canonical are positioning Ubuntu for use by Wall Street firms. Some details about the effort could surface on April 19, during the HPC (High Performance Computing) Linux Financial Markets conference in New York. Here are some details.

Canonical won't take center stage at the conference. But the software company does plan to exhibit Ubuntu at the show.

Smart move. Wall Street has been especially good to the Linux movement. In recent years, many financial services firms made the leap of faith from Sun's SPARC/Solaris combo to Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Novell SUSE Linux in order to gain low-cost application freedom on industry standard hardware.

Now, Canonical hopes to begin the discussion with Wall Street firms as well. True believers include Equitec, a financial services firm that moved its proprietary trading software from 100 Windows-based servers to 30 Ubuntu-based servers, according to Canonical. (Side note: I'm having difficulty getting an update from Equitec regarding the Ubuntu deployment as well as the company's business status.) Somewhat similarly, Linux Box -- a solutions provider in Ann Arbor, Michigan -- has started promoting Ubuntu to financial services firms.

Meanwhile, Dell has announced plans to embrace Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud -- which could position Canonical for some private cloud momentum on Wall Street.

Admittedly, those are small signs of progress within Canonical's broader Ubuntu business strategy. As Ubuntu 10.04 nears release in late April 2010, Canonical hopes to engage more ISVs (independent software vendors), cloud partners, OEMs and customers with the operating system. We'll be watching to see how those strategies play out.