Dell Dancing With Open Source Again

| About: Dell Inc. (DELL)

Dell's (NASDAQ:DELL), on-again, off-again relationship with open source is on again.

Its new agreement with Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) is aimed at the enterprise market, specifically the telecommunications and security markets Red Hat has yet to crash but where Dell has a big presence.

That presence was emphasized at the Interop trade show, where Dell showed off new blade servers with 40 Gbit Ethernet connections. They do this using a switch from Force10, a company Dell bought last year.

Is it coincidence that AT&T (NYSE:T) has just now decided to get into home security and home automation? Not likely. Running it on Linux would help it evade the trouble users get into with Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT) malware and the growing threat to Macintosh (NASDAQ:AAPL) machines.

Dell is also working with Canonical on an Ubuntu-based laptop aimed strictly at web developers. It's called "Project Sputnik," and would give developers a full LAMP stack plus utilities, as well as an easy on-ramp to github code repositories.

While this may sound bullish for Dell, investors should not get carried away. It takes a lot to move the needle at a $62 billion company, and it's doubtful that all these deals together will amount to more than a billion or two of sales. They are probably of more interest to investors in RHT and T. But they do show that the company is working hard to pull itself out of a slump that has turned it into a marginally-profitable big cap with a PE ratio closer to that of HP (NYSE:HPQ) than Microsoft , let alone Apple.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL, MSFT.