Yesterday, trench-coated and fedora-capped newsmen were buzzing with the latest "man bites dog" story of the IT world. Word on the street was that Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) would be offering desktop computers featuring the Linspire brand of Linux operating system (OS), offered by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) gadfly Lindows.

Alas, word on the street wasn't quite accurate. (Imagine that.) It turns out that an Italian computer reseller called Questar had simply ordered a shipment of low-end Dell Optiplex mini-towers, decided to load them with the Linux OS, then issued an announcement making it seem as if this were a groundbreaking partnership between the open-source community and a computer powerhouse.

A great many media organizations reported the news as if it were so. Bad on them. In fact, Dell offers enterprise Linux systems -- though it works with OSes from Red Hat (NASDAQ:RHAT) -- and has offered desktops with Linux OSes in the past.

For its part, Questar's misleading PR campaign has garnered it 15 minutes of fame -- and several hundred thousand Web visits -- it might otherwise never have enjoyed. Good on it, I suppose.

From my seat, this affair offers more than an opportunity for giggles and eye rolls. Maybe the fascination for anything non-Windows should convince Dell, along with competitors like IBM (NYSE:IBM), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), and Gateway (NYSE:GTW), that the time has come to reconsider Linux. Is it really just for geeks, businesses, and Asians?

A lot has changed since the late '90s, when the first Linux push landed on consumer desktops with a resounding splat. Newer distributions of the OS offer easy, snazzy-looking interfaces and solid performance. Even Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) thinks its customers will be interested in budget machines running Sun Microsystems' (NASDAQ:SUNW) Linux. With Jane and Joe Six-Pack increasingly concerned with zealously reported Windows security threats, and Microsoft's "Longhorn" Windows upgrade well below the horizon, it may be time for Dell et al. to roll out the Linux here in the U.S.

For more Fool computer industry coverage:

Fool contributor Seth Jayson likes trying out Linux, but still does his work on Windows. He has no position in any company mentioned. View his Fool profile here.