Dell last week began offering customers in China the Red Flag Linux operating system, a popular Linux distribution in that country. The software will first be offered on Dell's PowerEdge servers.Red Flag joins Red Hat and SuSE as the Linux flavors officially supported by Dell. Dell is marketing its PowerEdge servers based on Red Flag for file, print and Web serving applications. The Red Flag software will also be available to work with Linux database clusters using Oracle, a strong partner of Dell's. Dell did not disclose plans to offer power-user workstations or desktop PCs based on Red Flag.Although its name may not convey a feeling of stability or safety, Red Flag Linux has a strong presence in China. Created by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Linux flavor has become the standard PC operating system among many Chinese government agencies. Some Chinese agencies, such as those for telecommunications and scientific research, use Red Flag servers in Linux clusters for distributed computing.A recent survey by Evans Data Group found that 44% of the computer programmers in China said they had written code for Linux. Meanwhile, 65% of Chinese developers said they expect to write a Linux application in the next year.Some say China has embraced Linux as a way to lessen its dependence on products from U.S.-based Microsoft. Others say the move by the Chinese government is less of a nationalistic issue, and more about price.Dell is offering hardware and operating system support for PowerEdge servers running Red Flag to any customers with a Premiere Enterprise Support Services contract.