When Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) unveils HP Moonshot servers on April 8, Canonical's Ubuntu Linux distribution could be along for the ride. How does The VAR Guy know? And what are the implications for channel partners? Here are the answers.

Canonical back in August 2011 vowed to make Ubuntu Server support ARM processors. Building on that statement, Canonical in November 2011 vowed to support HP Moonshot servers-- which are also called microservers. Canonical has similar Ubuntu microserver work under way with Dell

Microservers are small, low-power servers for next-generation data centers and cloud computing services. Microserver shipments are expected to grow from 88,000 units in 2012 (pretty small) to 291,000 units in 2013 (still pretty small, despite the fast growth). But by 2016, microserver sales will top 1.23 million units, grabbing 10 percent of server shipments that year, predicts IHS iSuppli, a market research firm.

That's impressive. And it could give Ubuntu a fresh start in the server market. In addition to promoting Linux on PCs, Canonical has had considerable success offering Ubuntu to public cloud providers. But many of those deployments don't generate revenue for Canonical. 

Even more challenging, Canonical faces an uphill battle trying to get big software companies like Oracle to port their enterprise applications to Ubuntu.

If the microserver market gets hot, Canonical hopes Ubuntu can spark more interest from paying cloud and enterprise customers. But this story will require lots of small, challenging business milestones for Canonical. Chief among them: Generating some Ubuntu noise when HP's Moonshot servers debut April 8.