The VAR Guy logoThe Ubuntu Live conference doesn't kick off until July 21, but The VAR Guy is already booking his flight to the Portland, Oregon-based event. Here are five key trends our guest blogger expects to track at the event.

1. Sun and MySQL: Last year, Sun and MySQL each had a major presence at Ubuntu Live. This year, Sun owns MySQL. And it’s a good bet Sun will use the Ubuntu Live conference to describe its server and open source applications strategy more fully. At least year's Ubuntu Live, MySQL head Marten Mickos proclaimed that he didn't fear Microsoft's wallet.

2. Speaking of Servers: Sun is the first major server vendor to certify its systems for Ubuntu. Dell supports Ubuntu on the desktop, but Dell doesn’t have any Ubuntu server plans — at the moment. If another major server vendor was to back Ubuntu, The VAR Guy would expect the announcement to occur at Ubuntu Live. And he’d also expect updates from established Ubuntu server specialists, like System76. (Here's a recent interview with System76 President Carl Ritchell.)

3. Back to the Desktop: Oh, and let’s not forget that Ubuntu is the fastest-growing Linux distribution. Ubuntu came preinstalled on The VAR Guy’s Dell PC. And the Ubuntu Live conference will provide an ideal stage for Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth to describe Ubuntu 8.04’s desktop progress since the operating system's April 2008 release.

4. Going Mobile With Intel: The VAR Guy loves his iPhone. And he looks forward to next-generation devices built around Google Android. But the dark horse in the mobile Internet device market is Ubuntu. Indeed, Canonical and Intel are working on Ubuntu Mobile devices. We should expect extensive updates at this event.

5. PC Peers: During the 2007 Ubuntu Live event, The VAR Guy speculated that Hewlett-Packard would begin Ubuntu preloads. Alas, the outspoken blogger was wrong. But HP has custom-loaded Ubuntu on selected systems for major customer wins. And if more PC makers are going to climb aboard the Ubuntu bandwagon, Ubuntu Live is the place to announce it.

Full Disclosure: The VAR Guy is a media partner of Ubuntu Live, which basically means he’ll be attending the event without paying admission. But no, he’s not on the Canonical or Ubuntu Live payroll.

The VAR Guy is an anonymous blogger who contributes regularly to Works With U. He had a hand in launching this site, and he also blogs daily on his own site, www.thevarguy.com -- covering what's next in the IT channel.