When Ubuntu 13.10 launches on Oct. 17, a healthy crowd of fanboys will praise Canonical's latest Linux release. But the new Ubuntu also faces major competition across all platforms -- mobile, desktop, server and cloud. So how can Canonical flex some muscle and win over the company's skeptics? Here are five requirements.

1. Cloud Services Providers: Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, x86 server relationships with Dell, HP and IBM (among others) could make or break an operating system. Fast forward to the present and the server market is shrinking as customers increasingly embrace cloud services. With that thought in mind, Canonical needs a few CSPs to publicly endorse the new Ubuntu release.

2. Next-generation ISVs: A few years ago, The VAR Guy openly hoped that Oracle, SAP and other major application providers would port their software to Ubuntu. But the classic client-server crowd never really jumped on the Ubuntu bandwagon. Fast forward to the present, and The VAR Guy hopes to see Ubuntu generate more noise among next generation ISVs -- particularly the NoSQL crowd.

3. Telcos, Telecom and Carriers: Canonical spent a portion of 2013 talking about its Carrier Advisory Group (CAG). The concept: Get the telecom industry excited about Ubuntu for mobile, and Canonical could potentially gain some momentum on smartphones. What's the update here? The VAR Guy isn't sure.

4. Value-Added Resellers (VARs): Canonical has never really built an impressive channel partner program. In the U.S., most server VARs seem loyal to Microsoft or Red Hat. And on the desktop, U.S. retailers tried and abandoned Ubuntu during the netbook boom and bust. Still, there are opportunities for Canonical to win over channel partners. Among the potential  targets: Work more closely with early OpenStack channel partners. Caonical already supports that cloud platform. Now, it should spend more time working with OpenStack-certified channel professionals.

5. PC Makers: Sure, the PC market is shrinking. But the turbulent market offers ample opportunity for market disruption. Millions of Windows XP systems face Microsoft's end of life deadline on April 8, 2013. From giants like Dell to PC upstarts like System76 and ZaReason, it's easy to find Ubuntu pre-installed on some business-class systems. Canonical should spend more time and money on co-marketing opportunities with those (and other) PC makers.

Can Canonical master each of those five challenges and audience? The VAR Guy will be watching.