They could try advertising
and it doesn't have to be through the general channels.
You can go viral easily with something like Ubuntu, the trick is to make sure everyone has access to your marketing material, and you do a fast response to what is free advertising.
So, you have a small marketing department made up of 2 developers and 3 designers, their job is to make ads for both online and offline. You secure the university lot, hire some pretty girls with tight fitting Ubuntu T-Shirts and daisy duke cut off shorts and you tour around in the Ubuntu bus during freshers week, slap the lappies out, hold a few competitions.
Organise some events pitting operating systems against each other. Get in contact with film and TV show makers, and offer to help with the production work when computers are shown on screen, as long as at some point the Ubuntu name is mentioned.
And you churn a load of advertisement online, but use people with blogs and sites to help spread the word. Ubuntu is quite a strong brand, they just have to work it a bit.
If support is their revenue stream they need to make that really obvious, make it simple for people to understand the support and see the value in it, and it never hurts to have a pretty girl with great jugs promoing the product.