Ubuntu One

Today, I was testing Canonical’s new Ubuntu One service. Ubuntu One is a service for syncing and sharing files online, with 2GB storage for free. I installed the Ubuntu One client on Ubuntu 9.04 and it’s cool.

Ubuntu One creates a directory named Ubuntu One in your home directory. Within this directory, there are two subdirectories. The first one is “My Files” and the second one is named “Shared With Me”. When you place files in the “My Files” directory, the Ubuntu One client gets notified (using inotify) about the change and begins uploading the file to the Ubuntu one server.

When you access the web interface, which should work in every modern browser, and upload a file there, the next time your local client connects the files are fetched to your local hard disk. This also works when you have two different computers and create a file on the one computer, it will be visible on the second one as soon as it has fetched the new file.

You could also copy your .mozilla directory into the synced directory, and create a symlink from your home directory to it. I have not tried it myself, but in theory this would allow you to have your profile synced on all your computers.

And the best thing about Ubuntu One is that the client is completely free software and written in Python. This makes it possible to package the client for other distributions, like Debian. Packaging it for RPM-based distribution such as Fedora should also be doable, but may require some more time.

There seems to have been some criticism that the server side is not free software. While that may not be the good, it’s certainly better than other services where even the client is proprietary. And there still is the possibility to write your own server as the protocol is available.

Ubuntu One is currently in private beta, if you want to try it out, you need an invitation (visit ubuntuone.com for further information).


19 thoughts on “Ubuntu One

  1. Or you could just use subversion, git, etc, as many of us have been doing for years. With benefits that include free software on both ends, and the ability to store historical versions of the files too.

    1. Using SCMs for such a task is generally not what the less experienced users want. They want a solution that works and Ubuntu One does this.

      And for using SCMs, you mostly need your own server, which many people don’t have.

  2. How does it handle conflicts, e.g. if you change a file on your laptop, forget to plug it in, make another change to the same file on your desktop, and then connect the laptop?

  3. i use dropbox, which is basically the same thing, tho their plans are better when u pay for $10 (per month) you’ll get 50Gb space and for $20 (per month) you’ll get 100GB space

      1. Gerfried, Ubuntu One is a proprietary service, because the server is proprietary. But the client as it is not proprietary.

        For the client, the situation is comparable to those of Java programs before free JREs were available. It is free, but you can only use it with a non-free piece.

  4. The dropbox client is proprietary, but the software is very stable, handles conflicts very well. Has a feature where it sync’s over the LAN without internet connection and can be used on osx windows and linux.

    Especially this last feature is important to me, because I need to use windows professionally and not all the people I’d like to share files with are on ubuntu.

    I know that a lot of these features will probably get added to ubuntu one, but until they are, I’ll stick to dropbox.

  5. I am all in favour of Ubuntu One (don’t like this name though). It is in testing phase at the moment so they will work through the problems and add more services. They are concentrating on linux for now because Ubuntu is linux. I also support this decision. I’m sure there will be cross platform support later, but for now there is the web interface.

    I also use Dropbox and I agree that is has been rock solid, no problems with it.

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