Since my first post was kind of messy, here I come trying to do some aftermath and clear up some of the most recurring doubts. Feel free to correct me if anything I write is wrong, but keep in mind my blog tagline if you do.
What is Ubuntu One
Ubuntu One is a Canonical proprietary project. Whose goal is to build a full blown online platform for Ubuntu.
The project at the moment, is just a DropBox clone, but that’s only the beginning, many new features will come. The project will evolve into a set of server services, along with public API’s, freely usable by third party applications. A talk about the API’s is planned at OSCON 2009, in July.
I am talking about Contact Sync, and other kinds of data synchronization.
Ubuntu One is a Canonical project, owned enterely by Canonical and enterely developed by Canonical’s developers. In my previous post, Filmm commented noting that the name is misleading, because it relates such platform with Ubuntu community – which is probably misleading (also see the launchpad bug). Anyways, it’s totally legitimate, as Ubuntu is a trademark owned by Canonical.
The Ubuntu One terms of service webpage says it better than I ever could:
Intellectual property and software licence.
The client software of Ubuntu One is released for free public use under several open source licenses, primarily the GPLv3 and Creative Commons licences.
See the licence text included with the code for details. Canonical grants you a non-exclusive, personal licence to use the server software while you receive the services from Canonical. You acknowledge that all intellectual property in the server software provided as part of the services belongs to Canonical or its licensors. You will not acquire any rights to the software or the intellectual property from your use of the services, other than as set out in this agreement and in the software licensing of the distributed client code.
So, yes, the server side is proprietary and no plans about freeing it sooner or later have been made public. The client is mostly GPL3 (that’s what the COPYING file from the source package says) with some Creative Commons part (probably only the documentation).
The client code
The code is written in Python, and pretty heavily documented in some parts. There’s even a SVG flowchart in the Doc/ directory and I even found an Open Office spreadsheet while wandering in the source folders. It’s been developed from not less than 7 people (plus a new entry in the team).
The source code for the client is being kept in bazaar and everyone is able to branch it for their own purposes.
The server side (update)
[ Source ]
Ubuntu One currently runs on Amazon EC2 and uses S3 to store files. This will make it easy to scale the capacity up incrementally as new users are added to the beta. Murphy told me that Canonical might eventually host the infrastructure itself on a Eucalyptus cluster. The server software is primarily written in Python, he says, and it uses some components of Twisted, Django, and Zope.
Requirements, Status and how to test drive Ubuntu One
The project is currently in closed-beta status. It requires the very latest Ubuntu version to work, 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. While it may probably work on other versions, that’s not contemplated at the moment, nor supported in any way.
While everyone can download the client, you’ll need an invite to connect to the server.
This sudden release from Canonical raised some concern here and there, I’m trying to address them here, to the best of my knowledge.
Canonical is trying to compete with the beloved DropBox
It’s very unlikely Canonical is trying to compete or in any other bash Dropbox. There is a couple of reasons for this:
- at the current stage, Ubuntu One is not competitive with dropbox. The pay for plans are worse than DropBox’s for example.
- the Ubuntu One client is not currently multi platform, and hardly will be in the near future (though I shuold mention that Canonical has no experience on deploying a real Windows app and did release BzrTortoise as an experiment in shipping such kind of software)
- Ubuntu One is a file-sync tool just because that has been choosen as the first step in the development of their Cloud platform. Best matches for possible competitors would be Microsoft‘s Windows Live and Apple‘s Mobile Me.
Canonical doesn’t care about Linux in general, and are just caring about Ubuntu. What about other distros ?
Legitimate concern. Let me start saying that it’s pretty unlikely for any company busy in developing a Beta-status product of this grade of complexity to actually care anything on allowing it to work on multiple platforms. In fact, they’re not actually caring even for any Ubuntu version prior of Jaunty.
I have the heavy suspect the only thing they care about is to get things done, at the moment. Weird, uh ?
But you can’t even the get the client (source?) on other distribution. How evil is that !
Hubiert (rightfully) brought up the fact there are no tar.gz releases for the client part, so non .deb users are being discriminated in some way. Well, fair enough, a .tar.gz would be handier, but – other than using some weird tool to extract the source from the deb – getting the source is actually pretty easy:
bzr branch lp:ubuntuone-client
Yes, you need bzr.
Canonical is privileging Ubuntu over Linux
Does that surprise you ? Ubuntu is completely free, but developed, distributed and marketed by a number of paid people, other than the Ubuntu community itself. It’s no wonder that Ubuntu benefited largely the Linux ecosystem in general, as much as it took benefit from it.
And Canonical is benefiting Linux in general by developing a full blown Cloud service, to compete with Windows Online and Mobile Me services. Did any other company do that ? To get in the game, other distribution *may* just need to liason with Canonical. (and until known Canonical has prooven to be very open as a company)
What would be required to them, would just to patch here and there the client or their applications and use the public API’s that will be made available soon. That may seem a burden but it’s really a lot easier than developing a full blown platform from scratch.
Ubuntu One client is probably based on iFolder and Mono
No, it’s fully done in Python, as most of Canonical software. A wonderful choice imho.
Eeeek ! It’s proprietary !
Yes. As much as DropBox, Mobile Me, Windows Online and pretty much every cloud service I know of.
Canonical is illegitimately using the Ubuntu trademark
This is a pretty debated question. I can’t say anything useful, but I invite you to read Mark ShuttleWorth’s stance on the topic.
How to get an invite for Ubuntu One ?
You can request invites on the Ubuntu One website, but don’t expect the invite to arrive too soon.
Currently every launchpad account has been automatically put in the invite queue, that means the queue is pretty long already. If you have a launchpad account you don’t need to do anything, you’ll receive a mail when your request gets accepted. (WRONG ! Thank you Elliot !)
Also hanging out in the #ubuntuone channel on freenode.net and kindly asking for an invite proved to work for some.
(plan B may also work)
Should I abandon DropBox for UbuntuOne ?
Not yet, really. There’s no need to drop a better and more stable platform for an experimental one, especially if you already have a DropBox account. When Ubuntu One get’s more stable and refined, and adds more comprehensive features, though, you may consider that. Given that you don’t need cross platform features (other PC’s running MAC OSX or Windows).
Will the server side software ever be released as Open Source ?
Let me guess on that. No. Individual pieces may be released on a one-to-one basis, though. We’re still waiting for the full release of Launchpad, by the way (promised for July 2009, but Shuttleworth’s answer to the 11:45:60 question is a little bit foggy).
Which benefits for Canonical, beside the profit ?
It’s pretty important for Ubuntu and Linux in general to be as seamless as MAC OS and Windows and to try offer all the feature those OSes offer. Having a well integrated cloud feature will benefit Ubuntu and in turn benefit all Canonical activities (support, landscape, etc)
Does Ubuntu One run on Xubuntu?
With some workaround, it seems it does.
Does Ubuntu One run on Kubuntu ?
Not really, not yet perfectly integrated but works.
update: Seems like Canonical is looking for someone to help with Kubuntu integration. Nice of them !
Stefano, did you tested it yet ? Are you already using it ?
No, and I have no hurry. Not even a little bit.