Thursday, 24 February 2011

The One?

I've been investigating Ubuntu One. The beta version of Ubuntu One was released in 2009 (May 13th 2009, to be precise) and the client software has been part of the Ubuntu OS since Karmic, but I've only just got around to seeing what it can do!

Canonical says of its service that:
"Ubuntu One is your personal cloud. But it's not just about syncing files — whether you need to access your contacts, notes or bookmarks from any computer or the web, enjoy your favorite music from a cloud integrated store or stream your entire collection to iPhone and Android mobile phones — we've raised the bar on personal clouds."
Essentially, it's a web-based storage facility that comes with 2.0GB of free storage (for the basic package) and allows users to buy additional cloud space: each additional 20-pack (20GB) costs $29.99/year.

It all sounds great, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, the hyperbole doesn't quite match the reality. For instance, one of the features of Ubuntu One is that users can synchronise contacts across their registered computers - who wouldn't want to do that? However, in order to synchronise contacts users must be using the Evolution message client (not much help if you're a Thunderbird user) and
Evolution contacts will currently only sync in Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick) or higher users. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid) users should see our status page for updates on getting contacts syncing again in that version of Ubuntu. Source: Ubuntu One Wiki FAQ
Which is no good to someone who runs 10.04 on his desktop and 9.10 on his laptop! Never mind, perhaps I'll have more luck with Bookmarks - at least that caters for Firefox.
"Currently, you need to be running Ubuntu 10.04 or higher and Firefox 3.5+." Source: Ubuntu One Tutorials/Bookmarks
Oh dear, not much luck there, either: it seems that I can sync my desktop bookmarks to my desktop!

I'm similarly disappointed that Windows Mobile (phone) isn't supported. OK, I can understand the iPhone/Android link to Unix, but the argument against including WinMob devices fails now that a Windows version of Ubuntu One has been released to beta testing. After all:
"It is a reality that many Ubuntu One users operate in a mixed environment of operating systems. They may prefer to use Ubuntu at home but are required to use Windows at their office or school. Perhaps they occasionally use Windows for an application that is not available in Ubuntu. Whatever the reason, we want to make it easy for anyone to enjoy our services on any platform." Source as linked above: emphasis mine!
Is it really so difficult to believe that not every Linux user has an Android phone?

One might argue that, once Canonical get the bugs sorted and makes Ubuntu One backwards compatible with its own operating systems, this is going to be a great service. Moreover, the first 2GB are free: what more can anyone ask for? But, not so fast. Today I did a full mirror of my desktop: backup size (compressed) was around 30GB which would require two 20-packs. That's $60/year (give-or-take) and a quick Google suggests that I can get 50GB of storage for nothing!

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