Archive for April, 2010

New Ubuntu One features for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is now available. With this release of Ubuntu, there are many new Ubuntu One features. Here are just a few.

Ubuntu One Music Store
Ubuntu users have access to purchase popular music from all of their favorite artists that make up an expanding catalog of millions of songs available in the Ubuntu One Music Store. Select from top pics and new releases or search for your favorite artist, album or song. Ensure that your computer is setup for sync and launch the store in Rhythmbox for a cloud-enabled shopping experience.

Mobile Contacts Sync
Synchronize your mobile phone address book with your Ubuntu One personal cloud and Evolution on your Ubuntu desktops. Mobile Contacts Sync also enables subscribers to synchronize your Ubuntu One contacts with Thunderbird, Outlook on Windows, and the Mac Address Book.

Ubuntu One Preferences
All subscribers now have more control over their synchronization settings. Launch the Ubuntu One Preferences application to view current personal cloud storage usage, link to support options, manage synchronizing computers, and even control which Ubuntu One features are synchronized on the machine you are currently using.

Sync any folder in your home directory
Right-click on any folder and choose “Synchronize on Ubuntu One”. All of your Ubuntu 10.04 LTS computers can now synchronize your default folders like Documents, Pictures and Music.

Publish files
Easily share files with anyone directly from your Ubuntu desktop. We even provide you with a short URL to use on services like identi.ca, twitter, and facebook.

Infrastructure upgrades
Not only do we have many new features for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, the Ubuntu One team spent a great deal of time improving the infrastructure. Subscribers should see faster file and folder synchronization on their desktops as well as a website tools that are snappier.

Ubuntu One provides a free subscription with 2 GB of storage for everyone and a monthly subscription that includes more storage and additional features.

Learn more about all of the great Ubuntu One features and subscription plans.

Mobile Contacts Sync goes to beta

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

We had a very successful public alpha for Mobile Contacts Sync and have to thank the many that participated for their valuable feedback. Mobile Contacts Sync is now an improved service and we’re ready to move to beta.

In case you don’t know about it, this service enables you to synchronize your mobile phone with your Ubuntu One personal cloud. We support 1000s of mobile phones so chances are that your phone will work. We even have an iPhone client and support Android 2.0 devices.

For those of you that participated in the alpha, we will reset your 30-day trial on Monday, May 3rd, so you can continue to use the service for another 30 days.

If you haven’t used Mobile Contacts Sync yet, it is available to everyone. All free Ubuntu One subscribers can even try the feature for 30 days at no charge.

Learn more about it at the Ubuntu One website.

Sync your Thunderbird contacts with Ubuntu One

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

While we provide contacts sync out of the box for Evolution, some users prefer to use other email clients like Mozilla’s Thunderbird. Up until recently, there wasn’t an option to synchronize your contacts in Thunderbird with Ubuntu One. Now that we offer mobile contacts sync there is a way to do this. In order to try syncing your Thunderbird contacts you’ll need to use a 30-day free trial of our mobile sync service. If you decide you like it, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid plan. Along with mobile contacts sync, which provides syncing contacts across many mobile phones in addition to Thunderbird contacts syncing, you’ll get 50 GB of storage with a paid plan. Ready to try out syncing Thunderbird contacts with Ubuntu One? Sign up for Ubuntu One and follow these step-by-step instructions on our wiki.

Funambol Thunderbird client sync success screenshot

Sync any folder and file publishing

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Ubuntu One users running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS will have access to two great new features (among many others).

Sync any folder
You no longer have to put everything that you want synchronized into the Ubuntu One folder. Right-click on any folder in your home directory and choose "Synchronize on Ubuntu One". Now the folder will sync with your personal cloud and your other computers. If the same folder exists on your other computers, the contents will be merged. Now it's easy to sync your Documents, Music, Pictures, or any folder in your home directory.

File publishing
Ubuntu One already supports sharing folders with specific people who are also Ubuntu One subscribers. We now enable you to publish your files for anyone to see. We call it file publishing and it even comes with a convenient short URL to send to all of your friends. Right-click on any synchronizing file and choose "Publish via Ubuntu One". Right-click again and choose "Copy Ubuntu One public URL" to add the short URL to your clipboard. Now you can sync, share and publish... directly from your Ubuntu desktop.

More information on these and many other great Ubuntu One features for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS will be available soon at one.ubuntu.com.

Watch Joshua's screencast to learn how to use these new features.

A few words about Ubuntu One servers

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Reposted from Elliot Murphy's blog.

I promised Matt Griffin I would talk a bit about Ubuntu One servers and some of the work that we’ve done in order to keep up with all the new users that have signed up over the last 6 months since Ubuntu 9.10 came out, and preparations for the growth that we expect with the launch of the music store and phone sync features in Ubuntu 10.04. I’ll start by writing up some descriptions about the different moving parts that make up the server side of Ubuntu One.

Ubuntu One has many parts. All the parts on the client side are free software, and about half the parts on the server side are free software. There are two major components that are currently closed source – the django webservers that implement the web interface for https://one.ubuntu.com and the twisted servers that implement the server side of the file syncing protocol (https://launchpad.net/ubuntuone-storage-protocol). The django web servers include some code that we are contractually not allowed to release related to integration with the music store partner, they also include some code that we’ve been pleased to be able to factor into libraries and release on their own (such as wsgi-oops and desktopcouch).

Aside from the file syncing protocol, the other major two channels to Ubuntu One services are syncml and couchdb protocols. Syncml is used to support syncing of contacts from mobile phones, and that server code is open source (http://funambol.com/), and the couchdb replication protocol is used to support replication of bookmarks, Gwibber messages, Tomboy notes (sort of), Evolution contacts, and just about any other application that cares to integrate with desktopcouch. If you are an app developer, the quickly project and the desktopcouch library have some really cool recipes for easily cloud-enabling your application. All the CouchDB server side code is open source as well (http://couchdb.apache.org).

Out of all the stuff in Ubuntu One that I find interesting, I’m most proud of the way we are using CouchDB, because this technology does so much to both preserve user autonomy over their data while also providing the convenience of replicating data through what could be called a personal cloud. If Ubuntu One goes away forever, all the data you have in CouchDB continues to work just fine, and all the applications integrated with desktopcouch continue to work just fine – you could even easily set up a separate CouchDB cloud and point all your machines to replicate to it instead of the Ubuntu One servers. For people who don’t feel like setting all that up, the apps will work out of the box with an optional Ubuntu One account. This ability for application developers to make use of a local data store that can automatically replicate if the users decide to enable Ubuntu One is something that I am convinced has huge potential for making users lives better without making them totally locked into Ubuntu One or any other service provider.

Finally, we have many somewhat boring servers running the standard things you run on any moderate-to-large web application: apache2, rabbitMQ, postgresql, squid, memcached, ha_proxy, iptables, nagios, etc. We’ve gone to some lengths to try and make sure that there are redundant paths to access the webserver farm even though an average page load may touch apache->squid-haproxy->django-memcached->postgresql. For every server that we run, we try to make sure and have several smaller servers running rather than a single big server, so that we can scale horizontally if at all possible, and do upgrades without taking the entire service out. And, ’service’ is not a very good description, since we can update phone sync servers without taking down the file sync, bookmarks, music store, and tomboy notes. We have not yet split across multiple data centers, but are drawing up plans so we will be ready when the time comes.

There are two big changes that we’ve made on the back end that are not very visible to users but are still important. As of today, the biggest database we have is the one that helps keep track of the files you have stored in Ubuntu One, and that is now split across multiple ’shards’, meaning that the data is partitioned so that even if a database goes down only some of the users are affected, not all users. This also lets us decrease our MTTR, or mean time to recovery, as well as improving performance of both the web site and the desktop file syncing client. We’re also putting the finishing touches on partitioning the CouchDB system, which has many many small CouchDB databases replicated from each users desktop. Partitioning or sharding here accomplishes the same goals – don’t allow the whole service to go down even if a server fails, make backups easier and faster, improve performance by scaling horizontally.

Another change that went live today is the new ‘dashboard’. If you have an Ubuntu One account and login to the website, rather than immediately being directed to the files view, you are now shown a dashboard that provides more of an overview of what you have stored in Ubuntu One. Hopefully this new dashboard is more informative, it is also significantly ‘lighter’ and cheaper to render than the entire files view. Here is a screenshot:

We are continuing to develop features in public and might have a few more surprises coming before the Ubuntu 10.04 launch. If you want to try out the very latest code, we deploy new versions every hour to http://edge.one.ubuntu.com, and are always interested in feedback on new features that you see there.

I hope this was useful – if anyone has questions about Ubuntu One, I’ll do my best to answer in the comments or perhaps write a new blog post if lots of people want to know about the same thing.

Ubuntu One Music Store for Banshee

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Thanks to the hard work by Jo Shields you can now enjoy the Ubuntu One Music Store within Banshee! You’ll need to be running Lucid Beta 2 with all the latest and greatest updates. Watch the screencast below for details on how to get this installed.
To download and install the extension, type the following in a Terminal: sudo apt-get install banshee-extension-ubuntuonemusicstore

Martin Albisetti’s blog: Ubuntu One contact phone sync, opened again

Friday, April 9th, 2010

After a few hiccups with our servers, Ubuntu One contact phone sync is open again for new accounts.

Check out the wiki with the instructions to get set up: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuOne/PhoneSync/

Sorry for the inconvenience, Slashdot still seems to be a mixed bag of pain and joy  :)

Ubuntu One contact phone sync, opened again

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

After a few hiccups with our servers, Ubuntu One contact phone sync is open again for new accounts.

Check out the wiki with the instructions to get set up: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuOne/PhoneSync/

Sorry for the inconvenience, Slashdot still seems to be a mixed bag of pain and joy  :)

Ubuntu One in Lucid Lynx

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

As you may know, Lucid Lynx is approaching fast and it is going to be released on 29th of April as "Ubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS". This release provides a lot of visible and invisible changes. There is plenty of work ahead still, as there are quite a few bugs that need to be fixed before the actual release

Ubuntu One, being now part of Ubuntu has also changed.

First of all, there is no applet anymore.

Q: What? No applet, where do we need to click now to start the service?
A: It will be autostarted if you have associated your computer with Ubuntu One.

And I really mean that it will autostart. If you are a user of Ubuntu One in Karmic you may have heard or experienced various issues related to weird syncdaemon state changes causing the client to crash. In order to make it work, syncdaemon state machine was rewritten and it actually works. The only issue left currently is LP:522604  but I hope that syncdaemon team will be able to fix that before Lucid release.

Lucid Lynx introduced the concept of MeMenu, The indicator that is designed to give the user easy control for changing their instant message status. Right now it can do much more than that. You can use it to post your tweets/dents (via gwibber DBus service, nice?). And you can use it to start ubuntuone-preferences - "Ubuntu One..."

Ubuntu One control panel now has much more buttons than the applet's panel had and it now provides the info about sync status, your account status, your devices status and you have knobs to control bandwidth preferences.

Ubuntu One now gives us the ability to start synchronizing any folder in your $HOME. This is called User Designated Folders and you are no longer required to use a single "Ubuntu One" folder to sync your data. Of course, by default Ubuntu One is used, as this is a so-called 'root' UDF.

We now have public files as well so you can share files (not folders, to share the folder the other person will need Ubuntu One account) with everyone. There will be changes for the way redirects are working so that files will be served off ubuntuone.com server, not one.ubuntu.com/p/. This will prevent script execution in security context of the main server. Currently this is performed via Content-Disposition: attachment header which is not that friendly to wget and all browsers that do not support RFC2231.

Unfortunately there is one aspect of UbuntuOne that still needs to be addressed before I feel that the product is really awesome. The speed of startup, scan and upload. Currently Ubuntu One will work extremely well for 500 files or so (the size does not actually matter much in this case). But if you start using it with 30k+ files then you will need to make your computer running 24/7 in order not to experience bugs LP:531273 and LP:436612.

However, this product is still in beta phase and most of the issues that were giving real bad experience in 1.0 version were actually fixed. I am now keeping my Documents in Ubuntu One UDF and this works pretty good. Not super-fast, though.

I am constantly poking developers about various issues I find (hopefully they are not thinking about kicking me from the channel yet) so I am well aware of the issues that still exist. It is a feature freeze now in Lucid so the development is slowed down, but I am aware of great plans for performance increase for Maverick Meerkat.

As always, feel free to come to #ubuntuone channel on FreeNode in case you need some help with ubuntuone. My nick is rye there and if you say "honk" I will magically appear in the channel :)

Sync Ubuntu One Contacts with your iPhone

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Along with the start of the mobile contacts sync public alpha test, we’re also happy to announce the availability of the Ubuntu One Contacts sync application in the iTunes App Store. iPhone users can join the public alpha by downloading the application for free and adding their phone sync username and password. The other sync configuration settings are pre-populated in the app.

Again, since this is a test, we encourage you to backup your contacts before synchronizing. Please review the Phone Sync FAQ and report all testing results (the good and the bad) at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuOne/PhoneSync/.