Notification about Notes

Throughout last year, as we invested heavily in our new data sync infrastructure, we gradually had to turn off services that were reliant on the old infrastructure and providing little value to our users. Our Notes service was one of these, so last year we removed Notes from the Ubuntu One web UI.

As part of that ongoing strategy to constantly make sure we are spending our time on the right things, we’ll continue to improve our services during 2013. One of these updates, an upcoming database change, will impact how we currently sync Tomboy Notes. By the end of February 2013 we will cease syncing Tomboy Notes to U1, meaning U1 won’t transfer your notes between computers. Those of you still using U1 to sync your notes will need to stop relying on the service to sync or restore notes after new installations.

We realize syncing notes to Ubuntu One was a nice feature for a small set of people, even so, we are contacting the Tomboy developers to help them support our new APIs which utilizes our new U1DB data sync service.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes and if you have any questions please contact us.

Update – February 5, 2013
The timing of our post and the deployment of some changes on the server side (unrelated to notes) yesterday couldn’t have been worse. Due to some unforeseen aftereffects of the deployment, notes sync was impacted, which meant when people synced their notes after this update the notes were deleted. We apologize for this. The good news is Tomboy does not delete notes but moves them to a backup folder. If your notes were deleted, please follow the steps in this FAQ. If you can’t restore your notes that way, please contact support for help.

Also, there are some alternatives for syncing notes in Tomboy. We’re providing two suggestions below.

1. Tomboy local backup
Backup your notes to a local folder and sync that folder with Ubuntu One. Note, if you are syncing notes between multiple computers, there may be some issues that arise due to conflicts. Here is how to sync notes with Ubuntu One and Tomboy’s local folder sync setup:

  1. Open Tomboy and open the Preferences menu
  2. Click on the “Synchronization” tab
  3. Click the “Clear” button
  4. Select “Local Folder” from the “Service” drop down menu
  5. Select a folder to sync your notes to from the “Folder Path” menu
  6. Click the “Save” button
  7. Open the Ubuntu One Control Panel and click the “Add a folder from this computer” button under the “Folders” tab and select the folder you chose in step 5

2. Rainy
Timo Dörr created Rainy, a note synchronisation/cloud server for Tomboy that can be used like Ubuntu One’s notes sync service. Rainy is a more advanced option and requires access to a server. If you’re interested, get started here.

29 Responses to “Notification about Notes”

  1. Anton Ivanov Says:

    You were among the first ones offering reliable multi-computer note syncronizing platform, and had plenty of users to grow up – and now you are close the service. Meanwhile Evernote grown up from the note-syncronizing service to the multi-million-dollar company. And now you want to offer something new to people using Dropbox, Google Drive etc. for several years. Really, that’s not interesting at all. I’m off to Evernote, bye.

  2. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Anton Sorry to see you go. We realize this decision is unpopular with those who use the service. That number is relatively small. Even still, we’re continuing to work with Tomboy developers to see what it will take to use our new U1DB infrastructure. We would have liked the timing to work out better but could no longer justify the high costs of continuing notes sync in its current state.

  3. Samuel Says:

    Hey, all my notes have vanished from tomboy… Are they all deleted from U1 servers?
    My god.. there’s a lot of notes of my job, there some way to restore or download it?

  4. Michaeljwjr Says:

    So it’s only gone for now, till Tomboy fixes it on their side, then it’s back? Sounds good to me.

  5. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Samuel Please contact support directly about this:

  6. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Michaeljwjr We’re working with the Tomboy developers to see what it will take to support our new API. This isn’t a guarantee that notes sync will be back, but we’re doing our best to see how we can help make this happen.

  7. Rui Oliveira Says:

    I understand your point about this feature not being used by the majority of the users. However i use it and other people use it and for us canonical is decrementing one of the features that turned Ubuntu One (at least for me) attactive to use. Moreover something is not really well explained in this post! Including this feature would add any major overhead on your current development? Or to rephrase my question, would it be really that much of a deal to maintain the support of this feature?

    Really, i don’t see where is the difficulty of maintaining this service since the syncing function is being actively used on other services. For instance when anyone buys a music album from the ubuntu store, the files are instanly synced to ubuntu one. Therefore canonical fails to explain in this post what actually are the technical difficulties. Without this explanation obviously users like Anton Ivanov and even me, will have difficulty to understand it and will even have a reason to be upset.

  8. Samuel Says:

    Thank’s Joshua, i’ll do that!

  9. dominik Says:

    Hmm, I have to say, this is really disappointing. Ubuntu is doing a great job but when it comes to U1 it has a major major problem: reliability. A cloud service which is not reliable in technical and strategical terms – useless.

    Sorry for the harsh judgement but you can’t just turn off/turn on services, you need a long term strategy. The technical side got better, though. As far as I can say syncing is faster and more stable than a year ago. But still, cloud services are all about trusting the company. If you take it serious, try earning that trust!

  10. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @dominik, In the early days here we were figuring things out and (looking back on it) probably too aggressive with launching things in production for everyone. We’ve learned that lesson and are being much more careful about the services we launch and how many people we release them to in the early stages. That said, we did have some hard decisions to make as a result of services launched in the past and this is one of them.

  11. romu Says:

    I expected such a decision since the Notes GUI removal. Personaly I managed in an other way. I just store my Tomboy notes as files. And this files structure can be put on a U1 space, or Dropbox, or any other sync service.

    And it works as before. Plus it’s far quicker than dealing with th U1 notes API.

  12. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @romu, Great point. I’ve heard people say this method works well for them. We’ll do some further testing here and, if all goes well, we’ll offer this as an alternative method for syncing notes.

  13. John Underhill Says:

    Why hasn’t this been communicated to users of the notes service? The first I’ve heard of this is all my notes disappearing today and having Google send me here…

    Poor communications and decisions.

  14. Luís Says:

    Tomboy was the reason I started using U1 in the first place. If it is going to be like any other cloud service why would I or anyone else keep an account at U1?

  15. Luís Says:

    The Tomboy folk are (understandbly) simply abandoning U1:

    Only we are not adapting to U1, instead we are reimplementing the syncing server

  16. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @John Underhill Sorry to hear you had to find out about this announcement this way. We do post all our updates through Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

  17. pi3ch Says:

    This is another reason that make me to say big goodbye to Ubuntu and its services! I cannot even relay on your contact and music services cuz tomorrow who knows you might decide to take down those service as well. Happy that I didnt end up paying for your paid U1 services.
    BTW, similar to other users I got all my notes deleted today even before you stopping this service!

  18. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @pi3ch The deletion of notes was not at all intentional. We apologize for that and it should now be fixed. We did a rollout yesterday that unintentionally impacted notes. If you or anyone else is not able to get your notes with a new sync, please see this FAQ:

  19. Adrian Fox-Kirk Says:

    Hi, as a long term user of Ubuntu (back to 5.10-breeezy badger), I have been a staunch supporter and advocate of the OS. I have been using U1 now for about 5 months across three machines. Two windows machines are regularly behind, hang, stop altogether or just don’t get started.
    I find it a shame that after the almost legendary stability I have seen with all flavours of Ubuntu, this one service should rock that otherwise epic platform.
    I plead with you to sort out the reliability on this service and, please, please, please, add a progress bar! That one enhancement could save me so much time with not knowing if the sync is working so I can restart etc much more quickly. I don’t want to move to another platform as I am a loyalist and believe that you can restore my faith, but I’m increasingly inclined to do so.
    Thanks in advance and for listening(another thing you guys do so well!)

  20. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Adrian Thanks for the support and feedback. It sounds like you are talking about file sync. There is a file sync indicator going into the next release: If you have other suggestions or need help with Ubuntu One, please contact our support team directly at

  21. Rich Says:

    Shame, the note feature was something I really liked and hoped the new infrastructure would improve. Really confused as to where Ubuntu One is going as they keep coming up with great ideas, but then struggle with execution.

  22. Jay Says:

    Disappointed as well. I too joined U1 because of Tomboy sync. To me it signaled that U1 was moving in a direction towards a true “personal cloud” that might eventually hold notes, contacts, calendars, etc. Now it seems like U1 is “just another” Dropbox, sadly. I understand the high costs associated with the notes sync. But I think moving in the personal cloud direction could have helped you innovate more.

    Unrelated: I stopped using Tomboy because it’s buggy as all hell and I filed a bug report that made the application unusable and got now response after months of pestering. Now using GNotes and am very happy, with no bugs. Plus it’s mono free (though that is not *at all* why I went with it).

  23. Philipp Says:

    does this change in any way also affect my u1 contacts? i just asking since they’re all gone since yesterday. is there any chance of getting them back from some backup?

  24. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Jay It’s not so much of getting out of the personal cloud as it is with doing the personal cloud in a scalable manner. Notes sync was a very early service we launched to prove out our initial version of our data sync service which was based on database technology we’ve learned is not appropriate for our use cases. Now that we have U1DB, our focus is on making that rock solid for our existing services where we make use of it (e.g. music streaming) and also enabling other developers to build on top of it. But, the difference between now and then, is now we’re taking a more methodical approach to building out U1DB on the services based on it. We’ve learned some hard yet important lessons.

  25. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Philipp This does not affect your U1 contacts though yesterday’s deployment did make changes to contacts. Please contact support directly for help:

  26. Rob Cogwheel Says:

    Kinda disappointed. Ah well, to hell with tomboy anyway, it’s mono and buggy&slow. Good luck to you guys, hope this is for the best.

  27. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Rob Just to be clear, we’re not dropping support of notes sync because of Tomboy. The reasons are all Ubuntu One specific.

  28. Joshua Hoover Says:

    @Rui Sorry, for some reason your comment got flagged in WordPress as spam. File sync and data sync (like notes, contacts, etc.) are two different things. Notes, part of data sync, is hosted on a database technology that collapses under any amount of load for us. After trying to make this work in many, many different ways, we came to the conclusion that the database technology was not a good fit for what we were trying to do. We’ve deployed a new database and are calling the service on top of it U1DB, which provides data sync services. We’ve been carefully load testing U1DB and testing it out in isolated small services which are server side only and have stable APIs. Unfortunately, Notes does not meet this criteria. We’re still interested in making Notes work with U1DB and are reaching out to developers interested in trying it out.

  29. Andreas Says:

    The recommended recovery method has some flaws. I lost 359 notes on my machine, but recovering from backup restored only 339. Which 20 notes I have lost its unknown to me. Very disappointing.

    Luckily I can recover all 359 notes from another machine.

    Moreover, on my five synced machines the backup folder is never an exact copy of the tomboy folder, on most machines the backup folder contains many more notes than the tomboy folder, so a straight copy restore as suggested would require many hours of work cleaning out old duplicates etc. I would recommend restoring from the tomboy folder on another machine (that has recently been synced) instead, if you have that option.

    Anyway, this was the last drop, and I have now finally (somewhat regretfully) moved on to evernote, which appears to be one of the few solid multi-platform options. I’ll miss tomboy, but not the last few years of buggyness and development stagnation.

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