OA - Ubuntu
A blog about Ubuntu, mobile GIS and archaeology

Interacting with Ubuntu One - what it could be (There should be an app for that!)

Jul 13, 2010 by Yann Hamon

Nowadays we tend to have more and more devices that allow us to connect to the internet. Forget about the family desktop, now people have netbooks, smartphones, laptops - so very often, more than just one device. But ideally, we would like to access all our data, pictures, music, from any device we have, from any location. 

Enters Ubuntu One and the world of file synchronisation. Push your files to Ubuntu One, and you will be able to access them from any Ubuntu machine in the world. Nice idea, but here comes the fail:

  • Forget about accessing Ubuntu One from your Iphone or Android phone
  • Forget about accessing Ubuntu One from Windows machine (might come later, but will still require installation, so no easy access from friend's computers, or internet cafe)

Now here is my pledge: how nice would it be to have an appstore for webapps, stored online, for apps that would interact with cloud storage.  Think http://bitspace.at/ , but using ubuntu one/dropbox storage.

I would love to have:

  • A HTML5 photo browsing app, stored on Canonical's servers, that would interact with Ubuntu One storage.
  • An html5 music player, from which I could listen to my music stored in the cloud in streaming
  • An HTML5 ODF editor, where I could quickly edit my files.

Advantages  over existing solutions:

  • Access and use all your files from any internet-connected device, provided it has a good browser
  • No need to install software on target computer - same look and feel whatever the platform.

Issues that need to be solved:

  • The applications purchased should be downloadable as ZIP files and uploadable to a new host (potentially your server), should you wish to change the application provider.
  • The apps should be able to interact with many file storage providers - and a standard would be needed for that (CMIS, anyone?), so you could change the storage provider too.
I believe this is all technically doable already, I am just missing the time to write my own apps... Anyone up to the challenge? What do you think of the concept?


Well we can do the html5 stuff fairly easily just detect the video in the u1 storage and wrap a video or audio tag around the location on the server. The only setting up is adding the mime type to the server and a trip to google would do that.

The text editors are easy to do as well but adding good functionality to apps like this is a little bit hard. Google docs will always do it better.

Posted by Shane Fagan on July 13, 2010 at 11:36 AM GMT+00:00 #

Hi Shane, maybe if you provided the APIs, allowed third party apps, and wrote a few, it would motivate people to write their own? I believe that apps will move more and more to the internet, but right now, every "app" (flickr, youtube, google docs, ...) use their own storage. It would be so much better if all those could interact with cloud storage providers, like ubuntu one. Maybe you could pave the way :)

Posted by Yann on July 13, 2010 at 11:41 AM GMT+00:00 #

Hmmmm interesting idea im sure you can plug the google apis to copy the google docs files to the ubuntu one storage but im sure google wouldnt like info from their apps on other peoples servers.

Posted by Shane Fagan on July 13, 2010 at 12:07 PM GMT+00:00 #

Hi Shane, I believe CMIS might be part of the solution here - is that planned for ubuntu one? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_Management_Interoperability_Services

CMIS capable webapps would rock :)

Posted by Yann on July 13, 2010 at 12:12 PM GMT+00:00 #

Id say not but if you propose it for a uds session id support it.

Posted by Shane Fagan on July 13, 2010 at 02:11 PM GMT+00:00 #

The music streaming idea is already (more or less) on it's way to being implemented.



Posted by ellipsis on July 13, 2010 at 02:34 PM GMT+00:00 #

Yeah I remember that session ^

Posted by Shane Fagan on July 13, 2010 at 03:15 PM GMT+00:00 #

So here's my question. Why would Canonical be the best company to host these sorts of storage neutral webapps? This sort of functionality screams Google to me.

The sync/storage business model and market is still shaking itself out. Who's going to get to full device coverage/featureset first?

Bitspace and (now that LaLa is dead..thanks Apple) seems to be ahead on the music app front. Not free storage...but from a functionality standpoint seems to be what you want. Are you so tied to UbuntuOne as a storage provider that you are unwilling to use Bitspace as an alternative?

Mugtug seems to be ahead on the html5 photo editing front and already supports multiple image storage locations. Are you so tied to UbuntuOne as a storage provider that you are unwilling to use MugTug?

Instead of building a Canonical controlled application silo.. perhaps its better to get UbuntuOne storage support into existing 3rd party webapps like Mugtug.

The problem is.. any storage vendor who puts a webapp up is going to be under business pressure to support its own storage solution ahead of others. I think Google is the only corporate entity that may be able to beat that trap because its real business is advertising not storage dollars. Even then, it will be hard for them to be nuetral when they have their own proprieties to integrate.

I'm not sure Canonical can avoid the trap of the wepp application technology silo. Canonical maybe able to do what Bitspace is doing and build a nice functional application on top of its own storage solution..but can it reach beyond that and be a storage neutral web application provider? That would come as a welcomed surprise to me.

I think there's a growing need for an independent umbrella organization to host a vendor neutral set of best of breed openly developed webapplications which have the ability to support storage solutions in a vendor neutral way. I'm not sure any single corporate vendor can be relied on to build storage neutral solutions.


Posted by Jef Spaleta on July 13, 2010 at 05:22 PM GMT+00:00 #

First of all Ubuntu One needs proxy-support. Otherwise it is just half-baked. Sure all the other things are cool... but proxy support is something essential...

Posted by Markus on July 13, 2010 at 08:24 PM GMT+00:00 #

I think all that needs to be done is to write a secure, open source protocol to acsess online file storage, and implement it in Ubuntu one, write a few apps that use the API, show they work, and let's others do as they want, who knows maybe dropbox and google apps would support it.

Posted by Michael on July 14, 2010 at 12:13 AM GMT+00:00 #

Very interesting ideas passed around here. We (the Ubuntu One team) are pretty booked up at the moment for 10.10, but discussions like this are extremely helpful to shape future plans. The next UDS would be a great opportunity to discuss some of these more developer-focused topics on extending Ubuntu One capabilities and how those plans can help to shape our roadmap for future releases.

Posted by Matt Griffin on July 14, 2010 at 02:53 PM GMT+00:00 #

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