Ubuntu One – Cannonical’s storage cloud

I’m quite impressed by how agressively the Cannonical team is getting when it comes to cloud computing.  They’re integrating eucalyptus into Ubuntu 9.10, which is open source software that lets you build your own “Amazon-like” cloud.  Eucalyptus even implements the same APIs so that all those hundreds of EC2 applications work with it.

But the Cannonical folks haven’t stopped there.  They recently launched Ubuntuone, which is a storage cloud.  Anyone running Ubuntu 9.04 can sign up for an invite (I did last month, and just got mine yesterday).  This provides you with 2 GB of cloud storage for free, or 10 GB for a nominal fee.  The mechanics behind Ubuntuone is an applet that’s running which synchronizes $HOME/Ubuntu One directory on changes.  It’s not rocket science, but it is seemlessly integrated.

At 2 GB of free space, this isn’t for keeping media in sync.  It will do a fair job with text documents, and I’ve started to put my ebooks and pdfs into it for easy reading wherever I am.  I’m also considering redoing my dot files sharing in this manner, though that will mean symlinking into the Ubuntuone directory, as it doesn’t seem like you can share beyond it.

Another interesting feature is a “share with others” on those documents.  That opens this up to be a ghetto version of google docs, at least amongst Ubuntu users.  Again, while this is not rocket science, usability is a huge feature here, and the fact that it is so seemless starts to bring a lot of value to having a whole office on Ubuntu. 

This is where I think Cannonical is making a really brilliant play.  Previously Linux on the Desktop was always about being interoperable with other people’s stuff, as it was the edge case, and the value in running all Linux on the desktop was low.  With really useful, Linux only, services like Ubuntu One, there is now an incentive to get everyone there.  The Mac folks have been playing this game for years with all their zeroconf tools that work on a local network, and it definitely helped shore up offices of Mac users.

Kudos to Mark and the Ubuntu folks for thinking past just desktop clones and really starting to push cloud as a concept into Ubuntu across the board.  It makes me excited to be both a Linux and Ubuntu user, and I can’t wait to see what they add to my platform of choice next.

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