Ubuntu One was a set of online services provided by Canonical for Ubuntu users. It provided cloud hosted storage for files and structured data, synchronised to the user’s local machine. The Ubuntu One service was discontinued in 2014.
There were other services built around this core, including a digital music store that would deliver MP3s to the user’s cloud storage (which would then be synchronised locally), and smart phone integration for contact synchronisation and music streaming.
The main Ubuntu One web site and service was built using the
Django framework. As we wanted to
integrate with Ubuntu/Launchpad’s existing user account
infrastructure, one of the first things I worked on was a package to
bridge it to Django’s standard
The result was the
package: an OpenID relying party implementation that allows users to
authenticate via OpenID and creates linked Django user records. This
made it trivial to add OpenID support to essentially any Django
application that used the standard authentication framework.
The structured data storage and synchronisation system was built on top of CouchDB: a “NoSQL” JSON document database. In the Ubuntu One system, the user ran an instance of CouchDB on their desktop, which would use the standard CouchDB replication protocol to synchronise the user’s databases with a CouchDB instance running in the cloud.
This gave the user full offline access to their data, with the ability to synchronise any changes when they reconnect. A number of applications were modified to use or back up their data to this system. I worked on a number of projects using this system, including:
- Bindwood was an extension for the Firefox web browser that provided bi-directional sync of bookmarks with the local CouchDB instance. I worked on a rewrite of the extension to get it working with Firefox >= 3.5.
- Google Contacts Sync
- I worked on some code to implement bi-directional sync of Google Contacts with a CouchDB instance. The plan had been to run this against the cloud instance of CouchDB as a better way to provide contacts integration on Android and iOS phones than the SyncML solution we had been using. Unfortunately, the service did not make it out of beta before Ubuntu One’s data sync service was shut down.
I worked on a few projects related to the file storage side of Ubuntu One:
- While Ubuntu One had full sync clients for Ubuntu, Windows, and MacOS, this was intended as a light weight method of accessing a user’s files on other systems. It was a custom FTP server that could run on locally and bridge requests to the Ubuntu One REST API. The user could then use their file manager to upload and download their files through the local FTP server.
- Thunderbird Filelink
- Filelink is a feature of the Thunderbird mail client that gives users an option to upload large files to a file storage service instead of attaching them to a message. I worked on an Ubuntu One backend for the feature.