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Clouds On The Horizon

Ubuntu 10.10: Maverick Meerkat Benchmarked And Reviewed
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Ubuntu One has been around for several releases now, first available for Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope (one of our favorites). It was originally launched as a cloud storage folder that syncs and backs up files, much like Dropbox. Since then, Canonical has added support for backup and sync of the post-it style notes in Tomboy, email contacts in Evolution, and bookmarks in Firefox. Lucid Lynx introduced the Ubuntu One Music Store, which allowed for purchasing MP3 files. Lucid also integrated the Ubuntu One Music Store with Rhythmbox music player and the Ubuntu One cloud storage folder.

I used Ubuntu One back in the days of Jaunty Jackalope and, as early adopters often do, ran into big-time hassles. It wouldn't sync, it would sync late, files would be missing, and so on. During the six-month reign of Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala, I switched to Kubuntu only to find that Ubuntu One only works on Ubuntu. That's right, not even KDE! Needless to say, my (at the time) Windows-based laptop was also out of luck.

As I saw it, the bugs were forgivable. After all, the big red flashing BETA label was still firmly attached to Ubuntu One, and therefore bugs were somewhat expected--something to grow out of. What I saw as the Achilles' heel of Ubuntu One was the fact that it only worked on Ubuntu. How many people use Ubuntu and only Ubuntu? With Dropbox also being free for 2 GB of storage and clients available for nearly every single platform, the choice between the two was a no-brainer. Apparently, someone at Canonical was thinking just that. An Ubuntu One Windows client is now in the works. Gasp. Wait, it gets better. Also coming down the road are clients for both Apple iOS and Google Android, which will enable the streaming of music purchased in the Ubuntu One Music Store. Photo sync/storage is yet another feature planned for the not-too-distant future.

All of this great stuff doesn't come without a price, however. Like Dropbox, the 2 GB of storage for Ubuntu machines is still free, but additional capacity is not. Blocks of 20 gigabytes can be purchased at $2.99 per month, or 29.99 per year. Instead of employing a tiered system like many competing cloud storage options, Canonical chose to keep a static rate per 20 GB and let the customer add as many blocks as they need. Only you can determine if this is a good deal or not, depending on your own personal storage needs. The mobile clients require a $3.99 monthly fee, or $39.99 per year. The Windows client appears to be free, but since it's not even in beta yet, don't hold us to that.

Ubuntu One seems to work as advertised these days. I synced my Dropbox folder to my Ubuntu One account a couple months ago for backup. Upon checking my account on the Ubuntu One Web site, I had access to the contents of my Dropbox as well. I even found a few documents and notes that I added directly to my Ubuntu One folder over a year ago.

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