Bradley Kuhn on switching back from Ubuntu to Debian

Jonathan Carter (highvoltage) jonathan at
Tue Jan 19 21:37:13 GMT 2010

Hi Elliot

On Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 12:44 AM, Elliot Murphy <elliot at> wrote:
> I don't currently have a great solution for the fact that I and
> Canonical have not released the source code to the Ubuntu One file
> sharing server. To be clear, it's not a rebranded Amazon service but
> is a file system written on top of S3. I and the other people working
> on Ubuntu One did take the objections very seriously, and so I wanted
> to tell you a bit about how we built the next phase of Ubuntu One
> after file sync - contact syncing, bookmark syncing, and Tomboy Note
> syncing.
> For Tomboy Notes, we collaborated with Tomboy upstream, helping them
> improve their REST API, and even contributing code to Snowy, the AGPL
> server for Tomboy note sync. We then implemented that same API on
> For contacts and bookmarks, we built on top of
> CouchDB, and run a CouchDB cluster in the cloud. This means that
> applications which integrate with Ubuntu One continue to work even if
> the user doesn't have an Ubuntu One account, the user can set up their
> own couchdb server and get the cool cloud-enabled network syncing
> features, and if you want to use Ubuntu One it all just works (thats
> the theory, there are bugs of course). I'm quite proud of this design,
> and the way it preserves user autonomy while also meeting our goals of
> an Ubuntu One service that "just works" for ordinary users.
> Whenever we are discussing Ubuntu One features, I advocate a design
> principle for Ubuntu One: "build no silos". I'm not pretending that
> the Ubuntu One file sharing server source code being closed is a
> wonderful thing, but I do believe that the end user impact if Ubuntu
> One file sharing suddenly disappears is not so bad. The user has all
> their files, and can continue working. The switching cost to dropbox
> is very very low. So it's not Franklin Street Free at the moment, but
> neither is it a silo.

Thanks for this e-mail and all the explanation, it's really appreciated.

> I've made public offers before to offer advice and coaching if someone
> wanted to implement a simple server that speaks the Ubuntu One file
> storage protocol. Interestingly, I've gotten some feedback from
> developers saying they didn't want to implement the protocol because
> it used AGPL, and they wanted to make closed source implementations -
> but no takers on a free implementation. I've been trying to figure out
> what it would take to split out some useful file sharing server code
> to let people run their own Ubuntu One server at home if they wanted
> to without all the dependencies on S3 and EC2. It's not as easy as I
> would like, but I haven't stopped thinking about it, and maybe one day
> I'll have good news there too :)

I agree that it's interesting that people would shun away from
developing another Ubuntu One-like server because of the AGPL license,
it seems like an appropriate license for such a server. It's
refreshing that you give so much information about it, I thought that
the workings of Ubuntu One was Canonical's deep dark secret that they
wouldn't share with anyone.

> My point is simply that we're listening to the criticisms, and are
> constantly trying to adjust course as best we can. I'm quite excited
> to be working on this service, and I hope that it's able to contribute
> to ongoing funding of Ubuntu development.

Despite how I feel about the licensing of the server, I hope so too.
Thanks again for all the explanation, hard work and willingness to
share information!


More information about the ubuntu-devel mailing list