Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ubuntu Knots Penguin Knickers

I ran across this little snippet courtesy of DistroWatch Weekly:
The Ubuntu world was rocked last week by an announcement about Ubuntu One a web-based file-sharing and file-synchronisation system for the promised era of cloud computing. The Register explains: "Ubuntu's commercial backer won't fluff its own cloud, but Canonical isn't eschewing online services in the battle against Microsoft. Canonical has begun beta tests of a web-based service that'll let you store and synchronize files on your Jaunty Jackalope PC with other Jackalope-powered machines. Called Ubuntu One, it's designed to provide you with access to your files using a web interface when you're away from your main machine. The service also promises to let you share documents with others." While all this sounds like a worthy goal to pursue, not everyone in the Ubuntu community is happy. The reason? The Ubuntu One server will be a proprietary system. Brian Burger on Planet Ubuntu: "Big chunks of Launchpad are still non-free, and of course about half the mess with Ubuntu One is the fact that it's only half-free - the client is free, the whole server side is totally proprietary. Another, even larger and more awesome irony: The proprietary nature of Ubuntu One's server-side code has, so far, mostly produced controversy and a nifty but not ground-breaking web application. The open-source client side has already produced parts of a nifty new UI for encrypted directories that will (hopefully) be in the next release of Nautilus."
I guess Mark Shuttleworth got tired of Ubuntu not being "cash positive" and decided to do something about it. He originally wanted to concentrate on the core, but I guess he learned what a lot of others (Amazon, Google...) have learned and is tying his distribution to cloud services. It will be interesting to see if his cloud initiative is (a) more stable and (b) more profitable than his current pure-distro play with just Ubuntu. Because, you know, if it's in the cloud then the operating system becomes irrelevant. Or at least that's what they say.

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