Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

October 16, 2012

3 Min Read
Ubuntu One File Syncing Now Works on Mac OS X

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here — in beta form, at least. Ubuntu One, Canonical’s file syncing service, now works on Mac OS X as well as Ubuntu, Windows and mobile platforms. Here are the details, and why they might matter even if you’re not one of those rare fanboys whose loyalties are split between the Ubuntu and Apple worlds.

In case you haven’t heard of Ubuntu One — and if you’re not an Ubuntu user, there’s a good chance you haven’t — it does the same thing as myriad other cloud services conceived in the image of Dropbox: It lets users share data between different devices and automatically syncs file changes over the network.

At the same time, the service has a few more unique features. The most notable is integration with Canonical’s Music Store, where users can purchase DRM-free audio tracks.

A desktop client for Ubuntu One, which first debuted in 2009, comes preinstalled on all current desktop versions of Ubuntu. Clients have also been available for some time for Windows, Android and iOS platforms, and there is also a web interface to use when all else fails.

Ubuntu One for Your Mac

The iOS support notwithstanding, there had been no desktop Ubuntu One client for PCs running Apple’s OS X. That has changed, however, with the release — in beta form — of a Mac client.

The client can be downloaded for free and easily installed like most other OS X applications, by dragging the requisite .dmg file into the Applications folder. The Ubuntu One developers have supplied this image for those Apple fans who might need some extra guidance with the process:

Ubuntu One OS X installation

And there you have it. Like everything else turned to gold by those innovators in Cupertino, it just works. (Or so it appears. I don’t actually own a Mac to test on. And if I did, I’d probably be too upset about all the money I wasted on an overpriced Fisher-Price activity center for adults to write this article in the first place.)

Ubuntu One: Future Steps?

Bringing full-fledged Ubuntu One support to OS X is a nice gesture on Canonical’s part, and one that’s certainly overdue. Actually, given the eagerness of Ubuntu developers to create an open source operating system as slick and intuitive as Apple’s pretends to be (whether OS X is actually as amazing as Apple’s marketing implies is another issue entirely), it’s kind of ironic that they have neglected to bring the Ubuntu and OS X platforms closer together for so long in this respect.

I hope, though, that when the Ubuntu developers write, “Ubuntu One is a cross-platform personal cloud service already available on Windows , iOS, Android and Ubuntu – the new Mac beta completes that story,” they don’t really mean it. It would be great to see official clients developed for other platforms that still lack support.

Currently, no other Linux distribution besides Ubuntu enjoys support. Perhaps most embarrassingly, even Kubuntu, an official variant of Ubuntu, does not have a native client that integrates with Kubuntu’s KDE interface.

Since the code for the Ubuntu One client is open source, of course, anyone could theoretically write a client for whichever operating system she likes. But since there’s been no indication so far that third parties are likely to do that, I hope Canonical will continue expanding Ubuntu One support to platforms beyond its home turf.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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