On open sourcing Ubuntu One filesync

This week has been bitter-sweet. On the one hand, we announced that a project many of us had poured our hearts and minds into was going to be shut down. It’s made many of us sad and some of us haven’t even figured out what to do with their files yet    🙂

On the other hand, we’ve been laser-focused on making Ubuntu on phones and tablets a success, our attention has moved to making sure we have a rock-solid, scalable, secure and pleasant to use for developers and users alike. We just didn’t have the time to continue racing against other companies whose only focus is on file syncing, which was very frustrating as we saw a project we were proud of be left behind. It was hard to keep feeling proud of the service, so shutting it down felt like the right thing to do.

I am, however, very excited about open sourcing the server-side of the file syncing infrastructure. It’s a huge beast that contains many services and has scaled well into the millions of users.

We are proud of the code that is being released and in many ways we feel that the code itself was successful despite the business side of things not turning out the way we hoped for.

This will be a great opportunity to those of you who’ve been itching to have an open source service for personal cloud syncing at scale, the code comes battle-tested and with a wide array of features.

As usual, some people have taken this generous gesture “as an attempt to gain interest in a failing codebase”, which couldn’t be more wrong. The agenda here is to make Ubuntu for phones a runaway success, and in order to do that we need to double down on our efforts and focus on what matters right now.

Instead of storing away those tens of thousands of expensive man-hours of work in an internal repository somewhere, we’ve decided to share that work with the world, allow others to build on top of that work, benefit from it.

It’s hard sometimes to see some people trying to make a career out of trying to make everything that Canonical does as inherently evil, although at the end of the day what matters is making open source available to the masses. That’s what we’ve been doing for a long time and that’s the only thing that will count in the end.


So in the coming months we’re going to be cleaning things up a bit, trying to release the code in the best shape possible and work out the details on how to best release it to make it useful for others.

All of us who worked on this project for so many years are looking forward to sharing it and look forward to seeing many open source personal cloud syncing services blossoming from it.

10 responses to “On open sourcing Ubuntu One filesync”

  1. Well done for deciding to open-source it. I’m sure that others will build on your code and it will be a great success. The open source file sync options aren’t very good and it will be welcome addition.


  2. Do you have a target ETA for the first code release? Are you talking August? or by the end of the calendar year?


    1. I don’t have a precise date, but I would be surprised if it took us to the end of the year.
      August doesn’t seem unreasonable, but no commitements yet 🙂


  3. Very surprised to see this happen. Hope that the code becomes part of something brilliant and your efforts and direction are rewarded.


  4. I for one think it is a great choice. I look forward to how the server code will be picked by the community and used to build great stuff.
    Thank you and all your workmates for all your efforts!


  5. Opening sourcing something because you are commercially abandoning it, subconsciously devalues opensource.

    This was a failures, it’s worth nothing to us, here is the source code.


  6. Hi,

    is there a juju charm for deploying ubuntu one? Will it be released along with the source? That would be awesome.


    1. We haven’t finished charming all the services that compose Ubuntu One filesync, but we may before release to make it easier for others to deploy 😉


  7. Hi,
    I think that in the future this code can be a great addition to the private clouds

    But that move let me with one question, does it mean that Ubuntu on phones won’t came out with an option to Sync to the cloud? Or is the U1DB part taking care of that?


    1. Ubuntu Phones will have a generic infrastructure for syncing, which other providers can hook into so you can choose your favorite one.


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