Features & Use
Last year I took my first baby steps at working with Linux on my netbook. Ubuntu was my natural choice as the most mainstream and user-friendly Linux OS. After a long and tedious introductory phase, I got the hang of the Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat on my computer and ended up sticking with the OS for half a year. Then I switched back to Windows 7 because too many of the programs that I use on a daily basis are Windows-only. Just a couple of days ago, the latest Ubuntu version came out (11.10 Oneiric Ocelot) and I decided to give Linux another try. After two days of sleepless nights and coffee-filled days, I finally got Ubuntu to run smoothly on my computer and could successfully test Ubuntu One Files.
Ubuntu One comes preinstalled with every Ubuntu version after 10.10. The basic idea behind it isn’t, but is still usefull: every Ubuntu user can register and receive 5GB of storage for free. After that point you can upload any file from your PC to the cloud and access it from other devices. At the moment the cloud service supports iOS and Android devices as well as computers running Ubuntu and Windows. Instead of testing the Windows client, I decided to test the Ubuntu version in tandem with the Ubuntu One Files Android app.
How do I upload files to the cloud?
It’s very simple. Open Nautilus (the Linux equivalent of Windows Explorer), select any folder and check the Ubuntu One – Synch button. Just place a checkmark and seal the deal, right? Not exactly. Whereas the checkbox appears automatically on the main folders (such as Personal Folder/Music etc.), it’s missing from the subfolders. You’ll need to right-click on an empty space and select the option in the pop-up menu. The good thing is that a green checkmark appears next to folders and files that are already synchronized.
How do I access the filed in the cloud from my Android device?
By downloading the Ubuntu One Files app, of course! Just log in and voilà – all of the folders on the cloud appear in perfect order. Files/Folders can be downloaded by long-pressing any file and clicking on Download. Once that’s taken care of, you can double click and open the filed using Ubuntu One Files app (uploads and downloads are displayed in the status bar). All of the downloaded files are then stored in a folder labeled “u1” on your SD card.
But Ubuntu One Files can do much more than that! Using the + button at the top with which you can create extra folders for pictures, videos, music and other files. It goes without saying that all of the folders/files can be renamed, shared or deleted. You can even generate a link for every file that you can share with other people. Unfortunately, during the test I wasn’t able to create a link and received an error message every time instead. Too bad, but the app works well otherwise.
All in all, I have to admit that I’m glad most of my review is based on the Android app aspect of the cloud storage service because it works without fail. The same cannot be said of the Linux client, which is a total disaster! The PC version of the Ubuntu One Client barely works. It doesn’t display folders created on your device even after multiple synchronizations. Uploading files to the cloud from your computer is also a major headache since it only seems to work half of the time. In comparison to the Ubuntu PC client, the Android app version is qualitatively far superior. The PC program ruins the whole concept of this Linux-based cloud synch service.
Bottom Line: Ubuntu One Files works really well as an Android app and therefore deserves all a positive rating. The browser version works fine as well. The sad truth, however, is that the desktop client screws up the entire system. So for now it’s a win for the competition, but Ubuntu One has the potential to challenge them in the future.
Screen & Controls
Clean, organized and logically laid out, the Ubuntu One Files interface is very close to being perfect. All of the functions are perfectly integrated into the interface and the app looks great.
Speed & Stability
Except for the problems with uploads and downloads mysteriously interrupting, I couldn’t find any major problems with Ubuntu One Files. The app is good even though it still isn’t great.
Ubuntu One Files can be downloaded for free from the Android Market