Ubuntu One, Live Mesh, and Dropbox: A Comparison

Recently there has been a lot of discussion on Planet Ubuntu in regards to the new service created by Canonical, Ubuntu One.  This post will try to put some comparisions in place.

I remember at one session at UDS Jaunty in Mountain View a mention of a new service over the web.  Apparently this is what Ubuntu One is going to be.  Part of the discussion it seems is that Ubuntu One burst onto the scene, I first heard about it on identi.ca as a dent from someone to someone else.  Interested and curious i signed up and took a look at what it offers.  The first disappointment was that it was Gnome only but part of me was resigned to this.  Cannocial’s focus has always been on GNOME and will likely remain that way.  However since Kubuntu is a large part of the Ubuntu world and is getting more and more official support from Mark and others within Canonical that I was hoping there would be a KDE client as well.  As mentioned elsewhere the pay plans are smaller then the pay plans for Dropbox.  I read elsewhere  the service is hosted on Amazon EC2 servers.  So not only am I using a third party to store my data in, I am using a 3rd 3rd party.  I am using a service provided by Canonical hosted on Amazon servers in the cloud.  What happens if either service goes down?  Then the data sync will fail.  Finally there is no Windows or Mac client to Ubuntu One.  This is crucial to have and support other Operating Systems, including other Linux distributions.  I work with both Windows systems and Kubuntu systems, how do I keep my data synced?  I can’t with Ubuntu One but with Dropbox I can. 
Is there a further link or hook into Ubuntu, like Contacts, or Web Pages or something else?  Can I develop for this framework?  (Not that I could develop anythign to save my butt…)  If so will this be GNOME only will there be hooks into the KDE framework as well?  If not its a shame

I use Dropbox daily and have talked other co-workers into looking into the service.  Dropbox has both Mac, Linux and Windows clients.  One of the ways I use Dropbox is I sync my files between my XP VM and my Ubuntu host automatically.  One problem with dropbox is that relies on Nautilus, GNOME, to work correctly.  I wish there was a KDE client, hopefully one day there is.  A problem with dropbox is you need to put files in you dropbox folder, you cannot add any pre-existing folders to your drobox for syncing.  Example I wish I could add a folder in My Documents or /home/jonathan/Documents that was full of files, instead I need to move those folders to wherever I stored My Dropbox.

Live Mesh is a service created by Microsoft and runs on Windows Mobile and Windows Operating Systems, also in development or may have already been released.  A big downer is there no Linux client to the Mesh Framework.  And that is what Live Mesh is, it is a framework that the Azure cloud services will run on.  Perhaps this is what Ubuntu One will strive to be one day.
One of the nice things is that through the Live Mesh client one can access RDP of all the systems you have the client installed on.  This allows me to install Mesh on one PC and then RDP into it over the internet without changing a firewall.  The Live Mesh system also has some basic revision control built into it and can help you resolve changes.
Mesh also allows you to share folders with other people who have Mesh accounts.  I do not know if Dropbox can do this or if Ubuntu One can do this.  At work we used this sharing for collaboration on a couple of projects.  It would be nice if Ubuntu One or Dropbox could do this.  THis collaboration is built from Groove, the product Ray Ozzie developed and Microsoft purchased.

Now I would love to throw my hat into using Ubuntu One service, however it seems I will be continuing using Dropbox soley for the reason there is a Windows and Linux client.


11 thoughts on “Ubuntu One, Live Mesh, and Dropbox: A Comparison

  1. Have you looked at SpiderOak? I haven’t used Dropbox, but SpiderOak sounds better on multiple levels.

    1. Zero Knowledge – Your data in encrypted on the server, so even if someone got into it, they couldn’t read it. Dropbox doesn’t appear to do this. Their privacy policy promises they are secure and says they’ll be careful, which gives me no peace of mind.
    2. The SpiderOak client is GPL’d. The Dropbox software is closed source.
    3. The SpiderOak paid service is much better. Both give you 2GB free. Dropbox lets you pay $10 a month for 50 GB. SpiderOak lets you pay $10 a month per 100GB (twice the value) increment. So, if you want 200GB, just pay $20 a month. Does Dropbox do that?

    My one complaint about SpiderOak so far is I don’t really like their client software. It seems a bit too flashy. I prefer the minimalist open source style.

    Both services do seem to blow the UbuntuOne service out of the water, particularly if you are paying for it, which is a shame. I’d really love to support Canonical by paying for this type of service, but I really doubt I will if the value is so low compared to their competitors. Let me know if I’m wrong on any of these points.

  2. At our non-profit organization we’ve been using dropbox for quite a while now.
    Been a pain in the ass at times, but compared to a classical CVS solution, it’s really worth it, because we develop (free open source and cross platform) games.
    http://www.FreezingMoon.org if you wish to take a peek.

    @omegamormegil: i’ve never heard about spideroak, but will definetly give it a try soon; i really like their website.

  3. A thing i like about dropbox is the referral system, so with a bit of work/advertising, you can reach up to 5gb, that’s +150% 😛 with the other services listed, you can’t do that.

  4. Erm, tried spieroak, nice that the linux version is not some stupid nautilus plugin. But overall spideroak is more complex and it seems I can’t share folders with others so that they’ll have them in their computers and make changes and update in *real time* to all the people within the shared folder, like i do on dropbox, so not really suitable for our needs, i might be too confused maybe…

  5. Use symbolic links. You can keep your stuff in your Documents folder and still have it synced by dropbox.

    • I know I could use sym links however that doesn’t resolve the problem for other OS’s including Windows. Don’t know how Mac handles them.
      In Mesh I add a folder to mesh and regardless of where it is stored it gets synced

      • True, that does seem like a better idea. Ubuntu One, in fact, doesn’t even work with the symlinks.

  6. humm ok does any one still needs U1 invite? ping me on #ubuntuone at freenode or on identica/jaiku/qaiku/twitter.

    I have to say that up to this moment DP beats the hell out of U1.
    But U1 is being promised as much more then just a storage in the Cloud! lets give it some time to show what is it worth

  7. Pingback: 2010 in review « A Conservative Techie

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