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NOTE: as of 02-04-14. Canonical has announced that they will be shutting down the ubuntu one service, and in the process, will make the server side application open source as well, as detailed in their blog post

I've come across the Launchpad bug report which gave me some insight into people's opinions on the matter, but didn't explain why Canonical made this decision. The Wikipedia article on Ubuntu One didn't contain any links to announcements that would clear this up.

Question: Why is the Ubuntu One server side application proprietary?

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Offtopic: Is "server side client" standard terminology? Seems a bit confusing, considering "server" and "client" are treated as opposites in some contexts... – ShreevatsaR Nov 29 '10 at 8:29
I've heard people talk about 'server side clients' and 'desktop side clients', but you're right, it can be a bit confusing. I'll update the question for clarity. – Chris Wilson Nov 29 '10 at 16:01
up vote 46 down vote accepted

Ubuntu One's source code has been OSSed, see:

  • Original answer for posterity:

This was a commercial decision made early on in the project. There where many rationales behind it, one of the predominant ones being that by making the server open source, anyone could set up a competing site with lower prices, effectively making the project hard (impossible?) to be sustained.

That said, many bits and pieces have been open sourced, and many more are to come. We are continuously exploring ways to generate revenue that at the same time allow us to shift away from this model. The cost of the infrastructure to give away free storage space and synchronisation to millions of users as well as a brilliant development team is hugely expensive, so it is a sensitive subject.

Everyone involved in the project is passionate about open source, and the majority of us are deeply involved in many open source communities.

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+1 Wow, this is amazing commentary on software and freedom. Thank you for the insight. It goes well beyond Ubuntu One and cuts to the heart of many things. Common sense not exempt. Thank you. – John K Nov 29 '10 at 4:48

Because they are a private firm offering a service and believe that their revenue will be better if Fred's UbuntuOne isn't competing with them.

They also don't have to tell us why and apparently haven't. Whether the closed source or closed mouth decision is a good one (for any arbitrary definition of "good") is outside the scope of this forum.

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