Canonical is preparing to raise the storage limit on Ubuntu One, based on beta tester feedback from those who are using the online storage system. Longer term, Canonical also is listening closely to user feedback requesting Ubuntu One support for Windows, Mac OS X and Apple iPhones. Here's the update.

Ubuntu One is a cloud service that allows Ubuntu users to share and sync files across their Ubuntu systems. The service, set to officially launch around the time Ubuntu 9.10 debuts in late October 2009, is free for up to 2GB of storage but costs US$10.00 per month for users who want up to 10GB of storage. WorksWithU Contributing Blogger Christopher Tozzi recently wrote about his own use of Ubuntu One.

Apparently, some beta testers told Canonical Ubuntu One needed a higher storage limit in order to compete effectively against rival SaaS storage and cloud services. Canonical now plans to raise the limit in time for the Ubuntu One launch this month, though the new storage limit is yet to be disclosed, according to Ubuntu One Product Manager Matt Griffin.

Update, Oct. 1, 3:58 p.m. eastern: Griffin just emailed me. It's official. The paid storage limit will rise to 50GB priced at US$10 per month.

Beyond Ubuntu

Canonical also is listening closely to Ubuntu One user requests for Windows, Mac OS X and iPhone support. As currently designed, the Ubuntu One beta only supports Ubuntu 9.04 or greater.

Short term, Canonical's top Ubuntu One priorities are:
  • (A) ensuring the back-end infrastructure -- built atop Ubuntu Server Edition -- is ready to go for launch, including scaling the system across Canonical's own data center infrastructure plus Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
  • (B) optimizing for Ubuntu users.
If there truly is near-term demand for cross-platform support, Canonical hopes third-party developers will fill that void and do the porting work. Out on Launchpad and other forums, "a few people have chimed in and said they’re interested in doing [cross-platform] development, but we haven’t seen anything concrete yet," says Griffin.

If third-party developers don't port Ubuntu One to Windows, Mac OS X and Apple iPhone, Canonical may "revisit the discussion at the beginning of next year [2010]," adds Griffin.

Money Matters

In the meantime, Griffin says Ubuntu One has "tens of thousands" of beta testers, though he declines to say how many testers opted for the free version and how many opted for the paid version.

In terms of Ubuntu One revenue generation, "We have some goals but we don’t have the statistics yet to validate those goals," says Griffin. "We do want it to be a self-sustaining service." Translation: There's a business plan for Ubuntu One, but Canonical isn't quite ready to disclose hard numbers with bloggers.

Ready, Set, Go

Overall, Griffin says Ubuntu One is go for launch later this month. And he says the service will include "additional features" at launch, including the ability to synchronize Evolution contacts. Canonical also is kicking around some concepts that may let "free" users test "paid" features for a window of time, he adds.

Ultimately, Griffin asserts, Ubuntu One will offer a great "out of box" experience that's as simple as launching the client and authenticating the desktop.

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