Anyone that uses a tablet knows space is most often at a premium. So, users tend to do everything they can to avoid filling up the internal storage. Some tablets include the ability to add external SD cards, but some don’t. For those that don’t, tools like Dropbox can be used to extend the storage capacity. There are, of course, other solutions. For anyone who happens to be a Linux user, there’s Ubuntu One, which provides a means to purchase music (through tools like Rhythmbox) and sync files across machines.
One of the nice features that Ubuntu One offers over Dropbox is that it does sync your ~/Ubuntu One and ~/.ubuntuone folder. Your ~/.ubuntuone folder contains all the music you’ve purchased through Ubuntu One. This means that any music purchased with Ubuntu One is also available for syncing to all of your configured devices, including your Android tablet.
Let’s install and use Ubuntu One on an Android tablet to extend it into even more cloud space.
When you go to install Ubuntu One, you’ll notice two different applications:
- Ubuntu One Files: This will sync your files from your Ubuntu One account
- Ubuntu One Music: This is a music player that will play files directly from your Ubuntu One cloud
Obviously, using Ubuntu One Music will save you even more space, but this service does require a monthly fee. The cost is $3.99 (USD) per month for 20 GB of storage space for streaming music.
But if you only want the files version, you’re set for 5 GB of file space for free. You can upgrade that to an extra 20 GB of space for $29.99 (USD) a year, which is cheaper than Dropbox.
To install Ubuntu One on your Android tablet, follow these steps:
- Open up the Google Play Store
- Search for “ubuntu one” (no quotes)
- Tap the Ubuntu One Files entry
- Tap Download
- Tap Accept & download
Once it’s installed, you’ll find the icon for the app either on your home screen or your App Drawer. Fire it up, and you’ll be prompted for your Ubuntu One logon credentials. If you don’t have an account, go back to the Ubuntu One web site and sign up for a free one (or purchase a 20 GB account). Log in with your credentials, and the sync will begin.
Fear not, this cloud tool will not automatically download all those files to your tablet. Instead, it creates links to files and folders (Figure A) that you can then navigate through the folder hierarchy to manage them. Here’s what you can do:
- Download a file: Single tap on file
- Download a folder: Long-press and select Download
- Rename/Delete folder: Long-press and select either Rename or Delete
Ubuntu One as seen through the screen of a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Uploading files is a bit tricky at first. Here’s how to manage that task:
- Select a folder to upload into (you cannot add to the root folder)
- Tap the “+” button in the top right corner
- Select the action from the resulting menu (Figure B)
- Depending on the action selected, follow through with the steps presented
The add filters are actually very good at only displaying the selected file types for upload.
Configuring Ubuntu One
If you tap on the menu button and select Settings, you’ll find a few options available. They are:
- Upgrade storage
- More plans (such as the Ubuntu One Music plan)
- Auto Upload settings (when, where, and what for auto uploading)
In order to prevent data overage charges, you might want to set Auto Upload to Only on Wi-Fi. To save battery life, set it for Only when charging.
You can stream your music without using a Ubuntu One Music account. You can only do this one song at a time, but it works well (when on Wi-Fi). Simply follow these steps:
- Open Ubuntu One
- Enter one of your music folders (such as Purchased on Ubuntu One).
- Navigate to the song you want to play
- Tap the song you want to play
- Tap the application you want to use to complete the action (you can also set the default application for this action now - Figure C)
The applications you’re presented will depend on what you have installed.
Ubuntu One is a great tool for anyone looking to give their Android tablet a cloud space connection and also sync with their Ubuntu-based Linux machine. It’s certainly a service to rival any other cloud-based sync solution. Give the free account a try, and see if it doesn’t meet or exceed your needs.