Day 3 of the Ubuntu Developer Summit has kicked off, and one of this mornings sessions centred around the benefits of signing into Ubuntu using your Ubuntu Single Sign on (‘Ubuntu One’) account.

Now before you break out in a sweat over the idea bear in mind that the session centred around the idea and practicality of such a feature.

Don’t expect to see this cropping up in Ubuntu 12.04.

Ubuntu One: Potential

Cloud Log in: The Benefits

Ubuntu currently used ‘standard’ user accounts. These are created on the ‘local’ machine and stay there. Files and settings within that account can be ‘synced’ with Ubuntu One, allowing access of them from anywhere there is internet.

The ‘labour’ in the current approach is that users have to go through two steps: creating a user account, then pairing up their Ubuntu One account.

That’s two different usernames and, most likely, two different passwords.

Were Ubuntu to follow the Chrome OS/Windows 8 login method by making your login your Ubuntu SSO you’d have one less set of information to remember.

This coupled with the potential for having various application configurations auto-updated with your Ubuntu One files, ready to go after logging in to a fresh install makes a fantastic prospect.

Imagine: no more having to set up Empathy, Thunderbird, Gwibber, etc after every install. You sign in with your Ubuntu SSO and Bam! It’s all done, ready and waiting.

Better yet the SSO login idea plays into the hand of Ubuntu’s planned ‘multi-device’ future almost perfectly: no matter what machine you log in to – be it TV, netbook or tablet – all of your settings, files and more are there with the same login information.

But, naturally,there are issues with the idea that need to be solved.

Potential issues

Firstly: I might not want all of my 26GB files stored on Ubuntu One auto-synced on a public Ubuntu computer or 16GB SSD netbook HDD, so some form of ‘what is synced and where’ feature would need addressing.

  • What if I forget my Ubuntu One password?
  • How would I change my password?
  • How do I log in with no WiFi?
  • What happens if someone doesn’t have/want an Ubuntu SSO?

Approaching the idea

Putting a bunch of wiley developers and interested parties in one room to dicuss and issue typically results in practible solutions – and the UDS session that saw this idea debated was no exception

For example, the login screen would need to have some form of network access available for your first SSO login; a method is needed for ‘deauthorising’ Ubuntu One/User Account; changes to the way user passwords are edited and ‘synced’ with local keyrings/apps.


The Single SSO idea won’t be a hit with everyone, and for many still it won’t even be required.

But it is a forward looking idea that shows debate around Ubuntu, regardless of whether anything comes of it, continues to keep pace with the world around it.

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