Getting Ready for Ubuntu One Music Store Beta


I’ve previously blogged about the Ubuntu One Music Store. Since then along with a few others, I’ve been helping privately beta test the store. Very shortly it will enter an open beta phase. In this blog post I’ve outlined some preparation you can do to be ready for the beta test.

In the default install of Ubuntu Lucid, the music store will be found in Rhythmbox. Other music players (such as Banshee and Amarok) may also get the functionality later, but right now the first and only delivered client for the store is the default player, Rhythmbox. To access the store, simply open Rhythmbox and click “Ubuntu One” under “Stores”.

Note the open beta has not started yet but it will do very soon. So right now you won’t see the store in Rhythmbox. In the meantime, you can get yourself ready for testing with the guide below. To do this you’ll either need to be running an up to date Ubuntu Luicd on your machine, or in a virtual machine such as VirtualBox or kvm. Testdrive is a great way to test Lucid on a previous release of Ubuntu.

Before we go on, some important notes:-

  • The music store is not finished yet, so if things break, or the store eats your music, your money, your credit card or your cat, then act appropriately
  • The look and feel of the store may change between these screenshots and the final release
  • Not all music is available in all regions/countries. This is pretty much out of control of Canonical and the Ubuntu project
    • The world is carved up into ‘UK’, ‘US’, ‘Germany’, ‘Rest of EU’ (i.e. not UK & Germany) and ‘Rest of World’ (i.e. excluding all those previously mentioned territories)
  • It’s possible that purchased tracks may not immediately download/sync to your computer. This may be a bug or due to server-side maintenance during the beta. Patience helps here
  • Some of the 5 regional stores (see above) contain some free (of cost) music, so if you would like to test the store without spending any money on tracks, you can do that. Unfortunately this only applies to ‘UK’, ‘US’ and ‘Germany’ store, not ‘Rest of EU’ or ‘Rest of World’
  • Bugs can be filed against the Rhythmbox plugin or Ubuntu One Client tools as appropriate
  • I’ve shown screenshots of the Ubuntu File Sync service however note that you will not be able to see your music through that web interface. I have shown these only to illustrate getting file sync working which is a pre-requisite for using the music store

So with that said, if you’re unhappy about any of the above, I’d recommend you don’t use the store until Ubuntu 10.04 is released. If you’re okay with testing, filing bugs and don’t mind if the store breaks (which it could) during the period leading up to release, then crack on!

These are the steps I went through to prepare for the Ubuntu One Music Store Beta. As with the store itself, some of these screens may change between now and release time. The process by which a computer is authorised will certainly change, but the main bulk of this is valid and still will after the release.

Ubuntu One Account

In order to buy stuff in the store you need an Ubuntu One account. You can connect to Ubuntu One using an Ubuntu single sign on account (confusingly).

Login or sign up

Historically this was your Launchpad.net account, so if you already have one of those, you can use that. New users who have not previously signed up at Launchpad.net or login.ubuntu.com will need to create a new account.

Right now the process by which a new user to the Music Store is walked through the sign-up process is in flux. It could be a popup application which prompts for an email address, account name and password, or something embedded within Rhythmbox. Alternatively a browser could be spawned which sends the user to the sign-up process at login.ubuntu.com. Once Ubuntu Lucid releases in April, this process should be sorted out, but for now I’d recommend signing up to Ubuntu single sign on before using the Ubuntu One Music Store.

Signing up for Ubuntu Single Sign on

You need to confirm your email address by clicking the link in the mail.

SSO Email

Clicking the link takes you back to the Ubuntu One sign up process.

Sign-up complete

Click continue.

Enable File Sync

The second step which needs to be setup before the Music Store works is file syncing with Ubuntu One. Music purchased in the store is delivered directly to your Ubuntu One synchronised folders, so this has to be working or you’ll never actually get the music you buy. Configuring Ubuntu One is detailed at one.ubuntu.com/support/installation although for Lucid there’s very little to do other than activate as the components are pre-installed. That documentation should be updated before Lucid is released.

In these screenshots I subscribed to the free 2G plan. The screens are slightly different if you choose the 50G paid plan.

Login using your Ubuntu One (or old migrated Launchpad.net) account.

Login

Confirm you agree to the terms and conditions..

Confirm

Now you’re signed up to Ubuntu One.

Complete

At this point there are no files in the ~/Ubuntu One/ folder, in fact it doesn’t even exist yet..
No Ubuntu One folder

Activate a Computer

To enable the file sync on this laptop I needed to add/authorise this computer. When Lucid releases there should be a graphical ‘control panel’ for Ubuntu One which allows you to press a button to connect a machine to your Ubuntu One account. You can of course connect multiple machines to one account in order to keep them all in sync. That tool doesn’t exist yet, so I had to run the following to trigger the process below.

u1sdtool -c

Once the system has been connected to Ubuntu One once, there is a ‘Connect’ icon in nautilus file browser, but in a typical chicken/egg problem, that ‘Connect’ button doesn’t appear until you have connected at least once.

Pretty soon after that the ~/Ubuntu One/ folder should appear.

As if by magic Ubuntu One appears!

Which is of course initially empty. There is another special folder in which stuff appears that has been shared with you by other people. It too is initially empty.

Ubuntu One folder

Testing File Sync

It’s a very good idea to test the file syncing service, because if it doesn’t work the music won’t download, no matter what else you do. It could save time during bug triage if users ensure this file sync works before filing bugs in the music store.

A simple test of the file sync is to create a folder or upload a file via the web interface and wait for them to appear in your ~/Ubuntu One/ folder on the local machine. Alternatively create files on your local PC in ~/Ubuntu One/ and go to the website to see if they appear.

Here I’ve created a file on my computer in the ~/Ubuntu One/ folder

If I then go to the Ubuntu One web interface I can see the file has arrived.

So at this point you’re ready to test the Ubuntu One Music Store. All you need now is some disk space and some taste in music. Neither of which I can help with – as my friends and family can confirm.

21 Other Comments

23 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Ubuntu One Music Store Beta”

  1. Alan, completely unrelated, but I think it would be a good idea for Canonical to give every Ubuntu Member a free 50GB/100GB U1 account for the following reasons:

    1. A nice thank you for all their work.
    2. Help spread the word for people to upgrade their accounts when they blog about how cool the services are like syncing their music.
    3. It can now be easier and more in their interest to develop apps that can work with U1.

    I’m not sure who the right person to ask that too, but maybe you know and could suggest that to the right person? :) In any case, U1 Music Store is looking good. Thanks for the update. PS I’m not an Ubuntu member.

  2. Way cool idea to use Ubuntu One file sync – lots of benefits – but it seems like an unecessary link in the chain of “getting my music”. Would be nice if everything was handled in the same spot, for example extend the rhythmbox plugin to access the Ubuntu One account and possibly automatically transfer the music to a predefined local location..

    Also a DRM-free store is an amazing achievement, I hope it can be used outside of ubuntu.

    Looking forward to any possible updates/news on the ogg/flac situation.

      1. I’m really not sure the podcast clears up why U1 is required for an open client. Songbird has 7digital integration…and songbirds download directly to your computer..no mandator wierd cloud service lockin.

        reference:
        http://addons.songbirdnest.com/addon/1464

        http://wiki.songbirdnest.com/index.php?title=Getting_Started_with_Songbird/05_The_Web_in_Songbird&highlight=7digital

        “Plus, 7digital contributes a portion of every purchase back to Songbird’s development.”

        Is 7digital giving a per song revenue cut to Canonical in the same way they are giving songbird a cut?

        -jef

        1. I’d not used the Songbird 7digital plugin until you’d mentioned it. I just tried it – admittedly on a Mac, but I understand the functionality is much the same. It doesn’t exactly look very well ‘integrated’ to me. Given Songbird is a Mozilla project it’s not surprising to see that 7digital is pretty much just a browser tab within the application. Whilst I appreciate that there’s _some_ level of integration in that tracks play within the application, everything else is ‘just’ (with all due respect to Songbird and the 7digital plugin developers) a browser embed.

          I can see that some would see this as ‘no different’ from the Ubuntu play, but with Ubuntu adding on the U1 ‘lockin’. I don’t see it like that. U1 adds a massively useful feature (sync to all my machines, backup, single sign on) and doesn’t require me to sign up with yet another store. These are compelling features for me. The songbird plugin really just feels like a website embedded in an app, which I could quite easily use in Firefox/Chrome/IE/Safari.

          As a community member, I have no idea what the commercial arrangements between Canonical and 7digital are. I think you’re naive if you think they’ll publicly talk about commercially sensitive information such the specifics of that deal. For a purely community foundation such as Mozilla It’s probably appropriate for them to say that a portion goes to the Mozilla Corp. How much? Have they said?

          1. 1) Songbird is not Mozilla.

            2) I’m not asking for detailed accounting. I just want to know if some portion of the per song purchases get kickbacked to Canonical. From reading up on 7digital’s affiliate program I know that commissions start at 4%. But what’s not clear is if custom storefronts like U1MS are eligible for the affiliate program. Songbird is most assuredly getting its kickback via the affiliate program and drives people to the website for song purchases.

            3) I’m not knocking U1 as a service. What I am saying is that is arbitrarily and unncessarily bundled as a necessary component to a music store plugin. I think the hand-wavy legal download stuff is a copout in lieu of a discussion about business models and revenue. 7digital does has a public API. What I suspect is really happening is that Canonical has paid 7digital for access to the business API in order to specifically link U1 into the process and drive users into getting U1 accounts. That’s a business decision (for both 7digital and Canonical) which has impacted the overall design that unnecessarily ties U1 to song purchases.

            -jef

  3. I didn’t see you mention anywhere exactly how tied the Music Store is to the Ubuntu One storage. What I’m wondering about is whether the Ubuntu One storage plan in some way limits your options when buying music. Can I move music out from the Ubuntu One folder to for example ~/Music? I’m assuming one can do that, and that Ubuntu One is just the tool to transfer the music to my harddrive, so that I’m not limited to a 2GB storage of music and my other files (in that case it seems that users would be more or less forced to buy the 50GB plan also). And also, what happens if I have stored almost 2GB of some files on Ubuntu One and download an album which if completed would exceed the 2GB limit?

    Just some thoughts! I’m glad to see this kind of initiative in a Linux distribution, and no wonder it’s Ubuntu pushing for this change :)

    1. The music store is tied to U1 in that when you click ‘download’ it doesn’t actually download to your PC directly, but in the backend the music goes directly from 7digital to your Ubuntu One space. Assuming you have file syncing setup correctly it will then download in the background to every machine you have configured U1 file sync on.

      You can move the music out of the folder, of course.

      For more comprehensive answers, listen to our interview with Stuart Langridge in S03E02 of the Ubuntu UK Podcast due out later today. http://podcast.ubuntu-uk.org/

  4. I currently have a 7digital account. Do you know whether that will be able to be linked with my Ubuntu Media Store account?

    Also, will there be any way for Ubuntu users to log in directly to the 7digital website using our Ubuntu Media Store account to review our purchases, etc?

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