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GOA and UOA in Ubuntu

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GOA and UOA: The split

Debarshi Ray printed in his blog an explainable article about the reasons of this split. Ubuntu is using the SSO of Meego while Gnome has written its very own from scratch. The reason that Gnome forced to build a new SSO was that Meego’s SSO has a DBus daemon written using Qt and the deamon had to be rewritten without Qt using GObject for it to be a part of GNOME.

Another reason was the libdbus-glib-1 that Meego is using where Gnome wanted to use the thread-safe GDBus. So it isn’t about Not Invented Here (NIH) philosophy, while Ray is wondering:

I do not know why Ubuntu decided not to use GNOME Online Accounts (GOA), because they decided to switch after GOA was born“.

Will GOA and UOA be merged?

This is more a question if Ubuntu will merge these two SSO in the upcoming releases, as Gnome definitely won’t. While UOA support plugins that can extend the functionality of SSO to support more accounts, at the present time UOA doesn’t work with some Gnome Apps like Documents.

GOA and UOA both appears in GCC 3.6 in Ubuntu 12.10

That means that you have to make a double Gmail account, both in UOA and GOA to have a working Empathy and a working Documents. That applies in my case that I use Ubuntu Gnome and Gnome Control Center 3.6.

It is more likely in Ubuntu 13.04 to have a completely drop of GOA and a fully replacement with UOA and this has to do more with the systemd migration that might happen in Gnome, which Ubuntu is not willing to support as they successfully built their own Init Manager (Upstart). Don’t forget that Upstart is also used by Google’s Chrome OS, so it is a significant and important project for them (Canonical).

Ray says: “The SSO will closely tie in to the way we will do application bundles and sandboxing in GNOME, which in turn will depend on systemd. These things are still being hotly discussed within GNOME, so I do not know what the exact implementation will be neither do I know what Ubuntu plans to do, but it is possible that theirs will be different“.

UOA Current State

UOA in Gnome 12.10 is a huge improvement over the GOA as far it concerns the number of the different accounts that support, while this number can easily grow with the use of the plugins, something that GOA don’t want to use, at least for the present time, and the known reasons -“Third-party plugins lead to a kitchen sink. There is no way you can stop them from stepping on each others feet“.

While UOA seems impressive, in practice doesn’t work quite well. It can’t sync with Documents and other Gnome services, while it also has many bugs with Empathy. Of course that happens with GCC 3.6, but my guess the same issue applies for the GCC 3.4.2 that Ubuntu 12.10 ships.

GOA Current State

Gnome Online Accounts support just a limited number of Application right now, but it fully integrates with Gnome.

Also, I’am in favor with the way that GOA handles the different accounts. It makes more sense rather to pick applications (UOA) to switch on/off the services of each App, because in the end of the day, that is SSO for. A seamless authentication protocol, app agnostic.

GOA first class citizens are accounts rather applications

Something that I have noticed, is that Gnome always tries to make the things right and select the optimal solutions (and this brings delays), where in Ubuntu mostly care about make the things work, without caring a lot about the technologies. It is kinda like, Gnome is building, Ubuntu is using.

The fact is that both of modules (GOA and UOA) are far from completed and we have to (again) wait for a six month development cycle to see how they will end up.

Do not forget to read Ray’s post for more info and also Jeremy Bicha (UGR Founder) printed a relative post for Ubuntu Gnome Remix “Ubuntu Online Accounts and the Ubuntu GNOME Remix“.

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  • Brandon Watkins

    I must say, this is far better than gnome’s online accounts UI. Looks nicer, more services, better usability.

    • alex285

      Better Usability hmm :) Take a look at Jeremy’s post also, I just added!

    • Jeremy Bicha

      I’m told that GOA should hopefully be getting more service providers next cycle (perhaps better integration with Empathy accounts)

  • foobar

    “”Something that I have noticed, is that Gnome always tries to make the
    things right and select the optimal solutions (and this brings delays),
    where in Ubuntu mostly care about make the things work, without caring a
    lot about the technologies.””

    Well, doing things right takes some time at the beginning. However, doing thing not right might be nice to catch deadlines but forces you to spend much more time at the end. Gnome tries to define a service for the whole desktop used by internal and external applications. Screwing the API up means to break it at the end. That affects not only core members but everyone using it. Both ways might make sense depending what you want / what your software want to be.

    Ubuntu, as a platform, is already a heterogeneous mix of technologies. However, Ubuntu is much more an island as Gnome. They can afford it to screw up their platform for a while just to catch a time line. The whole way they and Gnome are deploying their software makes a huge difference.

    I rather wait another release for a well engineered solution for a platform like gnome but clearly see why Ubuntu doesn’t need to. Both solutions works in their areas but are not exchangeable.

  • fmms

    This causes as well. As a result google contacts are not available to gnome applications such as nautilus-send-to anymore …

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  • skybon

    You meant GCC 4, not 3?

    • alex285

      GCC = Gnome Control Center, not Gnu Compiler

  • Stewart C. Russell

    please can we just have working contacts sync back? I don’t care how it works, I just need it to work.