Making the most of Ubuntu's personal cloud service

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Doing the Books

If you enjoy reading ebooks, you probably already know about Calibre [3], the ebook management tool. Calibre has a useful set of features to sync books to your phone or e-reader devices, but it involves the hard labor of plugging in a cable or being on your home WiFi. Putting your ebooks into Ubuntu One gives you a wireless way to get at them all on your phones and devices without having to sync them all every time.

The obvious approach is simply to add Calibre's library folder to Ubuntu One directly. But, actually, that's a no-no, because the folder is for Calibre's internal use only and should not be messed with. Instead, use the hugely comprehensive set of Calibre tools to export a copy of your library to an Ubuntu One-synced folder. I use Documents/Books.

Calibre can be completely controlled from the command line, which is ideal for this setup. The calibredb command is detailed and fairly esoteric; however, with a little experimentation, it can export your whole library in the way you prefer to somewhere it can be synced. For example,

calibredb export --all  --dont-save-cover --dont-write-opf --formats=EPUB \
  --to-dir=$HOME/Documents/Books \
  --template="{authors}/{series:|(| }{series_index:0>2s| |) }{title}"

will create a duplicate library for you to sync with books organized by author and then by series. Thus, Aristotle's Ethics will be in Documents/Books/Aristotle/Ethics.epub, and the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire will be in Documents/Books/George R. R. Martin/(aSoIaF 01) Game of Thrones, A.epub.

Exactly how the books are classified is up to you. The --template option controls how this works, and the Calibre documentation shows how to customize it. Browsing your whole collection of books for reading on your device is then easy using the Ubuntu One apps for Android, iOS, N9, and the web.

Backing Up

The world is divided into two groups: People who are obsessive about making backups of their stuff, and people who just haven't been burned yet. To hit a happy medium, your backups should be automatic and zero-effort. Fortunately, Ubuntu provides that for you. Ubuntu's built-in backup tool (start Backup from the Dash) can set up your machines to copy your files to Ubuntu One in two clicks.

Switch Automatic Backups to On in the Backup app. It will then back up your stuff to Ubuntu One with no extra work at all. Do that now. Put down this article, switch that thing to On, and then carry on reading. Backups need to be zero-effort, off-site, and automatic, and Ubuntu's Backup app in conjunction with Ubuntu One provides just that.

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