Unite is a “˜component’ that was added to a version of Opera 10 Beta. It’s an incredibly small server integrated into the Opera browser. This platform enables you to run various plugins or mini applications that accomplish different tasks such as file sharing, note sharing, photo sharing, secure notes and instant messaging.
Unite eliminates the need for a third party server that would normally proxy or relay the content, such as Flickr, Twitter or Yahoo Messenger. It’s essentially like setting up a web server on your own computer, without the hassle of manually installing various software, configuring them and getting a DNS (Domain Name System) account. It also makes the installation of new functionality a “point and click” process.
I’m sure we’ll have a review of Opera 10 shortly, but let’s focus on Unite for the moment. Here are the steps you need to take in order to use the various Unite services.
- Click on the propeller icon on the left sidebar.
- Click on the icon labeled “˜Home‘ and then on “˜Start‘. A wizard will appear. Click next.
- Create an Opera account for free or sign up for a new one. It is extremely simple and fast, just choose an username, a password and enter an email address.
- Choose a name that would describe the computer. If you install Unite on more than one computer, this will enable you to differentiate between them and enable sharing. A descriptive name could also help a friend who wishes you to send photos, for example – naming one “The home PC” and another “The office laptop” can easily distinguish the two. Using UPnP port forwarding poses some security issues, but it allows access to your files from outside the local network (Internet) without using Opera’s proxy server which provides a speed boost. If you want a direct connection without UPnP, add port (8840) in your router’s “˜Port Forwarding‘ list.
- Click Finish to save the settings and close the wizard.
You will now be able to start any of the services listed in the left sidebar, such as file sharing. They are designed to be extremely easy to use. For example, to enable File Sharing, click on the File Sharing icon and then on Start. To protect your privacy, it will ask you to select the folder that you want to share.
After you click the OK button, a web page will open that will showcase the content you selected in the previous step. On the left, you’ll see your files, on the right the instructions for sharing with your friends and the permissions. All your friend has to do to access the files is to paste the link given in the right sidebar. A regular webpage will appear in your friend’s browser along with download links for all the files.
All the files are hosted on your computer and are never transferred to Opera’s servers. For the duration you wish to allow users to connect to your Unite services, you need to have the computer and browser open. Be aware that transferring unencrypted sensitive information is not recommended, as all transfers are done using HTTP. The Photo, Media and File Sharing use the same underlying technology while adding specific controls for each media type like a Flash music player and photo thumbnails.
Below is a screenshot of the Lounge, a quasi-instant messaging application. To invite other people, the host needs to send a link to the other participants. They can use any modern web browser to join the discussion. It is similar in functionality to a private IRC channel.
The Fridge application lets you leave notes for friends or yourself, similar to the “˜Wall’ on Facebook or direct messaging in Twitter.
You can write applications “” in the form of Opera Unite Services “” that use this server to serve content to other Web users. Why is this exciting? Well, it allows you to interact with contacts, sharing data and services without the need for any third-party Web sites/applications to be involved at all. ““
Opera lets the geeks get a taste of the next paradigm shift in web browsing, a great way to win hearts, minds and developers. I’ve radically changed my tune about Opera after hearing from tens of fans and Thomas Ford, Communications Manager.
I invite each one of you to give Opera Unite a try. Download the alpha which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux; and let us know what you think in the comments. What applications should the developers start working on to further extend Unite’s functionality?