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Introduction to Opera Unite

Opera Unite is a collaborative technology that allows you to communicate or share data, such as files or photos, directly from your computer with others, without uploading and sharing them through a central, third-party server. The technology behind Opera Unite uses a compact server inside the Opera desktop browser to share data and applications on your computer. There is no need to upload files that you want to share; you remain in control.

How Opera Unite is different to traditional data sharing

With more traditional content sharing, you need to upload the content you want to share, and this is shared through a central, third-party server, out of your control. Opera Unite enables your browser to act as a server, and you can choose what content you share and with whom.

Traditional content sharing

Opera Unite uses, as its base, collaborative technology that acts like a compact server on your browser. Rather than store the content on a third-party server, as in the traditional data-sharing model, the content remains on your computer. Your friends communicate with your computer using local connections, or, if this is not available, some server-side Opera technology will aid in establishing a connection. Access to your content is provided and controlled by the Opera Unite applications that you select. These are small, Web-based programs running inside your browser. There are different Opera Unite applications for sharing different types of content on your computer or for collaborating. They give you full control over what you share and with whom, without the need to upload. For more information, see Available Opera Unite applications below.

Opera Unite content sharing

Available Opera Unite applications

There will be many and various kinds of Opera Unite applications in the future. The applications offered for this release include:

  • Unite HomeOpera Unite Home: View all your applications and view recent activity for your applications.
  • File SharingFile Sharing: Share files directly from your computer easily and safely.
  • FridgeFridge: Enjoy fun notes left on your computer by friends.
  • Photo SharingPhoto Sharing: Share your personal photos with friends around the world without the need to upload them.
  • Media PlayerMedia Player: Access your complete home music library from wherever you are.
  • Web ServerWeb Server: Host your Web sites running from your own computer.
  • MessengerMessenger: Communicate with your friends in My Opera in a one-to-one, live session.

Opera Unite applications are easy to use. Once you download and install an Opera Unite application, you do not need to configure anything else, such as DNS services or complex access controls. Your data is instantly available. Even better, the applications on Opera Unite Web site are free and designed for you to use easily and safely with Opera Unite.

Getting started with Opera Unite

To get started with Opera Unite, you just need to install an Opera build with Opera Unite, start an application, and then you can begin sharing and collaborating.

Opera Unite applications can be accessed using any modern Web browser. You only need to run the Opera browser to host the application. A few applications, however, may be specifically designed to provide value to Opera desktop users, for example, Messenger.

Install Opera Unite

To install an Opera build with Opera Unite, go to www.opera.com.

Start using Opera Unite

To enable Opera Unite for the first time:

  1. If the Unite panel is not displayed at the left, click the Panels button at the top left of the browser window.
  2. Click the Opera Unite panel selector at the left. A panel displays, listing Opera Unite applications.
  3. Select an application that you want to use and click “Start” at the top of the panel. Alternatively, you can right-click the application and select “Start application”.
  4. A dialog welcomes you to Opera Unite.
  5. Screen shot of the steps above

  6. Click “Next”. To use Opera Unite, you need to have an Opera account for My Opera, Dev Opera (Opera”s developer community resource site), or use Opera Link. Your existing username can not contain any symbols or spaces to work with Opera Unite.
    • If you already have an Opera account that does not contain symbols or spaces, click “I already have an account”, if necessary, and type your existing username and password. Go to step 6.
    • If you do not have an account, or have one that contains symbols or spaces, click “I do not have an account”, if necessary, and complete your details to create one.
      • Choose a unique and easy-to-remember username without any symbols or spaces. The username will become part of the link (URL) for your Opera Unite applications, which your friends will use to access your content or communicate with you.
      • Click “Show” to read the terms and conditions and check the box to indicate that you agree with them.
  7. Choose a computer name from the drop-down menu. This name identifies the computer you are using to distinguish it from other computers you may use. It also becomes part of the link for your Opera Unite applications. Choose an option that best describes how you use your computer, or write your own. In this dialog, you can also go to Advanced Settings. For more information, see “Advanced settings menu” below.
  8. Click Finish. The application is installed and is listed in the Unite panel. For information about using Opera Unite applications, see “Sharing content and collaborating“.

An alternative way to enable Opera Unite is to:

  1. Go to the Opera Unite icon Opera Unite icon on the status bar.
  2. Right-click the icon and select “Enable Opera Unite” from the menu.
  3. Log in using your existing Opera account details or create a new Opera account. Once you log in, Opera Unite will be enabled and the Unite panel should be displayed, listing defaults applications.
  4. Click an application to start using the power of Opera Unite.

Notes: If you have problems accessing Opera Unite, see the Troubleshooting section in “Opera Unite frequently asked questions“. If you want to use your own DNS server or even your static IP address, see the article “Setting up custom domains for Opera Unite” on dev.opera.com.

The Opera Unite layout

This is a walkthrough of the layout, explaining the main components and features of Opera Unite.

Opera Unite walkthrough

Opera Unite walkthroughThe Opera Unite layout includes the following features:

1. Unite panel
This panel gives you quick access to your Opera Unite applications. If the panel is not already displayed, click the Opera Unite icon on the status bar and select “Manage Applications”. Alternatively, you can click the Panels button, then the Opera Unite panel selector. Once you have opened the panel, you can toggle the panel by clicking the Opera Unite panel selector or pressing F4. For information about icons and menus in this panel, see “Manage applications using the panel” below.
Below each application in the panel, an activity status displays. The activity status indicates the number of people accessing your applications. “No activity” means that no one is accessing your application. You can check the actual number of people connected to the application, or the size of uploads or downloads, by displaying the Opera Unite menu from the icon on the status bar and selecting “Show Status”. If the activity status is high, this may impact the running of your computer. For more information about managing activity and traffic, see “Manage Opera Unite traffic” below. If the application is greyed out and does not display an activity status, it is not running.
2. Panel button
This button in the top, left corner of the Opera browser window toggles the panel or the panel selector menu, if the panel is not already open.
3. Opera Unite panel selector
This panel selector toggles the Unite panel, which is explained above (1).
4. Opera Unite icon
When Opera Unite is enabled, this icon becomes bright green and contains a menu with options for managing Opera Unite. The same options are available from the Opera menu bar > Tools > Opera Unite Server. For more information, see “Use the Opera Unite menu” below.
5. Opera Unite Home
This is your home page in Opera Unite and lists your applications, applications your friends are running, links to your My Opera page, allows you to add your own message, and shows recent activity on your applications. To share your Opera Unite Home with friends and family, send them the link in the Sharing box on the right.

Sharing content and collaborating

There are different ways to share your content and collaborate using Opera Unite, depending on the application you use and whether you are sharing your content or collaborating with others, or accessing shared content from others.

Share your content with others

When you start or install an application in Opera Unite, you are the application owner. As the owner, you can choose how to collaborate, what content you want to share, and with whom. Each application is different, but in general if the application accesses files on your hard drive, you select the content you want to share and select the appropriate privacy setting. To check how your friends will see it, click the Preview as Visitor button on the top right of the page.

To provide access to an application, send your friends the specified link in the Sharing box on the right. You can also use this link youself to access your content from another computer. Make sure you send or use the link displayed in the Sharing box, rather than the link in the browser address field.

To see when people access your applications, view the recent activity list on Opera Unite Home.

Manage shared files

If an application accesses your file system, you specify a folder from which to share content. When you want to share content, it may be a good idea to create a special folder for each Opera Unite application you are using, so you can more easily control what you are sharing. This might help to avoid accidentally sharing content you did not intend to share. Take care with your selection and be aware that your friends can access all sub-folders and documents within the folder you specify.

Sharing and control

Opera Unite applications that access your file system allow you to set privacy controls in the Privacy section. For example, the Photo Sharing application has two controls available:

  1. Public access: Your content is accessible by anyone who types in your Opera Unite link, visits your page in My Opera or visits the My Opera page of one of your friends. This is therefore very public. Do not use this level of access if you are concerned about the privacy of your selected content.
  2. Password protected: Limit access to only those with the password. If you use the automatically-generated password, it is a combination of letters and numbers that makes it difficult for anyone else to guess; just like the PIN code for your bank. If you prefer, you can change the password. If a friend notices you are running the application and tries to access it, they will be asked for the password.
Share with social networks

Under the Sharing box, a section to Share allows you to share content in the application by e-mail and via popular social networks and bookmarking destinations such as FaceBook, Twitter, or Delicious.

Manage usernames, computer names, and applications

Each application that you install is for the computer you are currently using only. This means you can have the Media Player application on your work computer and a Media Player on your home computer as well. These access the files on the hard drive of each computer, and they will each have a unique link. If you run more than a few applications on a few computers, it may be a good idea to keep track of your application names, the folders that you are sharing, and the computer names you use for Opera Unite to avoid confusion.

Manage Opera Unite traffic

If you are sharing a lot of content, heavy traffic may impact your computer performance. If you move to a mobile connection, you may also want to control the connection to minimize costs or network usage. The activity status under each application in the Unite panel gives you a guide to the level of traffic.

For more complete traffic details, click the Opera Unite icon on the status bar and select “Show Status”. To control the connection, you can either:

  • Stop individual applications — In the Unite panel, highlight the application and click “Stop”. Alternatively, right-click the application and select “Stop”.
  • Limit the upload speed — From the Opera Unite icon menu, select “Configure…” and click the Advanced Settings button. In the Upload Speed section, specify how many kilobytes Opera Unite loads per second.
  • Disable Opera Unite — From the Opera Unite icon menu, select “Configure…” and click the Disable Opera Unite radio button. This stops all applications that are currently running.

Recent activity is also displayed for your applications on Opera Unite Home. This lists activity such as files that were accessed, photos that were viewed or downloaded, or notes that were posted on your Fridge.

Access shared content from others

When a friend shares content or collaborates with you using Opera Unite, they will send you a link and a password that provides access to their application. You do not need to be using the Opera browser to access a friend’s application; any modern Web browser can be used, except for the Messenger application, which is used to communicate directly with your My Opera friends.

View friends and applications

Opera Unite works with My Opera to help you share with your friends. When you enable Opera Unite and add friends on My Opera, you can view a list of the applications your friends are running, and they can view a list of yours. They can, however, only access password-protected applications if you have given them the password. You can view this list in either Opera Unite or My Opera, as follows:

  • In an application, click the “My friends’ applications” link on the right.
  • On your My Opera page, click the Unite tab.

If you do not want your applications listed for others to see, refer to the details in the Change advanced settings below.

Managing Opera Unite

There are options to help you manage Opera Unite and your applications, such as returning to Opera Unite Home, toggling the panel, disabling/enabling Opera Unite, changing the computer name, or viewing the status.

Use the Opera Unite menu

To manage Opera Unite, you can either click the Opera Unite icon on the left of the status bar, or, on the menu bar, go to Tools > Opera Unite Server. The following options are available:

Unite context menu

Discover Opera Unite users
This enables or disables the detection functionality to find other Opera Unite users within your immediate vicinity. If enabled, a list of others using Opera Unite will display in this menu. When you click a name, you can view their Opera Unite Home page. On the Opera Unite icon, an attention state identifier, in the form of a brown dot, displays when a new Opera Unite user joins the local network.
Opera Unite Home
This displays your Opera Unite Home in the browser window. For information about Opera Unite Home, see The Opera Unite layout above.
Configure…
This allows you to disable/enable Opera Unite, customize your computer name and change advanced settings. Disabling Opera Unite means that your friends will not be able to access your content on any application. For information about advanced settings, see Change advanced settings below.
Show Status
This displays a dialog that tells you if the Opera Unite server is running as expected or experiencing problems, how many applications you are running, how much data you have uploaded and downloaded during the session, and how many users are currently connected to your Opera Unite server. This is useful information if the activity of your applications is high and impacts the running of your computer.
If you encounter a network or proxy server problem, you can restart from this dialog by clicking “Restart Opera Unite”.
Manage applications
This displays the Unite panel, if it is not already displayed.
What is Opera Unite?
This displays the Opera Unite Web site, which explains more about Opera Unite and includes the applications catalog.
Change advanced settings

To change advanced settings, display the Opera Unite menu and select “Configure” and “Advanced Settings”. In the resulting dialog, you can change the following:

Use UPnP port forwarding from my router
The option to use UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)is enabled by default and allows you to share your data using direct connections to your computer, if available. This can make loading speeds for your applications faster, as they will bypass the proxy server. However, as it is up to each application to load content using the direct connection, it may not always run applications faster. UPnP has no authentication mechanism, and assumes that local systems and their users are completely trustworthy. If you are unsure about using UPnP, or do not wish to use it, you can disable it by unchecking this option. If you do not want to use UPnP but still allow a direct connection, you can manually forward port 8840 from your router.
Default port
Use this option if you want to specify the port Opera listens on. This can be useful if you receive unwanted direct traffic on the default port, or if you want to avoid port collisions with other Opera Unite instances running on the local network. Opera Unite will automatically find an available port if the port is unavailable.
Upload speed
You can change the upload speed if you want to limit the amount of bandwidth that Opera Unite uses, for example, when too many people are trying to download your content at once impacting the running of your computer. Change the default setting of “Unlimited” to the number of kilobytes you want Opera Unite to load per second.
Make Opera Unite visible to search engines
Use this option to allow or prevent the content on your Opera Unite Home page, including your full list of applications, from being published in a public search engine directory that everyone can see.
Global visibility options
These options set the visibility of all of your applications to other Opera Unite users or on local networks.
If you want to set specific, individual visibility options for each application, see the Properties section in Manage applications using the panel below.
The global options are:

  • Allow my applications to be visible on Opera Unite Web pages — On each application page there are sections listing “My friends’ applications”. Use this setting to allow or prevent all your applications from displaying on the application pages of other Opera Unite users. Be aware that this option allows or prevents applications from being listed only. If you have already given someone a link to an application and you no longer want anyone to access it, change the privacy setting to “Password protected” and do not distribute the password. If you have provided a link and password for a “Password protected” application, change the password.
  • Allow my applications to be visible inside a local network — When you enable this setting, Opera Unite will try to find other computers running Opera Unite applications in your local network. This is useful if, for example, you run several computers at home in a local network as they will communicate to each other quickly and automatically.
Manage applications using the panel

To manage the applications you run in Opera Unite, you use the Unite panel. You can add new applications or delete them, stop or start them, open them in the browser window, and organize them by using folders or separator lines. If the Unite panel is not displayed, click the Opera Unite icon on the status bar and select “Manage applications”. You can toggle the panel on and off by clicking the Opera Unite panel selector at the left.

At the top of the panel, icons for common actions display, which include the following:

  • Add — This provides options to add a new Opera Unite application, or add new folders or separator lines to organize your applications in the panel. You can also upgrade existing applications using this option. Click “Install Application” and the “Upgrade existing Opera Unite application” will be pre-selected. Click “OK” to upgrade.
  • Start/Stop — This starts running a selected application so friends can access your content, or you can collaborate with others. Once an application is running, this icon changes to “Stop”.
  • Open — This displays the application start page.

You can also right-click an application and select any of the following from the context menu:

  • Open — This displays the application settings page.
  • Start/Stop — This starts running the application, or stops the application.
  • Delete — This deletes the selected application. You can also drag applications to the Trash icon in the panel. To completely delete the application, empty the Trash by right-clicking the Trash icon and seleting “Empty Trash”.
  • Properties — This provides the application details, such as the link and the specified file path, if relevant. You can change the file path in this dialog, but this may disconnect anyone accessing your content at the time. This also includes advanced settings for that specific application only, as follows:
    • Make application visible to search engines — Use this option to allow or prevent this application from being published in a public search engine directory that everyone can see.
    • Make application visible on Opera Unite Web pages — Use this setting to allow or prevent this application from displaying on the application pages of other Opera Unite users. Be aware that this option allows or prevents the application from being listed only. If you have already given someone the link to this application, and a password if relevant, they will still be able to access it. If you do not want anyone to access this application after you have provided a link, change the access level to “Password protected” or change the password.
    • Make application visible inside the local network — When you enable this setting, Opera Unite will allow this application to be identified by other computers running Opera Unite in your local network.

If you right-click in an empty space in the Unite panel, a context menu displays with options to display your Opera Unite Home, disable and configure Opera Unite, and create new folders or separators in the panel. These options are discussed above in Use the Opera Unite menu and Manage applications using the panel.

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