A plug in that runs a web server within a browser, Unite is good for sharing but has security risks: not recommended for most users
Opera recently announced a new technology that it is including as essentially an alpha within the beta of the Opera 10 browser. And in its announcement, Opera claimed that this new technology, called Unite, would reinvent the way that everyone uses the web.
After using Unite for the last week, I’m not sure if I would say that it reinvents the web. In the end, this “new” technology is basically just a web server, and web servers have actually been around longer than web browsers.
But Unite is intriguing, and one can definitely see some potential benefits to embedding a web server within a web browser. I could see a future where an embedded server within a browser makes the exchange of data on the web completely seamless.
But this current early edition of Unite is nowhere close to that vision, and, despite the fact that it runs in Opera, it is still pretty much a completely separate application within the browser. In addition, there are some big security issues associated with putting a web server on normal users’ systems.
To get started with Unite, I simply downloaded the app from unite.opera.com and installed it on my test systems. The first thing required to enable Unite within the Opera browser is to log into an online Opera service or create an account. I was able to use the MyOpera account that I already had to launch my Unite server in the browser.
The Opera account is necessary in order to allow users to create unique URLs. To ease the ability to share data and send people to one’s Unite services, Opera makes it possible to have URLs that point to individuals and their individual systems. So, for example, you could have a URL such as laptop.myname.operaunite.com.
This model certainly makes things easier, but to a certain degree it also brings back the centralised cloud system that Unite is supposedly going to free us all from. It is possible to avoid the Opera Unite proxy servers, but to get Unite to run initially an Opera account will still be required.
To access my Unite services directly, I just needed the system IP address, and then entered that IP and used port 8840 to access the Unite server. This method could also be used within a DNS server to use your own domain names, but within the Unite services that appear in the browser the embedded links will still want to use the operaunite.com addresses.
While Unite is necessary to run the web services in the browser, the services can be accessed on any remote system using any other web browser.