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Integrating third-party applications into your Launchpad account

Third-party developers have written applications like Ground Control that let you use Launchpad from the desktop, rather than through a web browser. You can also use the launchpadlib library to write your own scripts that automate common tasks.

To use these scripts and desktop applications, you'll need to grant them access to your Launchpad account. This page explains exactly what happens when a third-party application (or your own script) tries to access Launchpad on your behalf. It tells you what your options are, and how you can revoke access if something goes wrong.

Desktop integration (Natty Narwhal and later)

The very first time you use an application that needs access to your Launchpad account, your browser will open to a Launchpad page called "Confirm Computer Access". If the application is running in a terminal window, you'll also see some text like this printed to the terminal window:

 The authorization page:
 should be opening in your browser. Use your browser to authorize
 this program to access Launchpad on your behalf. 

 Waiting to hear from Launchpad about your decision...

If you're not already logged in to Launchpad, you'll need to log in through the Launchpad Login Service before you see the "Confirm Computer Access" screen. If you've never used Launchpad before, you'll have to create a Launchpad account--obviously the application can't use your Launchpad account if you don't have one.

The authorization screen

The screen called "Confirm Computer Access" will explain that you're not just integrating a single application with your Launchpad account--you're integrating your entire desktop. You have three options:

A temporary integration is useful if you're using someone else's computer or if you just want to try out desktop integration.

After you grant access

Once you grant access, the application or script you were using should automatically detect that it now has access to your Launchpad account, and you should be able to continue using the application.

Since you've integrated your entire desktop into your Launchpad, you should never see the "Confirm Computer Access" screen again on this computer. The exception is if you chose a temporary integration: you'll see this screen again once your temporary integration expires, and have to get a new token. You'll also see this screen again if you use the Launchpad website to manually revoke your desktop integration token.

Getting the GNOME keyring to work over X forwarding

If you SSH into another computer and try to run an application that uses the launchpad web service, you may get an IOError because the application can't communicate with the GNOME keyring.

This is because your SSH session doesn't have access to the dbus used for inter-process communication. You can work around it by adding this to your .bashrc:

Put that in your .bashrc, and you should be able to use applications that feature Launchpad integration over an X forwarded session.

Website integration

The process is slightly different if you're integrating your Launchpad account with some other website.

Let's say you go to some other website and click a button that will integrate your Launchpad account with the offerings of that other site. Since your browser is already open, the website will simply redirect you to Launchpad. You'll log in to Launchpad and see a screen called "Integrating [website name] into your Launchpad account."

With desktop-wide integration, you choose how long your integration should last. With website integration, you choose how much access you want to grant. For instance, you may trust a third-party website to access public data but not private data, or you may trust it to read your data but not to change it. Every website is different. You may have up to five choices:

A website may restrict which access levels you can choose, since it may need a minimum level of access to do its job, but you'll always have the option to deny access altogether.

After you grant access

Once you integrate a website into your Launchpad account, you shouldn't see this screen again for that website. Of course, you may see it while using a different website that wants access to your Launchpad account.

Desktop integration before Natty Narwhal (pre-launchpadlib 1.8.0)

If you're using an older release of Ubuntu, you'll have to authorize your desktop applications one at a time. The system used is the same one currently used for website integration: your browser will open to a screen called "Integrating [application name] into your Launchpad account." You'll be asked what level of access you want to grant the application. You won't have the option to grant access for a limited time.

You'll see this screen once for every desktop application and script you integrate into Launchpad. To avoid this inconvenience, you'll need to upgrade your Ubuntu installation to Natty, or upgrade your copy of launchpadlib to 1.8.0 or above. Then you can integrate your entire desktop at once.

If you're using an old version of launchpadlib, after you see the message in your terminal window beginning "The authorization page:", you'll see an extra line asking you to authorize the integration, then tab back to that terminal window and hit Enter. In newer versions of launchpadlib, you don't have to do this--launchpadlib automatically detects when you've authorized the integration.

If your credential is compromised

If you give some computer access to your Launchpad account, and the computer is stolen, then you should (among other things) revoke that computer's Launchpad authorization. You can do that from the Launchpad website: visit your list of authorized applications, find the "System-wide" authorization for the computer that was stolen, and click the "Revoke authorization" button underneath it.

Of course, "your computer gets stolen" is just one extreme way a Launchpad integration credential might be compromised. Instead of stealing your computer, someone may come up to your computer while you're away, and dump the contents of your GNOME Keyring or KDE Wallet. You might integrate a third-party website into your Launchpad account, only to find that website acquired by a company you don't trust. Or you might accidentally choose to permanently integrate your Launchpad account into someone else's computer while using it.

However it happens: if you ever need to stop a computer, application, or website from using your Launchpad account, you can revoke its authorization from your list of authorized applications.

API/ThirdPartyIntegration (last edited 2011-03-01 20:29:27 by leonardr)