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Desktop-wide Launchpad integration

As a third-party developer
I want to integrate my application into Launchpad without confusing my end-user
so that my end-user will actually use my Launchpad integration features.

Currently, desktop applications and client-side scripts are authorized to use Launchpad on a per-application basis. This annoys users and doesn't provide any real security benefit. This LEP describes moving to a system in which the entire desktop is authorized once and doesn't need to be authorized again.

On Launchpad: https://bugs.launchpad.net/launchpad-project/+bugs?field.tag=desktop-integration


The most common reaction of a third-party developer faced with our per-application authorization protocol is: "How can I hack around this?" Their goal is a better user experience, but they're subverting our security model and writing code that will eventually break--if it doesn't start out broken.

Our per-application system was designed for integration of foreign websites into Launchpad. On the desktop, a per-application system looks much more impressive (security-wise) than it actually is. By authorizing the entire desktop at once, we can reduce the annoyance for users without reducing security, and hopefully get our third parties to buy into our security model rather than hacking around it.


Stakeholders I've talked with:

Stakeholders I have yet to talk with:

Others I have talked with:

Constraints and Requirements


A single OAuth token must be shared among every launchpadlib client that calls Launchpad.login_with(). The token will have read-write access to public and private data.

The desktop token must be authorized by hand, in the end-user's web browser.

When deciding whether to authorize the desktop token, the user must be able to see the kind of computer being authorized (eg. "Ubuntu desktop") and the computer's name (eg. "hostname"). This information is provided by the computer itself.

The string that launchpadlib clients pass in believing it to be the OAuth consumer key, must actually be sent as part of the User-Agent header.

The first client to call Launchpad.login_with() after the new system is in place will result in a browser open.

After a desktop-wide token is authorized for a given site, launchpadlib must crawl through .launchpadlib/[site]/credentials and remove any per-application credentials left over by old versions of launchpadlib.

The system must work on both GNOME and KDE desktops, storing the token in the GNOME keyring or KDE wallet.

Nice to have

It should be possible to authorize the desktop for a limited time--for an hour, a day, or a week. This can be used to test the water, or when troubleshooting someone else's computer.

The system should not require any new desktop GUI development.

Must not

Once the user has authorized their desktop, they must not have to re-authorize it, ever--unless the authorization expires or they manually revoke it.


Activating Development From Desktop covers a case in which temporary super-privileged tokens may be authorized on a per-application basis.


  1. Client A calls Launchpad.login_with().
  2. launchpadlib acquires an OAuth request token.
  3. The user's web browser opens to Launchpad's +authorize-token view.
  4. If necessary, the user logs in to Launchpad.
  5. The user authorizes the request token and Launchpad issues a desktop-wide access token.
  6. launchpadlib exchanges the request token for the access token.
  7. launchpadlib stores the desktop-wide access token in the GNOME keyring (or equivalent).
  8. launchpadlib initializes a Launchpad object using the access token.
  9. Several days later, client B calls Launchpad.login_with().
  10. launchpadlib retrieves the desktop-wide access token from the GNOME keyring and uses it to initialize a Launchpad object.


How will we know when we are done?

We're done when a normal user can integrate any number of applications and scripts into Launchpad without experiencing more than one browser open.

We're done when the pertinent libraries are in Natty.

How will we measure how well we have done?

If we do a good job, third-party developers will choose to use the new system instead of hacks.


What's left?

We need to get the pertinent libraries in Natty.

LEP/DesktopWideLaunchpadIntegration (last edited 2010-12-07 18:57:38 by flacoste)